The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

British General Thomas Gage
Thomas Gage
Born: 1721; Firle, Sussex, England
Died: April 2, 1787; Portland, England

Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in America: 1763-1775

Early Life: 1719-1754
Thomas Gage was born in Firle, Sussex, England in 1719. He was the second son of the 1st Viscount Thomas Gage. In 1728, he and his brother went to the Westminster School. There, he knew John Burgoyne, George and Richard Howe, future Governor of Massachusetts Francis Bernard and George Sackville, who would go on to become Lord George Germain, the British Secretary of State of the American Colonies during the American Revolutionary War.

After leaving Westminster, Gage was commissioned an ensign in the British Army. In January 1743, he was promoted to Captain. In 1745, he saw action at Fontenoy and Culloden while serving as Aide de Camp to Albemarle. Gage participated in 1747-48 campaigns in the Low Countries. He then transferred to the 55th Regiment under Colonel John Lee. The regiment was soon renumbered the 44th. In 1748, he purchased the rank of Major and on March 2, 1751, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. During this time, Gage began a long friendship with Charles Lee, a fellow officer and son of the regimental commander. James Wolfe, who would go on to great fame in fighting in Canada, was also a friend. A common-law marriage came to an abrupt end with his wife's death and a failed political foray was attempted shortly before he was ordered to America.

French and Indian War: 1754-1758
In Fall 1754, the 44th Regiment was sent to America to be part of Maj. General Edward Braddock's expeditionary force. Also serving in the British Army as officers on that expedition with Gage had been future foes George Washington, Horatio Gates and Charles Lee. Gage commanded the advance guard on July 9, 1755 and slightly wounded, when the force was obliterated by a French and Indian force in what has been alternately called the Battle of the Wilderness, Battle of the Monogahela or Braddock's Defeat. He had taken command of the 44th following the death of Colonel Peter Halkett during the fighting. Gage was accused of poor field tactics by Braddock's Aide de Camp, Captain Orme. Nothing came of the accusations although Gage was denied gaining the colonelcy of the 44th as a permanent appointment.

Gage spent winter quarters at Albany, New York, although he visited New York City during this time. In August 1756 he was second-in-command on an unsuccessful expedition up along the Mohawk River and then again wintered in Albany. In 1757 he went to Halifax, Nova Scotia with British Commander-in-Chief in America Captain-General John Campbell Loudoun. In December 1757, Gage was given authority to organize provincial troops into what was designated the 80th Regiment and qualified Gage for promotion to Colonel at last. While recruiting provincials, he courted the woman that he would eventually marry.

On July 7, 1758, he was again slightly wounded while leading a portion of Maj. General James Abercromby's adavnce guard in the failed attempted to capture Fort Ticonderoga. In the winter of 1758, Gage again went to New York City and met with old acquaintance Maj. General Jeffery Amherst, who in September had replaced Loudoun as British Commander-in-Chief in America. Gage also learned that his brother had secured him a temporary promotion to Brigadier General.. On December 8, 1758, Gage married Margaret Kemble of Brunswick, New Jersey. She was the daughter of Peter Kemble, whom Gage had known from his days at the Westminster School.

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