Monday, October 31, 2011

General Winfield Scott Retires

150 years ago today General Winfield Scott retired as commander of the United States Army. There had been increasing tensions between Scott and George B. McClellan, commander of the main Union army. Scott wrote this in his letter of resignation:
“For more than three years I have been unable, from a hurt, to mount a horse or walk more than a few paces at a time, and that with much pain. Other and new infirmities, dropsy and vertigo, admonish me that a repose of mind and body, with the appliances of surgery and medicine, are necessary to add a little more to a life already protracted much beyond the usual span of man. It is under such circumstances, made doubly painful by the unnatural and unjust rebellion now raging in the southern states of our so late prosperous and happy Union, that I am compelled to request that my name be placed on the list of army officers retired from active service.” 
He passed over the tensions with McClellan, but they were certainly a large part of his decision to resign. It had come to the point that McClellan referred to it as a war between him and Scott. Scott told McClellan this: "When I proposed that you should come here to aid, not supersede, me, you had my friendship and confidence. You still have my confidence.”

Scott retired as a man who had spent his life in service to his country. He had fought with high rank in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, but by the time of the Civil War he had outstayed his welcome. It was believed that new blood was needed to win the war, but just how well that new blood would preform still remained to be seen.


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