See A. Hancock, Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock (1887); biography by G. Tucker (1960).
He briefly attended the College of William and Mary, studied law at Petersburg, and joined the military. At the outbreak of the War of 1812, Scott was made a lieutenant colonel. He was captured at Queenston Heights (Oct., 1812), but after his exchange he returned to the Niagara frontier and led a successful assault of Fort George (May, 1813). He was made a brigadier general in Mar., 1814. The thorough training he gave his troops paid off in July when his brigade bore the brunt of the fighting at Lundy's Lane, where Scott was severely wounded. Scott became a hero and was brevetted major general.
His subsequent army career was long and varied. In 1815-16 he visited Europe, where he studied French army practices. In 1832, President Andrew Jackson dispatched him to Charleston, S.C., where Scott ably handled the potentially explosive nullification troubles. He served in the Seminole and Creek campaigns and in 1838 supervised the removal of the Cherokee to the Indian Territory (now in Oklahoma). His talent for peacemaking was displayed in 1838, when he was sent to the Canadian border in the Caroline Affair, and again in 1839, when he went to Maine during the so-called Aroostook War. In 1841, Scott was appointed supreme commander of the U.S. army.
In the Mexican War, Scott approved the northern campaign of Gen. Zachary Taylor; then Scott himself accepted command of the southern expedition. With the cooperation of the navy, he took Veracruz early in 1847 and began the long march to Mexico City. Cerro Gordo fell in Apr., 1847, and Scott's army entered Puebla, where it remained inactive for several months. In August the Americans resumed their advance. Fighting at Contreras and Churubusco preceded an attack on the outposts of Mexico City. An engagement at Molino del Rey was followed by the storming of Chapultepec, which fell on Sept. 13, 1847, clearing the way to the capital. The campaign was a triumph for Scott's daring strategy and confirmed his reputation as a bold fighter. Scott was now a national hero, but as a Whig he was disliked by the Democratic administration of James K. Polk. As a result Scott was recalled to the United States early in 1848. A court of inquiry, however, dismissed charges leveled at him by some subordinate officers, and he was brevetted a lieutenant general.
In 1852, Scott was chosen as the Whig candidate for president, but he made a poor showing against his Democratic opponent, Franklin Pierce. In 1859, Scott once more took a hand in a boundary disagreement, going to Washington Territory in an effort to settle the San Juan Boundary Dispute. The outbreak of the Civil War brought onerous burdens to the general, who, though a Southerner by birth, opposed secession and was loyal to the Union. He wished some delay before any military action was taken, so that the Union's civilian army could be more adequately trained, and the disastrous first battle of Bull Run, fought against his wishes, bore out his views. Old and in failing health, Scott was compelled to retire on Nov. 1, 1861.
Although vain and pompous (he was called "Old Fuss and Feathers"), Scott was also generous, fair-minded, considerate of his officers, and solicitous for the welfare of his soldiers. In nonmilitary matters—excluding his diplomatic ventures—his tendency to be quarrelsome and his faculty for "putting his foot in it" made him far less successful. However, he is generally considered the greatest American general between Washington and Lee.
See his memoirs (2 vol., 1864); J. S. D. Eisenhower, Agent of Destiny (1998).
Winfield Scott Stratton (July 22, 1848- September 14, 1902) American prospector, capitalist, and philanthropist. He discovered the Independence Lode near Victor, Colorado on July 4, 1891, one of the richest gold mines ever located on earth, and became the Cripple Creek district's first millionaire in 1894.
He had a hard time getting started developing his Independence mine, but once going it was like an underground bank. Not only was Stratton rich, he was generous. After the Cripple Creek fire of 1896, Stratton paid for food and shelter for the thousands left homeless by the fire. He wrote a check for $5,000 to “Crazy Bob” Womack, the prospector who first discovered gold at Cripple, but was down on his luck. He gave $15,000 to Horace A. W. Tabor when Tabor was busted. Soon, however, folks began hitting on him and he became reclusive and eccentric. He drank and read a great deal, but almost never had guests or went out socially.
In 1900 Stratton sold the Independence mine to the Venture Corporation of London for $10 million. The Venture Corporation incorporated the property as Stratton's Independence Ltd. and sold shares on the London stock exchange. The ore reserves were discovered to be less than previously thought in late 1900, and the share price crashed. Venture Corporation later sued the Stratton estate, claiming that the mine had been salted, but lost in the US courts.
When he died he left the bulk of his estate for the establishment of the Myron Stratton Home, for "the aged poor and dependent children." Myron Stratton was his father. This bequest was not popular in the reactionary climate of the times. After extended litigation from many adverse claimants (his son, the Venture Corporation, and thirteen women who claimed to have been secretly married to Stratton) only 6 million was finally available; but the home was established successfully in 1913.
Stratton's other legacies include the Colorado Springs & Interurban Railway, a trolley system connecting Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs; the ground on which the current Colorado Springs City Hall stands on; and money to complete the Short Line railroad.
A bronze statue of Stratton by Nellie Walker was placed on the grounds of his estate in 1909. The sculptor of the work ended up living at the Myron Stratton Home for the last years of her life. Another casting of Walker's statue of Stratton stands in downtown Colorado Springs.
Stratton was inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame.
Places named after Stratton include:
W. S. Stratton carried this book in his saddlebags when he was prospecting:Plattner, Carl Friedrich (1888). Plattner's manual of qualitative and quantitative analysis with the blowpipe. From the last German edition, revised and enlarged. New York: D. Van Nostrand.