Winfield Scott



Occupation 1



NA/South & Gulf region


Heroic Age of Sail (1816-1865)








Soldier� After the Chesapeake affair in 1807, Scott joined a volunteer cavalry unit in Virginia� he sought a commission as a captain in the army from President Thomas Jefferson, which he received effective 3 May 1808�

Scott was soon ordered to Lake Erie but became a prisoner of war just eight days after arrival. He was forced to retreat by overwhelming British forces at Queenston, and he and the other officers surrendered their commands when no rescue came from the American militia on the other side of the Niagara River�

In 1836 Scott arrived in Florida, where he had been assigned to subdue the Seminole Indians after the Dade Massacre. Hampered by difficulties in manpower, transport, and supply, Scott's campaign was unsuccessful�

Promptly after the outbreak of the Mexican War in 1846, President James K. Polk offered Scott, who had become general in chief� supreme command of the enlarged army� When Scott submitted his plan for an attack on Veracruz to Secretary of War William L. Marcy, Marcy was convinced that Scott was the man to carry it out� On 23 November 1846 Scott was appointed to lead the Veracruz campaign. He landed below the city on 9 March 1847 and spent two weeks establishing his position, digging trenches, and constructing gun emplacements in order to mount a successful siege. Veracruz surrendered and was occupied on 29 March 1847�

Scott had no desire to follow Virginia out of the Union and did his best to persuade Robert E. Lee to stay with the Union and to take command of the volunteer army. Scott sagely predicted a three-year war, a Union victory, and then prolonged need for federal power to control the defeated states. He thought Fort Sumter was vulnerable and advised that it be surrendered. He also proposed the famous Anaconda Plan, which required a blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, a thrust down the Mississippi, and a cordon along the border between North and South. Although this plan was rejected, it was a closer forecast of what actually happened than anyone else was able to make�

Scott went on the retired list 1 November 1861� He spent the summer of 1862 at West Point and wrote his memoirs� After spending the winter of 1866 in New Orleans, Scott returned to West Point, where he died.

Related Images

Date: 1861
Date: 1861