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Winfield Scott
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