Thomas Conway Biography: Irish Soldier and Key Figure in the Revolutionary Drama


Explore the intriguing life of Thomas Conway (1735-?1800), an Irish soldier of fortune and a general during the American Revolutionary War. Uncover his involvement in the infamous “Conway Cabal,” a conspiracy to replace George Washington with Gen. Horatio Gates. From his early education in France to service in the Continental Army, Conway’s journey unfolds through battles like Brandywine and Germantown.

Thomas Conway


Thomas Conway; (1735-?1800), Irish soldier of fortune and American Revolutionary War general, who is best known for his part in the “Conway Cabal,” an intrigue to remove George Washington as American commander and put Gen. Horatio Gates in his place.

Conway was born in Kerry, Ireland, on Feb. 27, 1735. At the age of 6 he was sent to be educated in France, where at 14 he joined the Irish Brigade of the French Army. When the American Revolution began, Silas Deane recruited him for the Continental Army. In 1777, Congress made him a brigadier general. Sailing that year, he fought at Brandywine and Germantown.

Washington had scant respect for Conway and opposed his subsequent promotions to major general and inspector general as unjust to more experienced officers. In 1777, Conway became involved in a cabal to make Gates, the victorious commander at Saratoga, commander in chief. The intrigue, in which Conway was supposed to have played a major role but in fact played a minor one, miscarried. Lafayette criticized him severely, and Conway’s friends in Congress abandoned him. In 1778 he resigned from the army, and after a duel with Gen. John Cadwal-ader, in which he was seriously wounded, he apologized to Washington.

In 1779, Conway rejoined the French Army. He was commissioned a major general in 1784, was appointed governor of Pondicherry and all French possessions in India in 1787, and was created a commander of the Order of St. Louis in the same year. He married the daughter of Marshal Baron de Copley and, after the outbreak of the French Revolution, became commander of the Royalist forces in the south of France. Driven into exile by the successful revolutionists, he died in obscurity in England, probably in 1800.


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