Autobiography of General Winfield Scott

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Autobiography of General Winfield Scott

This document is a typed excerpt from vol.1 of the Memoirs of Lieut.- General Scott, published in 1864. Scott was one of the primary officials involved in the military operations related to the removal of the Cherokees (1838-39) to a territory west of the Mississippi River. Scott's autobiography contains observations on the relations between the Cherokees and the white settlers in the surrounding states, primarily Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. This excerpt contains several minor typographical variations from Scott's memoirs.

Civilization of the Cherokees.
Excerpt from the Autobiography of Lieut. General Scott. New York, 1864. Vol. 1, p. 318.

"The Cherokees were an interesting people - the greater number Christians, an [and] many as civilized as their neighbors of the white race. Between the two colors intermarriages had been frequent. They occupied a contiguous territory - healthy mountains, valleys, and plains lying in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Most of their leading men had received good educations, and possessed much ability. Some were quite wealthy in cultivated farms, good houses, cattle of every kind, and negro slaves. Gardens and orchards were seen everywhere and the women graceful, with, in many cases, added beauty. Of course the mixed races are here particularly alluded to. The mountaineers were still wild men, but little on this side of their primordial condition.

The North Carolinians and the Tennesseans were kindly disposed towards their red brethren. The Alabamians were much less so. The great difficulty was with the Georgians (more than Half the army), between whom and the Cherokees there had been feuds and wars for many generations. The reciprocal hatred of these two races was probably never surpassed. Almost every Georgian, on leaving home, as well as after their arrival at New Echota, - the centre [center] of the most populous district of the Indian territory - vowed never to return without having killed at least one Indian. This ferocious language was the more remarkable as the great body of these citizens - perhaps, seven in ten - were professors of religion. The Methodists, Baptist, and other ministers of the Gospel of Mercy, had been extensively abroad among them; but the hereditary animosity alluded to caused the Georgians to forget, or, at least, to deny that a Cherokee was a human being."

Repository: Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tenn.
Collection: State Library Cherokee Collection
Box: 19
Folder: 10
Document: ch098

Recommended Reading: Winfield Scott and the Profession of Arms (Hardcover: 328 pages) (Kent State University Press). Description: Winfield Scott And The Profession Of Arms is the true story of Winfield Scott (1786-1866), who is perhaps best known for his role in bringing professionalism to the U.S. Army during his long military career (1807-61). He served as general in the War of 1812, major figure during the Indian Wars, key character in the "Trail of Tears", commanded U.S. forces in the final campaign of the Mexican American War, and was the general-in-chief at the beginning of the Civil War. Continued below…

Additionally, he was a presidential candidate and foe or friend to every president from Madison to Lincoln. History professor emeritus Allan Peskin draws upon research in the National Archives to unearth a comprehensive portrait of General Scott as a visionary managerial officer, who anticipated drastic changes in technology and business principles for the military and adapted in response. An indepth, balanced biography of a remarkable figure and his lasting legacy.

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Editor's Choice: Agent Of Destiny: The Life And Times Of General Winfield Scott (Hardcover). Description: It's about time somebody wrote a biography of Winfield Scott, and reading this fascinating account by accomplished military historian John S. D. Eisenhower, you'll wonder why nobody did it sooner. Scott's career spanned an astonishing 54 years and he spent most of it as a general. Continued below...

He was one of the few American heroes to emerge from the War of 1812; he launched a daring and successful invasion of Mexico in 1847; and he defended a vulnerable Washington, D.C., during the first months of the Lincoln administration in 1861. Scott was a profoundly courageous man with a flair for the organizational side of military life. Yet an unseemly amount of ambition and vanity marred his character, even as these qualities help make him an interesting subject for Eisenhower (who is, you guessed it, the son of Ike). Agent of Destiny is a skilled portrait of a man who is often overshadowed by the generation of Civil War leaders following him. Eisenhower deserves our thanks for writing this magnificent book about a vital figure.

 

Recommended Reading: Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory (Hardcover). Description: One of the most important public figures in antebellum America, Winfield Scott is known today more for his swagger than his sword. "Old Fuss and Feathers" was a brilliant military commander whose tactics and strategy were innovative adaptations from European military theory; yet he was often underappreciated by his contemporaries and until recently overlooked by historians. Although John Eisenhower's recently published Agent of Destiny provides a solid summary of Scott's remarkable life, Timothy D. Johnson's much deeper critical exploration of this flawed genius will become the standard work. Thoroughly grounded in an essential understanding of nineteenth-century military professionalism, Johnson's work draws extensively on unpublished sources to reveal neglected aspects of Scott's life, present a complete view of his career, and accurately balance criticism and praise. Continued below…

Johnson dramatically relates the key features of Scott's career: how he led troops to victory in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, fought against the Seminoles and Creeks, and was instrumental in professionalizing the U.S. Army, which he commanded for two decades. He also tells how Scott tried to introduce French methods into army tactical manuals, and how he applied his study of the Napoleonic Wars during the Mexico City campaign but found European strategy of little use against Indians. Johnson further suggests that Scott's creation of an officer corps that boasted Grant, Lee, McClellan, and other veterans of the Mexican War raises important questions about his influence on Civil War generalship. More than a military history, this book explains how Scott's aristocratic pretensions were out of place with emerging notions of equality in Jacksonian America and made him an unappealing political candidate in his bid for the presidency. Johnson recounts the details of Scott's personality that alienated nearly everyone who knew him, as well as the unsavory methods Scott used to promote his career and the scandalous ways he attempted to alleviate his lifelong financial troubles. Although Scott's legendary vanity has tarnished his place among American military leaders, he also possessed great talent and courage. Johnson's biography offers the most balanced portrait available of Scott by never losing sight of the whole man. 

 
Recommended Viewing: 500 Nations (372 minutes). Description: 500 Nations is an eight-part documentary (more than 6 hours and that's not including its interactive CD-ROM filled with extra features) that explores the history of the indigenous peoples of North and Central America, from pre-Colombian times through the period of European contact and colonization, to the end of the 19th century and the subjugation of the Plains Indians of North America. 500 Nations utilizes historical texts, eyewitness accounts, pictorial sources and computer graphic reconstructions to explore the magnificent civilizations which flourished prior to contact with Western civilization, and to tell the dramatic and tragic story of the Native American nations' desperate attempts to retain their way of life against overwhelming odds. Continued below...
Mention the word "Indian," and most will conjure up images inspired by myths and movies: teepees, headdresses, and war paint; Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, and their battles (like Little Big Horn) with the U.S. Cavalry. Those stories of the so-called "horse nations" of the Great Plains are all here, but so is a great deal more. Using impressive computer imaging, photos, location film footage and breathtaking cinematography, interviews with present-day Indians, books and manuscripts, museum artifacts, and more, Leustig and his crew go back more than a millennium to present an fascinating account of Indians, including those (like the Maya and Aztecs in Mexico and the Anasazi in the Southwest) who were here long before white men ever reached these shores.
It was the arrival of Europeans like Columbus, Cortez, and DeSoto that marked the beginning of the end for the Indians. Considering the participation of host Kevin Costner, whose film Dances with Wolves was highly sympathetic to the Indians, it's no bulletin that 500 Nations also takes a compassionate view of the multitude of calamities--from alcohol and disease to the corruption of their culture and the depletion of their vast natural resources--visited on them by the white man in his quest for land and money, eventually leading to such horrific events as the Trail of Tears "forced march," the massacre at Wounded Knee, and other consequences of the effort to "relocate" Indians to the reservations where many of them still live. Along the way, we learn about the Indians' participation in such events as the American Revolution and the War of 1812, as well as popular legends like the first Thanksgiving (it really happened) and the rescue of Captain John Smith by Pocahontas (it probably didn't).
 
Recommended Reading: Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World: 15,000 Years of Inventions and Innovations (Facts on File Library of American History) (Hardcover). Editorial Review from Booklist: More than 450 inventions and innovations that can be traced to indigenous peoples of North, Middle, and South America are described in this wonderful encyclopedia. Criteria for selection are that the item or concept must have originated in the Americas, it must have been used by the indigenous people, and it must have been adopted in some way by other cultures. Continued below...

Some of the innovations may have been independently developed in other parts of the world (geometry, for example, was developed in ancient China, Greece, and the Middle East as well as in the Americas) but still fit all three criteria. The period of time covered is 25,000 B.C. to the twentieth century. Among the entries are Adobe, Agriculture, Appaloosa horse breed, Chocolate, Cigars, Diabetes medication, Freeze-drying, Hydraulics, Trousers, Urban planning, and Zoned biodiversity. Readers will find much of the content revealing. The authors note that the Moche "invented the electrochemical production of electricity" although they used it only for electroplating, a process they developed "more than a thousand years" before the Europeans, who generally get the credit. The Aztec medical system was far more comprehensive than anything available in Europe at the time of contact.

 

The Encyclopedia of American Indian Contributions to the World is an "Eyeopener to the innumerable contributions of the American Indian to our nation and to world civilizations...."

 

The awards it has won and some of the print reviews this book has received are listed below.

Winner 11th Annual Colorado Book Award, Collections and Anthologies

Winner Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers Writer of the Year, Creative Reference Work, 2002

Selected by Booklist as Editors Choice Reference Source, 2002

"This is a well-written book with fascinating information and wonderful pictures. It should be in every public, school, and academic library for its depth of research and amazing wealth of knowledge. We've starred this title because it is eye-opening and thought-provoking, and there is nothing else quite like it." Booklist Starred Review

"[An] interesting, informative, and inspiring book." Native Peoples Magazine

"I would strongly urge anyone with a kernel of intellectual curiosity: teacher, administrator, researcher, lawyer, politician, writer, to buy this book. I guarantee it will enlighten, stimulate and entertain...Native students and indigenous instructors must obtain their own copies of the Encyclopedia. Whether Cree, Mayan or Penobscot they will find a deep source of pride on each and every page. I can well imagine the excitement of Native teachers when they obtain the book followed by an eagerness to share its contents with everyone within reach."

"I hope the Encyclopedia will serve as the basis for an entirely new approach to Native history, one in which the scholar is liberated from the anti-Indian texts of the recent past. Ideally, a copy of the Encyclopedia should be in every class in every school across the hemisphere." Akwesasne Notes-Indian Time–Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association and the Akwesasne Communications Society

"Highly recommended for academic libraries keeping collections about American Indians." Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

"Native accomplishments finally get their due in this award-winning book." American Indian Report

"A treasure trove of information about the large range of technologies and productions of Indian peoples. This is indeed the most comprehensive compilation of American Indian inventions and contributions to date. It is most worthwhile and should be on the bookshelves of every library and home in America." Indian Country Today

"This large, well-illustrated volume is an excellent reference. One of the important strengths of the encyclopedia is that the information provided is balanced and rooted in facts, not speculation. Highly recommended." Multicultural Review

"Far from the stereotypical idea that Native Americans were uncultured and simple, possessing only uncomplicated inventions such as bows and arrows or canoes, these varied cultures donated a rich assortment of ideas and items to the world. This book can be recommended to libraries that support an interdisciplinary approach to student learning, such as units that integrate biology and culture studies projects." VOYA: Voice of Youth Advocates

"...a comprehensive, unique A to Z reference to the vast offerings made by the American Indians throughout history." Winds of Change (American Indian Science and Engineering Society)

"We bought one for each center. It is a GREAT resource." Ann Rutherford, Director Learning Resources Center, Oglala Lakota College

 

"As I travel to conferences and host presentations, I take your book as a reference and to show individuals. It allows science, engineering and math students to gain insight into the traditional knowledge held about these and related subjects. I believe it empowers them to know this knowledge is already within. To balance contemporary knowledge within that context creates a student who can experience a topic from a number of perspectives." Jacqueline Bolman, Director, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology Scientific Knowledge for Indian Learning and Leadership (SKILL)/NASA Honors Program

 

"…the three page introduction alone makes this book a valuable resource as it sets forth the circumstances which led the invaders to change their initial writings of wonder at the advanced native societies…I hope a way can be found to put this book in the hands of our youth and all who touch them." Carter Camp, American Indian rights activist, Ponca tribal leader and founder of Kansas/Oklahoma AIM

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