The Elijah Gates Camp & Namesake
By Mark Douglas
Early in the War Between the States many citizen/farmers of Missouri formed companies to defend Missouri. The War Powers Act of May 1861 gave Governor Clairborne Fox Jackson the ability to institute a Missouri Army. This army known as the Missouri State Guard and led by Major General Sterling Price fought entirely in Missouri during the first year of the war.
The many companies of the Missouri State Guard were commanded by their own captains elected by the members of each company. Usually it was the man that was the driving force behind forming the company. In Buchanan County Missouri one of the companies was raised and captained by Elijah Gates. Gates was a charismatic leader, instilling great trust in his men and superiors.
In December of 1861 the Missouri State Guard, then in winter quarters, were enlisted into the Provisional Army of Confederate States. Gates was asked to form a battalion of Cavalry and he put together ten mounted companies, this battalion was known as the First Missouri Cavalry. Two of the ten companies were formed almost entirely of Callaway County men and several other companies were made up of men from the surrounding counties of Audrain, Boone and Montgomery.
The 1st Mo Cavalry served with distinction in the western theater. During the Vicksburg Campaign, at the Battle of Big Black River, The entire brigade was surrounded. Many swam the river to evade capture, but the men who couldn't swim asked Col. Gates to stay with them during their capture. Gates stayed and forever won the admiration of his men. Gates managed to escape three days later and after the fall of Vicksburg, was able to reconstitute the 1st Mo. Cav. with the original men and the now paroled captured men.
Gates continued to lead the battalion until the battle of Franklin, where he was wounded multiple times and lost his arm due to these wounds. After the War, Gates served as Buchanan County Sheriff then as State Treasurer and ended his career as a United States Marshal.
It was only natural, at the turn of the Twentieth Century, when the Sons of Confederate Veterans was formed that the camp in Fulton, Missouri, was named after the man that had led the fathers of so many of its members in the "Lost Cause." Being the five hundred and seventieth camp chartered, our camps official title is The Elijah Gates Camp No. 570, Sons of Confederate Veterans.