General Winfield Scott

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"Old Fuss and Feathers"

General Winfield Scott
General Winfield Scott.jpg
General Winfield Scott in 1862. LOC.

General Winfield Scott
General Winfield Scott.jpg
General Winfield Scott in 1861. Unretouched. LOC.

General Winfield Scott
"Grand Old Man of the Army"

Introduction
 
General Winfield Scott was an American legend whose military career spanned more than 50 years, from the nation's Founding Fathers to President Abraham Lincoln. A confidant of Andrew Jackson, Scott was appointed by "Old Hickory" himself for many military operations, including the enforcement of the Indian Removal in the 1830s. With a rich biography full of unmatched military accomplishments, Winfield Scott fought alongside Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812 and later advised President Abraham Lincoln on a grand strategy to defeat the Southern states during the Civil War (1861-1865). This page also contains additional facts which allows the reader an opportunity to study Winfield Scott from his early life, summary, biography, detailed history, United States Army career and military service, historical narrative, Indian Wars, Cherokee Indian Removal, autobiography, and to his later achievements and ailing health as Civil War loomed.

Summary
 
Winfield Scot (June 13, 1786–May 29, 1866) was a United States Army general, lawyer, politician, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852. Known to the masses as "General Winfield Scott" and "Old Fuss and Feathers," his military career in the US Army spanned more than half a century. He served the nation honorably and fought in the War of 1812, Seminole Wars, Black Hawk War, Mexican American War (1846-1848), and even advised President Abraham Lincoln with the brilliant Anaconda Plan, a strategy designed by Scott to strangle the Southern economy and strip the Southern states of their ability and will to fight a war. Winfield Scott served in the US Army for 53 years (1808-1861), placing him in several command positions allowing him to become friends and acquaintances with some of the most prominent men of the land. He served and fought alongside Andrew Jackson and Zachary Taylor, both future US presidents, and during the Mexican War, serving under his command were the likes of US Grant, Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, and Jefferson Davis, names synonymous with the American Civil War.
 
Interesting Facts
 
Born during the presidency of George Washington, Scott's military service spanned the tenures of 13 US presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln. Although Scott retired in 1861, shortly after Lincoln's election, he continued to advise the president at Lincoln's request.
 
Scott was on standby orders from President Andrew Jackson in 1832, and was instructed to be at the ready to lead the US Army into South Carolina and suppress any rebellion that may arise out of the Nullification Crisis. It was also by the direction of Jackson that Scott enforced the Indian Removal of the Cherokee Indians during the Trail of Tears in 1838, which resulted in 4,000 Cherokee deaths.
 
Winfield Scott's military resume is quite impressive. He served and fought in the following battles of the War of 1812: Battle of Queenston Heights, Battle of Fort George, Capture of Fort Erie, Battle of Chippawa, and Battle of Lundy's Lane. Fought in the Seminole Wars and Black Hawk War, and in the following operations and battles of the Mexican-American War: Siege of Veracruz, Battle of Cerro Gordo, Battle of Contreras, Battle of Churubusco, Battle of Molino del Rey, Battle of Chapultepec, Battle for Mexico City. And lastly, Scott finished his lengthy service to the United States by advising President Abraham Lincoln during the course of the American Civil War (1861-1865). While he served as "Commanding General of the United States Army" for twenty years, it remains the longest tenure of anyone serving as the US Army's commander.

General Winfield Scott
General Winfield Scott.jpg
General Winfield Scott in 1861. LOC. Digitally enhanced.

Winfield Scott History
Winfield Scott History.jpg
General Winfield Scott in Mexican-American War

(Left) Major General Winfield Scott. General in chief, United States Army. Currier & Ives, ca. 1846. Digitally enhanced. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. (Right) Lieut. Gen. Winfield Scott taken from glass negative. Photo digitally enhanced. LOC Prints and Photographs division.

Narrative
 
Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, the “Grand Old Man of the Army,” has the distinction of serving as a general longer than any other man in American history. He is remembered as a brilliant tactician, responsible for the “Anaconda Plan” that allowed the Union forces to reclaim the South during the Civil War, and the author of the Rules and Regulations for the Field Exercise and Maneuvers of Infantry, the primary tactical guidebook in use from 1815 through the Civil War. He is also remembered as a flamboyant man and quick to argue, prompting the less savory nickname: “Old Fuss and Feathers.”
 
Name: Winfield Scott
Nicknames:
"Old Fuss and Feathers"
"Grand Old Man of the Army"
"General"
Born: June 13, 1786, Dinwiddie County, VA
Died: May 29, 1866, aged 79, West Point, NY
Buried: West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
Civilian Career: Lawyer
Military Career: Lieutenant General, Governor of Mexico City
Politics: Whig candidate for President of the United States in 1852
Education: College of William & Mary
Party: Whig Party
Siblings: George Washington Scott

Indian Removal and Trail of Tears History
 
Enforcement of President Andrew Jackson's Cherokee Removal, which became known as the "Trail of Tears"
 

The "Trail of Tears" refers to the forced relocation in 1838 of approximately 16,000 Cherokee Indians to the Western United States, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokees. The Trail of Tears resulted from the enforcement of the Treaty of New Echota, an agreement signed under the provisions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830

 

Regarding the removal, Indian Agent William Holland Thomas--a self-taught lawyer, future Cherokee chief, and state senator (1848-1861)--successfully lobbied Washington for the right for a number of Cherokee to remain in western North Carolina; these Cherokee are the present-day Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation. The United States, furthermore, would later justify its Indian Removal as Manifest Destiny

 

"Long time we travel on way to new land. People feel bad when they leave old nation. Women cry and make sad wails. Children cry and many men cry, and all look sad like when friends die, but they say nothing and just put heads down and keep on go towards West. Many days pass and people die very much. We bury close by Trail."
— Survivor of the Trail of Tears

 
After a delay in the Cherokee removal, General Winfield Scott "Addressed the Cherokee Nation" and subsequently enforced their removal. Below is a typewritten document, dated May 17, 1838, containing the orders pertaining to the removal of the Cherokee Indians remaining in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, to territory west of the Mississippi, according to the terms of the New Echota Treaty of 1835. The orders originated with Major General Winfield Scott at the Cherokee Agency in Tennessee and outline the military personnel involved in the emigration and the procedures to be followed. Scott's signature appears on the orders and they are designated to be read to each military company participating in the removal.

Cemetery and grave of Winfield Scott
Cemetery and grave of Winfield Scott.jpg
General Winfield Scott grave.

ORDERS. No. 25.
Head Quarters, Eastern Division.
Cherokee Agency, Ten. May 17, 1838.

MAJOR GENERAL SCOTT, of the United States' Army, announces to the troops assembled and assembling in this country, that, with them, he has been charged by the President to cause the Cherokee Indians yet remaining in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, to remove to the West, according to the terms of the Treaty of 1835. His Staff will be as follows:

LIEUTENANT COLONEL W. J. WORTH, acting Adjutant General, Chief of the Staff.
MAJOR M. M. PAYNE, acting Inspector General.
LIEUTENANT R. ANDERSON, & E. D. KEYES, regular Aids-de-camp.
COLONEL A. H. KENAN& LIEUTENANT H. B. SHAW, volunteer Aids-de-camp.

Any order given orally, or in writing, by either of those officers, in the name of the Major General. will be respected and obeyed as if given by himself.

The Chiefs of Ordnance, of the Quarter-Master's Department and of the Commissariat, as also the Medical Director of this Army, will, as soon as they can be ascertained, be announced in orders.

To carry out the general object with the greatest promptitude and certainty, and with the least possible distress to the Indians, the country they are to evacuate is divided into three principal Military Districts, under as many officers of high rank, to command the troops serving therein, subject to the instructions of the Major General.

Eastern District, to be commanded by BRIGADIER GENERAL EUSTIS, of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank, serving therein: - North Carolina, the part of Tennessee lying north of Gilmer county, Georgia, and the counties of Gilmer, Union, and Lumpkin, in Georgia. Head Quarters, in the first instance, say, at Fort Butler.

Western District, to be commanded by COLONEL LINDSAY, of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank serving therein: -- Alabama, the residue of Tennessee and Dade county, in Georgia. Head quarters, in the first instance, say, at Ross' Landing.

Middle District, to be commanded by BRIGADIER GENERAL ARMISTEAD of the United States' Army, or the highest officer in rank, serving therein: -- All that part of the Cherokee country, lying within the State of Georgia, and which is not comprised in the two other districts. Head Quarters, in the first instance, say, at new Echota.

It is not intended that the foregoing boundaries between the principal commanders shall be strictly observed. Either, when carried near the district of another, will not hesitate to extend his operations, according to the necessities of the case, but with all practicable harmony, into the adjoining district. And, among his principal objects, in case of actual or apprehended hostilities, will be that of affording adequate protection to our white people in and around the Cherokee country.

The senior officer actually present in each district will receive instructions from the Major General as to the time of commencing the removal, and every thing that may occur interesting to the service, in the district, will be promtly [promptly] reported to the same source. The Major General will endeavour to visit in a short time all parts of the Cherokee country occupied by the troops.

The duties devolved on the army, through the orders of the Major General & those of the commanders of districts, under him, are of a highly important and critical nature.

Winfield Scott and the Trail of Tears
High Resolution Trail of Tears Map.jpg
(Map) General Winfield Scott enforced the Indian Removal, known as Trail of Tears in 1838.

The Cherokees, by the advances which they have made in christianity and civilization, are by far the most interesting tribes of Indians in the territorial limits of the United States. Of the 15,000 of those people who are now to be removed -- (and the time within which a voluntary emigration was stipulated, will expire on the 23rd instant -- ) it is understood that about four fifths are opposed, or have become averse to a distant emigration; and altho' [although] none are in actual hostilities with the United States, or threaten a resistance by arms, yet the troops will probably be obliged to cover the whole country they inhabit, in order to make prisoners and to march or to transport the prisoners, by families, either to this place, to Ross' Landing or Gunter's Landing, where they are to be finally delivered over to the Superintendent of Cherokee Emigration.

Considering the number and temper of the mass to be removed, together with the extent and [unclear: fastnesses] of the country occupied, it will readily occur, that simple indiscretions -- acts of harshness and cruelty, on the part of our troops, may lead, step by step, to delays, to impatience and exasperation, and in the end, to a general war and carnage -- a result, in the case to those particular Indians, utterly abhorrent to the generous sympathies of the whole American people. Every possible kindness, compatible with the necessity of removal, must, therefore, be shown by the troops, and, if, in the ranks, a despicable individual should be found, capable of inflicting a wanton injury or insult on any Cherokee man, woman or child, it is hereby made the special duty of the nearest good officer or man, instantly to interpose, and to seize and consign the guilty wretch to the severest penalty of the laws. The Major General is fully persuaded that this injunction will not be neglected by the brave men under his command, who cannot be otherwise than jealous of their own honor and that of their country.

By early and persevering acts of kindness and humanity, it is impossible to doubt that the Indians may soon be induced to confide in the Army, and instead of fleeing to mountains and forests, flock to us for food and clothing. If, however, through false apprehensions, individuals, or a party, here and there, should seek to hide themselves, they must be pursued and invited to surrender, but not fired upon unless they should make a stand to resist. Even in such cases, mild remedies may sometimes better succeed than violence; and it cannot be doubted that if we get possession of the women and children first, or first capture the men, that, in either case, the outstanding members of the same families will readily come in on the assurance of forgiveness and kind treatment.

Every captured man, as well as all who surrender themselves, must be disarmed, with the assurance that their weapons will be carefully preserved and restored at, or beyond the Mississippi. In either case, the men will be guarded and escorted, except it may be, where their women and children are safely secured as hostages; but, in general, families, in our possession, will not be separated, unless it be to send men, as runners, to invite others to come in.

It may happen that Indians will be found too sick, in the opinion of the nearest Surgeon, to be removed to one of the depots indicated above. In every such case, one or more of the family, or the friends of the sick person, will be left in attendance, with ample subsistence and remedies, and the remainder of the family removed by the troops. Infants, superannuated persons, lunatics and women in a helpless condition, will all, in the removal, require peculiar attention, which the brave and humane will seek to adapt to the necessities of the several cases.

All strong men, women, boys & girls, will be made to march under proper escorts. For the feeble, Indian horses and ponies will furnish a ready resource, as well as for bedding and light cooking utensils -- all of which, as intimated in the Treaty, will be necessary to the emigrants both in going to, and after arrival at, their new homes. Such, and all other light articles of property, the Indians will be allowed to collect and to take, with them, as also their slaves, who will be treated in like manner with the Indians themselves.

If the horses and ponies be not adequate to the above purposes, wagons must be supplied.

Corn, oats, fodder and other forage, also beef cattle, belonging to the Indians to be removed, will be taken possession of by the proper departments of the Staff, as wanted, for the regular consumption of the Army, and certificates given to the owners, specifying in every case, the amount of forage and the weight of beef, so taken, in order that the owners may be paid for the same on their arrival at one of the depots mentioned above.

All other movable or personal property, left or abandoned by the Indians, will be collected by agents appointed for the purpose, by the Superintendent of Cherokee Emigration, under a system of accountability, for the benefit of the Indian owners, which he will devise. The Army will give to those agents, in their operations, all reasonable countenance, aid and support.

White men and widows, citizens of the United States, who are, or have been intermarried with Indians, and thence commonly termed, Indian countrymen; also such Indians as have been made denizens of particular States, by special legislation, together with the families and property of all such persons, will not be molested or removed by the troops until a decision on the principles involved can be obtained from the War Department.

A like indulgence, but only for a limited time, and until further orders, is extended to the families and property of certain Chiefs and head-men of the two great Indian parties, (on the subject of emigration) now understood to be absent in the direction of Washington on the business of their respective parties.

This order will be carefully read at the head of every company in the Army.

[Signed] Winfield Scott. By Command:
[Signed] [unclear: Lieut. Col.]
Chief of the Staff

Repository: Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries
Collection: Captain Isaac Vincent Papers
Box: MS617

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: 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. 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. Continued below...
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.

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Related Reading:

Recommended Viewing: The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy (2006), Starring: James Earl Jones and Wes Studi; Director: Chip Richie, Steven R. Heape. Description: The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is an engaging two hour documentary exploring one of America's darkest periods in which President Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act of 1830 consequently transported Native Americans of the Cherokee Nation to the bleak and unsupportive Oklahoma Territory in the year 1838. Deftly presented by the talents of Wes Studi ("Last of the Mohicans" and "Dances with Wolves"), James Earl Jones, and James Garner, The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy also includes narrations of famed celebrities Crystal Gayle, Johnt Buttrum, Governor Douglas Wilder, and Steven R. Heape. Continued below...

Includes numerous Cherokee Nation members which add authenticity to the production… A welcome DVD addition to personal, school, and community library Native American history collections. The Trail Of Tears: Cherokee Legacy is strongly recommended for its informative and tactful presentation of such a tragic and controversial historical occurrence in 19th century American history.

 

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 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 in-depth, balanced biography of a remarkable figure and his lasting legacy.

 

Recommended Reading: The Fighting Men of the Civil War, by William C. Davis (Author), Russ A. Pritchard (Author). Description: "A must for any Civil War library!" The sweeping histories of the War Between the States often overlook the men in whose blood that history was written. This account goes a long way toward redressing the balance in favor of the men in the ranks. The reader follows the soldiers from enlistment and training to campaigning. Attention is also given to oft-forgotten groups such as the sailors and black troops. Continued below...

No effort has been spared to include rare war era photographs and color photos of rare artifacts. Engagingly written by William C. Davis, the author of more than thirty books on the American Civil War. Award winning author and historian James M. McPherson states: "The most readable, authoritative, and beautifully designed illustrated history of the American Civil War."

 

Recommended Viewing: Gone with the Wind (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) 1939 (1941) Description: First off, if you're a GWTW fanatic, you must buy this four-disc collection. But then again, you probably don't need to read this to make that decision. For the rest of us, know that the kitchen-sink approach has been established here with two full discs of extras. Continued below…

The film's restoration under Warner's brilliant Ultra-Resolution process is the major contribution to the set. However, the bare-bones version released years ago isn't bad and the film still doesn't pop off the screen as do films from the headier days of Technicolor (like the earlier Ultra-Resolution DVD release of Meet Me in St. Louis). That said, the set is worthy of the most popular movie ever made. Rudy Behlmer's feature-length commentary is dry but an exhaustive reference guide to the entire history of the film. Need more? There's the excellent full-length documentary The Making of a Legend (1989) narrated by Christopher Plummer, plus two hour-long older biographies on the two main stars. There are many new vignettes on the rest of the cast, all narrated by Plummer (a nice touch to tie everything together). The new 30-minute interview/reminisce with Oliva de Havilland will be interesting to older fans, but tiresome for the younger set. The usual sort of trailers and premiere footage is here along with a curious short ("The Old South," directed by Fred Zinnemann) that was produced to help introduce the world to the history of the South. --Doug Thomas

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