Winfield Scott

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Winfield Scott (1786-1866) - Born 13 Jun 1786 near Petersburg, Virginia. A career U.S. Army officer. Died 29 May 1866 at West Point, New York and he is buried in West Point Cemetery.

General Winfield Scott, "Old Fuss and Feathers"

He attended the College of William and Mary, but did not graduate. He briefly studied law, but gave up on that profession to enter the army in 1808 as a Captain, commissioned by Thomas Jefferson. A long and highly distinguished military career followed.


War of 1812

In the War of 1812, Scott served as a Lt. Col. in Canada; he was captured by the British at Queenston Heights and detained a year before being released in a prisoner exchange. Scott resumed his duties, was promoted to brigadier general in March 1814, and played a major role at Lundy’s Lane where he was seriously wounded. Following the war, Scott traveled in Europe and studied military tactics.

In 1832, Scott saw service in the Black Hawk War and later was sent by Andrew Jackson to Charleston to calm the South Carolinians during the nullification crisis. In 1838, Scott was responsible for overseeing the removal of the Cherokees from Georgia across the Trail of Tears to reservations in the West. Later that same year he played a role in quieting tensions during the Caroline affair and in 1839 helped to negotiate a truce in the Aroostook War. Scott was appointed general-in-chief of the U.S. army in 1841 and occupied that position for 20 years.

Mexican War

Scott was commander of American forces in the Mexican War, taking personal command of forces in the southern campaign, while Zachary Taylor headed the northern campaign. Naval forces supplemented Scott’s forces in the capture of Vera Cruz in early 1847. He then began a long march westward toward Mexico City, which included major actions at Cerro Gordo, Contreras, Churubusco and Chapultepec. Scott occupied the Mexican national palace in September 1847. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on 9 Mar 1848 for his efforts in the Mexican War.


As a national war hero and a Whig, Scott drew the attention of Democratic rivals in Washington. He was recalled by President James K. Polk in 1848 to face a court of inquiry, but all charges were promptly dismissed.

In the Election of 1852 Scott gained the Whig nomination, but proved to be a poor candidate and lost handily to Franklin Pierce.

Scott continued his military command and was dispatched to the Washington Territory to resolve the dispute "Pig War" with Britain in the San Juan Islands in 1859.

U.S. Civil War

Despite his Southern origins, Scott opposed secession. By the time the first fighting began, Scott was in very poor health. He was 75 years old, had ballooned to more than 300 pounds and had to be carried about on a door. Scott had recommended to Abraham Lincoln that the leading field command be offered to Robert E. Lee. Lincoln made the offer, but Lee declined.

Scott proposed the “Anaconda Plan” as the means to slowly crush the South from a variety of directions. His recommendations for blockades, soldiers and time were ridiculed by many; the prevailing attitude in both the North and South was that the conflict would be short. The Union disaster at the First Battle of Bull Run began the vindication of Scott’s foresight.

Lincoln accepted Scott’s resignation in November 1861. He lived on until 1866, enjoying the opportunity to write his memoirs, travel in Europe and see his views on the conduct of the war largely justified.

Winfield Scott was widely known as “Old Fuss and Feathers” because of his penchant for military procedures and finery. Nevertheless, he was generally respected by his officers and men despite his frequent lapses of diplomacy. Scott is often cited as the most able American military commander between the careers of Washington and Lee.

Fort Scott (4) at Plattsburgh, New York was named for him early in his career while he was a Lt. Colonel. Fort Winfield Scott (1) and Fort Winfield Scott (2) in San Francisco, California were later named for him.

Father: William Scott (1747-1792)

Mother: Ann Mason (1747-1803)


  • Lucy Baker (1795-1816) Married 1812 in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Maria De Hart Mayo (1789-1862) Married 11 Mar 1817, Belville, Richmond, Virginia


  • John Baker Scott (1816-) born 2 Feb 1816, Laurel Branch, Dinwiddie, Virginia.
  • Maria Mayo Scott (1818-1833) born 17 Oct 1818, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 1833.
  • John Mayo Scott (1819-1820) born 18 Apr 1819, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 23 Sep 1820 in Virginia.
  • Virginia Scott (1821-1845) born 1821, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 26 Aug 1845.
  • Edward Winfield Scott (1823-1827) born 23 Mar 1823, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 17 May 1827.
  • Cornelia Scott (1825-1886) born 1825, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 1886.
  • Adeline Camilla Scott (1834-1882) born 1 Jan 1834, Hampton Place, Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Died 22 Feb 1882.


  • (-) Rank (dor), Unit, Job

Personal Description:

  • Height: 6' 5"
  • Build: Large (230 lbs)
  • Hair Color:
  • Eye Color:


  • Eisenhower, John S.D., Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott, University of Oklahoma Press, 1999, ISBN 0806131284.


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