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Scott, Charles

Scott, Charles

SCOTT, CHARLES. (1739–1813). Continental general. Virginia. Born near Richmond, Virginia, in 1739, Scott served as a noncommissioned officer under Washington in Braddock's expedition. At the start of the Revolution, he raised the first volunteer troops south of the James River in Virginia and commanded a company at Williamsburg in July 1775. On 13 February 1776 he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Second Virginia Regiment, on 7 May he became colonel of the Fifth Virginia, and on 12 August 1776 he took command of the Third Virginia. He led this regiment well at Trenton and as part of the covering force that so effectively delayed the British advance before Washington scored his victory at Princeton on 3 January 1777. Promoted to brigadier general on 2 April at Washington's urging, he and the brigade of William Woodford constituted General Adam Stephen's division. He was heavily engaged at Brandywine, facing the British turning column before Washington reinforced that flank. As part of Greene's column he saw action at Germantown, where his performance was severely criticized in a letter from Stephen to Washington on 7 October 1777. After spending the winter at Valley Forge he had a prominent role in the Monmouth campaign, first as commander of a large detachment and finally as part of Charles Lee's command in the battle of 28 June. He is responsible for the dubious but beloved story of Washington's cursing out Lee, and he testified effectively against the latter at the Lee court-martial.

Scott spent 1779 recruiting troops in Virginia. Ordered south to reinforce Lincoln, he was captured at Charleston on 12 May 1780, paroled, and exchanged for Lieutenant Colonel Lord Francis Rawdon in February 1782. He was brevetted major general on 30 September 1783.

In 1785 he moved to Kentucky. He was a representative in the Virginia assembly from Woodford County in 1789 and 1790. In April 1790 he took part in Harmar's unsuccessful expedition. The next year he was brigadier general of Kentucky levies and, with Colonel James Wilkinson as second-in-command, led them against the Indians on the Wabash River (23 May-4 June). In October 1793 he joined Anthony Wayne for an expedition against the Indians, but it was abandoned. On 20 August 1794 he led about fifteen hundred mounted volunteers in Wayne's victory at Fallen Timbers, though his own troops failed to arrive in time for the battle. Scott served as governor of Kentucky in 1808–1812, vigorously preparing Kentucky for war with Britain and promoting the career of William Henry Harrison. He died at his plantation in Clark County, Kentucky, on 22 October 1813.

SEE ALSO Brandywine, Pennsylvania; Germantown, Pennsylvania, Battle of; Monmouth, New Jersey; Princeton, New Jersey.


Ward, Harry M. Charles Scott and the "Spirit of '76". Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1988.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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