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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Corporal George T. Gates

George T. Gates was born November 17, 1843, in Chicopee, Mass. He had resided in Albany since lie was eight years old, up to the time of his enlistment, with the exception of two summers, which had been spent in the country. In March, 1861, he left home to engage in farming, his favorite employment.

His feelings at this time were very tender, and he showed unusual interest in the subject of religion, which caused his friends to hope that he was earnestly seeking the salvation of his soul. Early in April a letter was received from him, in which he expressed a hope that he had chosen Christ as his friend and portion. A desire for the salvation of his friends and companions manifested itself, in conversing with and writing to them on the subject. He soon expressed a wish, to use his own words, "to be enrolled in the army of Christ," and on the first communion season, which was the first Sabbath in July, he came home and united with the Congregational Church, then under the pastoral care of Dr. Palmer, of whom he frequently spoke in his letters. Once after this he was permitted to sit with his friends at the table of the Lord, before leaving to enter upon what he regarded as duty.

George was much interested in the affairs of the nation from a boy, and though but a youth when the war broke out, he availed himself of all the information within his reach in relation to its progress. In a letter written to his parents in August, he said: "I feel as if I ought to be serving my country."

In September he wrote again, saying that, after much thought and prayer, having counted the cost, he felt it to be his duty to give himself to his country, if this met with the approbation of his parents. Accordingly, in October, he came home, and enlisted in the Forty-fourth N. Y. Regiment on the 15th of October, and left for New York on the 20th of that month.

He was in Company A, Capt. Chapin, and was the youngest in the company, not being eighteen years of age at the time of his enlistment. His Captain said of him three months afterwards: "George makes one of the best soldiers in the company. Besides, he has secured for himself the friendship of his fellows, and the confidence of his officers."

He was made Corporal in December, 1862: afterwards he was appointed color Corporal as a mark of honor for his coolness in battle, with a promise of promotion. But promotion he never sought, and being spoken to upon the subject, he said, " I did not come here for promotion or pay, and I can serve my country just as faithfully as a private."

George's first experience in battle was at Hanover Court House, after which, he says, "I write just to say that I am alive, though our regiment has suffered severely. Several of our officers are wounded, the Major, badly. Our flag is riddled by forty-eight shots."

Then, June 29th, while the seven days' battles were in progress, he says, "I am alive and well after a hard-fought battle which occurred on Friday last. Our loss was severe. We lost our knapsacks and almost everything, except what we had on. I had many very narrow escapes, and am very thankful to that kind Providence that kept me through scenes of so much danger."

Again, July 4th, he writes, "During the last week I have been in two different battles and one skirmish, and escaped without a scratch; but in the battle of July 1st, was slightly wounded in my right shoulder. I was struck by a piece of shell, but shall not leave our skeleton regiment, though I think many have left who were not wounded any worse, if as badly. Don't be alarmed if you see my name in the list of wounded. Our loss is very severe. Company A lost just half the men that we went in with. "The regiment made a bayonet charge, in which we ran over the bodies of the dead and wounded rebels piled three or four deep. There were three files on each side of me mowed down. I have seen plenty of fighting, just all I wish to."

Again he writes, in prospect of going into battle, " We maybe called into action at any moment. My prayer is that God will spare my life to glorify Him, and do much for the furtherance of His cause, but if it is His will that I fall, may He receive my soul."

At another time, after the Peninsular campaign, in the midst of marches and battles he says, " Cease not to pray for me, that through the merits of Jesus Christ I may be fully prepared for any event. If it should please God that I lay my life on the altar of my country, pray that I may through the riches of His grace in Christ our Saviour, be accepted and saved." After the battle of Bull Run he says, " We fought a good fight. Company A lost sixteen men."

In October, he writes, "How l should have enjoyed sitting with you at the table of the Lord. I hope the time is not far distant when I shall be able to do so, and to enjoy the numerous privileges of which I am now deprived. O pray that strength and grace may be given me to withstand all the temptations around me, and come out purified,"

The first Sabbath in his twentieth year he says, " I am striving to live nearer to my God than I did last year. Pray, dear mother, that I may look to Christ alone for strength to perform my duties as a christian."

He was in the battle of Fredericksburg and says, "We had the comfort of taking care of our dead and wounded. We were two days and nights at the front, where we advanced under very heavy fire."

After the battle of Gettysburg, July 4, 1863, he writes, "We have to be very thankful for our kind Heavenly Father's preserving care over me through another of those scenes of awful carnage. Our corps was engaged day before yesterday, and we lost very heavily, but repulsed the enemy. Our company lost four killed and seventeen wounded. The boys were shot on each side of me." After most bravely fighting in fourteen battles and several skirmishes, our young hero patriot entered the battle of the Wilderness to offer up his precious life for the American Republic. While charging the enemy a ball penetrated his forehead, and killed him instantly. His body was not recovered, and his friends cannot learn that any one was near him when he expired. He fell on the 8th of May, 1864. The last message received from him was under date of April 30, after the order to be ready at any moment to move with six days rations in their haversacks.

He writes, " with good management, which I think we will have, we shall strike a blow at the rebellion by which it will be crushed. Of course I shall be exposed to great danger, but our Kind Heavenly Father, who has so long preserved my life, is the same merciful God, and if it is His holy will he can still preserve me. But if his will be otherwise, I hope and pray to be prepared to meet Him in heaven with all my dear friends."

On the 5th we hear of him in battle, through a tent-mate who was wounded, and whom George assisted in carrying off the field. Of him this companion says, "George was a good, brave soldier, one who was beloved by all who knew him. His whole heart was in his duty."

The following, concerning our young hero w\as received fromGen. Rice, under date of September 14, 1863.

"It was my intention after the battle of Gettysburg to make your son a Second Lieutenant. During the first hour of the battle of the second day, I fought side by side with him near the colors, and can say, with great satisfaction, that not a braver or more faithful soldier ever entered the service. During that hour while all were killed or wounded around us, he never flinched for a moment, but calmly loaded and fired, as if on parade or drill; and every shot of his told. I was also firing, and we frequently talked with each other as to the ranks of the enemy where our fire would do the most execution. I recollect of his saying to me during the severest of the struggle, "Colonel, you cannot reach those on the hill, they are beyond musket range; but here is a line in the ravine that needs our attention." He is a cool, brave and faithful soldier, and I never saw in him any quality but to commend. During the battle Col. Vincent fell, and I took command of the brigade, which separated me from the immediate command of the regiment.

"Now let me explain to you why your son was not promoted before this. By a law of Congress, no Second Lieutenant could be mustered into a regiment which was reduced below a given number. Our regiment was below that number. If I had remained in command until the regiment was filled up, your son would have been made Lieutenant for his bravery at Gettysburg. I will now write to Lieut. Col. Connor, urging him to promote your son as soon as possible.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Brig. Gen. Com. Division.''

The dear boy asked for no promotion on earth. With singleness of heart, and with the loftiest sentiments of honor and integrity he desired to do his duty to God, and to his country; and most faithfully did he serve both, until the fatal shot terminated his career. His memory we will cherish with the warmest gratitude and aftection, and the name of George T. Gates will live in the admiration of posterity.

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