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Union Leaders: W. S. Hancock

Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886)

Hancock served on the frontier, in the Mexican War (1 brevet), and the Seminole War, and in Kansas during the border disturbances, and was later appointed chief Q.M. of the Southern District of California (until Aug ’61). Named BG of vols in Sep ’61, Hancock commanded a brigade of the IV Corps and later of the VI Corps during the Peninsula campaign (13 Mar- May ’62), and at the Battle of Antietam (17 Sep ’62). He was promoted MG of vols (29 Nov ’62) and commanded a division of the II Corps at Chancellorsville (1-4 May ’63), then was assigned command of the corps (22 May-3 Jul ’63). When Meade, then commander of the Army of the Potomac, first heard of the initial fighting at Gettysburg he sent Hancock forward to investigate. Hancock assisted in forming a defensive line and advised Meade to concentrate the entire army at Gettysburg. On the morning of 2 Jul ’63 the II Corps occupied Cemetery Ridge. In the afternoon, when the III Corps collapsed under the weight of Longstreet’s attack, Hancock personally forwarded reinforcements to weak points in the line. During Pickett’s attack on 3 Jul the II Corps bore the brunt of the assault, and Hancock was severely wounded.

Hancock was promoted MAJ in the R.A. (30 Nov ’63) and continued to command the II Corps through the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor and the siege of Petersburg to Nov ’64. He was promoted BG in the R.A. and first assigned to organize and command the 1st Corps of Veterans, then various departments until the end of the war. He was appointed MG in the R.A. in Jul ’66. Hancock was an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1880, losing to Garfield.

General Winfield Scott Hancock, Francis Barlow, David Birney, and John Gibbon

In this 1864 photograph, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, seated, poses with three of his division commanders near the site of the battle of Cold Harbor. Francis Barlow stands with his sword on Hancock’s right. To his left are David Birney and Pennsylvanian John Gibbon. In 1880, Hancock would run for President on the Democratic ticket, losing to Republican James A. Garfield by only 10,000 votes.

Posted in Civil War.

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