Scott (Winfield) Papers, 1860, 1 Item

Administrative Information

Access: Unrestricted

Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet:

Cite As:Winfield Scott Letter, 1860, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-S2

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: No

Accession Number: 2005.008

Processed by: Charles Johnson, June 2005

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: One letter (December 30, 1860; 3 pages) from Lieutenant General Winfield Scott to President Buchanan documents the tension filled months between President Abraham Lincoln’s election and the Union surrender of Fort Sumter, South Carolina. In his letter, Scott suggested Buchanan send reinforcements to the fort.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Lieutenant General Winfield Scott was born near Petersburg, Virginia in 1786. His impressive military career spanned nearly six decades from 1808 to 1861. He fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, the Indian Wars, the Mexican War, and briefly in the Civil War. Scott oversaw part of the Trail of Tears, the forced exodus of Cherokees to the Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma. During his expansive career, Scott received three special gold medals authorized by Congress. Capitalizing on his popularity with the public, Scott ran unsuccessfully for president in 1852. To his troops he was know as “old fuss and feathers” because of his attention to detail and penchant for flashy uniforms. Scott’s brief career in the Civil War was ended abruptly by Lincoln. Scott’s views on how to fight the Civil War were derided, but ultimately proved prophetic. Scott died at West Point, New York on May 29, 1866.

Scope and Content Note

One letter (December 30, 1861; 3 pages) from Scott to President Buchanan documents Scott’s concern for the Federal outpost at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Ten days earlier the State of South Carolina passed its ordinance of secession, which left the fate of the fort and its defenders in doubt. In his letter, Scott suggested sending “two hundred and fifty recruits from New York Harbor to reinforce” the fort “together with some extra muskets or rifles, ammunition & subsistence.” Scott also hoped for “a sloop of war & cutter [to] be ordered for the same purpose as early as tomorrow.” Scott’s letter was a break in official protocol addressed as it was to the president asking his confidential consideration of the matter; however, because of the secession controversy on the part of Congress and Buchanan’s cabinet members, Scott’s request was ignored. Buchanan delayed sending help until January 9, 1861.

The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: