The New International Encyclopædia/Scott, Winfield

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The New International Encyclopædia
Scott, Winfield
Edition of 1905. See also Winfield Scott on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

SCOTT, Winfield (1786-1866). A distinguished American soldier. He was born near Petersburg, Va., of Scottish ancestry, June 13, 1786; attended William and Mary College for a time; and was admitted to the bar in 1806. In 1808, however, he abandoned the legal profession and accepted an appointment as captain of light artillery. While stationed at Natchez, in 1810, he was court-martialed for accusing his superior officer, General Wilkinson, of complicity in the conspiracy of Aaron Burr, and was temporarily suspended from the army. Upon the outbreak of the War of 1812, he was appointed lieutenant-colonel and sent to the Canadian frontier. He crossed with his regiment to Queenstown, where the American troops were at first successful, but the British troops being reinforced, the Americans were repulsed with heavy loss and Scott was taken prisoner. In the following year he was exchanged and was then appointed adjutant-general with the rank of colonel. During the same year he was wounded by an explosion of a powder magazine after the attack on Fort George. In 1814 he was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general. On July 5th he fought and won the battle of Chippewa, and on the 25th fought in the battle of Lundy's Lane (q.v.), in which he was twice wounded, the last time severely. He declined the appointment of Secretary of War at the close of hostilities, and was raised by Congress to the rank of major-general. He then prepared a set of extensive general regulations for the army, which was the first complete manual of military tactics prepared in the United States.

In 1841 he was appointed commander of the United States Army to succeed General Macomb. In 1847 he was given the chief command of the United States Army in Mexico, and on March 9th landed a force of 12,000 men at Vera Cruz, at once investing and bombarding the city, which surrendered on the 26th. On April 18th he carried the heights of Cerro Gordo, and on May 15th entered Puebla, where he waited for reinforcements. On August 19-20th he won the brilliant victories of Contreras and Churubusco. These were soon followed by the sharp and sanguinary battles of Molino del Rey and Chapultepec on the 8th and 13th of September respectively. On September 14th, with less than 8000 soldiers, he entered the City of Mexico and occupied the national palace. (See Mexican War.) General Scott returned from the war with great fame as a soldier, and in 1852 was nominated as the Whig candidate for the Presidency, but carried only four States. In 1855 the office of lieutenant-general was revived by Congress in order that it might be conferred by brevet on General Scott. Increasing age and infirmity prevented him from taking active command of the army during the Civil War, and in October, 1861, he retired from active service. Subsequently he visited Europe and afterwards settled at West Point, where he died May 29, 1866. His autobiography was published in two volumes at New York in 1864.

Consult the biography by Mansfield (New York, 1852), and that by Headley and Victor (ib., 1861). The latest and best is that by Wright (ib., 1894) in the “Great Commanders Series.”