Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott (1786-1866)

Winfield Scott (* 13. June 1786 in Laurel Branch, close Petersburg, Virginia; † 29. May 1866 in west POINT, N.Y.) were an US-American general, diplomat and a politician. He was a general with the longest service in US history and was considered as the most capable American officer its time. In the run it served its more than fifty-year old career in the war of 1812, in the Mexican-American war, with numerous campaigns against Indians and also for short time in American civil war. 1852 was it in addition candidate of the Whig party for the office of the president, was subject however to the democrat Franklin Pierce. Scott remained nevertheless a popular national personality and received to 1855 the Brevet rank of a lieutenant general; to date only George Washington had had this title.

Table of contents

training and entrance into the US army

Winfield Scott became to 13. June 1786 on the yard of its family in close proximity to Petersburg (Virginia) born. Its father was a relatively wealthy farmer, who had served in the war of independence as a captain. Its parents deceased very early.

It visited the college OF William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, attorney and in the militia Virginias to the Korporal was carried. 1808 one transferred it as a captain of the artillery to US Army. Nearly 2 meters largely Scott was already physical an impressing personality. In addition a pronounced vanity came. It is maintained, it admired itself in its first uniform several hours in the mirror. Pronouncedly were with it also a strong knowledge thirst, a rapid apprehension and a large education hunger. He learned Greek, latin, Rhetorik as well as philosophy and was concerned intensively with military tactics. It procured itself the newest works of European authors over strategy and had during its campaigns always an extensive library with military classical authors with itself. With its founded military-theoretical knowledge it was in US Army of its time coined/shaped by amateurs an exception feature. Its validity urge brought it however also into substantial difficulties. It reached soon the rank of a highest one, however because of a controversy with a superior, whom it had publicly criticized, for one year was degradiert. In later time he was also often criticized for his handling public funds, however never with larger effects on its career [1].

war of 1812

with outbreak of the war of 1812 with Great Britain was Scott again Colonels. As such it turned out with the heavy American defeat in the battle of Queenston Heights to 13. October 1812 into British shank, from which he came by a prisoner exchange soon again freely. It had led a contingent of regular troops, which had crossed the Niagara during the battle, but had been cut off and to the surrender forced. Scott expressed publicly sharp criticism at “schwachköpfigen” officer colleagues and at the American strategy altogether, approximately at the campaign of 1813 on the Niagara - peninsula, where he its opinion after by an incompetent superior (major general Henry Dearborn, which highest-ranking officer of the US army) by crucial impacts against the British whom were subject in terms of figures far held back was. At the embarrassing defeats of this campaign (battles with Stoney Creek and Beaver Dams) it did not have a portion and did not lose by it - differently than some its colleagues - its good reputation.

Since Scott had proven 1813 as a prudent and competent commander with large personal courage, president James Madison implemented his transport in March 1814 to the Brigadier General . Scott was thereby a youngest general of the US army and took over the command over one in Buffalo stationed brigade, which suffered from diseases, bad moral and desertions. It began immediately to form these units after its conceptions. The officers were trained in combat tactics, which crews over several months up to the complete exhaustion gedrillt. Scott provided also for a thorough improvement of the sanitary conditions, which led to a clear decrease of the diseases. In this way it formed an efficient, well trained and homogeneous major unit, flösste its soldier new self-assurance in and acquired themselves with its founded military knowledge, its guidance talent and its personal courage their respect.

Scott führt seine Brigade in der Schlacht bei Chippewa
Scott leads its brigade in the battle with Chippewa

with its brigade participated Scott in July 1814 at Jacob Browns invasion in Canada , the last and most serious attempt to conquer this British colony for the USA. With this it succeeded to about 2,000 men comprehensive major unit to it to 5. July to cause British troops under major general Phineas Riall in the battle with Chippewa a sensitive defeat. Scott proved in this combat as a master of classical infantry tactics. It broke through ausgefühten attack the lines of the British with a fast, skillfully and forced it to a hasty retreat. This victory formed the foundation-stone for Scotts further career, remained however without durable military effects. Since the Americans missed it to use their success in time they lost the crucial battle with Lundy's Lane to 25. June 1814 against the substantially strengthened British under Sir Gordon Drummond. Scotts aggressiveness, which had brought in with Chippewa the victory for him, had here tragic consequences, because its brigade was destroyed to a large extent in this extremely involving heavy losses battle with a frontal attack against strong British federations, it was heavily wounded. Until he had recovered, the war was to end. Critics accused it of, it its of soldiers of its personal fame craze and vanity sacrificed, changed however nothing to the fact that Scott came out publicly far away from the war of 1812 as a celebrated hero. After the war it could continue therefore its efforts around improved training of the army and the Professionalisierung of the officer corps. Thus it coined/shaped the American army in 19. Century and beyond that. Several famous officers of the American civil war such as Robert E. Lee gained their first military experiences under its command.

Also in personal regard much did for Scott after the war - 1816 it married Maria D. Mayo, which from a well-known and wealthy virginischen family originated. From the marriage seven children followed, from whom however four already deceased in the infancy.

campaigns against the Indians

although it due to his character numerous enemies made itself - with Andrew Jackson it should have been so together-guessed/advised that both arranged a duel, but on the fight did without, because everyone of the courage of the other one was convinced - received it further important commands. 1832 kommandierte Scott troops in the Black Hawk war, in the same year he was commander in chief of the federal troops, in the so-called Nullifikationskrise (see also Nullifikationsdoktrin) for an employment against the Federal State South Carolina deployed. He was used also in the second Seminolenkrieg (1835 - 1842) into Florida. it on instruction president Martin Van Burens the Deportation of the Cherokee forced 1838 - Indians from Georgia into the Indian territory in the today's Oklahoma, the so-called path of the tears. Due to bad climatic conditions, unsatisfactory organization and indifference of the Americans here about 4,000 Indians died. Although Scott divided certainly the racistic attitude of most of its compatriots opposite the Indians, he was human enough to stop due to these experiences the Deportation which him substantial criticism of the responsible persons, among other things Andrew Jacksons, brought in. In March 1839 Scott mediated with tensions between the US Federal State Maine and the Canadian province new Braunschweig (the so-called. Aroostook war).

Mexican-American war

1841 became Scott major general and commander in chief of the army. During the Mexican-American war (1846 - 1848), it kommandierte the southern of the two US armies, which advanced to Mexico. It landed with Veracruz, took the city to 27. March 1847 and followed, possibly by William H. Prescotts book „the conquest of Mexico “inspires, the route of the Spanish Conquistadors Hernán Cortés of 1519 toward Mexico city. Scotts opponent in this campaign was a Mexican president and general Antonio López de Santa Anna. Scott struck the Mexicans in the battle of Cerro Gordo to 18. April 1847, after its pioneers had found a mountain path, it the Americans made possible to go around the opposing position. To 19. and 20. August defeated it it again in two following each other battles with Contreras and Churubuscu, whereby the way was free after Mexico city. After futile negotiations the Americans in the bloody battle of Molino del Rey conquered to 8. September Mexican positions close Mexico city. To 13. September succeeded to covering continuations at two-day fights in the battle of Capultepec the income of this important, the capital. On instruction Scotts became in the moment, in which the American flag on the away was to be seen, which with Churubuscu imprisoned taken member of the San Patricios, a group usually irischstämmiger American in Mexican war services, in great quantities hung, since it regarded these as deserters and a traitor. Until today one judges the status of these soldiers and their execution controversially; the latter is partly regarded as war crime, partly as legitimate punishment of national traitors. To 15. Septembers penetrated the Americans after renewed bloody fights in Mexico city, after Santa Anna had withdrawn its troops from the city. As a commander of military of the city Scott acquired itself the respect both the Mexican and the US authorities. Arguments within its officer corps and the animosity of the government of president James K. Polk because of its affiliation to the Whig party led to its separation. Even a preliminary investigation was introduced, in order to examine the disciplinary actions Scotts against these disloyal officers. The reproaches were left however to fall and the general for the brilliant guidance of the campaign with gold medal of the congress was honoured.

presidency candidacy, war of secession and last days

1852 stood as a candidate Scott for the party of the Whigs with the choice to the president of the USA, lost however against Franklin Pierce, the candidate of the democrats. Scotts defeat had different reasons. Its slavery attitude rather rejecting cost it particularly in the south voices, while the rather slavery-friendly party program of the Whigs prevented its choice in the north. In addition also its opponent Pierce was as a Brigadier General a veteran of the war against Mexico. Scott could achieve therefore only four states with 42 elector voices and was subject to Pierce clearly.

Election result 1852

defiance of its defeat it enjoyed further large popularity, was however due to its pronounced vanity, validity craze and Korpulenz also target of innumerable anecdotes, jokes and caricatures. Because of its insisting on military label and discipline one gave him the pointed name „old foot and Feathers “; the designation than „Grand old one was more respectful OF the Army “(„large old man of the army “). The congress carried 1855 calculation for this popularity, when it lent honour for the sake of Scott the title of a lieutenant general. He was thereby after George Washington the second American, who had been carried to this rank.

Although Scott originated from the Southern States, he was an opponent of the secession and remained therefore for the union faithful. When the civil war broke 1861 off, Scott, which was too old, ill and over weighty for a field command, offered the supreme command over the federal army Colonel Robert E. Lee on, which accepted a command in the army of the Konföderierten however after the withdrawal Virginias from the union. Scott did not believe contrary to the majority of the politicians and military of the north that a fast victory was possible against the Southern States. It sketched a campaign plan, which planned, to occupy gradual important terrain like the Mississippi as well as the ports at the Atlantic and at the gulf from Mexico to and advance from there after Atlanta. One made oneself publicly merry over this plan, since nearly all politicians proceeded and military from a short war. Rising criticism at the war guidance, last after the defeat in combat with Ball's bluff, as well as plots of major general George B. McClellan, the commander in chief of the Potomac army, arranged Scotts resignation at the 1. November 1861. Its successor became McClellan. Scott, which wrote after its Verabschiedung its memoirs and to Europe traveled, experienced still that its „Anakonda plan was taken up “and by the blockade of the ports and the campaigns Shermans as war crucial proved in particular. Scott died to 29. May 1866, briefly before its 80-birthday, in west POINT.


  • Eisenhower, John S.D.: Agent OF Destiny: The would run and of Time OF general Winfield Scott, Norman 1999, ISBN 0806131284
  • Peskin, Allan: Winfield Scott and the Profession OF of arm, Kent 2003, ISBN 0873387740
  • Scott, Winfield: Note IR OF Lieut.General Scott LL.D (2 volumes), Sheldon, New York 1864

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