Scott, Winfield (1786–1866), a United States army officer. He was commanding general of the U.S. Army for more than 20 years; during this period the Mexican War was fought and the Civil War began. Scott's men referred to him as “Old Fuss and Feathers" because he insisted on strictness in dress and manners and was fond of military pomp and ceremony.
Scott was born near Petersburg, Virginia, and briefly attended the College of William and Mary. In 1807 he enlisted in the Petersburg cavalry troop, and the next year he was commissioned an artillery captain in the U.S. Army. He was suspended in 1809 for insulting a superior officer, but was reinstated at the outbreak of the War of 1812. Scott distinguished himself in some of the fiercest fighting of the war, at Chippewa and Lundy's Lane, and was promoted to the rank of brevet major general. After the war, he helped write the first standard set of American military drill regulations. Later he revised and enlarged a manual on infantry tactics; it was a standard guide until the Civil War.
During the South Carolina nullification crisis in 1832–33, Scott's mediation efforts helped prevent armed conflict between state and federal forces. In 1838 troops under his command began the task of moving more than 15,000 Cherokee Indians from Georgia to land west of the Mississippi. Despite Scott's attempts to alleviate the Cherokees' hardships in the journey, their suffering was great and the journey became known as the Trail of Tears.
Scott was made commander of the U.S. Army in 1841. After American forces fought a series of inconclusive battles in the Mexican War, Scott in 1847 took personal command. His troops captured Veracruz and fought their way on to final victory at Mexico City.
A popular hero after the war, Scott was the Whig candidate for President in 1852, but he was defeated by Franklin Pierce. Scott was made a lieutenant general in 1855. He was in command of the Union Army when the Civil War began and planned the defenses of Washington, D.C. Illness forced him to retire in October, 1861.