Scott, General Winfield
b. 1786-06-13
d. 1866-05-29
General Winfield Scott was born on 13 June 1786 in Petersburg, Virginia. Scott was a United States General, known for being the foremost American military figure between the Revolution and Civil War.1 For a brief period prior to joining the military, Scott studied law; but in 1808 he was commissioned as a captain of artillery in the fight at the Niagara frontier in the War of 1812. He was captured by the British during the war and not exchanged until 1813. In 1814, Scott was labeled as a “national hero” and promoted to major-general for his service in the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’s Lane.2
He continued in military service by studying military tactics in Europe and taking a strong interest in maintaining a well-trained and disciplined U.S army, this interest earned him the nickname “Old Fuss and Feathers” due to Scott’s emphasis on military formalities.3 By 1841, Scott became the commanding general of the U.S. army -- holding this position until 1861. During this time he served in other wars such as The Mexican War (1846-48), he was responsible for the capture of Veracruz and the ending of the war in Mexico City.4
In the late 1850s, Scott was appointed by the President of the United States to replace General Harney as commander of the U.S. troops on San Juan Island. He was specifically chosen by the president due to him being an officer upon whose discretion and moderation he can entirely rely.5 Scott’s military responsibility in San Juan was the proposal of a joint military occupation that would be maintained with only 100 men from each respective government.6
With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Scott proposed a strategy to split the Confederation which was ridiculed and refused -- forcing his retirement in November of that same year.7 He stayed in retirement until his death at the age of 79 on 29 May 1866 in New York, at his death he had been in the military service for 53 years, 47 of which were as general.8 Although Scott had an expansive military career and men like Ulysses S. Grant considered him the finest specimen of manhood my eyes had ever beheld,9 Scott was also responsible for a tragedy done unto the Cherokee tribe in Georgia. In 1838, Scott led a force of 7000 men to forcibly remove the peaceful Cherokee tribe from their land -- known as the “Trail of Tears.” The homes of the Cherokee were burnt down, possessions were stolen, they were forced to move by foot without food or protection from the cold weather, and by the end of the movement 4000 of the 15 000 Cherokee individuals died under Scott’s supervision.10
Mentions of this person in the documents
People in this document

Grant, Ulysses S.

Harney, William Selby

Places in this document

New York

San Juan Island

The Colonial Despatches Team. Scott, General Winfield. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. The Colonial Despatches Team. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/scott.html.

Last modified: 2020-12-02 13:40:34 -0800 (Wed, 02 Dec 2020) (SVN revision: 5008)