Hancock, Winfield Scott

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hancock, Winfield Scott

Winfield Scott Hancock, 1824–86, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Montgomery Square, near Norristown, Pa. He served with distinction in the Mexican War and was chief quartermaster on the Pacific coast when the Civil War broke out. Made a brigadier general of volunteers in Sept., 1861, Hancock fought in the Peninsular campaign (1862); in the Antietam campaign he succeeded to the command of a division. His command was heavily engaged in the battles of Fredericksburg (1862) and Chancellorsville (1863). Hancock, commanding the 2d Corps, played a conspicuous role in the Gettysburg campaign. Gen. George G. Meade chose to fight at Gettysburg on Hancock's recommendation, and in the last two days of the battle Hancock was foremost in repulsing the Confederate attacks, particularly General Pickett's charge on July 3, 1863. He was severely wounded. Hancock led the 2d Corps in the Wilderness campaign and in the operations around Petersburg until Nov., 1864, when he left to recruit a new corps. His course as chief of the military department of Louisiana and Texas after the war was characterized by moderation, which was not approved by the radicals in Congress. He was transferred to another command at his own request. The Democratic party nominated him for President in 1880, on his military record. James Garfield defeated him, but with only a slight popular plurality.

See A. Hancock, Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock (1887); biography by G. Tucker (1960).

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