|Edmond P Gaines
Gaines was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on March 20, 1777. His
father, James, had been captain of a company in the American forces
during the Revolutionary War, and after the war his family moved to
North Carolina where his father became a state representative. He
enlisted in the army in 1799 and was a first lieutenant by 1807.
In the early 1800s, Gaines surveyed routes and boundaries in the Mississippi
Territory including parts of the Natchez Trace. In 1807, Gaines was
the commandant of Fort Stoddert. During this time, he arrested Aaron
Burr and testified at his trial. Gaines also surveyed the route that
would become the portion of the Gaines Trace from the Tennessee River
to Cotton Gin Port, Mississippi. He afterwards took a leave of absence
from the army to practice law.
War of 1812
The War of 1812 brought Gaines back to the army and was appointed
major of the Eighth U.S. Infantry and in July, 1812, was made a lieutenant
colonel in the Twenty-Fourth U.S. Infantry. In 1813, he was promoted
to colonel and commanded the Twenty-Fifth Infantry with distinction
at the Battle of Crysler's Farm. He became adjutant general and was
with General William Henry Harrison's army at the Battle of the Thames.
He was promoted brigadier general of regulars on March 9, 1814 and
commanded the post at Fort Erie after the U.S. capture.
Brown was wounded at the Battle of Lundy's Lane and when the U.S.
Army of the Niagara returned to the fort, command was passed to Gaines.
At the Siege of Fort Erie. Gaines was in command on the fortifications
on 15 August 1814, when a British assault was bloodily repulsed. For
this victory - the First Battle of Fort Erie - Gaines was awarded
the Thanks of Congress, an Act of Congress Gold Medal (outranking
a Congressional Medal of Honor, according to the Smithsonian), and
a brevet promotion to major general.
General Gaines was seriously
wounded by artillery fire and General Brown, having recovered, returned
to command. Gaines' wound ended his active field career for the rest
of the war, and he was given command of the Military District Number
At the end of the war Gaines was sent of a commissioner to deal with
the Creek Indians. The U.S. commanding general, Jacob Brown, died
in 1828; and Gaines was one of two ranking generals who could have
been considered for the post. However, he and the other general, Winfield
Scott, had both publicly quarreled with each other, and Alexander
Macomb was promoted over both of them.
He commanded the Western Military
Department during the Black Hawk War. He was still in command of the
department during the Seminole Wars in which he personally led an
expedition. At the Battle of Ouithlacoochie he was wounded in the
In 1836, he was placed in command of the Southwest Military District.
He was given instructions to fortify the border of the Louisiana Territory
and Texas in the case that the Mexican army might threaten U.S. territory.
He was also given orders to post guards preventing any U.S. soldiers
from crossing into Texas and fighting in the rebellion. He was in
command of the Army's Western Division at the outbreak of the Mexican-American
He was reprimanded by the U.S. government for overstepping his
authority by calling up Louisiana volunteers for Zachary Taylor's
army. He nevertheless called up volunteers from other southwestern
states and received a court-martial but was able to successfully defend
In the years during and following the Mexican-American War, Gaines
was in command of a series of military districts. He was in command
of the Western Division when he died at New Orleans, Louisiana on
June 6, 1849. He was interred in the Church Street Graveyard in Mobile,
A number of places in the United States were named in his honor, including
Gainesville, Florida, Gainesville, Texas, Gainesville, Georgia, Gaines
Township, Michigan and Gainesboro, Tennessee were all named in his
honor, as was Gaines Street in Tallahassee, Florida and Gaines Street
in Davenport, Iowa.
Fort Gaines, a historic fort on Dauphin Island,
Alabama was named for him.
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