Portrait of General Winfield Scott

When the American Civil War finally erupted, Scott devised a long-term plan to strangle the Confederacy by blockading Southern seaports. Washington officials soundly rejected Scott’s proposal, later known as the Anaconda Plan. [Wikimedia Commons]

Winfield Scott - Facts

June 13, 1786 - May 29, 1866

Key facts about Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, commander of all Federal forces at the beginning of the American Civil War who served as an officer in the United States Army for over fifty-three years.

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Full Name:

  • Winfield Scott

Birth Date:

  • June 13, 1786

Birth Location:

  • Laurel Branch, his family’s plantation in Dinwiddie County, Virginia

Parents:

  • William and Ann (Mason) Scott

Education:

  • College of William and Mary

Occupation:

  • Military officer
  • Lawyer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA)
  • Brevet Lieutenant General (USA)

Spouse:

  • Maria Mayo (1817)

Nickname(s):

  • Old Fuss and Feathers

Place of Death:

  • West Point, NY

Date of Death:

  • May 29, 1866

Place of Burial:

  • United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, NY

Significance:

  • Winfield Scott was the second son and youngest of six children born to William and Ann Mason Scott.
  • Winfield Scott’s father, who served as a captain during the Revolutionary War, died in 1792 when Scott was five or six years old.
  • Winfield Scott’s mother, who descended from a wealthy Virginia family, died in 1803, when Scott was seventeen.
  • Winfield Scott studied law at the College of William and Mary and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1806.
  • Winfield Scott gained his first taste of military life when he volunteered for duty enforcing an embargo against British vessels in 1807.
  • Winfield Scott was commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Army’s Light Artillery on May 3, 1808.
  • In January 1810, after making disparaging remarks about his commanding officer, General James Wilkinson, a court-martial found Winfield Scott guilty of “ungentlemanly and unofficer-like conduct,” and sentenced him “to be suspended from all rank, pay, and emoluments, for the space of twelve months.”
  • After the U.S Congress declared war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812, Winfield Scott was promoted to lieutenant colonel of the 2nd Artillery Regiment in July.
  • Winfield Scott was captured by British troops on October 13, 1812, during the War of 1812.
  • Winfield Scott was promoted to colonel on March 12, 1813.
  • Winfield Scott was promoted to brigadier general On March 9, 1814.
  • Winfield Scott was severely wounded in the left shoulder at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane during the War of 1812.
  • Winfield Scott was brevetted to major general for his valor at the Battle Lundy’s Lane.
  • On October 16, 1814, Winfield Scott was named commander of the 10th Military District, headquartered at Washington, DC.
  • On November 31814, Winfield Scott received the Thanks of Congress in recognition of his service to his country during the War of 1812.
  • On March 11, 1817, Winfield Scott married Virginia native Maria Mayo. Their marriage lasted 45 years and produced seven children, five of whom survived to adulthood.
  • In 1828 Winfield Scott tendered his resignation from the army in protest of being passed over for promotion. Consultation with friends and supports convinced Scott to reconsider, and he resumed command of the Eastern Division.
  • In 1832, the War Department ordered Winfield Scott to lead troops to Illinois to take part in the Black Hawk War. Before his arrival, however, the fighting ended.
  • In 1833, President Andrew Jackson dispatched Winfield Scott to South Carolina to defuse the growing nullification crisis. Scott was credited with brokering a temporary peace between South Carolina and the federal government until the issue was resolved with the adoption of the Compromise Tariff of 1833.
  • On January 20, 1836, Winfield Scott was placed in command of the Army of Florida and ordered to plan a campaign against the Seminole Tribe that eventually escalated into the Second Seminole War.
  • In April 1838, President Martin Van Buren dispatched Winfield Scott to northern Georgia to oversee the forced removal of the Cherokee Nation to present-day Oklahoma. Over 4,000 Cherokees died from disease, starvation, and exposure to cold weather during the trip that became known as the Trail of Tears.
  • On July 5, 1841, President John Tyler issued an executive order confirming Winfield Scott’s promotion to major general and ordering him to take command of the United States Army.
  • Winfield Scott’s affinity for proper military appearance, along with his emphasis on army decorum, earned him the nickname of “Old Fuss and Feathers.”
  • On March 9, 1847, Scott landed a force of 12,000 soldiers near the Mexican port city of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War.
  • During the Mexican-American War, Winfield Scott was the victorious commanding general at the Battle of Cerro Gordo (April 17–18, 1847), the Battle of Contreras (August 19, 1847), the Battle of Churubusco (August 20, 1847), the Battle of Molina del Rey (September 8, 1847), and the assault on the Castle of Chapultepec (September 13, 1847).
  • During the Mexican-American War, Winfield Scott commanded future Civil War notables Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, P. G. T. Beauregard, James Longstreet, Gideon Pillow, George B. McClellan, George Meade, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
  • In 1852, Winfield Scott was the unsuccessful Whig candidate for the presidency of the United States, receiving on 42 electoral votes, compared to 254 votes for the winning Democratic candidate, Zachary Taylor.
  • Winfield Scott was the last Whig Party presidential candidate.
  • On March 7, 1855, Congress passed a joint resolution temporarily reviving the rank of lieutenant general and named Winfield Scott to fill the position by brevet.
  • When the Civil War finally erupted, Winfield Scott devised a long-term Anaconda Plan to strangle the Confederacy by blockading Southern seaports.
  • After Southern forces routed the Army of Northeastern Virginia at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), President Lincoln urged Winfield Scott to resign as commanding general of the U.S. Army.
  • On July 25, 1861, the War Department issued General Orders No. 47 merging the Department of Washington and the Department of Northeastern Virginia to form a new geographical division that would be known as the Division of the Potomac. The order named Major General George B. McClellan as commander of the new division. Washington was not big enough for two generals with the egos of Scott and McClelland. Well aware that McClelland was Lincoln’s favorite, Scott offered his resignation on November 1, 1861.
  • On November 1, 1861, the War Department issued General Orders No. 94 announcing President Lincoln’s executive order reporting Winfield Scott’s retirement from the army.
  • In 1864, Winfield Scott published his two-volume autobiography.
  • Winfield Scott lived long enough to see the implementation of his Anaconda Plan help win the Civil War and restore the Union.
  • On May 29, 1866, Winfield Scott died at West Point, just short of his eightieth birthday.
  • Winfield Scott was buried next to his wife at the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Winfield Scott - Facts
  • Coverage June 13, 1786 - May 29, 1866
  • Author
  • Keywords Winfield Scott
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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