Hancock, Winfield Scott

Hancock, Winfield Scott,

1824–86, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Montgomery Square, near Norristown, Pa. He served with distinction in the Mexican War and was chief quartermaster on the Pacific coast when the Civil War broke out. Made a brigadier general of volunteers in Sept., 1861, Hancock fought in the Peninsular campaign (1862); in the Antietam campaign he succeeded to the command of a division. His command was heavily engaged in the battles of Fredericksburg (1862) and Chancellorsville (1863). Hancock, commanding the 2d Corps, played a conspicuous role in the Gettysburg campaignGettysburg campaign,
June–July, 1863, series of decisive battles of the U.S. Civil War. The Road to Gettysburg

After his victory in the battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate general Robert E. Lee undertook a second invasion of the North.
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. Gen. George G. MeadeMeade, George Gordon,
1815–72, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Cádiz, Spain. Graduated from West Point in 1835, he resigned from the army the next year and became a civil engineer. In 1842, Meade reentered the army in the corps of topographical engineers.
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 chose to fight at Gettysburg on Hancock's recommendation, and in the last two days of the battle Hancock was foremost in repulsing the Confederate attacks, particularly General PickettPickett, George Edward,
1825–75, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Richmond, Va. After distinguishing himself in the Mexican War (especially at Chapultepec), Pickett served on the Texas frontier (1849–55) and in Washington Territory (1856–61).
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's charge on July 3, 1863. He was severely wounded. Hancock led the 2d Corps in the Wilderness campaign and in the operations around Petersburg until Nov., 1864, when he left to recruit a new corps. His course as chief of the military department of Louisiana and Texas after the war was characterized by moderation, which was not approved by the radicals in Congress. He was transferred to another command at his own request. The Democratic party nominated him for President in 1880, on his military record. James GarfieldGarfield, James Abram,
1831–81, 20th President of the United States (Mar.–Sept., 1881). Born on a frontier farm in Cuyahoga co., Ohio, he spent his early years in poverty. As a youth he worked as farmer, carpenter, and canal boatman.
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 defeated him, but with only a slight popular plurality.


See A. Hancock, Reminiscences of Winfield Scott Hancock (1887); biography by G. Tucker (1960).

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Hancock, Winfield Scott

(1824–86) soldier; born in Montgomery Square, Pa. A West Point graduate (1844), he served in the Mexican War, Seminole War, and on the western frontier. Commissioned a brigadier general in 1861, he helped General George McClellan organize the Army of the Potomac, and then fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. It was at this last battle that he achieved his greatest fame for reforming the shattered federal forces and repulsing two crucial Confederate attacks. Tall, handsome, and dignified, he fit the 19th-century image of a soldier nearly to perfection; McClellan called him "Hancock the Superb." After the war he held various army commands and then ran as the Democratic candidate for president in 1880, losing by the narrowest of margins to James A. Garfield.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.