Statue of Brevet Lt. General Winfield Scott

Statue of Brevet Lt. General Winfield Scott

In a city replete with statues and memorials, locals often get so accustomed to their presence that they tend overlook many of the smaller ones.  On this bike ride I went to visit one such memorial – the statue of Brevet Lieutenant General Winfield Scott.  Located in Scott Circle Park at the intersection of 16th Street and Massachusetts and Rhode Island Avenues in Northwest D.C. (MAP), the statue is located in a park situated in the middle of one of the city’s infamous traffic circles.  The statue is part of a group of statues entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city.  They are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

Known by the nicknames “Old Fuss and Feathers” and the “Grand Old Man of the Army,” Winfield Scott was a U.S. Army general who served on active duty as a general longer than anyone else in American history.   In a 54-year career that began when he was 21 years old, Scott became a key military leader during the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Aroostook War, the Mexican-American War, the Second Seminole War, and the early days of the Civil War.  At the end of his service, he served as Commanding General of the United States Army for twenty years, longer than any other holder of the office.

However, there were also a few less stellar footnotes in his otherwise illustrious career.  Unable to persuade New York militia members to follow orders during the War of 1812, he was forced to surrender to the British and became a prisoner of war.  Also, at one point he was court-martialed and suspended for a year.  But in the end, many historians rate him as one of the most effective and successful American commanders of his time.

After becoming well-known and popular as a result of his military service, he decided later in life to enter politics.  He was so popular, in fact, that the Whig Party passed over their party’s own incumbent President Millard Fillmore for reelection, and instead nominated Scott in the 1852 presidential election.  However, in the fall’s general election Scott was unsuccessful, losing to Democrat Franklin Pierce.

As I was in the park watching the cars driving quickly by, or pedestrians hurriedly using the park as a shortcut on their way to their destinations, I couldn’t help but think that most of these people were not just oblivious to many of the city’s statues and memorials, but were overlooking their significance as well.

  1. I’m having a hard time keeping track of your posts, but I’ll be sure to catch up when I get back home.


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