Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1, 1861 (Thursday): Scott Resigns

General Winfield Scott


No. 94. Washington, November 1, 1861.

The following order from the President of the United States, announcing the retirement from active command of the honored veteran Lieutenant General Winfield Scott will be read by the Army with profound regret:

Washington, November 1, 1861.

On the 1st day of November, A. D. 1861, upon his own application to the President of the United States, Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott is ordered to be placed, and hereby is placed, upon the list of retired officers of the Army of the United States, without reduction in his current pay, subsistence, or allowances.
The American people will hear with sadness and deep emotion that General Scott has withdrawn from the active control of the Army, while the President and a unanimous Cabinet express their own and the nation's sympathy in his personal affliction, and their profound sense of the important public services rendered by him to his country during his long and brilliant career, among which will ever be gratefully distinguished his faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the Flag, when assailed by parricidal rebellion.


The President is pleased to direct that Major General George B. McClellan assume the command of the Army of the United States. The headquarters of the Army will be established in the city of Washington. All communications intended for the Commanding General will hereafter be addressed direct to the Adjutant-General. The duplicate returns, orders, and other papers, heretofore sent to the assistant adjutant-general, headquarters of the Army, will be discontinued.

By order of the Secretary of War:


Official Records, Series 1, Vol. 5, Part 1, Page 639

Lincoln and Scott were never at odds, but the President did nothing to prevent McClellan ignoring Scott and coming directly to consult directly with the political structure of the government.  What Lincoln got in McClellan he most certainly deserved for his failing to reign in a subordinate whose correspondence from the first showed him to be an egotist of the first order.  That said, with Scott unable under any circumstance to physically continue to serve due to the infirmities of age, Lincoln's choices were limited.  Scott had intended Halleck as his replacement and there were few suitable alternatives at this point in the war.  McClellan had won victories in West Virginia, and victory would become the coin of the realm for advancement during the war.  History has treated Scott kindly, noting his plan, the so-called "Annaconda Plan" for surrounding the South on the coast and along the Mississippi is ultimately a description of what won the war for the Union.

No comments:

Post a Comment