Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/United States/Hancock, Winfield Scott

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See also Winfield Scott Hancock on Wikipedia, the 11th edition, and the disclaimer. This appears in a biographical appendix of Section I (History and Constitution) of the United States article. The section was written by Alexander Johnston.

Hancock, Winfield Scott (1824-1886), American officer, was born in Montgomery county, Pa., Feb. 14, 1824. He graduated at West Point in 1844, served with credit in Scott's campaign in Mexico and on frontier duty until 1861, when he held the rank of captain. Having been appointed brigadier-general of volunteers in 1861, he served in the army of the Potomac throughout its existence. For distinguished service on the peninsula and at South Mountain and Antietam, he was given a division and the rank of major-general, and in 1863 he was placed in command of the second corps for his services at Fredericksburgh and Chancellorsville. His crowning glory was won at Gettysburgh. Reynolds fell on the first day, and Hancock was sent forward by Meade to arrange the line until the commander could arrive. On the second and third days Hancock commanded the left centre, on Cemetery Ridge, where, just in the moment of victory, he was severely wounded. He received the thanks of Congress, and returned to the command of his corps early in 1864, in time to take part in Grant's campaigns of that year. He distinguished himself again and again at the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania, and in the Cold Harbor and Petersburgh operations. At the end of the war he commanded various departments, having been made a major-general in the regular army. From September 1867 to March 1868 he commanded the department of the Gulf, under the Reconstruction Acts; and certain orders issued by him, particularly those of Nov. 29 and Dec. 5, 1867, declaring that the military power was meant only to uphold, not to control, the civil power, and declining to exercise arbitrary powers, were so satisfactory to the Democratic party that in 1880 it nominated him for the presidency. He was defeated by Garfield, but retained his position as senior major-general of the army, and the warm regard of the country. He died at Governor's Island, N.Y., Feb. 9, 1886.