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the field during the Black Hawk War of 1832, but it was at an end before he reached there. Yet, though unable to show his valor, he displayed still higher traits of character. The cholera broke out among his troops with fearful ravages. Though the disease was then considered contagious Scott went among the sick, comforting them and attending to their wants, and by his words of cheer and his humane example inspiring the well with hope and courage. He was practically head nurse during the progress of the infection.
On his return he was sent by President Jackson to Charleston, where the “nullification" excitement was then in full swing, with instructions to take proper measures to prevent an insurrection, or to quell it if it should break out. Fortunately no military service was needed, the President's prompt action ending the trouble. In 1841, on the death of General McComb, he succeeded as commander-in-chief of the army of the United States.
Another war awaited Scott, that with Mexico, which broke out in 1846, General Taylor being the hero of its early engagements. In 1847 preparations were made to invade Mexico on a larger scale and Scott was directed to take command. No better man could have been chosen. He had proved himself a gallant and daring fighter at Chippewa and Niagara; he was now to show strategy of the highest order and win himself a place among the ablest soldiers of the age.
In March, with an army of twelve thousand men, he besieged and captured Vera Cruz, the chief Mexican seaport, taking five thousand prisoners. From this point he set out on the long march to the City of Mexico, and on April 18 attacked and took by storm the strong mountain fortress of Cerro Gordo, defended by fifteen thousand Mexicans under Santa Anna himself.
The journey to the Mexican capital went on slowly, Scott being obliged to wait for reinforcements and supplies. On approaching the city the regular roads, bristling with forts, were avoided, the troops making themselves a new way of approach by an undefended route and nearing the city in August with little opposition. Hard fighting began on the 20th of August at Churubusco, ten miles from the city, five separate victories being won on that day and the large Mexican army driven back on the capital.
The Americans followed until the immediate vicinity of the city was reached. Here on September 8 was fought the battle of Molino del Rey and on the 13th the troops charged up the steep hill of Chapultepec and captured the fortress on its summit. Immediately afterwards the city was attacked and two of its gates were taken before night. In the early morning of the 14th Scott led his army into the city, from which Santa Anna and his troops had fled, and at 7 o'clock the American flag was floating above the National Palace. There was little more fighting, a treaty of peace being signed February 2, 1848. Scott was naturally proud of his success, and justly claimed that his campaign had been “successful as to every prediction, plan, siege, battle, and skirmish." The remainder of Scott's life must be briefly passed
In 1852 the Whig party chose him as its candidate for President, but he was badly defeated by a far more obscure opponent, Franklin Pierce. The Whig party was then in a state of decay and Scott proved himself greatly lacking as a politician. The rank of lieutenant-general, previously borne only by Washington, was conferred on him in 1855, and in 1861, when the Civil War broke out, he remained true to his allegiance to the Union after his native State seceded, and held nominal command of the army till November, when he retired to private life, being then seventy-five years old. He died May 29, 1866, at West Point, and was buried there.
General Scott was a man of imposing presence, six feet four inches high. He has been charged with undue vanity and pompousness, but he was a sincere patriot and a man of admirable character. He was open-hearted, forgiving, frank, and manly in war, careful of his men, never sending or leading them recklessly into danger, and always ready to share their hardships. Severe in discipline and exacting strict obedience from his men, he made them his warm friends by his thoughtfulness and care for their comfort and his devotion to them in sickness and pain.