Winfield Scott 17861866

Mathew Brady Studio (active 184494)
Salted-paper print, c. 1861

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Winfield Scott served as the commanding general of the U.S. Army during the Mexican War. Known as “Old Fuss and Feathers” for his insistence on military discipline, he directed the 1847 campaign that captured the coastal city of Veracruz. From there he led U.S. forces west to Mexico City, where he again defeated the Mexican army and occupied the city.

Although President James K. Polk urged him to continue the military campaign, the American diplomat Nicholas Trist proceeded to negotiate and sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the war and ultimately ceded to the United States 525,000 square miles of territory in the present-day Southwest. Scott set his sights on the White House on several occasions but was never elected.

When he retired from the military in 1861—roughly the year this photograph was taken—he had accumulated more than fifty years of military service.