SCOTT Winfield 17861866

Winfield Scott (see Plate Al) was quite possibly the greatest soldier the United States ever produced; he had the bad luck, however, to fight in the country's minor wars rather than her major ones. He was born near Petersburg, Virginia, on 13 June 1786, but was orphaned at an early age. He was graduated from William and Mary in 1804 and then studied law. However, rather than practice, he accepted an artillery captain's commission in 1808. He became a lieutenant-colonel in 1812 and adjutant general, ranking as a colonel, in March 1813.

During the War of 1812 he was captured by the British at Queenstown Heights but soon exchanged. Colonel Scott was badly burned in the magazine explosion at Fort Ceorge on 27 May 1813 - an operation which he commanded in co-operation with Cdre. Oliver H.Perry. Recovering, Scott became a brigadier-general in early 1814, and won the battle of Chippewa (5 July 1814). He was made a major-general at the end of the war.

After the war Scott traveled in Europe for a time; he prepared military manuals, served in wars with the Seminoles and Creeks, and removed the Cherokees from Georgia. In 1841 he was named general-in-chief of the armies of the United States. Politically Scott was a Whig, and when war with Mexico broke out in 1846 the then-President, Polk, did not want to give him any opportunity to win a victory that might make him a presidential candidate. However, fearing that Zachary Taylor was winning just such victories 011 the Mexican border, he did finally let Scott command a field army. Scott's landings at Vera Cruz (March 1847) opened a masterly six-month campaign during which he drove west from the coast, captured Mexico City against great odds (14 September 1847), and brought the war to a victorious end. Thereafter Scott was indeed nominated as the Whig presidential candidate in 1852, but lost the election. In 1859 he was the United States commissioner who successfully settled a border dispute between the United States and Britain concerning the Canadian border.

The senior ranks of the pre-war army were characterized by extreme old age, and when the Civil War broke out Scott was well past his prime. Nonetheless, his military mind was still sharp. He wrote to the new administration's Secretary of State on 3 March 1861 that the seceding states could be conquered, but it would take "two or three years, a young and able general - a Wolfe, a Dessaix, or a Hoche - with three hundred thousand disciplined men (kept up to that number), estimating a third for garrison, and the loss of a yet greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles, and Southern fevers. The destruction of life and property 011 the other side would be frightful - however perfect the moral discipline of the invaders." At this time Scott was virtually the only individual 011 the continent who foresaw what such a war would entail; most leaders predicted a short fight with little cost.

However, since it was determined that the Federal government would light to keep the country together, Scott drew up a plan to win the war. This called for a naval blockade of Southern ports, an army drive to open the Mississippi to split the Confederacy in half, and then the crushing of the rebellion piecemeal. This appreciation, called the "Anaconda Plan", eventually formed the basis of the Federal war effort and, indeed, won the war.

On 30 December 1860, Scott had written to President Buchanan an apology for sending a note with ideas on the national crisis, adding, "It is Sunday, the weather is bad, and General Scott [he habitually referred to himself in the third person] is not well enough even to go to church." Finally, he wrote in his memoirs: "A cripple, unable to walk without assistance for three years. Scott. 011 retiring from all military

When the Civil War broke out the US Army had only four line officers of general rank: Winfield Scott (illustrated), David E.Twigg, John E.Wool, and William S.Harney. The last named was the only one under 70 years of age, and the only one who had not fought in the War of 1812. Winfield Scott had been directly commissioned into the army by President Jefferson in 1808, and had earned his first general's star in the War of 1812. When the Civil War broke out he had already been the army's commanding general for 20 years.

Scott and his staff in full dress. By 1861 he was 74 years old, grossly fat, and infirm to the point of being unable to ride and hardly able to walk. Nevertheless, the aged victor of Chippewa, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco and Chapultepec designed the strategy that eventually won the Civil War. Possibly America's greatest soldier, Scott lived to see Union victory before dying at West Point in 1866.

Scott and his staff in full dress. By 1861 he was 74 years old, grossly fat, and infirm to the point of being unable to ride and hardly able to walk. Nevertheless, the aged victor of Chippewa, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco and Chapultepec designed the strategy that eventually won the Civil War. Possibly America's greatest soldier, Scott lived to see Union victory before dying at West Point in 1866.

duty, October 31, 1861 - being broken down by official labors of from nine to seventeen hours a day, with a decided tendency to vertigo and dropsy, I had the honor to be waited on by President Lincoln, at the head of his Cabinet, who, in a neat and affecting address, took leave of the worn-out soldier." After retirement Winfield Scott went abroad for a short time before settling at West Point, where he died on 29 May 1866, having lived long enough to see victory achieved more or less as he had predicted. He lies in the Post Cemetery at the Academy.

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