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John McAllister Schofield

By John T. Marck

As one of the men who eventually served as the superintendent of West Point, Schofield was born on Gerry, New York on September 29, 1831. Having graduated seventh in his class in 1853, Schofield then went on to serve for two years with the 1st Artillery in Florida. While in this position he was ordered back to West Point to serve as an instructor in philosophy until 1860. At the outbreak of the Civil War he was on leave from West Point, teaching physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Now on active service, he stayed in the West serving on the staff of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon. In his first engagement at Wilson's Creek, Missouri, Schofield advised the general to retreat, but his advice was not considered, resulting in a tremendous Union loss, including the life of Lyon. That November 21, 1861, Schofield was promoted to brigadier general and then served as the commander of the Army of the Frontier and the District of Southwest Missouri from October 1862 until April 1863, however handled mostly administrative duties.

Promoted to major general of volunteers on May 13, 1863, less than one year later in February 1864, was assigned to command the Department and Army of the Ohio. In this position he participated in General Sherman's Atlanta Campaign. While the Confederates were fleeing Atlanta under the command of General John B. Hood, the Rebels decided to invade Tennessee, trying to cut off Schofield from getting into Nashville. However, through Schofield's tactical ability, and Hood's mistakes, the Union forces were able to avoid Hood. As Schofield's forces were now fortified at Franklin, Hood attacked. On November 30, Schofield's forces demolished the Confederates, which in turn also led to the Rebel defeat at Nashville under Union General George Thomas.

Schofield was then placed in command of the Department of North Carolina, where he assisted General Sherman in the final days of fighting against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.

After the war, Schofield, who had also been determined, also proved to be an able officer in the army during peacetime. His positions included being the commander of the First Military District in Virginia; he traveled to France to arrange for the removal of French troops from Mexico; He served for a brief period in 1868 as the secretary of war under President Andrew Johnson; served as superintendent of West Point for five years; and was the commanding general of the U.S. Army in 1888, having succeeded General Philip H. Sheridan.

John Schofield retired at the rank of lieutenant general in 1895, and died on March 4, 1906 in St. Augustine, Florida.

Copyright 1993-2022 by John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.