Lake Winfield Scott was named in honor of General Winfield Scott who earned distinction as a strong military leader in the War of 1812, Indian Wars, The Mexican War, and a plan for operation of Union troops in the Civil War which has come to be known as the Anaconda Plan. Among the notable assignments made to General Winfield Scott was commandeering the Cherokee Removal of 1838.
What about this man for whom a lake and recreation area in Georgia were named? He was not a native Georgian, nor did he spend much of his military career in Georgia except for a short period during the Cherokee Removal. He was born on June 13, 1786 on Laurel Branch Plantation in Dinwiddie County near Petersburg, Virginia. His parents were William Scott (1747-1789) and Anna Mason Scott (1748-1803). In 1804 the young Winfield Scott graduated from William and Mary College in Virginia. He read law in a private law firm and took the bar examination and became a lawyer in 1806. However, the military beckoned him and he first joined the Virginia militia cavalry in 1807 as a corporal. In 1808 he entered the U. S. Army in the artillery and soon achieved the rank of captain. In 1811-1812 he served under General Wade Hampton in New Orleans, becoming a Colonel in the Artillery. In March of 1813 he was made adjutant general and was deployed to the area along the US/Canadian border to fight in what we know as the War of 1812. In 1813 he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Queenstown Heights and sent to Quebec to British Army Prison. There he stood up bravely, ordering his American troops as prisoners not to speak to insure against fiercer punishment. He was released on exchange in January of 1813. He personally commanded the advance of Fort St. George, and was badly burned there when an ammunitions magazine was set ablaze by the enemy. Some of his maneuvers led at Ft. St. George were said to be the best commanded operations of the entire War of 1812.
His further maneuvers included victory over British forces at the Battle of Chippewa on November 8, 1814. At the Battle of Lundy’s Lane he was badly wounded in his left shoulder, with bones shattered. This wound left him greatly impaired in that arm and hand for the rest of his life. In 1814 he was commended by receiving the military Gold Medal.
He married Lucy Baker about 1814 and they had two children, Winniford Scott and John Scott. His wife Lucy died in 1816. They made their home at Hampton Place in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. He later married Maria DeHart about 1817 and they had seven children, Maria, John Mayo, Virginia, Edward, Cornelia, Marcella and Adeline. Maria died in 1845 in Georgia. During the years between 1814 and 1820, he made some trips to Europe, representing America in France and elsewhere. He also studied military tactics while there.
He was named Commander of the United States Armed Forces in 1832, succeeding his long-time friend, General John Wool. Then came the Seminole and Creek Wars, and General Winfield Scott was often on the scenes of these battles, giving commands and ordering maneuvers.
Then came the unrest with Cherokees and the political maneuvering to gain land held by the Native Americans. Various treaties and negotiations failed, and finally, in 1832, General Winfield Scott was made commander of Cherokee Removal to reservations in the mid-west. Scott arrived April 6, 1838 at New Echota in North Georgia at the Cherokee Capitol. He divided the Cherokee Indian Nation into three major districts and began to set up forts as gathering points. He wanted U. S. soldiers for the round-up operations, because he felt there would be less likelihood of personal gain. However, because the army moved so slowly, he had to settle for many of the round-up force being Georgia, Tennesse and Alabama militia. Two major moves of the Indians was launched, the first in August, 1838. Complaining of heat, the remainder were delayed in removal until fall of 1838. It must be noted to Scott’s advantage that he urged kindness, consideration of aged, babies and ill, and other humanitarian rules for the removal. His orders, however, were not always followed, as reports of conditions on what we now know as the Trail of Tears have been uncovered. Wanting to go on the Trail of Tears himself, he left Athens, Georgia on October 1, 1838, continuing to Nashville, Tennessee. There he received word to return immediately to Washington where he was assigned to the Aroostock or “Pig War” to settle the boundary between the state of Maine and British Columbia. The remainder of the Cherokee Removal had to go forward without the presence of General Winfield Scott.
In 1847 he was made chief of US Armies against Mexico and was successful in turning back the Mexican forces and winning victory in the western territories of the United States.
With political ambitions, he entered the race for President of the United States as a member of the Whig Party in 1852. He lost to Franklin Pierce.
In 1861 when the War Between the States erupted, he was too aged and infirm to be active in the war. His major contribution to the Union strategy in the war was to recommend what became known as the “Anaconda Plan” or “Scott’s Great Snake.” This included embargoes on the major Confederate ports and possession of the Mississippi River, thus cutting the Confederacy in
two. His plan was slow to take effect, but in the end, President Lincoln was able to enact most of Scott’s strategy. General Winfield Scott retired from active military service on November 1, 1861, with President Lincoln and members of his cabinet gathered around the venerable General. He had nicknames of “Old Fuss and Feathers” (this due to his attention to details and his belief in elaborate military dress) and “Grand Old Man of the Army” due to his long years to serve in the major military role in our country, 1832-1861.
When you visit Georgia’s Winfield Scott Lake and Recreation area, you will know something about the man in United States History for whom the beautiful place was named.
c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published January 12, 2012 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.