In total disregard of the charges preferred against General Worth by the commanding general, the President ordered him to be released from arrest and restored to his command. General Worth, considering that the President had done him "full and ample justice," withdrew his charges against General Scott; to which the latter said that he "felt strong in conscious rectitude, strong in all the means of defense, defied his accusers, and would not plead the letter withdrawing the accusations against him in bar of trial; that he challenged the writer of that letter to come forward and do his worst."
Colonel Duncan having admitted that he had written the "Tampico letter," thus pleading guilty to violating the army regulations, and the President having ordered a court of inquiry and not a court-martial, General Scott declined to prosecute him before this court or a court-martial without express orders from the President. General Scott considered that it was not for him to attempt to uphold a regulation which the President had revived and then disregarded. While Colonel Duncan no doubt believed all he had written to be true, the evidence of Colonel H.L. Scott, assistant adjutant general of the army, Colonel Hitchcock, and Captain Lee shows that the direct attack, or that by Mexicalcingo, was never decided upon.
General Scott was informed that the court of inquiry would probably adjourn to await further orders from the Government. To prevent this delay, he [Scott] consented to prosecute the case of General Pillow. With a probability of peace and the disbanding of the army, it was almost certain that there never would be a trial by court-martial should such a court be recommended.
On March 21st the investigation before the court of inquiry commenced in the City of Mexico and continued until April 21st, when the court, as General Scott had predicted, adjourned to the United States for the purpose of obtaining further testimony, and reassembled in Frederick, Md., May 29, 1848. General Pillow did not appear until June 5th, when General Scott was also present. The latter had been detained by sickness, and General Pillow had stopped in Tennessee to visit his family.
On July 1st General Scott submitted the following paper to the court, and withdrew the charges against Colonel Duncan:
"The reason given for withdrawing the first charge was, that the President seemed indisposed to enforce the revised paragraph 650, which he had ordered to be published, and enjoined all to obey and enforce.
"In regard to the second charge and specification, relating to matters of fact set forth in the 'Tampico letter,' and which Colonel Duncan had acknowledged over his own signature he had written, General Scott, believing that Colonel Duncan had fallen undesignedly into erroneous statements of fact in the letter, sent an officer to ask him if he was not ignorant, at the time of writing the letter,
"1. That before the army left Pueblo for the valley his [Scott's] bias and expectation were that the army would be obliged to reach the enemy's capital by the left or south around Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco.
"2. That after his headquarters were established at Ayotla, August 11th, he [Scott] had shown equal solicitude to get additional information of that route, as well as that of Penon or Mexicalcingo.
"3. That besides sending from Ayotla, August 12th, oral instructions to Brevet Major-General Worth to push further inquiries from Chalco as to the character of the southernmost route around the two lakes, he [Scott] had sent written instructions to General Worth to the same effect from his quarters at Ayotla.[C]
[Footnote C: General Worth wrote to Colonel Duncan from Tacubaya, March 31, 1848: "General Scott evinced a disposition to gather information as respected this route (Chalco) on the 12th.... As I have said, General Scott directed me to send and examine the Chalco route," etc.]
"4. That while at Ayotla, from the 11th to the 15th of August, he [Scott] sent a Mexican from Ayotla, independent of General Worth, all around the village of Xochimilco to report to him [Scott] whether there had been any recent change in the route, either in the matter of fortifications or from overflowing of the lakes.
"5. That in the evening of the 13th he [Scott] had ordered Captain Mason, of the engineers, to report to General Worth the next morning, to be employed in reconnoitering that same southern route, in which service he had already been anticipated by the reconnoitering party under himself—Colonel Duncan."
The officer was authorized to say that if Colonel Duncan would state that he was ignorant of these facts, he would withdraw and abandon, upon his word, the second charge and specification.
To this Colonel Duncan replied that he "believed the facts therein ('Tampico letter') set forth to be substantially true, and still believed so; had no desire to detract directly or indirectly from the merits of any officer, and no one could regret more than himself if he had done so. If the statements of General Scott were facts, he learned them for the first time, and was ignorant of them when he wrote the 'Tampico letter.'" General Scott's reply was that "ample evidence, both oral and written, was at hand to substantiate his averments in respect to the route around Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco." He then withdrew the second charge against Colonel Duncan.
Following is the opinion of the court of inquiry in General Pillow's case:
"On reviewing the whole case, it will be seen that the points on which the conduct of General Pillow has been disapproved by the court are his claiming in certain passages of the paper No. 1" (the letter he gave Mr. Freuner, correspondent of the New Orleans Delta, and which had been pronounced a twin brother to the "Leonidas letter"), "and in his official report of the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, a larger degree of participation in the merit of the movements appertaining to the battle of Contreras than is substantiated by the evidence, or he is entitled to, and also the language above quoted, in which that claim is referred to in the letter to General Scott.
"But as the movements actually ordered by General Pillow at Contreras on the 19th were emphatically approved by General Scott at the time, and as the conduct of General Pillow in the brilliant series of military operations carried on to such triumphant issue by General Scott in the Valley of Mexico appears by the several official reports of the latter, and otherwise, to have been highly meritorious, from these and other considerations the court is of the opinion that no further proceedings against General Pillow in this case are called for by the interests of the public."
On July 7, 1848, the President, through the Secretary of War, issued an order approving the findings of the court of inquiry, and adds:
"The President, finding, on a careful review of the whole evidence, that there is nothing established to sustain the charge of 'a violation of the general regulation or standing order of the army,' nothing in the conduct of General Pillow, nor in his correspondence with the general in chief of the army, 'unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,' concurs with the court in their conclusion that 'no further proceedings against General Pillow in the case are called for by the interests of the public service,' and he accordingly directs that no further proceedings be had in the case."
As has been seen, General Scott had defied his enemies, whoever they were, to do their worst. The charges against him were withdrawn, and the court only investigated the charges against General Pillow, with the result as given above. The court was then dissolved. It is probably fortunate for all the parties against whom General Scott had brought charges that a peace had been consummated, after a campaign in which all participants from the highest in rank to the private had borne such a brilliant part.
* * * * *
When General Scott arrived at Vera Cruz on his journey home he found several fast steamers in port, any one of which he could have taken passage in, but, with a consideration for the comfort of his men, which throughout his career he never failed to evince, he left them for the troops soon to embark, and taking a small sailing brig, loaded down with guns, mortars, and ordnance stores, started on his voyage to New York. On Sunday morning, May 20th, at daylight, the health officer boarded the brig, and the general landed and proceeded to Elizabeth, N.J., to join his family. He had the Mexican disease (diarrhoea) upon him, and required rest and good nursing. He was not long permitted to enjoy his much-needed repose, for deputations from New York tendered him one of the most magnificent civic and military receptions ever extended to any hero in this country up to that time.
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 Taylor had been nominated by the Whigs as their candidate for President, and at the instance of General Scott he [Scott] was put in command of the Eastern Department and the former the Western Department. This was considered a compliment to General Taylor. March 9, 1848, the following joint resolution, unanimously passed by Congress, was approved by the President:
"1. That the thanks of Congress be and they are hereby presented to Winfield Scott, major general commanding in chief the army in Mexico, and through him to the officers and men of the regular and volunteer corps under him, for their uniform gallantry and good conduct, conspicuously displayed at the siege and capture of the city of Vera Cruz and castle of San Juan de Ulloa, March 29, 1847; and in the successive battles of Cerro Gordo, April 18th; Contreras, San Antonio, and Churubusco, August 19th and 20th; and for the victories achieved in front of the City of Mexico, September 8th, 11th, 12th, and 13th, and the capture of the metropolis, September 14, 1847, in which the Mexican troops, greatly superior in numbers and with every advantage of position, were in every conflict signally defeated by the American arms.
"2. That the President of the United States be and he is hereby requested to cause to be struck a gold medal with devices emblematical of the series of brilliant victories achieved by the army, and presented to Major-General Winfield Scott, as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his valor, skill, and judicious conduct in the memorable campaign of 1847.
"3. That the President of the United States be requested to cause the foregoing resolutions to be communicated to Major-General Scott in such terms as he may deem best calculated to give effect to the objects thereof."
On February 24, 1849, a joint resolution was offered in the United States Senate to confer upon General Scott the brevet rank of lieutenant general, which went only to its second reading, an objection being interposed to a third reading and passage of the resolution. On July 29, 1850, Mr. Jere Clemens, of Alabama, submitted a resolution instructing the Committee on Military Affairs to inquire into the expediency of conferring by law the brevet rank of lieutenant general on Major-General Scott, "with such additional pay and allowances as might be deemed proper, in consideration of the distinguished services rendered to the republic by that officer during the late war with Mexico." The resolution was eight days after referred to the Committee on Military Affairs.
On September 30, 1850, Senator Jefferson Davis, of Mississippi, Chairman of the Military Committee, reported a resolution requesting the President to refer to a board of officers, to be designated by him, the following questions:
"Is it expedient or necessary to provide for additional grades of commissioned officers in the army of the United States; and, if so, what grades, in addition to the present organization, should be created?"
Mr. Davis's opposition to conferring the brevet rank of lieutenant general upon General Scott was well known at the time. In pursuance of this request by the Senate, the following officers were appointed on the board: Generals Jesup, president, Wool, Gibson, Totten, Talcott, Hitchcock, and Colonel Crane. The unanimous report was:
"Under the first inquiry referred to it, the board is of opinion that it is expedient to create by law for the army the additional grade of lieutenant general, and that when, in the opinion of the President and Senate, it shall be deemed proper to acknowledge eminent services of officers of the army, and in the mode already provided for in subordinate grades, it is expedient and proper that the grade of lieutenant general may be conferred by brevet."
Several efforts were subsequently made to pass joint resolutions similar in purport to those quoted and referred to, but it was not until 1852 that the joint resolution was passed creating the brevet rank of lieutenant general, and General Scott succeeded to that dignity in the army. The law did not in terms carry with it the pay and emoluments of the brevet rank, and Mr. Davis, who had become Secretary of War under President Pierce, referred the question to the Attorney-General, Mr. Caleb Cushing; but before that officer rendered an opinion Congress inserted a declaratory provision in the military appropriation bill, which, becoming a law, gave the pay proper and all that went with it to a veteran who had by his services well earned it. General Scott was thenceforward until he died the second officer of the American army (General Washington being the first) who held the office of lieutenant general.
After the inauguration of General Taylor as President, General Scott, between whom and the President there was no very good feeling, continued his headquarters in New York; but when President Fillmore succeeded, in 1850, he removed to Washington, and continued to reside in the latter city until the accession of President Pierce, when, by General Scott's request, there was another change back to New York, where until 1861—with the exception of ten months of hard duty—he remained and maintained headquarters of the army.
In 1849 there were evidences of discontent which almost assumed the attitude of threats in the Canadas growing out of political agitation, and General Scott was interrogated on the question of the advisability of annexation by John C. Hamilton, Esq., of New York. General Scott replied from West Point, June 29, 1849, in which he expressed the opinion that the news from the British Parliament would increase the discontent of the Canadas, and that those discontents might in a few years lead to a separation of the Canadas, New Brunswick, etc., from England. He thought that, instead of those provinces forming themselves into an independent nation, they would seek a connection with our Union, and that thereby the interests of both sides would be promoted, the provinces coming into the Union on equal terms with the States. This would secure the free navigation of the St. Lawrence River, which would be of immense importance to at least one third of our population, and of great value to the remainder. Although opposed to incorporating with us any district densely populated with the Mexican race, he would be most happy to fraternize with our Northern and Northeastern neighbors.
In 1852 General Scott became a candidate a second time for the presidency, having been nominated by the Whig Convention that met at Baltimore in June of that year, his competitors being Mr. Webster, and Mr. Fillmore, who succeeded President Taylor. William A. Graham, Mr. Fillmore's Secretary of the Navy, was put on the ticket for Vice-President. General Franklin Pierce and William R. King, a Senator from Alabama, were respectively put forward for President and Vice-President by the Democrats. The campaign was a heated one. The Democratic orators, however, on all occasions accorded to the Whig candidate that meed of praise for his gallantry as an army officer and commander to which his services to the country had entitled him, and accorded with the universal sentiment that his services to the country had been of inestimable benefit and shed ineffaceable luster on the American arms in the wars since 1800; but still, being in all essentials but a military man, it was contended he was not fit to be intrusted with the exalted office of President. These speakers had doubtless never read, or had forgotten, the orders published by General Scott upon his capturing the City of Mexico, which show a wonderful insight into civil as well as military command. It was left to the lower portion of the opposition to indulge in caricature, and garbled and distorted paragraphs in reports and published letters, such as a "hasty plate of soup" already mentioned, and his reference to "a fire in the rear," which had reference to the weak sympathy and support he had experienced from the Administration during the war with Mexico. The Democratic candidate was overwhelmingly elected, only four States—Massachusetts, Vermont, Kentucky, and Tennessee—casting their votes for Scott. In his autobiography General Scott thanks God for his political defeats. It detracted none from his reputation that the people chose some one else for the chief Executive.
The expedition set on foot in 1857 to bring the hostile Mormons to terms met with General Scott's censure, and he made no concealment of his belief that it was a scheme got up for the benefit of army contractors, whose peculations would involve the country in great expense. It is true the cost in hardship and privation to the army, as well as the money involved, was very great, but the results were very beneficial. During the late civil war the inhabitants of Utah had it in their power to greatly embarrass the Federal Government, but they did not, as a people, commit one disloyal act. At the time of the expedition they had put themselves in such defiance of the Federal Government that it was necessary that strong measures should be resorted to, and the result was as has been stated.
In 1859 General Scott was again called upon to exercise his powers as a diplomat. Commissioners were at that time engaged in running the boundary line between the British possessions and the United States. Differences sprang up as to which of the two countries the San Juan Island in Puget Sound belonged to. This question should have been referred to the two Governments for amicable settlement. General Harvey, an impetuous officer then in command of the United States forces in that country, took forcible possession of the island, endangering the friendly relations between the two countries. The situation was critical, but President Buchanan requested General Scott to go to the scene of operations and settle the matter without conflict, if possible. The general had recently been crippled from a fall, but, suffering as he was, he sailed September 20, 1859, from New York in the Star of the West for Panama, and thence to his destination. The British governor was at Victoria. The few friendly notes that passed between General Scott and the governor restored the island to its former condition, the joint possession of both parties, and thus averting what might have led to great and serious complications.
Nothing of particular public importance attracted the attention of the general until the mutterings of civil war gave utterance to sound. That he knew the feeling and determination of the Southern people better than those in high authority is shown by his suggestions to prevent, if possible, the secession of the Southern States. He was a native of Virginia, and every effort was made by persuasion to induce him to link his fortunes with his State, but without avail. Even his old friends—the friends of his early youth and manhood, to say nothing of those of maturer years—brought to bear upon him every argument to swerve him, but to no purpose. He remained true to the Government he had served and that had honored him, and if his suggestion had been carried out, the war would not perhaps have attained the proportions it did.
On October 29, 1860, General Scott addressed the following note to the President [Buchanan]: "The excitement that threatens secession is caused by the near approach of a Republican's election to the presidency. From a sense of propriety as a soldier, I have taken no part in the pending canvass, and, as always heretofore, mean to stay away from the polls. My sympathies, however, are with the Bell and Everett ticket. With Mr. Lincoln I have no communication whatever, direct or indirect, and have no recollection of ever having seen his person; but can not believe any unconstitutional violence or breach of law is to be apprehended from his administration of the Federal Government.
"From a knowledge of our Southern population, it is my solemn conviction that there is some danger of an early act of secession, viz.: The seizure of some or all of the following posts: Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the Mississippi below New Orleans, both without garrisons; Fort Morgan, below Mobile, without garrison; Forts Pickens and McKee, Pensacola Harbor, with an insufficient garrison for one; Fort Pulaski, below Savannah, without a garrison; Forts Moultrie and Sumter, Charleston Harbor, the former with an insufficient garrison and the latter without any; and Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, without a sufficient garrison. In my opinion, all these works should be immediately so garrisoned as to make any attempt to take any one of them by surprise or coup de main ridiculous.
"With the army faithful to its allegiance and the navy probably equally so, and a Federal Executive for the next twelve months of firmness and moderation, which the whole country has a right to expect—moderation being an element of power not less than firmness—there is good reason to hope that the danger of secession may be made to pass away without one conflict of arms, one execution, or one arrest for treason. In the meantime it is suggested that exports might be left perfectly free, and, to avoid conflicts, all duties on imports be collected outside of the cities in forts or ships of war."
Again, October 31st, the general suggested to the Secretary of War that a circular should be sent at once to such of those forts as had garrisons to be on the alert against surprises and sudden assaults; but no notice seems to have been taken of the judicious and wise suggestion.
On December 12th General Scott arrived in Washington. He had been confined to his bed for a long time and was physically very much depleted. He again personally urged upon the Secretary of War the views expressed in his note from West Point of October 29th as to strengthening the forts in Charleston Harbor, Pensacola, Mobile, and the Mississippi River below New Orleans. The Secretary did not concur in these views. Finally General Scott called on the President, on December 15th, in company with the Secretary, and urged upon the chief Executive the importance of re-enforcing the forts mentioned; but no action was taken. After the Secretary of War [Floyd] had resigned his position in the Cabinet he was given a reception in Richmond, which called out the remark from the Examiner, of that city, that if the plan invented by General Scott to stop secession had been carried out, and the arsenals and forts put in the condition he wanted them to be, "the Southern Confederacy would not now exist."
On December 28th he wrote a note to the Secretary expressing the hope: 1. That orders may not be given for the evacuation of Fort Sumter [this was after Major Anderson had withdrawn his forces from Fort Moultrie and concentrated at Sumter]. 2. That one hundred and fifty recruits may be instantly sent from Governor's Island to re-enforce that garrison, with ample supplies of ammunition and subsistence, including fresh vegetables, as potatoes, onions, turnips, etc. 3. That one or two armed vessels be sent to support the said fort. In the same communication he calls the Secretary's attention to Forts Jefferson (Tortugas) and Taylor (Key West). On December 30th he addressed the President and asked permission, "without reference to the War Department, and otherwise as secretly as possible, to send two hundred and fifty recruits from New York Harbor to re-enforce Fort Sumter, together with some extra muskets or rifles, ammunition, and subsistence," and asked that a sloop of war and cutter might be ordered for the same purpose as early as the next day. The documents show that from General Scott's first note, referred to and quoted herein, down to the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, he was persistent in his efforts to have the Southern forts, or as many of them as the means at hand would permit, re-enforced and garrisoned against surprise and capture; but little heed was paid to his importunities.
On the day before the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln General Scott addressed William H. Seward, who, it was known, would become Secretary of State in Lincoln's Cabinet, what is called the "Wayward sisters" letter, and which is quoted in full:
"WASHINGTON, March 3, 1861.
"DEAR SIR: Hoping that in a day or two the new President will have happily passed through all personal dangers and find himself installed an honored successor of the great Washington, with you as the chief of his Cabinet, I beg leave to repeat in writing what I have before said to you orally, this supplement to my printed 'Views' (dated in October last) on the highly disordered condition of our (so late) happy and glorious Union.
"To meet the extraordinary exigencies of the times, it seems to me that I am guilty of no arrogance in limiting the President's field of selection to one of the four plans of procedure subjoined:
"I. Throw off the old and assume the new designation, the Union party; adopt the conciliatory measures proposed by Mr. Crittenden or the Peace Convention, and my life upon it, we shall have no new case of secession; but, on the contrary, an early return of many, if not of all, the States which have already broken off from the Union. Without some equally benign measure the remaining slaveholding States will probably join the Montgomery Confederacy in less than sixty days, when this city, being included in a foreign country, would require a permanent garrison of at least thirty-five thousand troops to protect the Government within it.
"II. Collect the duties on foreign goods outside the ports of which the Government has lost the command, or close such ports by act of Congress and blockade them.
"III. Conquer the seceded States by invading armies. No doubt this might be done in two or three years by a young and able general—a Wolfe, a Desaix, a Hoche—with three hundred thousand disciplined men, estimating a third for garrisons and the loss of a yet greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles, and Southern fevers. The destruction of life and property on the other side would be frightful, however perfect the moral discipline of the invaders.
"The conquest completed at the enormous waste of human life to the North and Northwest, with at least $250,000,000 added thereto, and cui bono? Fifteen devastated provinces! not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors, but to be held for generations by heavy garrisons at an expense quadruple the net duties or taxes, which it would be possible to extort from them, followed by a protector or emperor.
"IV. Say to the seceded States: 'Wayward sisters, depart in peace.'
"In haste, I remain very truly yours,
The two months preceding the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln were fraught with great responsibility to General Scott. He had moved his headquarters to Washington, as he thought, temporarily; but from the threatening aspect of the political troubles it soon became apparent that his stay there would be, if not permanent, prolonged a greater length of time than was at first expected. As March 4th approached, rumors thick and fast filled the atmosphere of attempts to resist Mr. Lincoln's taking the oath. It was said that bodies of men were drilling in Maryland, Virginia, and even in the District of Columbia, for that purpose. There is no doubt men were being put through military exercise within a few miles of the capital, which was known at the War Department; but if the object was violence of any kind it never developed. Great apprehension was felt, and not without reason, for the general's daily mail contained letters—mostly anonymous, a few signed doubtless with fictitious names—threatening him and Mr. Lincoln with assassination if the latter should attempt to be inaugurated. Some idea of the difficulty may be gathered when it is known that the militia of the District was but poorly equipped either in officers or otherwise to cope successfully with the situation should an outbreak or invasion of armed men from Maryland or Virginia be attempted. The military force of the District showed large on paper, but the actual force consisted of two or three companies tolerably well drilled. In this emergency Captain (afterward Brigadier-General) Charles P. Stone, a graduate from West Point, offered his services, which were accepted, and about January 1, 1861, he was mustered into the United States service as colonel and inspector general of the militia of the District of Columbia, and assigned to the command of the District, with authority to organize volunteers. Some members of the companies already in existence left the ranks, but Colonel Stone soon succeeded in organizing a small compact force with those that remained loyal, and a number of recruits, which did good service. In addition to these, a light battery, under Captain John B. Magruder, First Artillery; Captain (afterward General) William Farquhar, Barry's Battery of the Second Artillery; and a battery made up at West Point and commanded by Captain (afterward General) Charles Griffin, arrived. With these, some infantry ordered from distant points, and the District militia, which had been very much increased in numbers, General Scott had about three thousand men under his command for the defense of Washington, the preservation of order, and to guard the approaches to the city. It is but due to the citizens of Washington to state that, when trouble was apprehended and an intimation went out that there was a possibility of trouble, they came in great numbers to offer their services in defense of their city and the Government. Companies were organized, and persons in all positions and callings, from the highest in social life to the humblest resident, were not backward in asserting their allegiance and giving proof of it by entering the ranks. By marching and maneuvering the men on the streets frequently they made the impression that a greater force was present than really was.
Many efforts were made to induce General Scott to resign, but he never once wavered in his devotion to the Union. On one occasion Judge Robertson, a small, thin, but venerable-looking man, who had filled the office of chancellor in Virginia and was a man of high character and standing, came to Washington with two other Virginia gentlemen to offer Scott the command of the Army of Virginia if he would abandon the United States service and go with his State. The general listened in silence as Robertson feelingly recalled the days when they were schoolboys together, and then spoke of the warm attachment Virginians always cherished for their State, and of their boasted allegiance to it above all other political ties. But when he began to unfold his offer of a commission, General Scott stopped him, exclaiming: "Friend Robertson, go no further. It is best that we part here before you compel me to resent a mortal insult!" It is needless to say that this ended the interview, and Judge Robertson and his companions departed, looking and doubtless feeling very much discomfited. No man stood higher in the esteem of the people of Virginia than Judge Robertson, and it is not probable that he and his friends would have taken it upon themselves to make the offer they did upon a contingency. If, however, they had any authority to act on the part of the Commonwealth of Virginia, no act of the Convention to that effect can be discovered.
Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, a Senator from Illinois and one of the unsuccessful candidates for the presidency in 1860, made a speech in Ohio early in 1861, in which, in alluding to a question that had been asked, or rather suggested, as to General Scott's loyalty to the Government, said: "Why, it is almost profanity to ask such a question. I saw him only last Saturday. He was at his desk, pen in hand, writing his orders for the defense and safety of the American capital."
On April 30, 1861, Alexander Henry, Horace Binney, William M. Meredith, a former Secretary of the Treasury, and others of Philadelphia, addressed a letter to General Scott, in which they said: "At a time like this, when Americans distinguished by the favor of their country, intrenched in power, and otherwise high in influence and station, civil and military, are renouncing their allegiance to the flag they have sworn to support, it is an inexpressible source of consolation and pride to us to know that the general in chief of the army remains like an impregnable fortress at the post of duty and glory, and that he will continue to the last to uphold that flag, and defend it, if necessary, with his sword, even if his native State should assail it."
The Charleston (South Carolina) Mercury of April 22, 1861, contained the following statement: "A positive announcement was made at Montgomery, Ala." (then the capital of the Southern Confederacy), "that General Scott had resigned his position in the army of the United States and tendered his sword to his native State—Virginia. At Mobile one hundred guns were fired in honor of his resignation." This shows in some measure the high estimation in which General Scott's influence was held throughout the South.
The ceremonies of the inauguration passed off without incident. There was no attempt to prevent it, or any show of violence. Apprehension was shown in every countenance. General Scott rode in front of the President's carriage with the company of Sappers and Miners from West Point, commanded by Captain (afterward General) James Chatham Duane, of the engineers. During the ceremonies the general, in order to be more free in case of emergency, remained outside the Capitol square (which was at that time surrounded by a strong iron fence) with the batteries. The precautions thus taken were, like all of General Scott's plans, wise, and possibly saved the city from one of those scenes incident to the French Revolution, and, it may be, saved the country. At the conclusion of the ceremonies the march back to the White House was made, and Mr. Lincoln was President of the United States.
From long association in military and private life a warm personal friendship had existed between General Scott and General Robert E. Lee. At the outbreak of the war the latter, then a colonel in the army, was at his residence, Arlington, near Washington, in Virginia, on leave of absence. General Scott sent for him, and after an interview Lee tendered his resignation, which was accepted, and he entered the service of his own State as major general of State troops, and subsequently became commanding general of the armies of the Confederate States.
Soon after this, and when it was apparent that war would come, General Scott's first care was to provide for the safety of the city, the Capitol, and public buildings. He caused large quantities of army supplies, flour, provisions, etc., to be stored in the Capitol building, and quartered companies in the public buildings with stores and ammunition. A signal was agreed upon at sound of which the troops could assemble. These companies were all put under command of regular officers. There was a company of citizens from different States organized, and quartered at night at the President's house, under command of General Cassius M. Clay, of Kentucky. By the action of the seceded States the war was commenced by firing on the steamer Star of the West, January 13, 1861, in an effort to re-enforce Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, and subsequently bombarding that fort April 12, 1861. On April 15th the President issued his proclamation calling on the governors of the States for seventy-five thousand volunteers for three months. Troops soon began to assemble at the national capital. The first to arrive was the famous New York Seventh Regiment. There was also a Massachusetts and Rhode Island regiment present, when, on April 26th, General Orders No. 4 were issued from Headquarters of the army at Washington. It was as follows:
"I. From the known assemblage near this city of numerous hostile bodies of troops, it is evident that an attack upon it may be soon expected. In such an event, to meet and repel the enemy, it is necessary that some plan of harmonious co-operation should be adopted on the part of all the forces, regular and volunteer, present for the defense of the capital—that is, for the defense of the Government, the peaceable inhabitants of the city, their property, the public buildings and public archives.
"II. At the first moment of attack every regiment, battalion, squadron, and independent company will promptly assemble at its established rendezvous (in or out of the public buildings), ready for battle and wait for orders.
"III. The pickets (or advance guards) will stand fast until driven in by overwhelming forces; but it is expected that those stationed to defend the bridges, having every advantage of position, will not give way till actually pushed by the bayonet. Such obstinacy on the part of pickets so stationed is absolutely necessary, to give time for the troops in the rear to assemble at their places of rendezvous.
"IV. All advance guards and pickets driven in will fall back slowly, to delay the advance of the enemy as much as possible, before repairing to their proper rendezvous.
"V. On the happening of an attack, the troops lodged in the public buildings and in the navy yard will remain for their defense respectively, unless specially ordered elsewhere, with the exception that the Seventh New York Regiment and Massachusetts regiment will march rapidly toward the President's Square for its defense; and the Rhode Island regiment (in the Department of the Interior), when full, will make a diversion by detachment, to assist in the defense of the General Post-Office Building, if necessary."
From this time on General Scott, old and infirm, suffering from wounds received in early service and from accidents which befell him in maturer life, continued, from his bed or couch on which he was compelled often to recline, to direct the movements and disposition of the troops and provide for the defense of the city. The pressure for an onward movement of the army was such that it could not be withstood. Brigadier-General Irvin McDowell, who had served several years on General Scott's staff, was assigned to command the forward movement. He prepared his plans carefully, under the advice and direction of General Scott, which involved a possible battle. These plans were frequently gone over with General Scott, and finally submitted to and approved by the President at the White House, his Cabinet, General Scott and staffs, and others, of whom General John C. Fremont was one. The result of the advance is well known. The Union troops were driven back in great disorder; confusion reigned in Washington, and grave apprehensions were felt as to the safety of the city if the Confederates should follow up their advantage. The battle of Bull Run was fought July 21, 1861. On the day following a telegram was sent to General George B. McClellan, then at Beverly, Virginia, directing him to turn over his command to General William S. Rosecrans and come to Washington. In the meantime, however, General Scott had taken measures to gather the straggling officers and men from the streets and place them in quarters, that discipline might be again asserted and maintained. Upon the arrival of McClellan the work of reorganizing the army was intrusted to him, and he was put in command of the Army of the Potomac. He was not General Scott's first choice for that command, the latter preferring General Henry W. Halleck, then on his way from California to Washington, for that responsible position. When McClellan took command he at once commenced making his reports directly to the Secretary of War, instead of through the lieutenant general. This was resented by the commander in chief, who, September 16, 1861, issued General Orders No. 17 by way of admonition, in which he said: "It is highly important that junior officers on duty be not permitted to correspond with the general in chief, or other commander, on current official business, except through intermediate commanders; and the same rule applies to correspondence with the President direct, or with him through the Secretary of War, unless it be by special invitation or request of the President." This gentle reminder of his duty to his superior officer did not have the desired effect, and so, on October 4th, General Scott addressed a letter to Hon. Simon Cameron, wherein he quotes his General Orders No. 17, in which he says: "I hailed the arrival here of Major-General McClellan as an event of happy consequence to the country and to the army. Indeed, if I did not call for him, I heartily approved of the suggestion, and gave it the most cordial support. He, however, had hardly entered upon his new duties when, encouraged to communicate directly with the President and certain members of the Cabinet, he in a few days forgot that he had any intermediate commander, and has now long prided himself in treating me with uniform neglect, running into disobedience of orders of the smaller matters—neglects, though in themselves grave military offenses." He complains that General McClellan, with the General Orders No. 17 fresh in his mind, had addressed several orders to the President and Secretary of War over his [Scott's] head. On the same day of the issuance of General Orders No. 17 General Scott addressed a letter to McClellan directing that officer to report to the commanding general the position, state, and number of troops under him by divisions, brigades, and independent regiments or detachments, which general report should be followed by reports of new troops as they arrived, with all the material changes which might take place in the Army of the Potomac. Eighteen days had elapsed between his letter to McClellan and his communication to the Secretary of War, and no response had been received. He says: "Perhaps he will say in respect to the latter that it has been difficult for him to procure the exact returns of divisions and brigades. But why not have given me the proximate returns, such as he so eagerly furnished the President and certain secretaries? Has, then, a senior no corrective power over a junior officer in case of such persistent neglect and disobedience?" He remarks that arrest and trial by court-martial would soon cure the evil, but feared a conflict of authority over the head of the army would be highly encouraging to the enemies and depressing to the friends of the Union, and concludes: "Hence my long forbearance; and continuing, though but nominally, on duty, I shall try to hold out till the arrival of Major-General Halleck, when, as his presence will give me increased confidence in the safety of the Union, and being, as I am, unable to ride in the saddle, or to walk, by reason of dropsy in my feet and legs and paralysis in the small of my back, I shall definitely retire from the command of the army." Thus the crippled, illustrious old hero asserted his power and authority to command the respect of his subordinates to the last. Owing, as has been seen, to his physical condition, it was not possible for General Scott to take active command of the army. In fact, but comparatively few of the army assembled here had ever seen him, and they only when they were passing in review.
The defense of Washington and the organization of the army for that purpose and aggressive movements from that point did not alone command the attention of General Scott. He was solicitous about the free and uninterrupted navigation of the Mississippi River, and to prevent obstructions by the Confederates, or to remove any that might have been placed on shore or in the water, he addressed a confidential letter to General McClellan, then commanding in the West, dated May 3, 1861, in which he informed that general that the Government was to call for twenty-five thousand additional regulars, and sixty thousand volunteers to serve for two years.
An act of Congress approved March 3, 1861, provided:
SECTION 15. "That any commissioned officer of the army, or of the marine corps, who shall have served as such for forty consecutive years, may, upon his own application to the President of the United States, be placed upon the list of retired officers, with the pay and allowances allowed by this act.
SECTION 16.... "Provided, That should the lieutenant general be retired under this act, it shall be without reduction in his current pay, subsistence, and allowances."
On October 31, 1861, General Scott addressed Hon. Simon Cameron, Secretary of War, the following communication:
"SIR: For more than three years I have been unable, from a hurt, to mount a horse or to walk more than a few paces at a time, and that with much pain. Other and new infirmities—dropsy and vertigo—admonish me that repose of mind and body, with the appliances of surgery and medicine, are necessary to add a little more to a life already protracted much beyond the usual space of man. It is under such circumstances, made doubly painful by the unnatural and unjust rebellion now raging in the Southern States of our lately prosperous and happy Union, that I am compelled to request that my name be placed on the list of army officers retired from active service. As this request is founded on an absolute right, granted by a recent act of Congress, I am at liberty to say that it is with deep regret that I withdraw myself in these momentous times from the orders of a President who has treated me with much distinguished kindness and courtesy, whom I know upon much personal intercourse to be patriotic, without sectional prejudices; to be highly conscientious in the performance of every duty, and of unrivaled activity and perseverance; and to you, Mr. Secretary, whom I now officially address for the last time, I beg to acknowledge my many obligations for the uniform high consideration I have received at your hands, and I have the honor to remain, sir, with the highest respect, etc."
The following day, November 1st, a special meeting of the Cabinet was convened, and it was decided that the request, under the circumstances set forth in the letter, should be complied with. At four o'clock of that day the President and his Cabinet proceeded to the residence of General Scott. The scene is well described by General Edward Davis Townsend, a member of the general's staff, who was an eye-witness, and who says: "Being seated, the President read to the general the following order:
"'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 upon the list of retired officers of the Army of the United States, without reduction in his current pay, subsistence, or allowance. 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 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 be gratefully distinguished his faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the flag when assailed by parricidal rebellion.
"General Scott thereupon arose and addressed the Cabinet, who had also risen, as follows:
"'President, this honor overwhelms me. It overpays all the services I have attempted to render my country. If I had any claims before, they are all obliterated by this expression of approval by the President, with the remaining support of the Cabinet. I know the President and his Cabinet well. I know that the country has placed its interests in this trying crisis in safe keeping. Their counsels are wise, their labors as untiring as they are loyal, and their course is the right one.
"'President, you must excuse me. I am unable to stand longer to give utterance to the feelings of gratitude which oppress me. In my retirement I shall offer up my prayers to God for this Administration and for my country. I shall pray for it with confidence in its success over all enemies, and that speedily.'
"The President then took leave of General Scott, giving him his hand, and saying that he hoped soon to write him a private letter expressive of his gratitude and affection.... Each member of the Administration then gave his hand to the veteran and retired in profound silence."
The Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War accompanied General Scott to New York the next morning. On the same day (November 1st) Secretary Cameron addressed the lieutenant general the following letter in response to the latter's of the day previous:
"GENERAL: It was my duty to lay before the President your letter of yesterday, asking to be relieved on the recent act of Congress. In separating from you, I can not refrain from expressing my deep regret that your health, shattered by long service and repeated wounds received in your country's defense, should render it necessary for you to retire from your high position at this momentous period of our history. Although you are not to remain in active service, I yet hope that while I continue in charge of the department over which I now preside I shall at all times be permitted to avail myself of the benefits of your wise counsels and sage experience. It has been my good fortune to enjoy a personal acquaintance with you for over thirty years, and the pleasant relations of that long time have been greatly strengthened by your cordial and entire co-operation in all the great questions which have occupied the department and convulsed the country for the last six months. In parting from you I can only express the hope that a merciful Providence that has protected you amid so many trials will improve your health and continue your life long after the people of the country shall have been restored to their former happiness and prosperity. I am, general, very sincerely,
"Your friend and servant."
In his first annual message to Congress, Mr. Lincoln deplores the physical necessity that compelled the retirement of Scott in the following language:
"Since your last adjournment Lieutenant-General Scott has retired from the head of the army. During his long life the nation has not been unmindful of his merits; yet, in calling to mind how faithfully and ably and brilliantly he has served his country, from a time far back in our history, when few now living had been born, and thenceforward continually, I can not but think we are still his debtors. I submit, therefore, for your consideration what further mark of consideration is due to him and to ourselves as a grateful people."
In virtue of this act and in pursuance of the foregoing request on November 1, 1861, the lieutenant general having been retired from active service, General Orders No. 94 announced that "the President is pleased to direct that Major-General George B. McClellan assume command of the Army of the United States." On assuming the important command to which he had been designated, General McClellan on the same day issued his General Orders No. 19, in which he gracefully and feelingly alludes to the retiring commander:
"The army will unite with me in the feeling of regret that the weight of many years and the effect of increasing infirmities, contracted and intensified in his country's service, should just now remove from our head the great soldier of our nation—the hero who in his youth raised high the reputation of his country on the fields of Canada, which he hallowed with his blood; who in more mature years proved to the world that American skill and valor could repeat, if not eclipse, the exploits of Cortez in the land of the Montezumas; whose life has been devoted to the service of his country; whose whole efforts have been directed to uphold our honor at the smallest sacrifice of life; a warrior who scorned the selfish glories of the battlefield when his great abilities as a statesman could be employed more profitably to his country; a citizen who in his declining years has given to the world the most shining instances of loyalty in disregarding all ties of birth and clinging to the cause of truth and honor—such has been the career, such the character, of WINFIELD SCOTT, whom it has long been the delight of the nation to honor, both as a man and a soldier. While we regret his loss, there is one thing we can not regret—the bright example he has left for our emulation. Let us all hope and pray that his declining years may be passed in peace and happiness, and that they may be cheered by the success of the country and the cause he has fought for and loved so well. Beyond all that, let us do nothing that can cause him to blush for us; let no defeat of the army he has so long commanded embitter his last years, but let our victories illuminate the close of a life so grand." General Scott lived to see the fulfillment of this devout prayer in a restoration of the union of the States.
General Scott held in great reverence the fame and memory of the Father of his Country, and was desirous that Mount Vernon should be left undisturbed during the trouble arising from the civil war. A report was sent abroad that the bones of Washington had been removed. This report was wholly without foundation, but it created a great deal of excitement in both sections of the country. Through the efforts of the lady regent who resided there, an understanding was arrived at by which it should be regarded by both sides as neutral ground. The general, however, issued General Orders No. 13, July 31, 1861, from which is quoted: "Should the operations of the war take the United States troops in that direction, the general in chief does not doubt that each and every man will approach with due reverence and leave uninjured not only the tombs, but also the house, the groves, and walks which were so loved by the best and greatest of men." It is true that neither party ever invaded the sacred precincts where repose the remains of the illustrious Washington, but they were found when the war closed to be in as fair a state of preservation as was possible under the circumstances, and of partial suspension of husbandry. No act of vandalism was attempted.
In the fall of 1861 Brigadier-General Charles P. Stone obtained permission from General Scott to take a brigade and make a demonstration along the line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal toward Harper's Ferry in order to afford an outlet for the fine wheat that had been harvested about Leesburg, Virginia, to the large flouring mills at Georgetown, adjoining Washington. This led to the battle of Ball's Bluff, or Leesburg, October 21st, the death of Colonel Edward D. Baker, of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Infantry, and at the time a senator in Congress from the State of Oregon, and the subsequent arrest and close confinement of the unfortunate commander for several months without charges of any nature having been preferred against him.[D]
[Footnote D: General Stone (1824-1887) was arrested by order of the Secretary of War and confined in Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor, from February 9 to August, 16, 1862. The general impression that it was done through the influence of Senator Sumner is denied by his biographer, Mr. Henry L. Pierce. Vide Life of Sumner, vol. iv, pp. 67, 68: Boston, 1893. Generals Grant and Sherman both stated to the editor of this series, that it was an exceedingly arbitrary and unjust act.]
On November 9, 1861, General Scott sailed for Europe in the steamer Arago for Havre to join his wife, who was in Paris. Mr. Thurlow Weed, a thorough loyalist and prominent politician, was a passenger on the same ship. He and General Scott had been on terms of intimacy for over thirty years. During the passage over the general gave Mr. Weed the true version of how he came near being made a prisoner in 1814. After apologizing in advance for the question about to be put and receiving permission to propound it, Mr. Weed said: "General, did anything remarkable happen to you on the morning of the battle of Chippewa?" The general answered: "Yes, something did happen to me—something very remarkable. I will now for the third time in my life repeat the story:
"The fourth day of July, 1814, was one of extreme heat. On that day my brigade skirmished with a British force commanded by General Riall from an early hour in the morning till late in the afternoon. We had driven the enemy down the river some twelve miles to Street's Creek, near Chippewa, where we encamped for the night, our army occupying the west, while that of the enemy was encamped on the east side of the creek. After our tents had been pitched I noticed a flag borne by a man in a peasant's dress approaching my marquee. He brought a letter from a lady who occupied a large mansion on the opposite side of the creek, informing me that she was the wife of a member of Parliament who was then in Quebec; that her children, servants, and a young lady friend were alone with her in the house; that General Riall had placed a sentinel before her door; and that she ventured, with great doubts of the propriety of the request, to ask that I would place a sentinel upon the bridge to protect her against stragglers from our camp. I assured the messenger that the lady's request should be complied with. Early the next morning the same messenger, bearing a white flag, reappeared with a note from the same lady, thanking me for the protection she had enjoyed, adding that, in acknowledgment for my civilities, she begged that I would, with such members of my staff as I chose to bring with me, accept the hospitalities of her house at a breakfast which had been prepared with considerable attention and was quite ready. Acting upon an impulse which I never have been able to analyze or comprehend, I called my two aids, Lieutenants Worth and Watts, and returned with the messenger.
"We met our hostess at the door, who ushered us into the dining room, where breakfast awaited us and where the young lady previously referred to was already seated by the coffee urn, our hostess asking to be excused for a few minutes, and the young lady immediately served our coffee. Before we had broken our fast, Lieutenant Watts rose from the table to get his bandanna (that being before the days of napkins), which he had left in his cap on a side table by the window, glancing through which he saw Indians approaching the house on one side and redcoats approaching it on the other, with an evident purpose of surrounding it and us, and instantly exclaimed, 'General, we are betrayed!' Springing from the table and clearing the house, I saw our danger, and, remembering Lord Chesterfield had said, 'Whatever it is proper to do it is proper to do well,' and as we had to run and as my legs were longer than those of my companions, I soon outstripped them. As we made our escape we were fired at, but got across the bridge in safety."
After the battle of Chippewa the mansion described, being the largest near by, was used as a hospital for the wounded officers of both armies. The general went there to visit his officers, whom he found on the second floor. On going there he met the hostess, who, by her flurried and embarrassed manner, impressed the general with the belief that she had endeavored to entrap him. But years after General Scott was inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt and think that the presence at the house of himself and staff was accidentally discovered by the Indians and British.
The Arago touched at Southampton to discharge the English mail and passengers, and here an exciting incident occurred. When the anchor had been cast, a vessel steamed up, flying the Confederate colors, which proved to be the cruiser Nashville. All was astir on the Arago, as an attack was expected as soon as that vessel had cleared port and got into neutral waters. The general asked the captain of the vessel what means of defense he had. It was found that thirty muskets and two cannon were available. The crew and those of the passengers who were fit for duty were formed upon the forward deck and the business of drilling was commenced, the general advising and in great measure directing the preparations for defense. It turned out, however, that the Nashville had put into Southampton for repairs, and the Arago proceeded on her voyage in safety. After remaining one day at Havre General Scott proceeded to Paris. The steamer that followed the Arago brought news of the "Trent affair." On November 8, 1861, Commodore Charles Wilkes, in command of the United States steamer San Jacinto, on his return from the coast of Africa, put into Havana. On the same day the British mail steamer Trent sailed from that port, having on board as passengers James M. Mason, of Virginia, and John Slidell, of Louisiana, Confederate plenipotentiaries to France and England. The San Jacinto overhauled the Trent in the Bahama Straits, brought her to by a shot across the bow, arrested and removed the Confederate commissioners and their secretaries from the mail steamer, and brought them to Fortress Monroe, where Commodore Wilkes awaited instructions from Washington. They were subsequently removed to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor. The arrest and removal of these Confederate diplomats created great excitement in England, and for a time it was feared that hostilities between the countries would ensue. The affair was commented upon severely by the press, and the subjects of Her Britannic Majesty were at fever heat. Eight thousand British soldiers were immediately dispatched to Canada, and the shipyards were put to their utmost capacity. When the news and the excitement reached the old hero, who had hoped that he would find some rest in Paris after his long and eventful career, he determined at once to return to his native country and be on the spot should his counsel and advice be needed. He took the same steamer that he had gone out on and returned home. The Trent affair was settled by surrendering the Confederate commissioners, and war was happily averted.
During the years that followed, his advice was frequently sought by the President and others high in authority. It was at West Point that the general received the Prince of Wales when he visited this country, and at the same place the interview occurred between Scott and Grant when the former presented the latter a gift "from the oldest to the greatest general." In December, 1865, General Scott went to Key West, Fla., and remained there a portion of the winter. On returning, he spent a few weeks in New York city, and then went to West Point. It was then the incident mentioned took place between him and General Grant.
As early as February 27, 1829, a report was made to Congress by the Committee on Military Affairs upon the subject of establishing an "army asylum fund," and letters were submitted from the major general commanding and other officers of the army expressive of their views on the subject. In February, 1840, General Robert Anderson (then a captain in the adjutant general's department) addressed a letter to Hon. John Reynolds, giving his views upon the benefits and advantages which would result from establishing such an institution, with suggestions for a plan for one. This letter formed the basis of a report, January 7, 1841, by the Committee on Military Affairs, submitting a bill in which the measures suggested therein were embraced, and urging the necessary legislation as commending itself "by every attribute and motive of patriotism, benevolence, national gratitude, and economy." General Scott was deeply interested in the subject, and in 1844 gave it special prominence in his annual report, which led to a report as theretofore from the military committee. On March 5, 1846, a report was also made on a memorial of the officers of the army stationed at Fort Moultrie and the petition of officers of the Second United States Infantry, and later (on January 19, 1848) upon the memorial of the officers of the army then in Mexico. The committee in each case approved and recommended the passage of the bill reported January 7, 1841. The plan, however, did not assume practical shape until the transmission by General Scott of the draft for one hundred thousand dollars, a part of the tribute levied on the City of Mexico for the benefit of the army, requesting that it might be allowed to go to the credit of the asylum fund. He says in a letter dated November, 1849, referring to the same matter: "The draft was payable to me, and, in order to place the deposit beyond the control of any individual functionary whatever, I indorsed it. The Bank of America will place the within amount to the credit of the army asylum, subject to the order of Congress." This fund, together with a balance of eighteen thousand seven hundred and ninety-one dollars and nineteen cents remaining from the same levy, was subsequently appropriated to found the asylum. By the act those who are entitled to the benefits of the asylum were soldiers of twenty years' service and men, whether pensioners or not, who have been disabled by wounds or disease in the service in the line of duty. An honorable discharge is a preliminary requisite to admission. The inmates are all thus civilians. At first the general in chief, the generals commanding the Eastern and Western military divisions, the chiefs of the quartermaster's, commissary, pay, and medical departments, and the adjutant general of the army composed the board of commissioners ex officio to administer the affairs of the institution. An unexpended balance of fifty-four thousand three hundred and nineteen dollars and twenty-three cents was appropriated "for the benefit of discharged soldiers disabled by wounds." A perpetual revenue was provided from "stoppages and fines imposed by court-martial," "forfeitures on account of desertion," a certain portion of the hospital and post fund of each station, moneys belonging to the estates of deceased soldiers not claimed for three years; also a deduction of twenty-five cents per month with his consent from the pay of each enlisted man. The act of Congress of March 3, 1859, changed the provisions of the original act and reduced the number of commissioners to three—the commissary general of subsistence, the surgeon general, and the adjutant general of the army, substituted the name of "Soldiers' Home" for "Military Asylum," and extended the benefits of the Home to the soldiers of the War of 1812. The act of Congress of March 3, 1883, added the general in chief commanding the army, the quartermaster general, the judge advocate general, and the governor of the Home to the board of commissioners; these officers, together with those already named, compose the board. By the same act pensioners who are inmates of the Home may assign their pension and have the same or any portion thereof paid to a wife, child, or parent if living; otherwise the pension is paid to the treasurer of the Home and held by him in trust for the pensioner, who may, while an inmate, draw upon it for necessary purposes, and receive whatever balance may remain upon his discharge.
In 1851 temporary asylums were established at New Orleans, La., Greenwoods Island, Miss., and Washington, D.C. The one at New Orleans continued about one year. A tract of land was purchased in Mississippi comprising one hundred and ten acres in 1853, and was occupied until 1855. At this date the inmates were removed to a branch asylum near Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Ky. This latter asylum was discontinued in 1858 under the act of March 3, 1857, and the inmates transferred to the Home near Washington, which was established in 1851-'52. This Home is situated about three miles due north of the Capitol of the nation. At first it comprised two hundred and fifty-six acres of land. Subsequent acquisitions by purchases have been added, so that now the grounds comprise five hundred acres and three quarters. The largest part of the grounds are woodland, a portion being cultivated for the benefit of the Home, and through it nearly ten miles of graded, macadamized roads have been constructed, winding through the groves of native and foreign selected trees. The park is open to the public at proper hours, and forms a favorite drive and walk for the residents of and visitors to Washington. The principal building for the inmates is of white marble, the south part being called the Scott Building, after the founder of the institution, and the addition on the north is called the Sherman Building, after General W.T. Sherman. The old homestead building to the west of and not far from the Scott Building is called the Robert Anderson Building, in commemoration of the early advocacy of and interest in the establishment of the Home by that officer. This building was the home of the first inmates, and has frequently been used as the summer residence of the Presidents. It has been occupied by Presidents Buchanan, Lincoln, Hayes, and Arthur. There is a building to the east called the King Building, after Benjamin King, U.S.A., who was the surgeon in charge for thirteen years. Brick quarters were erected to the northeast of the Sherman Building in 1883, and, in honor of General Philip H. Sheridan, is named the Sheridan Building. There is a neat chapel built of red sandstone, which was completed in 1871, where religious services, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, are regularly held. The officers in immediate charge of the Home are a governor, a deputy governor, a secretary and treasurer, and a medical officer detailed from the army. The inmates who are not pensioned receive one dollar a month pocket money, and twenty-five cents a day for such labor as they are detailed for and willing to perform. Some beneficiaries who have families receive a small monthly stipend and reside elsewhere than at the Home. The whole number of permanent inmates admitted up to September 30, 1892, was 8,086. The number on the rolls January 31, 1893, was 1,196; of these, 824 were present at the Home, some receiving outside assistance, and some being absent on furlough.
A heroic statue in bronze of Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott, by Launt Thompson, was erected in 1874 on the most commanding point of the grounds. Aside from the artistic finish of the statue, it is a wonderful likeness of the subject. There is also a perfectly designed hospital for the sick and an infirmary for the aged and helpless, which was completed in 1876. No grander or more lasting monument could be erected to perpetuate the memory of the illustrious general than the Soldiers' Home near Washington.
General Scott, in his later years, was very impatient of contradiction, but when convinced that he was in error was always ready to acknowledge it. In a diary of Colonel (now General) James Grant Wilson, who was at that time aid-de-camp to General Banks, occurs the following:
"On the morning of the 19th of February, 1864, I spent an hour with Scott at his quarters, Delmonico's, corner Fourteenth Street and Fifth Avenue. During our conversation he mentioned that he was engaged in writing his Memoirs, and that he experienced a great deal of annoyance from his difficulty in obtaining dates relating to events in the southwest. He expressed regret that Gayarre, whom he knew and had met before the war, had not published the third volume of the History of Louisiana, which he [Scott] knew was in manuscript. I remarked that I thought I had seen the work in three octavo volumes. 'No, you have not seen three volumes. There are only two published, and the first is a small 18mo volume,' was the old gentleman's answer. I further added that it was my impression that I had seen three, when the old soldier settled the matter by saying, 'Your impressions are entirely wrong, colonel.' An hour later I purchased the third volume at a Broadway bookseller's, and sent it to him with the following note:
"'FIFTH AVENUE HOTEL, February 19, 1864.
"'MY DEAR GENERAL: I have much pleasure in sending you the third volume of Gayarre's History of Louisiana, which I trust may contain the desired information. Should you wish to refer to the first volume of his work, you will find it at the Astor Library. It is an octavo volume of about five hundred pages, published by Harper & Brothers, of this city. I have the honor to be, general, very truly yours,
(Signed) "'JAS GRANT WILSON,
"'Lieutenant-General WINFIELD SCOTT.'
"Called on Scott soon after my arrival from New Orleans (early in October, 1864), and had a very pleasant interview. Almost the first thing he said was thanking me most kindly for the third volume of Gayarre's History, and apologizing for his mistake. Told me his Memoirs were completed and in press; that he had closed them abruptly, as he was fearful that his end was near, during the early part of the summer—about June, I think he said."
General Scott's health continuing bad, he was conveyed in a quartermaster's boat from New York to West Point by General Stewart Van Vliet, accompanied by several personal friends. He died at the West Point Hotel a few minutes after eleven o'clock, May 29, 1866. The last words which he spoke were to his coachman: "Peter, take good care of my horse." He was buried, in accordance with his oft-expressed wish, in the West Point Cemetery; on June 1st, his remains being accompanied to the grave by some of the most illustrious men of the country, including General Grant and Admiral Farragut. The horse mentioned above was a splendid animal, seventeen hands high and finely formed. The last time that General Scott mounted him was in the latter part of 1859, which he did with the aid of a stepladder, for the purpose of having an equestrian portrait painted for the State of Virginia. The war coming on, the picture passed into possession of the Mercantile Library of New York.
The author received a letter from the late Rutherford B. Hayes in January, 1892, in which he said: "On my Southern tour in 1877 I repeated two or three times something like this, purporting to be quoted from General Scott: 'When the war is over and peace restored, there will be no difficulty in restoring harmonious and friendly relations between the soldiers of the sections. The great trouble will be to restore and keep the peace between the non-belligerent combatants of the war.' I did not hear the remark of General Scott. My recollection is that I heard it from General Rosecrans." ...
On submitting President Hayes's letter to General Rosecrans, he made the following statement: "I heard that story about General Scott from General Charles P. Stone. General Stone was on the staff of General Scott. At the beginning of the war, in the spring of 1861, he was directed to organize the militia of the District of Columbia, and was present when the following occurred, as he told me personally. Shortly after the fall of Sumter and the President's call for troops, Secretaries Seward, Chase, and Cameron came to General Scott's residence in Washington one evening and found him at the dinner table. One of them said: 'General, our duties as members of the Cabinet make it very desirable for us to have some idea of what the probable range and course of the war will be, that we may guide ourselves accordingly. We have therefore come to you to get your judgment on the situation.' On the general's invitation, they sat down at his dinner table, and he went on to explain his idea of how the war would progress from year to year. While he was talking, Mr. Seward seemed to be somewhat impatient, and put in several little interruptions, but finally subsided and allowed General Scott to proceed. The general gave an outline of a war probably lasting from three and one half to four years, but resulting in favor of the Union.
"On the general's announcement of his opinion that the Union would triumph, Mr. Seward, rubbing his hands, inquired, 'Well, general, then the troubles of the Federal Government will be at an end.' To which General Scott replied, 'No, gentlemen, for a long time thereafter it will require the exercise of the full powers of the Federal Government to restrain the fury of the noncombatants.'"
To a young army officer he gave the following advice: "You are now beginning life; you are ignorant of society and of yourself. You appear to be industrious and studious enough to fit yourself for high exploits in your profession, and your next object should be to make yourself a perfect man of the world. To do that you must carefully observe well-bred men. You must also learn to converse and to express your thoughts in proper language. You must make acquaintances among the best people, and take care always to be respectful to old persons and to ladies." General Scott was always extremely gallant and courteous to ladies and greatly enjoyed the society of intelligent and refined women. As stated in the early part of this work, General Scott had been an industrious student of the law, and the knowledge thus acquired was of great service to him throughout his eventful career. He was well read in the standard English authors—Shakespeare, Milton, Addison, Pope, Johnson, Goldsmith, Dryden, Hume, Gibbon, and the early English novelists. He was a constant reader of the best foreign and American periodicals and the leading newspapers of the day. He was of the opinion that wars would never cease, and therefore took little interest in peace societies.
He held the opinion that the study of the higher mathematics had a tendency to lessen the ability to move armies in the field, yet expressed regret that he had not in his youth given more study to the subject. He was very fond of whist, but was quite irritated when he was beaten and generally had a ready excuse for his defeat. On one occasion he was playing a very close game, in the midst of which he left the table to expectorate in the fireplace. He lost the game and said to one of the party, "Young gentleman, do you know why I lost that game?" "No, sir," was the response. "It was because I got up to spit." Scott was also a good chess player.
He used tobacco somewhat excessively until the close of the Mexican War, after which time he renounced its use entirely. He was exceedingly vain of his accomplishments as a cook and specially prided himself on the knowledge of how to make good bread. He spent several days in instructing the cook at Cozzens' Hotel, West Point, in this art, and did not desist until the bread was made according to his standard. He had a great aversion to dining alone, and rather than do so would cheerfully pay for the meal of any pleasant friend whom he would invite to dine with him. General Scott openly professed himself a Christian and was a regular attendant at the services of the Episcopal Church. He was broad and liberal in his views and condemned no man who differed with him in religious opinion. He usually carried a large, stout, gold-headed cane, and after entering his pew would rest both hands on its head and bow his head, praying in silence. It was difficult for him to kneel on account of his size. He scrupulously joined with the greatest decorum and seriousness in all the services of the church, responding in a distinct, loud voice.
He was impatient with persons who could not recollect or did not know of dates and events which were conspicuous in his life. He was asked at one time the date of the battle of Chippewa. He answered blandly, "July 5, 1814." Turning to a friend, he remarked, "There is fame for you." The same party inquired in what State he was born. He answered, "Virginia." "Ah," said the questioner, "I thought you were a native of Connecticut." This left him in a bad humor for the remainder of the evening. The editor of this series has said of him: "General Scott was a man of true courage—personally, morally, and religiously brave. He was in manner, association, and feeling courtly and chivalrous. He was always equal to the danger—great on great occasions. His unswerving loyalty and patriotism were always conspicuous, and of such a lofty character that had circumstances rendered the sacrifice necessary he would have unhesitatingly followed the glorious example of the Swiss hero of Sempach, who gave his life to his country six hundred years ago.... He was too stately in his manners and too exacting in his discipline—that power which Carnot calls 'the glory of the soldier and the strength of armies.' A brief anecdote will illustrate the strictness of his discipline. While on duty he always required officers to be dressed according to their rank in the minutest particular. The general's headquarters in Mexico comprised two rooms, one opening into the other. In the rear room General Scott slept. One night after the general had retired a member of his staff wanted some water. The evening was warm and the hour late, being past midnight. The officer rose to go in his shirt sleeves. He was cautioned against the experiment as a dangerous one, for if Scott caught him in his quarters with his coat off he would punish him. The officer said he would risk it—that the general was asleep, and he would make no noise. He opened the door softly and went on tiptoe to the water pitcher. He had no time to drink before he heard the tinkle of the bell, and the sentinel outside the door entered. 'Take this man to the guardhouse,' was the brief order, and the coatless captain spent the night on a hard plank under guard."[E] He did not conceal his opinions of men or measures, and hence he very often gave offense. It should be borne in mind that the public men of the age when General Scott came on the stage, both military and civil, were as a rule dignified, formal, and to some extent dogmatic. They held themselves with great dignity, and their magnetism was the result of their commanding abilities and high character, and they did not rely for popularity upon the methods of modern times.