Memoirs of Lieut.-General Winfield Scott

  • Author(s): Gray, Michael and Timothy D. Johnson, eds.
  • Series: Voices of the Civil War
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2015-06-15
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $59.95 | Buy Now


The remarkable military career of General Winfield Scott spanned fifty-three years, fourteen presidents, and six wars, both foreign and domestic. However, his lengthy service did not secure his rightful place among the nation’s pantheon of great military leaders. Instead, he is most often remembered as the aged, overweight, and sickly commanding general who was replaced by George McClellan at the beginning of the Civil War. Originally published in 1864, only two years before his death, Scott’s memoirs touch on many of the significant events of the early and mid-nineteenth century. This new edition of those remembrances, expertly edited by Timothy D. Johnson, showcases Scott’s rare strategic insights, battlefield prowess, and diplomatic shrewdness, restoring him to his proper place as arguably the most important American general to ever serve his country.

Scott joined the army in 1808, earned the rank of brigadier general in 1814, and was promoted to commanding general in 1841. During the Mexican-American War, he commanded one of the most brilliant military campaigns in American history and mentored the generation of officers who fought the Civil War, including Generals Grant, Lee, Longstreet, Beauregard, Jackson, and Meade. As a young general, he wrote the first comprehensive set of regulations to govern the army and pushed for the professionalization of the U.S. officer corps. Yet, he was ridiculed at the beginning of the war for his prescient prediction that the Civil War would be a prolonged conflict requiring extensive planning and superior strategic thinking.

With this edition, Johnson has merged Scott’s large two-volume memoir into a single, manageable volume without losing any of the original 1864 text. Extensive new annotations update Scott’s outdated notes and provide valuable illumination and context. Covering a wide range of events—from the famous 1804 duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton through the end of the Civil War—Scott’s extraordinary account reveals the general as a sometimes egocentric but always astute witness to the early American republic.

Timothy D. Johnson, professor of history at Lipscomb University in Nashville, is the author of Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory and A Gallant Little Army: The Mexico City Campaign. He is coeditor, with Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes Jr., of A Fighter from Way Back: The Mexican War Diary of Lt. Daniel Harvey Hill and Notes of the Mexican War by J. Jacob Oswandel.