General Thomas Conway, Portrait, Illustration

Thomas Conway was an officer in the Continental Army who served under William Alexander and George Washington. He is most remembered for his involvement in the Conway Cabal, a plot to have Washington replaced as Commander-in-Chief of the army. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

General Thomas Conway

February 27, 1735–1800

General Thomas Conway was an officer in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He is most famous for his criticism of General George Washington.


Biography of Thomas Conway

Thomas Conway was a General in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Conway was living in France when the American Revolutionary War started and he met Silas Deane. Deane used his connections to help secure Conway a high rank in the army. Congress sent him to command a brigade in the division of William Alexander. Conway fought at the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown. The British won those battles which allowed them to capture Philadelphia. Soon after, members of Congress and officers in the army conspired to replace General George Washington as Commander-in-Chief. Conway was one of the chief architects of the scheme, which is known as the “Conway Cabal.” When it was uncovered, Conway was disgraced and General John Cadwalader challenged him to a duel. Cadwalader shot Conway through the mouth, but Conway survived and apologized to Washington for his conduct. Conway returned to France, where he rejoined the French army.

Battle of Germantown, Attack on Judge Chew's House

This illustration depicts fighting at the Chew House during the Battle of Germantown. Image Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.


5 Things to Know About Thomas Conway

  1. Conway was born on February 27, 1735, in Ireland, and died around the year 1800.
  2. He commanded the right flank of the American army during the Battle of Germantown.
  3. Conway was considered by many to be a skilled leader on the battlefield, but his attitude and desire for personal ambition led him to his involvement in the scheme to replace Washington.
  4. As part of the Conway Cabal, he was appointed Inspector General by the Board of War.
  5. Conway wrote a letter to General Horatio Gates. He criticized Washington and called him a “weak general.”


Thomas Conway was important to United States history because of his involvement in the conspiracy to replace George Washington as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The plot failed, and Washington stayed in command and led the American forces to victory over the British.


Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title General Thomas Conway
  • Coverage February 27, 1735–1800
  • Author
  • Keywords Thomas Conway, American Revolutionary War, Battle of Germantown, Conway Cabal
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date August 19, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update July 12, 2022