military officer; born in Petersburg, Va., June 13, 1786; graduated at
the College of William and Mary in 1804; was admitted to the bar in
1806, but entered the army as captain of artillery in 1808; became
lieutenant-colonel of artillery in 1812, and adjutant-general, with the
rank of colonel, in March, 1813. He was among the prisoners captured at
Queenston Heights, and sent to Quebec, with other prisoners of the
regular army. There the captives were all paroled excepting twenty -
three, who were claimed as British subjects. All the prisoners had been
placed on a cartel-ship to be sent to Boston. A party of British
officers came on board, mustered the captives,
General Winfield Scott
and began separating from
the rest those who, by their accent, were found to be Irishmen. These
they intended to send to England to be tried for treason. Scott, who was
below, hearing a commotion on deck, and informed of the cause, coming
up, entered a vehement protest against the proceedings. He ordered his
soldiers to be absolutely silent, that their voices might not betray
them. He was frequently ordered to go below. He refused, and his
soldiers obeyed him. The twenty-three already detected were taken away.
Scott assured the officers that if the British government dared to touch
a hair of their heads his own government would retaliate in kind and
avenge the outrage. He defied the menacing officers. When he was
exchanged in January, 1813, he laid the matter before the Secretary of
War. He pressed the subject upon the attention of Congress. The
President was already vested with power to retaliate, but he never had
occasion to do so.
MEDAL AWARDED TO GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT.
After his exchange, under General Dearborn, he commanded the advance
in the attack on Fort George, May 27, 1813, where he was badly burned by
the explosion of the magazine. In the fall he commanded the advance of
Wilkinson's army in its descent of the St. Lawrence to attack Montreal.
In the spring of 1814 he was made a brigadier-general, established a
camp of instruction at Buffalo, and early in July gained a victory over
the British at Chippewa (see CHIPPEWA, BATTLE OF). Later in the month he
fought successfully in the battle of LUNDY'S LANE (q. v.), where he was
seriously wounded in the shoulder, which left one of his arms partially
disabled. For his services in that battle he received the thanks of
Congress and a gold medal. At the close of the war he was promoted to
major-general, with the thanks of Congress and a gold medal for his
services, and was sent to Europe in a military and diplomatic capacity.
In 1832 he was in command of the United States forces at Charleston
Harbor, during the nullification troubles, and his discretion did much
to avert civil war. He was afterwards engaged in the war with the
Seminoles and the
Creeks, and in 1838 was efficient in accomplishing the
peaceful removal of the
Cherokees from Georgia. His discreet conduct on
the northern and eastern frontiers of the United States in 1839 did much
to allay public irritation on both sides. On the death of General Macomb
in 1841, Scott became general-in-chief of the armies of the United
States, and in 1847 he went to Mexico as chief commander of the American
armies there. In a campaign of about six months he became the conqueror
of that country, and in the Mexican capital he proclaimed the fact in
September, 1847. See MEXICO, WAR WITH.
1852 he was the candidate of the Whig party for President of the United
States, and in 1859 he, as United States commissioner, successfully
settled a dispute arising about the boundary-line between the United
States and British America through the Strait of Fuca, on the Pacific
coast. When the Civil War broke out, his age and infirmities
incapacitated him for taking the chief command. In a letter addressed to
Governor Seward on the day preceding
Lincoln's inauguration (March 3, 1861), he suggested the limitation
of the President's field of action in the premises to four
measures—namely, 1. To adopt the Crittenden Compromise; 2. To collect
duties outside the ports of seceding States or blockade them; 3. To
conquer those States at the end of a long, expensive, and desolating
war, and to no good purpose; and, 4. To say to the seceded States, "
Wayward sisters, depart in peace!" He was retired from the service Nov.
1, 1861, retaining his rank, pay, and allowances, and was succeeded by
GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT'S LAST
MEETING WITH LINCOLN AND HIS CABINET.
Upon the occasion of his retirement, President Lincoln and the entire
cabinet waited upon him in a body to pay their respects to one who had
rendered notable service to his country. In 1864 he made a brief visit
to Europe. He published a Life of General Scott, prepared by himself. He
died in West Point, N. Y., May 29, 1866.