Winfield Scott in Central Mexico

Authored by: Kristen Brill

The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533805
eBook ISBN: 9781315817347
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813354


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Winfield Scott (1786–1866) served as an officer in the United States Army from 1809 to 1861, rising to the rank of lieutenant general under President Abraham Lincoln. In May 1808, he received his first commission in the U.S. Army as a Captain of the Light Artillery in the aftermath of President Thomas Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807. He quickly rose through the ranks and became a celebrated war hero from his performances in the War of 1812, Mexican–American War and albeit briefly, the Civil War. In 1852 he was nominated as the Whig presidential candidate, eventually losing to Democrat candidate Franklin Pierce. With his resignation from the Union Army on November 1, 1861, his military career came to an end and he was replaced by General George McClellan as general-in-chief. One of his most celebrated military campaigns was his capture of Mexico City in 1847 and his subsequent administration of the city. Scott’s expedition in Mexico secured a United States victory in the war, and helped establish his legacy as one of the nineteenth century’s most venerated military strategists. Scott’s landing in Vera Cruz, march inland and capture and governance of Mexico City were the heart of the American military campaign south of the Rio Grande. A nuanced understanding of Scott’s military operation in central Mexico is necessary in order to fully comprehend the military and political landscape of not only the Mexican–American War, but the ideology of mid-nineteenth century United States expansionism.

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