Old Fuss and Feathers

Conflict: Civil War, Mexican War, War of 1812

Winfield Scott and staff by Matthew Brady

Winfield Scott (center) and staff by Matthew Brady

Winfield Scott holds the record for longest service in the army as an active duty general. He joined the militia in 1807 around age 21 and was promoted to major general in 1814. It was during the War of 1812 that he earned the nickname of “Old Fuss and Feathers” for being so meticulous about each soldier’s appearance. Scott was always concerned about his men and did his best to make sure they were taken care of. In 1814, there was an outbreak of cholera in the camp, and Scott stayed to nurse them through their sickness.

Scott served in the bloody Battle of Lundy’s Lane in the War of 1812, in which he received such serious wounds that he was unable to participate further in the war. In later years, Scott took part in numerous wars involving the Native Americans, such as the Second Seminole, Creek, and Aroostook War. Not long after those, he served in the Mexican-American War and then also did his part to put out the flames that had been sparked in the Pig War up north at the Canadian border.

If that wasn’t enough, Scott is responsible for the famous Anaconda Plan that helped bring an end to the Civil War. However, it took everyone else a while to catch on to it. The public often criticized the plan for being too slow and a waste of supplies and men. Abraham Lincoln rejected the plan as well for its slow pace. But in the end, the Anaconda Plan was more or less what the Union ultimately followed to defeat the Confederacy. The goal was to cut off the ports to the South, which would prevent transport of troops as well as receiving of supplies. The Union wanted to literally squeeze the Confederacy of their strength, and that is essentially what happened as the war came to an end.

A cartoon map of Scott's Great Snake (a.k.a. the Anaconda Plan)

A cartoon map of Scott's Great Snake (a.k.a. the Anaconda Plan)

Although Scott had retired from the military at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, it didn’t keep Lincoln from seeking his advice throughout the conflict—certainly a wise decision. It was as if Scott was sticking around just long enough for the battles to end. The war came to a close in 1865, and Scott passed away just a year after in May 1866. He was buried at West Point Cemetery.