Blue Water Healthy Living

Civil War Streets: General Winfield Scott Hancock

To visit the next street on the Civil War Series, we have to cross the busy intersection, M25, known by the locals as Pine Grove Avenue.

Hancock Street is named after General Winfield Scott Hancock. Born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1824, in Montgomery Square, Pennsylvania, he was named after, you guessed it, General Winfield Scott. He was also a West Point graduate although he was not as academically successful as many of the other generals previously mentioned. He graduated 18th out of a class of 25.

Before the Mexican War, he was an army recruiter in the state of Kentucky. After strongly requesting to be released from that duty to go fight, he was reluctantly allowed to transfer and ended up serving under his namesake, General Scott. He fought in two of the major battles in that war, but he was wounded in second. Because of the wounds and a fever brought on by them, he didn’t participate in the capture of Mexico City. It is said by him that he regretted that fact for the rest of his life.

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After he recuperated and the war ended, he was posted to Fort Snelling in Minnesota and then to St Louis, Missouri where he met and married a lady named Allie Russell.

It’s interesting to note that the street that you cross before Hancock is named Russell.

In 1850, he was transferred to Fort Myers, Florida. After the end of the third Seminole War, he was made Quartermaster and transferred to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas where he saw the unrest caused by the slavery issue. After that, he had several postings throughout the west.

While serving out west, he made friends with several other army officers – many of which would go on to become generals in the Confederate Army, including General Albert Sydney Johnson.

When the Civil War started, he stayed with the Union and joined the Army of the Potomac. He was promoted to Brigadier General by the commander of that army, General McClellan. At the Battle of Antietam, he took over the First Division from General Richardson after he was mortally wounded.

In the center of the Confederate line was a wagon track known as the sunken road. The southern troops occupied that road and to take it over would cost hundreds of casualties. It appeared that when General Hancock arrived on the field, it would only take one more push to dislodge the southern forces and thereby split the Confederate Army in two and possibly win the battle. Unfortunately, his orders were to hold his position, making it another failed opportunity to turn the tide of the battle.

His next achievement was at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where he commanded four army corps that held the line on Cemetery Ridge. Here he bore the brunt of General Pickett’s charge on the third day of the battle. One of the generals under General Pickett was a friend of his from his days out west: General Louis Armistead. Both were wounded in that engagement, a leg wound that would affect him for the rest of his life.

After the war, he would go on to live a colorful life. Ten years after the National Rifle Association (NRA) was founded, he was made the president of that organization. The main goal at that time (and still is) was to teach U.S. citizens to efficiently and safely handle firearms in order to keep our nation militarily strong as it was in the days of the American Revolution – not just to exercise our 2nd Amendment rights.

In my opinion, you shouldn’t buy into the notion that NRA members are a bunch of gun crazy psychopaths. That was never the concept then and it is not the concept now. General Winfield Scott Hancock died on February 9, 1886, after a long and productive life as a great patriot.


Mark E. Pearson was born and raised in Kansas City, Mo.  In 1970 he moved to Michigan where he met and married the girl of his dreams, Mary Lou Davis, together they have two sons.  He attended Briercrest Bible Institute in Saskatchewan, Canada, and later received his associates degree in business from St. Clair Community College.  He was a bookkeeper and worked in retail sales for 30 years and has spent the last fifteen years as a Jeweler at Coughlin’s Jewelers in St Clair, MI.  He is a voracious reader of history and as a result of being an avid reader he began to write short stories and articles for editorial columns and magazines on current events and comparing and relating past events to current happenings.  

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