Winfield Scott was born on June 13, 1786, near Petersburg, Virginia. After studying law at the College of William and Mary he embarked upon a military career. During the War of 1812 he was captured by the British. Following an exchange of prisoners, Scott fought again, was injured in the battle of Lundy's Lane, and emerged from the war a national hero. After the war Scott earned a reputation as a peacemaker by helping to ease the Nullification Crisis in 1832 and settling border disputes with Canada. In 1838 Scott supervised the removal of the Cherokee from Georgia and other southern states to reservations west of the Mississippi River.
Scott was appointed commanding general of the U.S. Army in 1841. During the Mexican-American War Scott commanded a seaborne invasion that led, after a string of victories, to the conquest of Mexico City in 1847. Scott was honored with an appointment to the brevet rank of lieutenant general for his service during the war. Riding an unprecedented wave of popularity, Scott won the Whig Party presidential nomination in 1852, but lost in the general election to Democrat Franklin Pierce.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Scott was 75 years old and still commander in chief of the U.S. Army. His proposed strategy to strangle Confederate forces, called the Anaconda Plan, was criticized sharply by many. Scott retired from military service, wrote his memoirs, traveled through Europe, and lived to see his Anaconda Plan, in its essential form, effectively employed to help bring an end to the Civil War. He died in West Point, New York, on May 29, 1866.
Beringer, Richard E. Winfield Scott. American National Biography, vol 19. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Elliott, Charles W. Winfield Scott, the Soldier and the Man. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1937. Reprint. New York: Arno Press, 1979.