A Civil War Biography

William Brimage Bate

William Brimage Bate was born 7 October 1826 in Bledsoe's Lick, near Castalian Springs, Sumner County, Tennessee. Bate left home at sixteen and worked as a clerk on a steamboat before enlisting in the Mexican War. He would rise to the rank of lieutenant. When he returned from the war he was elected to the Tennessee state house of representatives serving from 1849 until 1851. He graduated from Lebanon University in Lebanon, Tennessee in 1852 and began a law practice in Gallatin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. He was elected Nashville District Attorney General in 1854 and was an elector supporting John C Breckinridge in the 1860 Presidential election.

When civil war came Bate enlisted in the 2nd Tennessee becoming the regiment's colonel when it mustered into service on 6 May 1861. He led the 2nd, attached to Cleburne's brigade, at Shiloh and was severely wounded in the leg forcing him out of action for several months. Bate was promoted to brigadier general on 3 October 1862. He commanded a brigade in Simon Bolivar Buckner's Corps at Chickamauga. At Chattanooga Bate commanded a division in John C. Breckinridge's Corps. He was offered the nomination for governor of Tennessee in 1863 but declined in order to remain in the field. He was promoted to major general to rank from 23 February 1864. He commanded a division in William J. Hardee's Corps during the Atlanta campaign. He accompanied John Bell Hood during the late 1864 Tennessee campaign, commanding the 1st Division in Benjamin F Cheatham's Corps at Franklin and Nashville.

He was surrendered with Joseph E. Johnston and the rest of the Army of Tennessee in Greensboro, North Carolina. After the war Bate re-established his law practice in Gallatin. He was elected governor of Tennessee in 1882 and served two terms. At the end of his second term he was elected to the US Senate and took his seat on 4 March 1887. Bate died in office on 9 March 1905, not long after starting his fourth term in the Senate.

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