by Kevin Walsh

At a confluence of roads (West 124th Street, Manhattan and St. Nicholas Avenues, and Hancock Place) we find a bust of Winfield Scott Hancock by James Wilson Alexander McDonald, dedicated in 1891. Hancock (1824-1886) served with distinction for the US Army in both the Mexican and War Between the States. Perhaps his greatest triumph came at Gettysburg:

On July 3, Hancock continued in his position on Cemetery Ridge and thus bore the brunt of Pickett’s Charge. During the massive Confederate artillery bombardment that preceded the infantry assault, Hancock was prominent on horseback in reviewing and encouraging his troops. When one of his subordinates protested, “General, the corps commander ought not to risk his life that way,” Hancock is said to have replied, “There are times when a corps commander’s life does not count.” During the infantry assault, his old friend, now Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead, leading a brigade in Maj. Gen. George Pickett’s division, was wounded and died two days later. Hancock could not meet with his friend because he had just been wounded himself, a severe injury caused by a bullet striking the pommel of his saddle, entering his inner right thigh along with wood fragments and a large bent nail.

Helped from his horse by aides, and with a tourniquet applied to stanch the bleeding, he removed the saddle nail himself and, mistaking its source, remarked wryly, “They must be hard up for ammunition when they throw such shot as that.” News of Armistead’s mortal wounding was brought to Hancock by a member of his staff, Captain Henry H. Bingham. Despite his pain, Hancock refused evacuation to the rear until the battle was resolved. He had been an inspiration for his troops throughout the three-day battle. Hancock later received the thanks of the U.S. Congress for “… his gallant, meritorious and conspicuous share in that great and decisive victory.”wikipedia

Hancock was named for General Winfield Scott (1786-1866). A Democrat, he lost by the narrow margin of 7,000 votes to James Garfield for the presidency in 1880. Memorial statues to the general can also be found in Market Square (Pennsylvania Ave. and 7th Street) in Washington, DC, in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia, and Cemetery Hill at Gettysburg, PA.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Peter July 29, 2020 - 11:15 pm

General Armistead was not in exclusive company. During the Civil War 124 generals died in combat, 46 Union and 78 Confederate, a death rate of nearly 10%. Being a general became much safer when World War II rolled around; out of around 1,100 US generals, only 11 died in combat and two more died while Japanese POW’s, for a death rate of just 1.2%.

Edward Findlay July 30, 2020 - 12:15 am

There’s an even more important place nearby that’s worth mentioning that is named in Hancock’s honor: Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook, NJ.

This base was vital to the defense of New York and for over 100 years it was vital to the US Army as a testing facility for coastal artillery guns and targeting systems.

Julian Stein July 30, 2020 - 6:44 pm

War Between the States was what the South called it, as they claimed to have established a separate country. Go with the Civil War.

Elaine Harmon August 2, 2020 - 7:24 pm

Hi Kevin,
So glad that someone mentioned Fort Hancock which is located in the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey and administered by the National Park Service. A premier jewel of history.
Still searching for the Dr. Junius Bird house in Spuyten Dyvil which I sent you an e-mail inquiry about. Also,
still have artifacts for you, if you want them. Old maps, books, etc. free. Do you not reply to e-mails?
Great articles and tours, superb writing. Many thanks, Elaine

Kevin Walsh August 3, 2020 - 10:42 pm

I didn’t get the email. Thanks, but I don’t have any room for any more maps, and do most map resaerch online these days.

Frank Jellison August 5, 2020 - 11:06 am

My great grandfather was named Winfield Scott Davidson. It was common in those days to name male children after famous soldiers

Big Mike August 5, 2020 - 10:51 pm

aka Hancock The Superb, hands down one of the finest General Officers this country ever produced.


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