Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Civil War Oddities #106

At the outbreak of armed conflict, the field commander of the U.S. Army was physically unable to mount a horse.

Subordinate only to the president, who was also commander in chief, at age 75. Lt. General Winfield Scott had directed the U.S. Army since 1841. Behind his back, subordinates called him “old Fuss and Feathers.” Members of the tiny professional army knew that their leader was afflicted with gout and was too heavy to sit in a saddle.

Because no general directed his fighting men on foot, it was obvious that Scott couldn’t go into combat. As much as any other factor, Scott’s inability to ride contributed to George B. McClellan’s October 1861 success in his campaign to supplant “Old Fuss and Feathers” as the Union’s top brass.