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"The Education of Winfield Scott" Topic

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Tango0118 Nov 2020 4:42 p.m. PST

"It was the sort of message no soldier ever wants to receive, particularly not an untried 26-year-old U.S. Army officer leading his men as they confronted a disciplined and heavily reinforced British opponent. On the afternoon of October 13, 1812, Lieutenant Colonel Winfield Scott opened the note from his commanding officer, Major General Stephen Van Rensselaer. "I have passed through my camp," Van Rensselaer advised him. "Not a regiment, not a company is willing to join you. Save yourself by a retreat, if you can."

Just a few hours earlier Scott had crossed the 250-yard-wide Niagara River to take charge of a ragtag force of regulars and militia on the heights overlooking the Canadian hamlet of Queenston, Ontario. Shortly after he arrived, Scott realized that the British force spread out before him was being heavily reinforced. From a strategic standpoint, Scott's men had a good position on the heights, but with no re-inforcements of his own, the prospects for holding it were rapidly evaporating. Concluding that nothing more could be accomplished on Canadian soil that day, Scott led his men down the steep bank to the river but found no boats waiting to take them back across to American soil.

The problem wasn't that Van Rensselaer had no men to send to Scott. It was that some of the militia units still on the New York side of the Niagara River had refused to follow their comrades into Canada, a refusal that Scott laid squarely on "the machinations in the ranks of demagogues." The malcontents had argued that since they belonged to the New York militia, they were free to disregard orders to operate outside the state, effectively denying their commander's authority over them. After feebly attempting to convince them otherwise, Van Rensselaer decided that he had no choice but to acquiesce. They stayed where they were, and Scott and his men were marooned on the other side of the river…"
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Marulaz118 Nov 2020 7:50 p.m. PST

Thanks Tango. I enjoyed that very much. The more I read of Scott the more fascinating he becomes.


rmaker18 Nov 2020 10:32 p.m. PST

John, if you haven't yet read "Agent of Destiny" by John Eisenhower.

Marulaz119 Nov 2020 3:49 a.m. PST

rmaker. Haven't read it yet but it is now on my list. Thank you very much.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2020 5:10 a.m. PST

There is another, possibly better, biography of Winfield Scott by Charles Elliott, Winfield Scot: The Soldier and the Man.

Volume I:


Volume II:


The volume by Eisenhower can be found here:


More than anyone else, Scott created and formed the US Army after the War of 1812. His campaign against Mexico City was a model of ingenuity, brilliance, and overall excellence.

This might also be helpful:


Grant's Vicksburg campaign was modeled on it.

Tango0119 Nov 2020 12:07 p.m. PST

A votre service mon ami! (smile)

Thanks Kevin!!


Marulaz119 Nov 2020 4:06 p.m. PST

Brechtel198: Thank you very much for those recommendations. I now try get books from the inter library loan service and have success generally in doing that. My financial situation and space limitations because I now live with my daughter and her family prohibits my buying all the books I would like to own. I will start at the top of the list.

Over the last few years however, I have bought several books on your recommendation and have never been disappointed with any of them, for which I am very grateful. I used to go on this sight under a different user name than Marulaz1.


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 4:46 a.m. PST

You are very welcome. I have benefitted greatly from other members/posters who take the time to give recommendations for books and articles and that is one of the strengths of this forum.

Have you tried Google Books? They have an excellent inventory of older volumes that are out of print and are available for download.

I use that service nearly daily.

Marulaz120 Nov 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

Brechtel198 Thanks for the Google recommendation. Unfortunately I am a computer idiot and only do this on a kindle device. I will speak to my son in law and check into the downloading thing. He is my computer whiz on call because my skills and knowledge in that regard are non existant. Fortunately I live with him so he is unable to escape my questions.

Thank you, John

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2020 10:44 a.m. PST

That sounds familiar. Our son is the household IT person.

Tango0120 Nov 2020 1:08 p.m. PST



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