WINFIELD SCOTT: The Quest for Military Glory by Timothy D. Johnson

WINFIELD SCOTT: The Quest for Military Glory

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A full-dress study of a great general whose life spanned the life of his young nation--from the Founding Fathers to the Civil War--but who has been largely neglected by historians. Johnson (History/Lipscomb Univ,) has delved into vast but scattered primary and secondary sources to write a scholarly biography of Scott, who was one of the first US Army officers to make a formal study of European military manuals, whose regulations established a code that brought new professionalism into 19th-century American warfare. The US Army, under Scott's innovative leadership, thus became capable of withstanding the best European soldiers. Scott consulted with Lafayette and Prussian officers in Europe, and noted the fatal mistakes--looting and pillage--of Napoleon's armies in the Spanish and Russian campaigns. Although he blundered early in his career in the Indian Wars in Florida and Alabama, he performed brilliantly in the Mexican War, and his strong discipline and fair dealing with the Mexican civilian population limited guerrilla attacks on his army. He was responsible for the first large-scale construction of amphibious ships in American history, and put them to good use in the successful landing at Vera Cruz. Johnson views Scott's march from Vera Cruz and his capture of Mexico City in 1847 as the crowning achievements of his career; later, as a diplomat, Scott solved dangerous border disputes with Canada. Johnson shows that Scott never wore humility well: he was an aristocratic conservative forever in conflict with the strong egalitarian forces of his day. Scott's boldness, knowledge, and ability as a soldier were mixed with conceit, arrogance, impatience, and aggressiveness. Ironically, his overweening ambition and his self-serving nature caused him to fail in politics. The definitive study: Johnson's distinguished work gives a long-deserved but neglected credit to ""Old Fuss and Feathers.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1998
ISBN: 0700609148
Page count: 328pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of Kansas