Edited by James Grant Wilson
GENERAL MARCUS J. WRIGHT
New York D. Appleton and Company 1894 Copyright, 1893, By D. Appleton and Company. All rights reserved.
The Great Commanders Series. Edited by General James Grant Wilson.
Admiral Farragut. By Captain A.T. MAHAN, U.S.N.
General Taylor. By General O.O. HOWARD, U.S.A.
General Jackson. By JAMES PARTON.
General Greene. By Captain FRANCIS V. GREENE, U.S.A.
General J.E. Johnston. By ROBERT M. HUGHES, of Virginia.
General Thomas. By HENRY COPPER, LL.D.
General Scott. By General MARCUS J. WRIGHT.
General Washington. By General BRADLEY T. JOHNSON.
General Sherman. By General MANNING F. FORCE.
General Grant. By General JAMES GRANT WILSON.
Admiral Porter. By JAMES R. SOLEY, late Assist. Sec. of Navy.
General Lee. By General FITZHUGH LEE.
General Hancock. By General FRANCIS A. WALKER.
General Sheridan. By General HENRY E. DAVIES.
Each, 12mo, cloth, with Portrait and Maps, $1.50.
New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 1, 2 & 5 Bond St.
In the preparation of this volume the author has consulted and used with freedom the following-named works: History of the Mexican War, by General Cadmus M. Wilcox; Autobiography of General Scott; Life of General Scott, by Edward D. Mansfield; Life of General Scott, by David Hunter Strother; Life of General Scott, by J.T. Headley; History of the Mexican War, by John S. Jenkins; Anecdotes of the Civil War, by General E.D. Townsend; Sketches of Illustrious Soldiers, by General James Grant Wilson; Fifty Years' Observation of Men and Things, by General E.D. Keyes; Reminiscences of Thurlow Weed, and Historical Register of the United States Army, by F.B. Heitman.
My thanks are due to Mr. David Fitzgerald, Librarian of the War Department; Mr. Andrew H. Allen, Librarian of the State Department; and Colonel John B. Brownlow, for many courtesies. I am specially indebted to Mr. John N. Oliver, of Washington city, for valuable assistance rendered me.
WASHINGTON, August, 1893.
Parentage and birth of Scott—Precocity—Enters William and Mary College—Leaves college and commences the study of law with Judge Robinson—Attends the trial of Burr at Richmond—Impressment of American seamen and proclamation of President Jefferson—Joins the Petersburg troop—Leaves for Charleston—Returns to Petersburg—Appointed captain of artillery—Trial of General Wilkinson—Scott sends in his resignation, but withdraws it and returns to Natchez—Is court-martialed—On staff duty at New Orleans—Declaration of war with Great Britain—General Wade Hampton and the Secretary of War—Hull's surrender—Storming of Queenstown—March to Lewiston—Scott's appeal to the officers and soldiers—Indians fire on a flag of truce—Incident with a Caledonian priest—Letter in relation to Irish prisoners sent home to be tried for treason 1
Scott ordered to Philadelphia—Appointed adjutant general with the rank of colonel—Becomes chief of staff to General Dearborn—Death of General Pike—Leads the advance on Fort Niagara—Anecdote of Scott and a British colonel—Commands the expedition to Burlington Heights—March for Sackett's Harbor—Meets a force at Cornwall—Retreat of Wilkinson—Scott appointed brigadier general—Attack on and surrender of Fort Erie—Battle of Chippewa—Lundy's Lane and wounding of Scott—Retreat 23
Is received and entertained by prominent civilians and military men in Europe—Marries Miss Mayo—Offspring—Thanks of Congress—Thanks of the Virginia Legislature voted, and also a sword—Controversy with General Andrew Jackson and correspondence—Prepares general regulations for the army and militia—Controversy with General Gaines and the War Department about rank—In command of the Eastern Division—War with the Sac and Fox Indians—Black Hawk—Cholera breaks out among the troops 41
Troubles in South Carolina growing out of the tariff acts apprehended, and General Scott sent South—Action of the nullifiers—Instructions in case of an outbreak—Action of the South Carolina Legislature 60
Events that led to the war in Florida—Treaty of Camp Moultrie and its stipulations—Complaints of Indians and whites—Treaty of Payne's Landing—Objections of the Indians to complying with the latter treaty—Councils and talks with the Seminoles—Assiola—Murder of mail carrier Dalton—Murder of Charley Amanthla—Dade's massacre—Murder of General Thompson and others—General Clinch—Depredations by the Indians on the whites and by the latter on the Indians—Volunteers—Military departments of Gaines and Scott 72
Review of the army by General Gaines—Arrival of General Gaines at Fort King—Lieutenant Izard mortally wounded—Correspondence between General Gaines and Clinch—General Scott ordered to command in Florida—Disadvantages under which he labored—Preparations for movements—Commencement of hostilities against the Indians 103
Scott prefers complaint against General Jesup—Court of inquiry ordered by the President—Scott fully exonerated by the court—Complaints of citizens—Difficulties of the campaign—Speech in Congress of Hon. Richard Biddle—Scott declines an invitation to a dinner in New York city—Resolutions of the subscribers—Scott is ordered to take charge of and remove the Cherokee Indians—Orders issued to troops and address to the Indians—Origin of the Cherokee Indian troubles—Collision threatened between Maine and New Brunswick, and Scott sent there—Correspondence with Lieutenant-Governor Harvey—Seizure of Navy Island by Van Rensselaer—Governor Marcy 122
Annexation of Texas—Causes that led to annexation—Message of the President—General Scott's letters regarding William Henry Harrison—Efforts to reduce General Scott's pay—Letter to T.P. Atkinson on the slavery question—Battle of Palo Alto, and of Resaca de la Palma, Monterey, and Buena Vista—"The hasty plate of Soup"—Scott's opinion of General Taylor—Scott ordered to Mexico—Proposal to revive the grade of lieutenant general, and to appoint Thomas H. Benton—Scott reaches the Brazos Santiago—Confidential dispatch from Scott to Taylor—Co-operation of the navy—Letters to the Secretary of War as to places of rendezvous—Arrival and landing at Vera Cruz, and its investment, siege, and capture—Letter to foreign consuls—Terms of surrender—Orders of General Scott after the surrender 149
General Santa Anna arrives at Cerro Gordo—Engagement at Atalaya—General Orders No. 111—Reports from Jalapa—Report of engagement at Cerro Gordo—Occupation of Perote—Account of a Mexican historian—General Santa Anna's letter to General Arroya—Delay of the Government in sending re-enforcements—Danger of communications with Vera Cruz—Troops intended for Scott ordered to General Taylor—Colonel Childs appointed governor of Jalapa—Occupation of Puebla—Arrival of re-enforcements—Number of Scott's force 175
Movement toward the City of Mexico—The Duke of Wellington's comments—Movements of Santa Anna—A commission meets General Worth to treat for terms—Worth enters Puebla—Civil administration of the city not interfered with—Scott arrives at Puebla—Scott's address to the Mexicans after the battle of Cerro Gordo—Contreras—Reconnoissance of the pedregal—Defeat of the Mexicans at Contreras—Battle of Churubusco—Arrival of Nicholas P. Trist, commissioner—General Scott meets a deputation proposing an armistice—He addresses a communication to the head of the Mexican Government—Appointment of a commission to meet Mr. Trist—Major Lally—Meeting of Mr. Trist with the Mexican commissioners—Failure to agree—Armistice violated by the Mexicans and notice from General Scott—Santa Anna's insolent note—The latter calls a meeting of his principal officers—Molino del Rey—Chapultepec—Losses on both sides 195
General Quitman's movements to San Antonio and Coyoacan—Movements of General Pillow—General reconnoissance by Scott—Chapultepec—Scott announces his line of attack—Surrender of the Mexican General Bravo—Preparations to move on the capital—Entry of General Scott into the City of Mexico—General Quitman made Military Governor—General Scott's orders—Movements of Santa Anna—General Lane—American and Mexican deserters—Orders as to collection of duties and civil government 223
Scott's care for the welfare of his army—Account of the money levied on Mexico—Last note to the Secretary of War while commander in chief in Mexico—Army asylums—Treaty of peace—Scott turns over the army to General William O. Butler—Scott and Worth—Court of inquiry on Worth—The "Leonidas" and "Tampico" letters—Revised paragraph 650—Army regulations—General Worth demands a court of inquiry and prefers charges against Scott—Correspondence—General belief as to Scott's removal command—The trial—Return home of General Scott 254
General Taylor nominated for the presidency—Thanks of Congress to Scott, and a gold medal voted—Movement to revive and confer upon Scott the brevet rank of lieutenant general—Scott's views as to the annexation of Canada—Candidate for President in 1852 and defeated—Scott's diplomatic mission to Canada in 1859—Mutterings of civil war—Letters and notes to President Buchanan—Arrives in Washington, December 12, 1861—Note to the Secretary of War—"Wayward sisters" letter—Events preceding inauguration of Mr. Lincoln—Preparation for the defense of Washington—Scott's loyalty—Battle of Bull Run—Scott and McClellan—Free navigation of the Mississippi River—Retirement of General Scott and affecting incidents connected therewith—Message of President Lincoln—McClellan on Scott—Mount Vernon—Scott sails for Europe—Anecdote of the day preceding the battle of Chippewa—The Confederate cruiser Nashville—Incident between Scott and Grant—Soldiers' Home—Last days of Scott—His opinion of noncombatants—General Wilson's tribute 289
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Portrait of Winfield Scott Frontispiece
The Niagara Frontier 12
Battle of Chippewa 32
Siege of Vera Cruz 170
Route from Vera Cruz to Mexico 198
Operations of the American Army in the Valley of Mexico 226
Parentage and birth of Scott—Precocity—Enters William and Mary College—Leaves college and commences the study of law with Judge Robinson—Attends the trial of Burr at Richmond—Impressment of American seamen and proclamation of President Jefferson—Joins the Petersburg troop—Leaves for Charleston—Returns to Petersburg—Appointed captain of artillery—Trial of General Wilkinson—Scott sends in his resignation, but withdraws it and returns to Natchez—Is court-martialed—On staff duty at New Orleans—Declaration of war with Great Britain—General Wade Hampton and the Secretary of War—Hull's surrender—Storming of Queenstown—March to Lewiston—Scott's appeal to the officers and soldiers—Indians fire on a flag of truce—Incident with a Caledonian priest—Letter in relation to Irish prisoners sent home to be tried for treason.
Winfield Scott was born at Laurel Branch, the estate of his father, fourteen miles from Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia, June 13, 1786. His grandfather, James Scott, was a Scotchman of the Clan Buccleuch, and a follower of the Pretender to the throne of England, who, escaping from the defeat at Culloden, made his way to Virginia in 1746, where he settled. William, the son of this James, married Ann Mason, a native of Dinwiddie County and a neighbor of the Scott family. Winfield Scott was the issue of this marriage. There were an elder brother and two daughters. James Scott died at an early age, when Winfield was but six years old. William, the father of Winfield, was a lieutenant and afterward captain in a Virginia company which served in the Revolutionary army. Eleven years after the father's death the mother died, leaving Winfield, at seventeen years old, to make his own way in the world.
At the death of his father, Winfield, being but six years old, was left to the charge of his mother, to whom he was devotedly attached. It is a well-warranted tradition of the county in which the Scott family resided, that the mother of General Scott was a woman of superior mind and great force of character. In acknowledging the inspiration from the lessons of that admirable parent for whatever of success he achieved, he was not unlike Andrew Jackson and the majority of the great men of the world. He wrote of her in his mature age as follows: "And if, in my now protracted career, I have achieved anything worthy of being written, anything that my countrymen are likely to honor in the next century, it is from the lessons of that admirable parent that I derived the inspiration."
In his seventh year he was ordered on a Sunday morning to get ready for church. Disobeying the order, he ran off and concealed himself, but was pursued, captured, and returned to his mother, who at once sent for a switch. The switch was a limb from a Lombardy poplar, and the precocious little truant, seeing this, quoted a verse from St. Matthew which was from a lesson he had but recently read to his mother. The quotation was as follows: "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." The quotation was so apt that the punishment was withheld, but the offender was not spared a very wholesome lesson.
General Scott's mother, Ann, was the daughter of Daniel Mason and Elizabeth Winfield, his wife, who was the daughter of John Winfield, a man of high standing and large wealth. From his mother's family he acquired his baptismal name of Winfield. John Winfield survived his daughter, and dying intestate, in 1774, Winfield Mason acquired by descent as the eldest male heir (the law of primogeniture then being the law of Virginia) the whole of a landed estate and a portion of the personal property. The principal part of this large inheritance was devised to Winfield Scott, but, the devisee having married again and had issue, the will was abrogated. The wife of Winfield Mason was the daughter of Dr. James Greenway, a near neighbor. He was born in England, near the borders of Scotland, and inherited his father's trade, that of a weaver. He was ambitious and studious, and giving all of his spare time to study, he became familiar with the Greek, Latin, French, and Italian languages. After his immigration to Virginia he prepared himself for the practice of medicine, and soon acquired a large and lucrative practice. He devoted much of his time to botany, and left a hortus siccus of forty folio volumes, in which he described the more interesting plants of Virginia and North Carolina. He was honored by memberships in several of the learned European societies, and was a correspondent of the celebrated Swedish naturalist Linnaeus. He acquired such a knowledge of music as enabled him to become teacher to his own children.
James Hargrave, a Quaker, was one of young Scott's earliest teachers. He found his pupil to be a lad of easy excitement and greatly inclined to be belligerent. He tried very hard to tone him down and teach him to govern his temper. On one occasion young Scott, being in Petersburg and passing on a crowded street, found his Quaker teacher, who was a non-combatant, engaged in a dispute with a noted bully. Hargrave was the county surveyor, and this fellow charged him with running a false dividing line. When Scott heard the charge he felled the bully to the ground with one blow of his fist. He recovered and advanced on Scott, when Hargrave placed himself between them and received the blow intended for Scott; but the bully was again knocked to the ground by the strong arm of Scott. Many years afterward (in 1816) Scott met his Quaker friend and former teacher, who said to him: "Friend Winfield, I always told thee not to fight; but as thou wouldst fight, I am glad that thou wert not beaten."
His next instructor was James Ogilvie, a Scotchman, who was a man of extraordinary endowments and culture. Scott spent a year under his tutelage at Richmond, and entered, in 1805, William and Mary College. Here he gave special attention to the study of civil and international law, besides chemistry, natural and experimental philosophy, and common law. At about the age of nineteen he left William and Mary College and entered the law office of Judge David Robinson in Petersburg as a student.
Robinson had emigrated from Scotland to Virginia at the request of Scott's grandfather, who employed him as a private tutor in his family. There were two other students in Mr. Robinson's office with Scott—Thomas Ruffin and John F. May. Ruffin became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and May the leading lawyer in southern Virginia. After he had received his license to practice he rode the circuit, and was engaged in a number of causes. He was present at the celebrated trial of Aaron Burr for treason, and was greatly impressed with Luther Martin, John Wickham, Benjamin Botts, and William Wirt, the leading lawyers in the case. Here he also met Commodore Truxton, General Andrew Jackson, Washington Irving, John Randolph, Littleton W. Tazewell, William B. Giles, John Taylor of Caroline, and other distinguished persons.
Aaron Burr was a native of Newark, N.J., and was the grandson of the celebrated Jonathan Edwards. He graduated at Princeton in September, 1772, and studied law, but in 1775 joined the American army near Boston. Accompanied Colonel Benedict Arnold in the expedition to Quebec, and acquired such reputation that he was made a major; afterward joined General Washington's staff, and subsequently was an aid to General Putnam. Promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel, he commanded a detachment which defeated the British at Hackensack, and distinguished himself at Monmouth. Burr became Vice-President on the election of Jefferson as President, and was involved in a quarrel with Alexander Hamilton, and killed him in a duel at Weehawken, N.J., July 7, 1804. This affair was fatal to his future prospects. In 1805 he floated in a boat from Pittsburg to New Orleans. His purpose was supposed to be to collect an army and conquer Mexico and Texas, and establish a government of which he should be the head. He purchased a large tract of land on the Wachita River, and made other arrangements looking to the consummation of his object. Colonel Burr was arrested and tried for treason in Richmond in 1807, but was acquitted. He died on Staten Island, September 14, 1836.
In May, 1807, the British frigate Leopard boarded the Chesapeake in Virginia waters and forcibly carried off some of her crew, who were claimed as British subjects. Mr. Jefferson, President of the United States, at once issued a proclamation prohibiting all British war vessels from entering our harbors. Great excitement was produced throughout the entire country. The day after the issuance of the President's proclamation the Petersburg (Va.) troop of cavalry tendered its services to the Government, and young Scott, riding twenty-five miles distant from Petersburg, enlisted as a member. He was placed in a detached camp near Lynn Haven Bay, opposite where the British squadron was at anchor. Sir Thomas Hardy was the ranking officer in command of several line of battle ships. Learning that an expedition from the squadron had gone out on an excursion, Scott, in charge of a small detachment, was sent to intercept them. He succeeded in capturing two midshipmen and six sailors, and brought them into camp. The capture was not approved by the authorities, and the prisoners were ordered to be released, and restored to Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy.
The prospect of a war with Great Britain had abated, and the affair of the Chesapeake being in train of settlement, Scott left Virginia in October, 1807, and proceeded to Charleston, S.C., with a view of engaging in the practice of law. The law of that State required a residence of twelve months before admission to the bar. Scott went to Columbia, where the Legislature was in session, and applied for a special act permitting him to practice. The application failed for want of time. He then proceeded to Charleston, with a view of office practice until he could be qualified for the usual practice in the courts; but the prospect of war being again imminent, he went to Washington, and on the application and recommendation of Hon. William B. Giles, of Virginia, President Jefferson promised him a captain's commission in the event of hostilities. No act of war occurring, he returned in March, 1808, to Petersburg, and resumed the practice of law in that circuit; but his life as a lawyer came suddenly to a close in the succeeding month of May, when he received from the President his commission as captain of artillery. He recruited his company in Petersburg and Richmond, and embarked from Norfolk to New Orleans, February 4, 1809.
It being thought that on the breaking out of hostilities the British would at once endeavor to invade Louisiana, a military force was sent to New Orleans under the command of General James Wilkinson. The discipline of the army became greatly impaired, and much sickness and many deaths occurred in this command. General Wilkinson was ordered to Washington for an investigation into his conduct as commanding officer, and General Wade Hampton succeeded to the command. The camp below New Orleans was broken up in June, 1809, and the troops were transferred to and encamped near Natchez.
General Wilkinson was charged with complicity with Aaron Burr, and with being in the pay of the Spanish Government, and was tried by court-martial; and although he was acquitted, there were many persons who believed him guilty, and among these was Captain Scott, who was present, as heretofore mentioned, at the trial of Burr, and participated in the strong feeling which it produced throughout the country.
The apparent lull in the war feeling having produced the impression that there would be no hostile movements, Captain Scott forwarded his resignation and sailed for Virginia, intending to re-engage in the practice of the law. Before his resignation had been accepted he received information that grave charges would be preferred against him should he return to the army at Natchez. This determined him to return at once to his post and meet the charges. Scott had openly given it as his opinion that General Wilkinson was equally guilty with Colonel Burr. Soon after his return he was arrested and tried by a court-martial at Washington, near Natchez, in January, 1810. The first charge was for "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," and the specification was "in withholding at sundry times men's money placed in his possession for their payment for the months of September and October." Another charge was "ungentlemanly and unofficerlike conduct," the specification being "In saying, between the 1st of December and the 1st of January, 1809-'10, at a public table in Washington, Mississippi Territory, that 'he never saw but two traitors—General Wilkinson and Burr—and that General Wilkinson was a liar and a scoundrel.'" This charge was based on the sixth article of war, which says: "Any officer who shall behave himself with contempt and disrespect toward his commanding officer shall be punished, according to the nature of the offense, by the judgment of a court-martial."
Captain Scott's defense to this charge was that General Wilkinson was not, at the time the words were charged to have been spoken, his commanding officer, that place being filled by General Wade Hampton. General Scott, in his Memoirs, says that some of Wilkinson's partisans had heard him say in an excited conversation that he knew, soon after Burr's trial, from his friends Mr. Randolph and Mr. Tazewell and others, members of the grand jury, who found the bill of indictment against Burr, that nothing but the influence of Mr. Jefferson had saved Wilkinson from being included in the same indictment, and that he believed Wilkinson to have been equally a traitor with Burr. He admits that the expression of that belief was not only imprudent, but no doubt at that time blamable. But this was not the declaration on which he was to be tried. This was uttered in New Orleans, the headquarters of General Wilkinson. The utterance on which he was tried, as will be seen, was made in Washington, Mississippi Territory, when General Wade Hampton was his commanding officer.
The finding of the Court on this charge was guilty, and that his conduct was unofficerlike. The facts in regard to the charge of retaining money belonging to the men of his command were, that prior to his departure for New Orleans he had recruited his company in Virginia, and, being remote from a paymaster or quartermaster, a sum of four hundred dollars was placed in his hands to be used in recruiting. Some of his vouchers were technically irregular, and at the time of his trial about fifty dollars was not covered by formal vouchers. This was the finding of the Court, but it expressly acquitted him of all fraudulent intentions. General Wilkinson nursed his wrath, and after the close of the war published an attack on General Scott. His own failure in the campaign of 1813, and especially his defeat at La Cale Mills, compared with Scott's brilliant campaign on the Niagara frontier in the following spring, may have induced this attack.
Captain Scott returned to Virginia after the trial, and under the advice of his friend, the distinguished lawyer and statesman, Benjamin Watkins Leigh, he devoted himself to the study of military works and of English attack. During the time mentioned he wrote a letter to Lewis Edwards, Esq., at Washington City, of which he following is a copy:
"PETERSBURG, June, 1811.
"DEAR SIR: I believe we have very little village news to give you, nor do I know what would please you in that way. Of myself—that person who has so large a space in every man's own imagination, and so small a one in the imagination of every other—I can say but little; perhaps less would please you more. Since my return to Virginia my time has been passed in easy transitions from pleasure, to study, from study to pleasure; in my gayety forgetting the student, in the student forgetting my gayety.[A] I have generally been in the office of my friend Mr. Leigh, though not unmindful of the studies connected with my present profession; but you will easily conceive my military ardor has suffered abatement. Indeed, it is my design, as soon as circumstances will permit, to throw the feather out of my cap and resume it in my hand. Yet, should war come at last, my enthusiasm will be rekindled, and then who knows but that I may yet write my history with my sword?
[Footnote A: "If idle, be not solitary; if solitary, be not idle." An apothegm of Burton paraphrased by Johnson, "My Motto."]
Scott rejoined the army at Baton Rouge, La., in 1811, and was soon appointed Judge Advocate on the trial of a colonel charged with gross negligence in discipline and administration. By dilatory pleas this officer had several times escaped justice, but on this trial he was found guilty and censured. In the winter of 1811-'12 Scott was frequently on staff duty with General Wade Hampton at New Orleans, and while there saw the first steam vessel that ever floated on the Mississippi.
On May 20, 1812, Captain Scott embarked at New Orleans for Washington via Baltimore, accompanying General Hampton and Lieutenant Charles K. Gardner. As the vessel on which they had taken passage entered near the Capes of Virginia it passed a British frigate lying off the bar. In a short time they met a Hampton pilot boat going out to sea. This was on June 29th, and this pilot boat bore dispatches to Mr. Mansfield, the British Minister at Washington, announcing that Congress had two days before declared war against Great Britain. The vessel bearing Captain Scott and his companions went aground about sixteen miles from Baltimore, and he and some others undertook the remainder of the journey on foot. At the end of the fourth mile they passed an enthusiastic militia meeting which had just received a copy of the declaration of war. Scott, having on a uniform, was made the hero of the occasion, and was chosen to read the declaration to the meeting. He was here offered a seat in a double gig to Baltimore, but the driver, who had become intoxicated, overturned the gig twice, when Scott took the reins and drove the latter part of the journey. On his arrival at Baltimore he received the pleasing intelligence that he had been appointed a lieutenant colonel in the United States army. He was then in his twenty-sixth year.
He went with General Hampton to Washington, where the general asked him to accompany him on an official visit to the Secretary of War. An unpleasant correspondence had a short time previously occurred between the general and the secretary, yet he felt it his duty to make the call. On General Hampton's name being announced to the secretary the latter appeared at the door and extended his hand, while General Hampton simply bowed and crossed his hands behind him. A conversation on official matters was held, at first formal and cold, but gradually terminating in one of a friendly character. When General Hampton rose to leave he extended to the secretary both of his hands; but it was now the latter's turn, and he bowed and placed his hands behind him. General Hampton sent a challenge to mortal combat, but mutual friends settled the matter without bloodshed, by requiring that Hampton should on the next morning present himself at the secretary's door with both hands extended in the presence of the same persons who witnessed the former meeting. Colonel Scott was now ordered to Philadelphia to mobilize his regiment and organize a camp of instruction. On his own solicitation, he was soon afterward ordered to report to Brigadier-General Alexander Smyth, near Buffalo, N.Y.
The Congress of the United States made formal declaration of war against Great Britain and its dependencies June 18, 1812. In the month previous General William Hull had been appointed to the command of the northwestern army, intended for the invasion of Canada. This army arrived on the Maumee River on May 30th, and marching northward subsequently crossed over at Detroit. High hopes were entertained of the success of this expedition, and the bitterest disappointment and chagrin were manifested throughout the country when it was learned that Hull had surrendered his entire command to the British General Brock on August 14th. The regiment to which Colonel Scott was assigned was the Second Artillery. Colonel George Izard and he arrived on the Niagara frontier with the companies of Nathan Towson and James Nelson Barker. He was posted at Black Rock for the protection of the navy yard there established.
An expedition had been planned by Lieutenant Elliott, of the navy, for the capture or destruction of two armed British brigs which were lying under the guns of Fort Erie. On October 8th Colonel Scott detached Captain Towson and a portion of his company to report to Elliott. On the morning of the 9th the Adams was taken by Elliott and Lieutenant Isaac Roach, and the Caledonia was captured by Captain Towson. In passing down the river the Adams drifted into the British channel and ran aground under the British guns. The enemy endeavored to recapture her, but were successfully resisted by Colonel Scott. This was his first experience under fire, and he was complimented for his skill and gallantry. The Caledonia was afterward a part of Commodore Perry's fleet on Lake Erie. The Adams, having drifted aground, was burned to prevent recapture.
The northwestern army at this time consisted of about ten thousand troops. General Henry Dearborn held command near Plattsburg and Greenbush, and was the commanding officer of all the forces on the northern frontier. A portion of his army was camped at Lewistown under the command of General Stephen Van Rensselaer, of New York. General Alexander Smyth was at Buffalo with some fifteen hundred regular troops. Besides these, there were small detachments at Ogdensburg, Sackett's Harbor, and Black Rock.
General Van Rensselaer conceived the plan of making a bold and sudden move into Canada, with a view of capturing Jamestown, and there establishing winter quarters. The affair of the capture of the two English brigs with fifty men had roused great enthusiasm, and the country was anxious for some success of arms to alleviate the depression occasioned by Hull's surrender. General Van Rensselaer confided the immediate command of the expedition to his relative, Colonel Solomon Van Rensselaer, an officer of coolness and courage, who, with three hundred militia and three hundred regulars, under Colonel Chrystie, on October 13th began crossing the river.
The troops were on the river bank ready to embark an hour before daylight, but from some mismanagement there was not a sufficient number of boats to transport the whole, and they were compelled to cross in detachments. Colonel Chrystie's boat was swept down the river by the current, and he was wounded. On a second attempt he succeeded in landing. With about a hundred men Colonel Van Rensselaer led them up the bank, and halted to await the arrival of the remainder. It was now daylight, and the little command was in full view of the enemy, who opened a deadly fire. Every commissioned officer was either killed or wounded. Finding that the river bank afforded but little protection, Colonel Van Rensselaer determined to storm the Queenstown heights. He had now received four wounds, and was compelled to relinquish the command to Captains Peter Ogilvie, Jr., and John Ellis Wool. In a very short time the fort was taken and the heights occupied by the Americans. The enemy took refuge in a stone house, from which they opened a destructive fire and made two unsuccessful attempts to recapture the lost ground. General Brock rallied his men and led them on, but while moving at the head of the Forty-ninth Grenadiers he fell mortally wounded. General Van Rensselaer recrossed the river and assumed command, but hastening back to urge forward re-enforcements, the command fell to General Decius Wadsworth, who, however, did not assume to control the movements. Two light batteries from the Canada shore played on the boats attempting to cross, and there was no artillery with which the Americans could resist.
Colonel Scott had volunteered his services for the expedition, but they were declined, for the reason that arrangements had been made for detachments under Colonel John R. Fenwick and Lieutenant-Colonel James Robert Mullaney to sustain the assaulting columns. Permission was, however, given to Colonel Scott to march his regiment to Lewiston and act as circumstances might require.
He arrived there at 4 A.M. on the 13th. Finding no boats to transport his command, he placed his guns on the American shore, under the direction of Captains Towson and Barker. Seeing that a small portion of the troops had crossed over, and knowing the peril of Van Rensselaer's little force, he took one piece of artillery into a boat, and, accompanied by his adjutant, Lieutenant Isaac Roach, Jr., he crossedt to the Canada shore. Wadsworth at once relinquished the command of the troops to him, and he soon animated every one with courage and resolution.
Six feet five inches in height, clad in a new uniform, he became a conspicuous mark for the enemy. The re-enforcements which had now crossed over increased the force to about six hundred, of which more than half were regulars. These were placed under Colonel Scott's directions in the most commanding positions, where they awaited further re-enforcements. About this time a body of five hundred Indians joined the British troops. The British with their Indian allies moved forward to the assault, but were speedily driven back. A second time they moved forward, but with the same result. They kept up a desultory firing, during which a body of Indians moved suddenly out and surprised an outpost of militia. Scott, who was at this moment engaged in unspiking a gun, rushed to the front, and, rallying his men, sent the dusky warriors rapidly in retreat. The British general Sheaffe, who held the command at Fort George, having heard the firing, at once put his troops in motion and marched for the scene of the conflict. Sheaffe's command consisted of eight hundred and fifty men. These, added to the garrison which the Americans were attacking, was a formidable force to be met by three hundred men. In the meantime the American troops had refused to cross the river and were in a state of mutiny. No entreaties, orders, or threats of Van Rensselaer could avail to move them. But the three hundred brave fellows, with only one piece of artillery, stood their ground. General Van Rensselaer, from the American shore, sent word to Wadsworth to retreat. Colonels John Chrystie and Scott, of the regulars, and Captains James Mead, Strahan, and Allen, of the militia, and Captains Ogilvei, Wool, Joseph Gilbert, Totten, and McChesney, took council of their desperate situation. Colonel Scott told them that their condition was desperate, but that the stain of Hull's surrender must be wiped out. "Let us die," he said, "arms in hand. Our country demands the sacrifice. The example will not be lost. The blood of the slain will make heroes of the living. Those who follow will avenge our fall and our country's wrongs. Who dare to stand?" he exclaimed. A loud ringing shout "All!" came from the whole line.
General Sheaffe did not move to immediate attack on his arrival. He marched his troops slowly the entire length of the American line, and then countermarched.
As resistance was entirely hopeless, the order was given to retire. The whole line broke in disorder to the river, but there were no boats there to transport them. Two flags of truce were sent to the enemy, but the officer who bore them did not return. Colonel Scott then fixed a white handkerchief on the end of his sword, and, accompanied by Captains Totten and Gibson, passed under the river bluff and started to ascend the heights. They were met by Indians, who fired on them and rushed with tomahawks to assault them. A British officer happily arrived and conducted them to the quarters of General Sheaffe, and Colonel Scott made formal surrender of the whole force. The number surrendered, except some skulking militia who were discovered later, was two hundred and ninety-three. The American loss in killed, wounded, and captured was near one thousand men.
General Van Rensselaer was so mortified at the conduct of the militia that he tendered his resignation. The British general Brock was next day buried under one of the bastions of Fort George, and Colonel Scott, then a prisoner, sent orders to have minute guns fired from Fort Niagara during the funeral ceremonies, which orders were carried out—an act of chivalry and courtesy which greatly impressed the British.
The American officers who had been captured were lodged in a small inn at the village of Newark and divested of their arms, and a strong guard was posted at the door. Two Indians, Captain Jacobs and Brant, sent word that they wished to see the tall American, meaning Colonel Scott. The alleged object of their visit was to see if Scott had not been wounded, as he had been fired at several times at close range. On entering the room, Jacobs seized Scott by the arm and attempted to turn him around. Scott seized the Indian and threw him against the wall. Both then drew their knives, and advancing on the prisoner said, "We kill you now!" The sentinel at the door was not in view, and Scott, making a spring, seized a sword, which he quickly drew from the scabbard, and, placing his back against the wall in the narrow hall, defied his assailants. At this critical moment Captain Coffin, nephew of General Sheaffe and his aid-de-camp, entered the room and caught Jacobs by the throat and presented a cocked pistol to his breast. Both savages now turned on him, and Scott closed in to defend the captain. At this moment the guard entered, and arrested the two Indians and conducted them out of the room.
The volunteer officers and men were paroled and sent home, while the regulars were embarked for Quebec. On the passage to Quebec a priest of a Caledonian settlement reproached Colonel Scott severely for being a traitor to George III. Respect for his profession brought out a mild reply. In 1827, General Scott being at Buffalo on board a Government steamer, the master of the vessel asked permission to bring into his cabin a bishop and two priests. The bishop was recognized as the same prelate who had acted so rudely. General Scott, however, heaped coals of fire on his head by treating him and his party with the greatest courtesy.
After a cartel of exchange had been agreed upon, Colonel Scott and the other regulars, prisoners, were embarked on a vessel for Boston. As they were about to sail, Colonel Scott's attention was attracted by an unusual noise on deck. Proceeding from the cabin to the scene of the disturbance, he found a party of British officers in the act of separating from the other prisoners such as by confusion or brogue they judged to be Irishmen. The object was to refuse to parole them, and send them to England to be tried for high treason. Twenty-three had been selected and set apart for this purpose.
Colonel Scott learned with indignation that this proceeding was under the direct orders of Sir George Prevost, the Governor General. He at once protested, and commanded the remaining men to be silent and answer no questions. This order was obeyed despite the threats of the British officers, and none others than the twenty-three were separated from their comrades. He then addressed the party selected, explaining the laws of allegiance, and assuring them that the United States Government would protect them by immediate retaliation, and, if necessary, by an order to give no quarter hereafter in battle. He was frequently interrupted by the British officers, but they failed to silence him. The Irishmen were put in irons, placed on board a frigate, and sent to England. After Colonel Scott landed in Boston he proceeded to Washington and was duly exchanged. He at once addressed a letter to the Secretary of War as follows:
"SIR: I think it my duty to lay before the Department that on the arrival at Quebec of the American prisoners of war surrendered at Queenstown they were mustered and examined by British officers appointed to that duty, and every native-born of the United Kingdom of Great-Britain and Ireland sequestered and sent on board a ship of war then in the harbor. The vessel in a few days thereafter sailed for England with these persons on board. Between fifteen and twenty persons were thus taken from us, natives of Ireland, several of whom were known by their platoon officers to be naturalized citizens of the United States, and others to have been long residents within the same. One in particular, whose name has escaped me, besides having complied with all the conditions of our naturalization laws, was represented by his officers to have left a wife and five children, all of them born within the State of New York.
"I distinctly understood, as well from the officers who came on board the prison ship for the above purposes as from others with whom I remonstrated on this subject, that it was the determination of the British Government, as expressed through Sir George Prevost, to punish every man whom it might subject to its power found in arms against the British king contrary to his native allegiance. I have the honor to be, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"Lieutenant Colonel, Second U.S. Artillery."
This report was forwarded by the Secretary of War to both houses of Congress, and the immediate result was that Congress, on March 3, 1813, passed an act of retaliation. In May, 1813, at the battle of Fort George, a number of prisoners were captured. Colonel Scott, being then chief of staff, selected twenty-three to be confined and held as hostages. He was careful, however, to entirely exclude Irishmen from the number. Eventually the twenty-three men sent to England were released, and Scott took great interest in securing their arrearages of pay and patents for their land bounties.
The doctrine of perpetual allegiance had always been maintained by the British Government, and examples were numerous of the arrest or detention of prisoners claimed as British subjects. After this act of Colonel Scott no other prisoners were set apart by the British to be tried for treason.
These transactions gave rise to discussion of the question throughout the country and in both houses of Congress. President Madison, and Mr. Monroe as Secretary of State, took strong ground against the British claim. While subsequent treaties were silent on the question, the right is no longer asserted by Great Britain, and has been recognized by treaty. Colonel Scott then returned to Washington.
Scott ordered to Philadelphia—Appointed adjutant general with the rank of colonel—Becomes chief of staff to General Dearborn—Death of General Pike—Leads the advance on Fort Niagara—Anecdote of Scott and a British colonel—Commands the expedition to Burlington Heights—March for Sackett's Harbor—Meets a force at Cornwall—Retreat of Wilkinson—Scott appointed brigadier general—Attack on and surrender of Fort Erie—Battle of Chippewa—Lundy's Lane and wounding of Scott—Retreat of the army to Black Rock—Fort Erie—Visits Europe.
From Washington Colonel Scott was ordered to Philadelphia to take command of another battalion of his regiment. In March, 1813, he was appointed adjutant general with the rank of colonel, and about the same time promoted to the colonelcy of his regiment. Notwithstanding his command of the regiment, he continued to perform staff duties. At this time General Dearborn was in command of the American forces at Fort Niagara, consisting of about five thousand men. In May, Colonel Scott, with his regiment, joined General Dearborn, and Scott became chief of staff. He first organized the service among all the staff departments, several of which were entirely new, and others disused in the United States since the Revolutionary War. On the British side of the Niagara was Fort George, situated on a peninsula and occupied by British troops. Just previous to Colonel Scott's arrival at Niagara an expedition was landed from the squadron of Commodore Chauncey, commanded by General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, for the capture of York, the capital of Upper Canada. The assault was successful, and the place was taken with a large number of prisoners and valuable stores. General Pike was killed by the explosion of a magazine. Animated by the success of General Pike's expedition, General Dearborn determined to make an assault on Fort George, having the co-operation of Commodore Chauncey and his naval force. Arrangements were made for an attack on May 20th. Colonel Scott asked permission to join the expedition in command of his own regiment, which was granted.
The fleet weighed anchor at three o'clock in the morning, and by four the troops were all aboard. The place of embarkation was three miles east of Fort Niagara, and was made in six divisions of boats. Colonel Scott led the advance guard, at his special request, composed of his own regiment and a smaller one under Lieutenant-Colonel George McFeely. He was followed by General Moses Porter having the field train, then the brigades of Generals John Parker Boyd, William Henry Winder, and John Chandler, with the reserve under the able Colonel Alexander Macomb.
Commodore Isaac Chauncey had directed the anchorage of his schooners close to the shore in order to protect the troops in landing, and to open fire at any point on the shore where the enemy were suspected to be. Lieutenant Oliver Hazard Perry joined Commodore Chauncey on the evening of the 25th, and volunteered his services in assisting in the debarkation of the troops. This service required the greatest coolness and skill, as the wind was blowing strong and the current running rapidly; the vessels were difficult to manage, especially as they were under almost constant fire of the British guns. Perry accompanied Scott through the surf, and rendered valuable service. He it was who as Commodore Perry soon after became known to the world as the hero of Lake Erie.
The landing was effected on the British shore at nine o'clock in the morning a short distance from the village of Newark, now known as Niagara. The line of battle was promptly formed under cover of a bank ranging from six to twelve feet in height. The line of the enemy was formed at the top of the bank, consisting of about fifteen hundred men. The first attempt to ascend was unsuccessful. Scott, in attempting to scale the bank, received a severe fall, but recovering himself and rallying his forces, he advanced up the bank and was met by the enemy's bayonets. The British fell back and reformed under cover of a ravine, but a vigorous assault of less than half an hour put them in a complete rout. These forces were assisted by Porter's artillery and Boyd with a portion of his command, who had landed soon after the advance forces. The enemy were pursued to the village, where the Americans were re-enforced by the command of Colonel James Miller. It was learned from some prisoners that the British garrison was about to abandon Fort George and preparing to blow up the works. Two companies were dispatched toward the fort, but on nearing it one of the magazines exploded, and a piece of timber striking Colonel Scott, threw him from his horse, resulting in a broken collar bone. Recovering himself, he caused the gate to be forced, entered the fort, and with his own hands pulled down the British flag. The fort had suffered great damage from the artillery fire directed against it from the opposite shore. The enemy were pursued for five miles, when an order from General Morgan Lewis recalled Scott when he was in the midst of the stragglers from the British forces. The American loss was seventeen killed and forty-five wounded, and that of the British ninety killed, one hundred and sixty wounded, and over one hundred prisoners.
It will be remembered that about a year before Colonel Scott was for a short time a prisoner at Queenstown. Dining one evening with General Sheaffe and several other British officers, one of them asked him if he had ever seen the falls of Niagara. He replied, "Yes, from the American side." To this the officer replied, "You must have the glory of a successful fight before you can view the cataract in all its grandeur." Scott replied, "If it be your purpose to insult me, sir, honor should have prompted you first to return my sword." General Sheaffe rebuked the officer, and the matter ended.
This same colonel was severely wounded and captured at Fort George. Colonel Scott showed him every attention and had his wants promptly supplied. On visiting him one day the British officer said to him: "I have long owed you an apology, sir. You have overwhelmed me with kindness. You now, sir, at your leisure, can view the falls in all their glory."
Within two days, after the capture of Fort George a body of some nine hundred British troops under command of Sir George Prevost, Governor General of Canada, landed at Sackett's Harbor, New York, for the purpose of destroying the stores and a vessel there on the stocks. General Jacob Brown, who subsequently came to the command of the United States army, hastily gathered a body of militia, attacked and drove the enemy back to their vessels, and saved the stores. On June 6th, General Winder, with about eight hundred men, had been re-enforced at Stoney Creek by a small force under General Chandler. They were in pursuit of the British forces who had escaped from Fort George under command of General Vincent. He determined not to await the attack of the Americans, but to attack himself. He moved out at night and attacked the center of the American line, which he succeeded in breaking, and captured both Generals Winder and Chandler; but the enemy was at last driven back, and a council of war decided on a retreat. Coming close on this disaster, Colonel Charles G. Boerstler, with a command of six hundred men, had been sent forward to capture the Stone House, seventeen miles from Fort George. The British force was much larger than Boerstler's, and on June 24th he was completely surrounded and forced to surrender. For some three months the main body of the army had remained inactive. Colonel Scott during the happening of the occurrences just related had been engaged in foraging expeditions for the supply of the army. These expeditions also resulted in combats between the opposing forces, in all of which Scott was successful. In July, 1813, he resigned the office of adjutant general and was assigned to the command of twenty companies, or what was known as a double regiment.
Burlington Heights, on Lake Ontario, was supposed to be the depot of military stores for the British, and in September an expedition was fitted out under Scott's command to capture it; but no stores being found there, he marched toward York, now called Toronto, where a large quantity of stores were taken and the barracks and storehouses burned. General Wilkinson being now in command of the army, a campaign was inaugurated for the capture of Kingston and Montreal. Kingston was an important port, and Montreal the chief commercial town of Lower Canada.
Wilkinson was ordered to concentrate at Sackett's Harbor early in October. General Wade Hampton was ordered to join him from northern New York. Wilkinson embarked on October 2d, and Scott was left in command of Fort George with some eight hundred regulars and part of a regiment of militia under Colonel Joseph Gardner Swift. Under directions of Captain Totten, of the engineers, work was rapidly advanced in placing the fort in tenable condition; but the work was not completed before October 9th, when, to Scott's surprise, the enemy near him moved down toward Wilkinson. As authorized by his orders, Colonel Scott turned the command of the fort over to Brigadier-General McLure, of the New York militia. It was arranged that Scott was to join Wilkinson, and that vessels for his transportation should be sent up to the mouth of the Genesee River.
On his arrival there he received information that Commodore Chauncey, commanding the fleet, had been detained by the protest of General Wilkinson against his leaving him, even for a few days. Scott was then compelled to undertake the long march for Sackett's Harbor by way of Rochester, Canandaigua, and Utica. The march was accomplished under many difficulties and with much suffering, as it rained almost incessantly, and the roads were in the worst of conditions. On his arrival in advance of his troops, he was appointed to the command of a battalion under Colonel Macomb. Being in command of the advance of the army in the descent of the St. Lawrence, he was not present at the engagement at Chrysler's Farm on November 11th. At that time, in conjunction with Colonel Dennis, he was forcing a passage near Cornwall, under fire of a British force, which he routed, and captured many prisoners.
The day before the occurrence of the affair just mentioned he landed at Fort Matilda, commanding a narrow place on the river, where he gained possession of the fort. The expedition which was announced for the conquest of Canada was, on November 12th, abandoned by its leader and projector, General Wilkinson, who commanded a retreat. This occurred when Scott was fifteen miles in advance of Chrysler's Field, there being no body of British troops between him and Montreal, and the garrison at the latter place had only four hundred marines and two hundred sailors.
Wilkinson's defense for his failure was that General Hampton had refused to join him at St. Regis for fear of lack of provisions and forage.
After the events just related, Colonel Scott was engaged in preparing the new levies of troops for the field and arranging for supplies and transportation for the next campaign.
On March 9, 1814, he was appointed to the rank of brigadier general, and ordered to join General Jacob Brown, commanding general of the United States army, then moving toward the Niagara frontier. On the 24th General Brown marched to Sackett's Harbor, where Scott established a camp of instruction. On assembling of the army at Buffalo, Scott was assigned to the command of the Ninth, Eleventh, and Twenty-fifth Regiments of infantry, with a part of the Twenty-second Regiment and Captain Towson's company of artillery. In addition to this command there were at this time at Buffalo the commands of Generals Porter and Eleazer Wheelock Ripley. The whole force was placed in camp under General Scott's immediate direction. In the latter part of June General Brown returned to Buffalo, and on the morning of July 3d Scott's brigade with the artillery of Major Jacobs Hindman, crossed the river and landed below Fort Erie, while Ripley's brigade landed a short distance above. Fort Erie was invested, attacked, and soon surrendered, and on the morning of the 4th Scott's brigade moved in advance in the direction of Chippewa. He was engaged for a distance of sixteen miles in a running fight with the British forces under the Marquis of Tweedale. Toward night the Marquis of Tweedale crossed the Chippewa River and joined the main army under General Sir Phineas Riall. Scott then took position on a creek some two miles from Chippewa. On the east was the Niagara River and the road to Chippewa, while an the west was a heavy wood. Between the wood and the river were two streams—the Chippewa and Street's Creek. General Riall, the British commander, was posted behind the Chippewa, flanked on one side with a blockhouse and a heavy battery on the other.
Both of these streams were bridged on the road to Chippewa, the one over Street's Creek being nearest to Scott, while that over the Chippewa was nearest to Riall. On the morning of the 5th General Brown had determined to make the attack, but the enemy, anticipating it, made the first forward movement, and there were a number of skirmishes. General Porter, whose command consisted of volunteers, militia, and friendly Indians, first engaged the British and drove them back through the woods. General Riall at this moment was seen advancing with the main body of his army, and the retreating troops rallied, attacking Porter furiously, and, despite his own coolness and gallantry, his troops gave way and fled. This was about four o'clock, and General Brown, being with Porter, saw the advance of the British force, and meeting General Scott, said to him, "The enemy is advancing." General Brown then moved to the rear and ordered the advance of Ripley's brigade. The British army was composed of the One Hundredth Regiment, under the Marquis of Tweedale, the First Royal Scots, under Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, a portion of the Eighth or King's Regiment, a detachment of the Royal Artillery, a detachment of the Royal Nineteenth Light Dragoons, and some Canadian militia and Indians. These were supported by a heavy battery of nine guns. Scott crossed the bridge under fire of this battery, losing a number of men. After crossing, the commands of Majors Henry Leavenworth and John McNeil, Jr., formed line in front opposite the center and left of the enemy. Major Thomas Sidney Jesup moved to the left and advanced to attack the enemy's right. Towson's battery was on the right, on the Chippewa road. Seeing that the British lines outflanked him, Scott ordered the movement of Jesup to the left. The battle now opened, Jesup holding in check the right wing of the enemy, his position in the wood concealing him from view. General Scott had now advanced to within eighty paces of the enemy, and ordering the left flank of McNeil's battalion formed on the right so that it was oblique to the enemy's charge and flanking him on the right. Scott called to McNeil's command, which had no recruits in it: "The enemy say we are good at long shot, but can not stand the cold iron. I call upon the Eleventh to give the lie to that slander. Charge!" The charge was made at once, supported by a corresponding charge of Leavenworth and a flank fire from Towson's battery. The British broke, and fled in great confusion.
In the meantime Major Jesup, commanding on the left, ordered his men to advance, which they did, driving the enemy into his intrenchments across the Chippewa. The British forces engaged were about twenty-one hundred men, and that of the Americans nineteen hundred. The British lost in killed, one hundred and thirty-eight; wounded, three hundred and nineteen; and missing, forty-six. The American loss was sixty killed, two hundred and forty-eight wounded, and nineteen missing. General Brown in his official report says: "Brigadier General Scott is entitled to the highest praise our country can bestow; to him more than to any other man am I indebted for the victory of July 5th. His brigade covered itself with glory. Every officer and every man of the Ninth, Twenty-second, Eleventh, and Twenty-fifth Regiments did his duty with a zeal and energy worthy of the American character." Two days after the battle of Chippewa General Scott forced a passage across the Chippewa, driving the enemy.
A fort called Messasauga was built after the campaign of 1813 by the British as a defense to Fort George, and being re-enforced by General Riall, he moved to Burlington Heights on Lake Ontario. It was General Brown's intention to capture these forts before beginning further or more extended operations. With this purpose, he ordered some heavy guns from Sackett's Harbor; but Commodore Chauncey being sick, and the enemy having a superior fleet on the lake, the attack on these forts was abandoned. General Brown then made a feint by moving up the Niagara and recrossing the Chippewa, with a view to draw the enemy down and to enable him to obtain supplies from Fort Schlosser. Failing in this, it was his purpose to send General Scott by the road from Queenstown and thus force Riall to battle.
On the afternoon of the 25th General Brown received a note from a militia officer who occupied some posts on the American side of the Niagara, that a thousand British troops had crossed from Queenstown to Lewiston, a few miles below the Chippewa. It was thought that the object of this movement was to capture the American magazines at Schlosser and cut off supplies from Buffalo. General Brown having determined to threaten the forts at the mouth of the Niagara, General Scott's command was put in motion for this purpose. It consisted of four battalions under Colonel Hugh Brady, and the commands of Majors Jesup, Leavenworth, and McNeil, Captain Towson's artillery, and Captain Harris's detachment of cavalry, the whole force aggregating thirteen hundred men. After a march of two miles some mounted British officers were discovered on a reconnoitering expedition, their forces being a short distance off and hidden from view.
General Scott's orders were to march on the forts, as information had been received that Riall had divided his forces, sending a thousand of them across the river. He, however, determined to move forward and give battle. Dispatching Adjutant-General Jones to General Brown with information that the enemy was in his front, he moved on, and was astonished to see drawn up in line of battle on Lundy's Lane a larger force than he had fought at Chippewa; but he determined to give battle and rely upon re-enforcements being rapidly sent to him. Lieutenant Richard Douglass was now dispatched to inform General Brown of the situation. On the night of the 23d Lieutenant-General Sir Gordon Drummond had arrived at the mouth of the river with re-enforcements. This was not known to General Brown. Riall had marched down the road which Scott was to have taken on the 26th, coming by Queenstown, and had not sent any troops across the Niagara. His re-enforcements were coming up rapidly. The battle opened late in the afternoon. The British line, eighteen hundred strong, posted on a ridge in Lundy's Lane running at right angles with the river, was in front of Scott. The left of this line was on a road parallel to the river, with a space grown up with small timber, extending some two hundred yards. He ordered Major Jesup and Colonel Brady to take advantage of this and turn the enemy's left from the concealed position which the brushwood afforded. The other infantry forces had been placed in line with detachments of cavalry on both sides and held as reserves. The British, outflanking Scott on the left, made a movement to attack in flank and fear. This was repelled by Major McNeil with heavy loss. Jesup had succeeded in his movement, while Brady, Leavenworth, and Towson were engaged in the front. Jesup had captured General Riall and a number of other officers far in his front, and then resumed his line. At nine o'clock the British right was driven back from its assault on Scott's flank, and his left was turned and cut off. The center posted on the ridge held its place, supported by nine pieces of artillery. Another battalion of British troops was on its way as a re-enforcement, and but a short distance away, when General Brown arrived on the field, in advance of the reserve. He thus describes in his report what occurred from the time of his arrival:
"Apprehending that these corps were much exhausted, and knowing that they had suffered severely, I determined to interpose a new line with the advancing troops, and thus disengage General Scott and hold his brigade in reserve. Orders were accordingly given to General Ripley. The enemy's artillery at this moment occupied a hill which gave him great advantage and was the key to the whole position. It was supported by a line of infantry. To secure the victory it was necessary to carry this with artillery and seize the height.
"The duty was assigned to Colonel Miller. He advanced steadily and gallantly to his object, and carried the height and the cannon. General Ripley brought up the Twenty-third (which had faltered) to his support, and the enemy disappeared from before them. The enemy, rallying his forces, and, as is believed, having received re-enforcements, now attempted to drive us from our position and regain his artillery. Our line was unshaken and the enemy repulsed. Two other attempts having the same object had the same issue. General Scott was again engaged in repelling the former of these, and the last I saw of him on the field of battle he was near the head of his column and giving to its march a direction that would have placed him on the enemy's right.... Having been for some time wounded and being a good deal exhausted by loss of blood, it became my wish to devolve the command on General Scott and retire from the field; but on inquiry I had the misfortune to learn that he was disabled by wounds. I therefore kept my post, and had the satisfaction to see the enemy's last effort repulsed."
General Brown said to General Miller, when he saw that to win the battle the artillery on the ridge must be captured, "Sir, can you take that battery?" He replied, "I will try, sir," and at once moved forward, conducted by Scott, who was familiar with the ground, and with his gallant command drove the enemy from its stronghold and captured the guns.
General Scott, though severely wounded, was not disabled at the time mentioned in General Brown's report. Having two horses killed under him, he was at this time on foot, but was finally prostrated by his two wounds—one in the side, the other in the shoulder. The American loss was one hundred and seventy-one killed, five hundred and seventy-two wounded, and one hundred and seventeen prisoners; that of the British was eighty-four killed, five hundred and fifty-nine wounded, and two hundred and thirty-five prisoners.
Generals Brown and Scott both being disabled, General Ripley was sent to bring off the wounded and dead. The captured artillery, owing to want of horses and harness, was left on the field. The army now fell back to Chippewa and fortified the place.
It being learned that General Drummond was advancing on Chippewa with a large force, the place was evacuated and the army retreated to the ferry near Black Rock. A division was ordered to remain at Fort Erie and repair the fort, and Brigadier-General Gaines was, by General Brown's orders, placed in command of the army.
Very soon the British General Drummond appeared in front of Fort Erie and commenced a regular investment. Cannonading was begun on August 13th and continued at intervals, and on the 15th a heavy British column assaulted Towson's battery, which was stationed at the northwest angle of the fort. The assault was repelled by Captain Towson with the aid of Major Wood, commanding the Twenty-fifth Regiment. The western angle was then attacked, with a like result. The British eventually succeeded in obtaining possession of the exterior bastion of the old fort. Just at this time a number of cartridges in a building near by exploded, killing many of the British and expelling them from the fort. The losses in these affairs were: British—killed, fifty-seven; wounded, three hundred and nine; missing, five hundred and thirty-nine. American—killed, seventeen; wounded, fifty-six; missing, eleven.
General Brown resumed command on September 2d, and determined to attempt to relieve the siege by a sortie on the enemy's works. The investment had now lasted fifty days, and the British during that time had erected two batteries and were engaged on a third. The force was divided into three brigades, two of which were encamped out of range of the American cannon. At half past 2 P.M. on the 17th the American troops marched out and the action began. In less than half an hour the Americans had captured two of the batteries and two blockhouses. Very soon a third battery was abandoned, the cannon spiked and dismounted. General Drummond retired on the night of the 21st, and took post in his intrenchments behind the Chippewa. The British losses in this investment were, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, nearly a thousand, while the American loss was five hundred and eleven. Early in November the American army took up winter quarters in Buffalo, and this brought to a close the war on the Niagara.
The following statement of the losses on either side in this memorable campaign is interesting:
- - British loss. American loss. - - Battle of Chippewa, July 5, 1814 507 328 Battle of Niagara, July 25, 1814 878 860 Battle of Fort Erie, August 15, 1814 905 84 Sortie from Fort Erie, Sept. 17, 1814 800 511 - - Total 3,090 1,783 - -
General Jacob Brown, the commander of this army, became General in Chief of the United States army March 10, 1821. He died September 24, 1828. General Brown was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, May 9, 1775. He was secretary to Alexander Hamilton, where he acquired military information and experience, and in 1809 was made a colonel of militia. In 1810 he was promoted brigadier general, and two years afterward was assigned to the command of the frontier from Oswego to Lake St. Francis. In July, 1813, he was appointed a brigadier general in the United States army and placed in command of the Army of Niagara with the rank of major general. His subsequent career is briefly mentioned in this work. He received the thanks of Congress, November 3, 1814, and a gold medal, now in possession of his son, General N.W. Brown, of Washington City.
General Eleazer W. Ripley became a brevet major general, and resigned in May, 1820. He was a member of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress (the Twenty-fourth) from Louisiana, and died March 2, 1839. Hugh Brady became a brigadier general by brevet. William McRee resigned as colonel in March, 1819; was afterward surveyor general of Missouri, and died in 1832. Thomas S. Jesup became quartermaster general of the army with rank of brevet major general. Henry Leavenworth died a brigadier general by brevet, July 21, 1834. John McNeil resigned as brigadier general by brevet; was afterward surveyor of customs at Boston. Jacob Hindman died a colonel, February 17, 1827. Roger Jones was adjutant general of the army, and brigadier general by brevet.
General Scott's wounds were so severe and painful that it was a long time before he was fit for duty. In September, 1814, Philadelphia and Baltimore were so threatened by the enemy that General Scott took nominal command for the defense of those cities. Everywhere on his route he received the highest evidences of the love and esteem of the people. At Princeton, N.J., he had a distinguished reception, and had conferred on him by the college the degree of Master of Arts. From Princeton he proceeded to Baltimore, and on October 16, 1814, assumed command of the Tenth Military District, with headquarters at Washington.
The treaty of peace was signed December 24, 1814, and ratified by the Senate, February 17, 1815. He was tendered the appointment of Secretary of War, but declined on the ground that he was too young. When his recommendations for colonel and brigadier general were presented to the President he expressed in both instances the fear that he was too young. It was in allusion to this that he gave this reason. He was then requested to act as Secretary until the arrival of William H. Crawford, at that period Minister to France, and who had been appointed Secretary of War. He declined this also, in deference to Generals Jacob Brown and Andrew Jackson. He was engaged for some time in reducing the army to a peace establishment, which being completed he was ordered to Europe for professional purposes. He was also intrusted with certain important and delicate diplomatic functions relating to the designs of Great Britain on the island of Cuba, and the revolutionary struggles between certain Spanish provinces in America.
Is received and entertained by prominent civilians and military men in Europe—Marries Miss Mayo—Offspring—Thanks of Congress—Thanks of the Virginia Legislature voted, and also a sword—Controversy with General Andrew Jackson and correspondence—Prepares general regulations for the army and militia—Controversy with General Gaines and the War Department about rank—In command of the Eastern Division—War with the Sac and Fox Indians—Black Hawk—Cholera breaks out among the troops.
General Scott received great attention from prominent military men in Europe. He was also treated with much respect by men of letters and science. On his return home, in 1816, he was assigned to the command of the seaboard, and established his headquarters in the city of New York. On March 11, 1817, he was married to Miss Maria D. Mayo, of Richmond, Va., daughter of Colonel John Mayo. She was a lady of many accomplishments and a belle in Virginia society. The issue of this marriage who lived to maturity were Virginia, who died unmarried; Cornelia who was married to Colonel Henry L. Scott, General Scott's adjutant general for many years, and who, dying, left one son, Winfield Scott, now a resident of Richmond, Va.; Camilla, who married Gould Hoyt, of New York, and died leaving children; Ella, who married Carroll McTavish, and has several daughters. She is now (1893) a resident of Baltimore. Mrs. Scott died June 10, 1862. Two sons and two daughters died before reaching maturity. Mrs. Scott's remains were buried by the side of her illustrious husband at West Point.
In November, 1813, Congress passed a joint resolution complimenting General Scott for his skill and gallantry in the battles of Chippewa and Niagara and for his uniform good conduct throughout the war, and directed the striking and presentation to him of a gold medal. This was presented to him in a speech of great feeling and high compliment at the Executive Mansion in the presence of the members of the Cabinet and many other distinguished persons. On July 4, 1831, General Scott watched the last moments and closed the eyes of President Monroe in New York city. In February, 1816, the Legislature of Virginia passed a resolution unanimously returning thanks to General Scott for his services to his country, and also voted him a sword. This was followed by like action by the Legislature of New York. In 1815 he was elected an honorary member of the Society of the Cincinnati.
In April, 1817, General Andrew Jackson issued from Nashville, Tenn., an order reciting that "the commanding general considers it due to the principles of subordination which might and must exist in an army to prohibit the obedience of any order emanating from the Department of War to officers of the division who have reported and been assigned to duty, unless coming through him as the proper organ of communication." At a dinner party in New York soon after the publication of this order Governor Clinton desired to know General Scott's opinion of it. He expressed views in opposition to General Jackson, and added that its tendency was mutinous. An anonymous writer published the details of this conversation in a New York paper called the Columbian, and a copy of it reached General Jackson, who wrote General Scott as follows:
"HEADQUARTERS DIVISION OF THE SOUTH,
"NASHVILLE, September 17, 1817.
"SIR: With that candor due the character you have sustained as a soldier and a man of honor, and with the fairness of the latter, I address you. Inclosed is a copy of an anonymous letter postmarked New York, August 14, 1817, together with a publication taken from the Columbian, which accompanied the letter. I have not permitted myself for a moment to believe that the conduct ascribed to you is correct. Candor, however, induces me to lay them before you, that you may have it in your power to say how far they be incorrectly stated. If my order has been the subject of your animadversions, it is believed you will at once admit it, and the extent to which you may have gone.
"I am, sir, respectfully,
"Your most obedient servant,
"General W. SCOTT, U.S. Army."
General Scott replied to this letter denying the authorship of the article, and said: " ... I gave it as my opinion that that paper was, as it respected the future, mutinous in its character and tendency, and as it respected the past, a reprimand of the commander in chief, the President of the United States; for although the latter be not expressly named, it is a principle well understood that the War Department, without at least his supposed sanction, can not give a valid command to an ensign.... Even if I belonged to your division I should not hesitate to repeat to you all that I have said at any time on this subject if a proper occasion offered; and what is more, I should expect your approbation, as in my humble judgment refutation is impossible."
General Jackson replied to this in a very angry manner, and intimating that General Scott might, if he chose, call him to the field. Scott replied, and declined to write the challenge, "as his ambition was not that of Erostratus," intimating that he ruined his only chance of acquiring distinction by killing a defender of his country.
For years afterward Scott heard reports that General Jackson had made threats of personal chastisement whenever they should meet. In 1823, soon after General Jackson took his seat in the United States Senate, Scott made frequent visits there, and was entitled to the floor. Wearied at last with this state of things, he addressed General Jackson as follows:
"WASHINGTON, December 11, 1823.
"SIR: One portion of the American community has long attributed to you the most distinguished magnanimity, and the other portion the greatest desperation in your resentments.
"Am I to conclude that both are in error? I allude to circumstances which have transpired between us and which need not here be repeated, and to the fact that I have now been six days in your immediate vicinity without having attracted your notice. As this is the first time in my life that I have been within a hundred miles of you, and as it is barely possible that you may be ignorant of my presence, I beg leave to state that I shall not leave the district before the morning of the 14th inst.
"I have the honor to be, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"The Hon. GENERAL A. JACKSON, Senator, etc."
The following answer was promptly returned:
"MRS. O'NEIL'S, December 11, 1823.
"SIR: Your letter of to-day has been received. Whether the world is correct or in error as regards my 'magnanimity' is for the world to decide. I am satisfied of one fact: that when you shall know me better you will not be disposed to harbor the opinion that anything like desperation in resentment attaches to me.
"Your letter is ambiguous, but, concluding from occurrences heretofore that it was written with friendly views, I take the liberty of saying to you that whenever you shall feel disposed to meet me on friendly terms, that disposition will not be met by any other than a corresponding feeling on my part.
"I have the honor to be, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"General W. SCOTT."
General Scott was gratified at the reply, and called at once on General Jackson, who received him kindly and graciously, and the next day he departed for the West. In mentioning these facts General Scott adds that "it is painful to reflect that so amicable a settlement only meant with one of the parties a postponement of revenge to a more convenient season."
This remark is in allusion to Scott's recall from the Indian War in 1836. General Jackson died the 8th of June, 1845, General Scott being then at West Point. He was president of the Board of Examiners, which was in session when the news was received. He at once arose, and, addressing the board of visitors and academic staff, said: "Ex-President Jackson died at the Hermitage on the 8th inst. The information is not official, but sufficiently authentic to prompt the step I am about to take. An event of much moment to the nation has occurred. A great man has fallen. General Jackson is dead—a great general, and a great patriot who had filled the highest political stations in the gift of his countrymen. He is dead. This is not the place, nor am I the individual, to pronounce a fit eulogy on the illustrious deceased. National honors will doubtless be prescribed by the President of the United States; but in the meantime, and in harmony with the feelings of all who hear me, and particularly with those of the authorities of this institution, I deem it proper to suspend the examination of the cadets for the day, and to await the orders of the Executive of the United States on the subject."
General Scott in his early training had studied the science of war, using the works of the greatest and best-known authors. He was in his early life a close student, and when he entered the army was, better equipped, in the knowledge of the standard authors on the science of war than most men in the army. In 1821 he prepared a work entitled General Regulations for the Army, or Military Institutes. This was the first book published in the United States which could be accepted as a manual for both the regular troops of the army and the militia. He had formerly, in 1814-'15, been president of a board of army officers which compiled a system of infantry tactics, a copy of the system which he had used in the camp of instruction at Buffalo in 1814. This was revised by another board, of which he was president, and was published in 1825.
In 1826 a board of army and militia officers was convened by order of the Secretary of War, of which he was made president, for the purpose of reporting a plan for the organization and instruction of the militia of the United States, a system of tactics for the artillery, a system of cavalry tactics, and a system of infantry and rifle tactics. The reports on the plan for the organization and instruction of the militia and that on the system of infantry and rifle tactics were written wholly by General Scott, and adopted by the board. Under a resolution of Congress in 1835 there was published a new edition of infantry tactics prepared by him.
General Scott was one of the pioneers in what is known as the temperance reform, and preceded Dr. Lyman Beecher in his celebrated discourses on this subject. In December, 1821, General Scott published his "Scheme for restricting the use of ardent spirits in the United States." It was first published in the National Gazette. He did not take ground for total abstinence, but against the use ardent of spirits, brandy, rum, and whisky. He was also a member of the society formed in New York in 1821 "for the prevention of pauperism, vice, and immorality."
General Scott, in 1823, took great interest in having the sons of General Paez, of Colombia, South America, admitted as students at the military academy at West Point, which drew from General Paez letters of thanks to General Scott and President Monroe.
A very serious controversy arose in 1828 between General Scott and General Edmund Pendleton Gaines on a question of rank. General Macomb had been appointed by President Adams major general of the United States army. There was at that time but one major general, and Scott held the rank of brevet major general, with an older date than Macomb's appointment, and he addressed a memorial to Congress claiming his superiority in rank to Macomb. He argued that from the beginning of the Revolutionary War down to the time of his appointment brevet rank was uniformly held to give rank and command, except only in the body of a regiment, etc.; that there existed in law or in fact no higher title or grade in the army than that of major general, there being no such thing as a commander in chief, except the President. That he [Scott] held a commission as major general, July 25, 1814, of older date than that of either Generals Macomb or Gaines. Congress did not pass an act, however, sustaining his claim, and the result was a construction by the authorities that a brevet appointment did not confer additional rank.
General Scott, on this decision of Congress, tendered his resignation, which was not accepted. When he was informed that the President and others high in authority sustained the action of Congress, he addressed a letter to Mr. Eaton, the Secretary of War, as follows: