Posts Tagged ‘Winfield Scott’

General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial

General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial

This bike ride took me to the General Winfield Scott Hancock Memorial, which is located at 7th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue (MAP) in the Penn Quarter neighborhood of northwest D.C. The equestrian statue was created by American sculptor Henry Jackson Ellicott together with architect Paul J. Pelz. It was commissioned on March 2, 1889, and dedicated on May 12, 1896, by President Grover Cleveland. The memorial 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.

Winfield Scott Hancock and his identical twin brother Hilary Baker Hancock were born on February 14, 1824. The twins were the sons of Benjamin Franklin Hancock and Elizabeth Hoxworth Hancock. Indications of Winfield’s future military career started early. He was named after Winfield Scott, a prominent general in the War of 1812. He also attended the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and was known to his Army colleagues as “Hancock the Superb”. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service in the Mexican-American War and as a Union general in the Civil War. He was noted in particular for his personal leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg. He was also wounded twice.

Hancock was the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. Although he ran a strong campaign, Hancock was narrowly defeated by Republican James A. Garfield. Of almost nine million votes cast, Hancock lost by only thirty-nine thousand votes. Hancock took his electoral defeat in stride, however, and actually attended Garfield’s inauguration.

Some other interesting facts about Hancock include that at the close of the Civil War, he was assigned to supervise the execution of the Lincoln assassination conspirators, including Mary Surratt. Also, he was elected president of the National Rifle Association in 1881. Hancock’s last major public appearance was to preside over the funeral of President Ulysesses S. Grant in 1885.  And Hancock’s portrait adorns U.S. currency on the $2 Silver Certificate series of 1886.  It was also in 1886, in a manner that seems incongruous with the successful life he had led, Hancock died, the victim of an infected carbuncle.

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.