1786 - 1866
General in Three of Nation's Wars
and U.S. Army Chief for 20 Years
Winfield Scott had a distinguished military
career as a general in three of the nation's
major wars. He was also active in politics,
running as the Whig candidate for U.S. President
in 1852. For 20 years (1841-1861) he was
commanding general of the U.S. Army.
■ Winfield Scott
was born June 13, 1786, near Petersburg,
Virginia. He was descended from Scottish
Jacobite rebels. His great uncle died at the
Battle of Culloden in 1745. His grandfather also
fought in the Culloden disaster, managed to
escape, and fled to America. He settled in
Virginia, where he practiced law. ■ Young
Winfield Scott attended school in Richmond and
studied law at the College of William and Mary.
In 1808 he was commissioned an artillery captain
and was on duty when the War of 1812 broke out.
He was captured and wounded in separate
engagements. ■ At the end of the war, he decided
to remain in the military service. Scott earned
a hero's reputation in the Mexican war. He led a
sea borne invasion of Mexico and scored several
major victories. He led the drive into Mexico
City which virtually ended the war. ■ Scott was
mentioned as a prominent Whig candidate for U.S.
President as early as 1839. His name was placed
in nomination in 1848 at the Whig convention. He
was defeated by Gen. Zachary Taylor. Four years
later, he won the party's nomination for
president. However, Whig differences over
slavery lost him the election to Franklin
Pierce. ■ Scott remained a popular old soldier
and though a Southerner by birth, his loyalty
was to the Union cause when the war broke out.
He retired in 1861 because of his age, though he
had sound advice to offer in pursuit of the war.
He died May 29, 1866, at West Point, New York.
Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546