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The Quest for Military Glory
by Timothy D. Johnson
- Release date: November 6, 1998
- Publisher: University Press of Kansas
- Format: hardcover, 328 pages
- ISBN: 9780700609147 (0700609148)
- Author: Timothy D. Johnson
- Language: english
- Genres: biography, history
- Characters: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, James K. Polk
About The Book
One of the most important public figures in antebellum America, Winfield Scott is known today more for his swagger than his sword. “Old Fuss and Feathers” was a brilliant military commander whose tactics and strategy were innovative adaptations from European military theory; yet he was often underappreciated by his contemporaries and, until recently, overlooked by historians.
Although John Eisenhower’s recently published Agent of Destiny provides a solid summary of Scott’s remarkable life, Timothy D. Johnson’s much deeper critical exploration of this flawed genius will become the standard work. Thoroughly grounded in an essential understanding of nineteenth-century military professionalism, Johnson’s work draws extensively on unpublished sources to reveal neglected aspects of Scott’s life, present a complete view of his career, and accurately balance criticism and praise.
Johnson dramatically relates the key features of Scott’s career: how he led troops to victory in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, fought against the Seminoles and Creeks, and was instrumental in professionalizing the U.S. Army, which he commanded for two decades. He also tells how Scott tried to introduce French methods into army tactical manuals, and how he applied his study of the Napoleonic Wars during the Mexico City campaign but found European strategy of little use against Indians. Johnson further suggests that Scott’s creation of an officer corps that boasted Grant, Lee, McClellan, and other veterans of the Mexican War raises important questions about his influence on Civil War generalship.
More than a military history, this book explains how Scott’s aristocratic pretensions were out of place with emerging notions of equality in Jacksonian America and made him an unappealing political candidate in his bid for the presidency. Johnson recounts the details of Scott’s personality that alienated nearly every one who knew him, as well as the unsavory methods Scott used to promote his career and the scandalous ways he attempted to alleviate his lifelong financial troubles.
Although Scott’s legendary vanity has tarnished his place among American military leaders, he also possessed great talent and courage. Johnson’s biography offers the most balanced portrait available of Scott, by never losing sight of the whole man.
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