An Elderly Union Veteran

Winfield Scott was America's most honored soldier at the time the Civil War began. He joined the army in 1808, led troops in the War of 1812, commanded the American forces that conquered Mexico City in 1848, and was the Whig Party's presidential candidate in 1852. He was also the first military man to hold the rank of lieutenant general since George Washington. Scott was respected in the North for his loyalty. Though born and raised in slave-holding Virginia, he stood by the Union. He died in 1866 and is buried in New York State at the U.S. Army Military Academy at West Point.

The young and the old

Throughout history, there have been famous old soldiers and very brave, very young ones. When the Civil War first broke out, seventy-four-year-old Lieutenant General Winfield Scott led the Union army. He was in poor health, weighed more than three hundred pounds, and had trouble sitting on a horse. But before leaving the army in November, 1861, he developed a broad military strategy that later led to union victory. For his part, John Clem of Ohio won national attention when, as a ten-year-old, he survived the vicious combat at the Battle of Shiloh, Tennessee, in April, 1862. He had forced himself on the men of the 22nd Michigan as their drummer boy. At Shiloh, enemy shell fragments smashed his little drum. Drawings of Clem appeared in newspapers, along with stories of his narrow escape, and made him a celebrity. But he was not the only extremely young volunteer. More than 3,900 boys aged sixteen and under wrangled their way into the union army, and it is estimated that there were even more boy soldiers serving the Confederacy. Although soldiers in both armies were supposed to be between the ages of eighteen and forty-six, near the war's end, Southern states encouraged boys as young as fifteen to join the militia and pressed elderly men into military service.


Gray wool tunic

Noncommissioned officer's dress sword

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