No one person would have more influence on the United States Army during its first 100 years of existence than General Winfield Scott. Known as Old Fuss and Feathers because of his attention to detail and a penchant for gaudy uniforms, Winfield Scott fought in the War of 1812, the Blackhawk War, the Seminole Wars, the Mexican-American War, and the War for Southern Independence (American Civil War). A Civilian Conservation Corps park and lake bear the name of the man who oversaw the removal of the Cherokee from the state of Georgia.
Born of parents who were both wealthy and famous (his father was a hero in the American Revolution), Winfield Scott attended The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The evolving upheaval in relations between the United States and Britain at the start of the 19th century ended an uninspired legal career for the six foot, five inch Scott.
During the War of 1812 Lt. Colonel Scott led a series of attacks against combined British and Canadian forces between Fort George and Fort Erie, on the Canadian side of the border west of Buffalo, New York. He was captured on October 11, 1812, in the rout of American forces during the Battle of Queenston Heights (near Niagara-on-the-Lake) and served time as a prisoner-of-war on the Canadian frontier. Scott and his longtime friend Captain John Wool fought in this battle. After his release the young officer returned to duty and fought throughout the region.
At the Battle of Lundy's Lane, Scott was ambushed by a force of British regulars. Rather than retreat, Scott ordered an advance, which convinced the British commander that Scott's detachment was part of a larger army. The arrival of additional British troops halted their orderly retreat and the engagement continued. For more than two hours the 1300 men in Scott's command were under withering fire from the British. Less than 400 men were still fighting when American re-enforcement's arrived. Scott withdrew and reorganized his men, but while looking for a place to attack was hit with a bullet, shattering a bone. On July_25, 1814 the war ended for Winfield Scott. The Battle of Lundy's Lane ended a draw.
After the War he married, worked on military books and hobnobbed with New York society. Over the next 15 years the flamboyant Scott angered many of his peers, including future president Andrew Jackson.
Scott returned to active military duty in 1832 to fight in various "Indian Wars" and was called upon to replace John Wool as commander of Federal troops in the Cherokee Nation just prior to the Trail of Tears. Spreading from the Blue Ridge Mountains west to the Cumberland Plateau, the Cherokee Nation had sworn in 1819 to give no more land to encroaching settlers. The United States Supreme Court agreed with the Cherokee's right to self-rule, but Andrew Jackson did not and in 1835 he convinced a small group of these American Indians to sign the Treaty of New Echota. General Wool had become disenchanted with the idea of forcing the Cherokee from their "Enchanted Land."
Receiving orders on April_6, 1838, Scott arrived at New Echota, Cherokee Nation that May and immediately began with his plans for removal. He divided the Nation into three military districts and The Cherokee were rounded up and herded into unsanitary "forts," one of which was named for the general. Nearly one-third of all the Cherokee deaths attributed to the Trail of Tears would come as a result of this confinement.
The first parties of Cherokee to leave Georgia suffered huge losses in both people and livestock, attempting to travel west in the scorching heat of summer. The Cherokee clearly viewed Scott as their "warden" when they appealed directly to him to postpone the removal until cooler months. "We, your prisoners, wish to speak to you...We have been made prisoners by your men but do not fight you..."
According to author John Ehle future United States President Andrew Jackson and Winfield Scott once agreed to a duel. Meeting at the appointed place and time both were convinced of the other's courage, so the duel was called off.
The appeal worked. Scott not only agreed to postpone the removal, he backed a proposal for the departing parties to be led by Cherokee chiefs rather than the U. S. Army. For this Winfield Scott expected, and got, an incredible backlash from the pro-removal forces. Even former President Andrew Jackson wrote to protest Scott's decision.
General Scott, in spite of serious personal problems, was determined to accompany a group of Cherokee west. He left Athens, Tennessee, on October_1, 1838, and continued with the Cherokee to Nashville, where he received orders to return to Washington.
During the Mexican War (1846-48) General Scott led a brilliant five month campaign which ended in his replacement because of problems with subordinate officers. Winfield Scott would be nominated for President by the Whigs in 1852 and lose in the general election to Franklin Pierce.
Even though the Civil War broke out after his 75th birthday the now corpulent commander continue to lead his men. Too large to mount a horse, Scott formulated a detailed plan for the defeat of the Confederacy that included a blockade of southern ports. Some thought he was senile because the common belief on both sides was it would be a quick war. He was removed as commander by President Lincoln before the end of 1861, however, almost all of the elements of his "Anaconda Plan" would later be used by a desperate Lincoln in an attempt to win the war.
When the original Medal of Honor was proposed in 1862 Scott came close to killing the idea. He was strongly against the European custom of awarding medals for heroism.
Biographies Biographies of famous, not so famous and infamous people from the North Georgia area or who had an effect on North Georgia The Civil War in Georgia Beginning with the Great Locomotive Chase and the battle of Chickamauga, to the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea