General Winfield Scott


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Scott, WINFIELD, 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 Scott

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.

General Scott Gold Metal


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.

General Scott Civil WarIn 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 General McClellan.

General Scott and Abraham Lincoln


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.




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