Edmund Pendleton Gaines, United States soldier, was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, on March 20, 1777, the son of James and Elizabeth (Strother) Gaines. The family moved to North Carolina at the end of the American Revolution and soon thereafter to Tennessee.
Gaines was married 3 times. His first marriage was to Frances Toulmin (1788–1811), daughter of Harry Toulmin, who died while giving birth to their only child. His second marriage was to Barbara Blount (1792–1836), daughter of Tennessee statesman William Blount. His last marriage was to Myra Clark (1806–1885), daughter of Louisiana politician Daniel Clark.
After service as a lieutenant in a local militia company, Gaines was commissioned as an ensign in the Sixth United States Infantry (Tennessee) on January 10, 1799. In March of that year he was promoted to second lieutenant; he was honorably discharged on June 15, 1800.
He rejoined the army as a second lieutenant in the Fourth United States Infantry on February 16, 1801, and transferred to the Second Infantry in April 1802. He was promoted to first lieutenant that month and to captain on February 28, 1807.
During this period he surveyed a road from Nashville to Natchez, served as military collector of Mobile, and commanded the garrison at Fort Stoddert.
He was involved in the arrest of Aaron Burr and presented testimony for the prosecution at his trial.
Gaines took an extended leave of absence and began practicing law in Mississippi Territory but returned to the army at the beginning of the War of 1812.
On March 24, 1812, he was appointed major of the Eighth Infantry and on July 6, 1812, lieutenant colonel of the Twenty-fourth Infantry. From March 1813 until March 1814 he was colonel of the Twenty-fifth Infantry. His regiment especially distinguished itself at the battle of Chrysler's Field in 1813.
He served as adjutant general of the army from September 1, 1813, through March 9, 1814, and at the same time was commander of Fort Erie, Upper Canada. For his successful defense of the post on November 3, 1814, he was promoted to brigadier general.
On August 15, 1815, he was brevetted to the rank of major general for his "gallantry and good conduct in defeating the enemy" at Fort Erie, and he received the thanks of Congress and a gold medal "for repelling with great slaughter the attack of the British veteran army superior in numbers" during the American victory at Erie. He was seriously wounded in the fighting and took no further part in the war.
He was given command of Military District Number Six, which comprised Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. He maintained this assignment until May 17, 1815. In 1817 he was sent south to treat with the Creek Indians and when diplomacy failed joined Andrew Jackson's campaign against them and the Seminoles.
From 1821 until May 1823 Gaines commanded the Western Department of the United States Army, with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, and from December 1823 until December 1825 he commanded the Eastern Department.
He was reassigned to the command of the Western Department on December 9, 1825, and served until January 31, 1826. He fought in the Black Hawk War of 1832 and commanded an expedition against the Florida Seminoles, in which he was wounded in the mouth.
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