Winfield Scott: The Soldier and the Man

Winfield Scott: The Soldier and the Man

Winfield Scott: The Soldier and the Man

Winfield Scott: The Soldier and the Man

Excerpt

I have been a militiaman all my life and the soldiers of America have always been, since my first conscious moment, my most interesting heroes. The history of the United States is filled with their accomplishments; every foot of American soil has been won and maintained by young Americans who turned from the peaceful pursuits of civil life to become soldiers and victors on countless battle-fields. Their whitened bones and their unmarked graves are to be found in every clime and many lands. Their blood has reddened the African sands where the Tripolitan corsairs nested, and the far distant shores of Manila Bay in the Western Pacific. They died on the rocky slopes under the walls of old Quebec, and in the fever swamps of Florida's Everglades. The cadence of their marching feet has echoed from those roads of stone that Caesar built on the plains of Gaul. They have trudged the frozen bogs of Arctic Russia. The burning sands along the Rio Grande have engulfed their bodies and the towering pines of the 49th parallel in Western America shade the final resting places of pioneer soldiers who established and guarded that boundary.

Such is the story of the armed strife through which this, the greatest of nations, has wrought her destiny. With an atrocious military policy until 1920, it required leaders with real military genius to direct our martial effort. In my mind's eye I can now envisage Winfield Scott, sitting indomitable at the gates of the Valley of Mexico, while whole brigades of his short-term soldiers departed for home, leaving him only a gallant handful with which to "conquer a peace" for the coldly hostile Mr. Polk. I wonder if even Napoleon, or Wellington, or Marlborough, under such circumstances, could have matched the inspired genius that Scott displayed.

In this foreword it is not for me to attempt even a brief narration of the life of Winfield Scott. Major Elliott has brought to that task an industry, a scholarship, and a keen appreciation of his subject that merit the applause of the military and the civilian reader alike. I am honored when I am permitted to voice the satisfaction of proud Americans in what the author has done to give us at last an historically sound and complete account of a career hitherto so little known that it has . . .

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