General Winfield Scott, Commander in Chief of the United States Army
A stern and craggy-featured Winfield Scott, commander-in-chief of the army, appears in an 1847 print at the high point of his military career. Born on June 13, 1786, in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, Scott initially studied law before turning to the military. He obtained a commission in 1808 and rose to prominence during the War of 1812, but his most famous moment came in 1847 during the Mexican War when he led a victorious army into Mexico City. Known as "Old Fuss and Feathers" for his vanity and love of pomp, Scott served in the United States Army for more than fifty years and helped forge it into a professional institution, reliant upon trained officers rather than civilian and militia amateurs and political appointees.
Scott was the Whig Party's nominee for U.S. president in 1852, and at the start of the Civil War, the longtime commander-in-chief remained loyal to the Union. Corpulent and physically decrepit, the seventy-five-year-old Scott retained his sharp intellect and helped formulate the prescient Anaconda Plan. Nonetheless, by the end of 1861 Scott was removed from command in favor of the younger and more vital George B. McClellan. Scott retired and published his memoirs in 1864 before dying two years later.