Birth of General Winfield Scott 

U.S. #153 – Scott stamp from the 1870-71 Banknote Issue.

Winfield Scott was born on June 13, 1786, in Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

Born to an American Revolution veteran, Scott attended the College of William and Mary before studying law. He was admitted to the bar and briefly attempted to practice. But around the same time he had his first taste of military experience. He served as a corporal of the cavalry with the Virginia militia near Petersburg in 1807 as part of the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair.

The following year, Scott met the Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn, and President Thomas Jefferson. After this meeting he was commissioned a captain in the Light Artillery just before he turned 22. It was during this time that he earned the nickname “Old Fuss and Feathers” because of the discipline of his troops and his elaborate uniforms.

U.S. #786 – Scott and fellow War of 1812 veteran Andrew Jackson are featured on this Army-Navy issue as well as Jackson’s home, the Hermitage.

Scott was promoted to lieutenant colonel and served in the Niagara campaign during the War of 1812. He led the unsuccessful landing during the Battle of Queenston Heights and was held prisoner by the British. Scott was released a year later in a prisoner exchange.

After being promoted to colonel in 1813, Scott commanded the Americans in the capture of Fort George in Ontario, Canada. He was wounded during the battle, but his men were still able to overpower the British. This is considered one of the best-planned and executed battles of the War of 1812.

U.S. #O8 – Scott portrait on the 1874 Department of Agriculture Official stamp.

Scott attained the rank of brigadier general in March 1814. He led his men to victory in the Battle of Chippawa, and they fought courageously at the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Brigadier General Scott was severely wounded and spent the rest of the war recovering.

After the War, Scott prepared the first standard drill regulations of the U.S. Army. He visited Europe to learn French military tactics and translated French military manuals into English.

In 1832, Scott was put in command of American troops in the Cherokee Nation. The Supreme Court had ruled the Cherokees had the right to self-rule, but President Andrew Jackson ignored the decision. The Treaty of New Echota was signed by a small group from the tribe but was never approved by the Cherokee National Council. It gave all territory to the federal government and ordered all residents to move to land west of the Mississippi.

U.S. #O32 – Scott on the 1873 Department of Justice Official stamp.

Scott supervised the removal under orders from President Martin Van Buren. He began on May 26, 1838, with the Cherokees in Georgia. Scott tried to treat the people humanely, saying acts of cruelty were “abhorrent to the generous sympathies of the whole American people.” The Cherokees were put in stockades, where over 4,000 died. The first group headed west in the middle of the summer, and many perished in the heat. Scott accompanied the next group in the autumn until he was called back to Washington from Nashville. This tragic part of American history is known as the Trail of Tears.

Winfield Scott was once again promoted, this time to major general and became commanding general of the U.S. Army on July 5, 1841. In the Mexican-American War, Scott proved himself worthy of his rank when he commanded his troops in an attack on Mexico City. On September 13, 1847, the city surrendered and Scott became military commander. He was well respected because of his fair treatment of the Mexicans.

Scott was a celebrated war hero when he returned to the United States. During the 1852 presidential election, the Whig Party nominated him over President Millard Fillmore. The party was divided over the slavery issue, and Democrat Franklin Pierce won the election. In 1855, Congress voted to give Scott the rank of lieutenant general, only the second man in U.S. history up to that time to receive this honor, the first being George Washington.

Item #20004 – Commemorative cover marking Scott’s 198th birthday.

Commander Scott was 74 years old and in poor health when the Civil War began in 1861. Though his mind was still sharp, he could no longer lead his troops into battle. He asked Colonel Robert E. Lee, who Scott once called “the very finest soldier I’ve ever seen,” to take charge of the Army. When Virginia seceded from the Union, Lee resigned to fight for his home state. In the twilight of his career, the aging General Scott devised a plan that helped the North win the Civil War.

Item #47047A – Commemorative Proof Card marking Scott’s 206th birthday.

Many in the North, including the press, believed the war would be quickly won, but Scott knew it would be a long campaign. His plan was to cut off Southern supply routes by blockading ports and controlling the Mississippi River. The press named it the Anaconda Plan, and President Lincoln rejected it. Scott was forced to resign and was replaced by George McClellan. As the war continued longer than most had predicted, Scott’s Anaconda Plan was implemented and helped restore the Union.

Winfield Scott lived to see the Northern victory at the end of the Civil War. He died on May 29, 1866, and was buried in West Point Cemetery. Scott dedicated his life to the United States military. He served longer than any man in U.S. history: for more than 50 years, 47 of those as a general. Scott is still admired as a strategist and battle commander.

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  1. As old as I am, I am always happy to learn about a great American military man. What dedication he had for his country. Thank you for the recounting of his life.

  2. SURPRISE!. SURPRISE! SURPRISE! This is what I got when I found out Scott’s involvement in the Trail of Tears Campaign. Always thought it was Andy Jackson’s doing. But such is life. The article was quit an eye opener and learned a lot more from these Stamp articles than Public School

    1. It was Andy Jackson’s doing (and I am sure he is enjoying the hell fire he deserves) it was his ultimate goal to wipe the race from the face of the earth. Scott was only following orders.

  3. I just returned from West Point….a fitting burial place for a courageous general.

    The articles I read each day are such a great part of our history and the reason why I’ve been collecting U.S. stamps since I was very young.

  4. Winfield Scott was a warrior deserving of all the accolades but I do not believe that George Washington ever held the rank of Lt. Gen. He was appointed Commander in Chief of the Army as a General but even Eisenhower, as a Five-Star General was never Commander in Chief which is a rank held by the President of the United States today.

  5. Maybe in another article you can tell us what the “Chesapeake–Leopard Affair” was.

    1. Why don’t you just look it up. Do you have to wait for somebody to do it for you ???
      All this information is available at the clic of a mouse. It was/ is taught in school but apparently some of you weren’t paying attention. Stop making excuses and use your head for something other then a hat rack. Lame.

  6. My hat off for General Winfield Scott, and my distaste for Andrew Jackson! Lincoln, the politician, should have followed General Scott’s proposal in the first place to end the civil war and save more lives.

  7. In 1861, Virginia voted to secede from the Union. Col. Robert E. Lee visited Gen Stott and told him that he was going to resign his commission in the U.S, Army and join the Confederacy. Scott told Lee that this would the biggest mistake of his life. Lee resigned and became the leading general of the Confederacy. General Winfield Scott was right.

  8. A sea worthy vessel named after Scott sank off Anacapa Island west of Port Huneme
    California in 1893. Scuba divers can see the remains.

  9. General Winfield Scott studied at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and then studied law in Petersburg, Virginia, so he was familiar with the South and Southerners. William and Mary really doesn’t advertise that Scott studied there.

  10. Thank you, Mr Thomas Daniel. You can look up the particular event on the encyclopedia, but who knows what an encyclopedia is?, except me! And yes.
    Andrew Jackson was probably worst than some world leaders of today, if his policies regarding societies that were not “Aryan’ had been carried out.

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