Restricted Debate Winfield Scott was also a Virginian, why did he not betray his country like Lee?


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ebg12

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#2
Lee did come to Scott and asked to be transferred west so he did not have to choose sides in the conflict. Scott refused, and told Lee to make a choice. Lee, of course, decided to be a traitor and became a rebel.
 
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ebg12

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#4
The simple answer, though not the most popular, is that Scott had a stronger, personal loyalty to his country than Lee.
Yes, because Lee really wanted to be transferred west to avoid choosing a side...if Lee was so loyal to Virginia and the "cause", why was he willing to serve in the west, and let the civil war take its course without him? Was obsession of duty a fault of his to the point of fighting for the cause of slavery?
 

ebg12

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#7
Allegiance is hard to judge for another. You also have General Thomas who was a Virginian. Many thousands went with the opposite side
Does not the question of fighting for a just "cause" come into play? Why are ideas like "allegiance" and "Duty" more important then the idea of ending slavery, or in the cause of rebels the idea of "perpetuating slavery"?
 

ebg12

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#8
Lee was giving up a commission but Scott would have been giving up so much more. Was it loyalty or future political aspirations that prevented Scott from joining Lee. In Britain we have a saying ‘we know which side our bread is buttered.’
Lee really wanted to be transferred west to avoid choosing a side...if Lee was so loyal to Virginia and the "cause", why was he willing to serve in the west, and let the civil war take its course without him?
 

Ole Miss

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#9
I have no idea what motivated Lee's actions except what he himself wrote. This excerpt from a letter to P.G.T. Beauregard in October 1865 shares what his thoughts were.
Regards
David

I need not tell you that true patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and that the motive which impels them – the desire to do right – is precisely the same. The circumstances which govern their actions, change, and then conduct must conform to the new order of things. History is full of illustrations of this. Washington himself is an example. At one time he fought against the French under Braddock, in the service of the King of Great Britain; at another, he fought with the French at Yorktown under the orders of the Continental Congress of America, against him. He has not been branded with reproach by the world for this, but his course has been applauded.
https://leefamilyarchive.org/family...bert-e-lee-to-p-g-t-beauregard-1865-october-3
 

ebg12

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#10
I have no idea what motivated Lee's actions except what he himself wrote. This excerpt from a letter to P.G.T. Beauregard in October 1865 shares what his thoughts were.
Regards
David

I need not tell you that true patriotism sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary, at one period, to that which it does at another, and that the motive which impels them – the desire to do right – is precisely the same. The circumstances which govern their actions, change, and then conduct must conform to the new order of things. History is full of illustrations of this. Washington himself is an example. At one time he fought against the French under Braddock, in the service of the King of Great Britain; at another, he fought with the French at Yorktown under the orders of the Continental Congress of America, against him. He has not been branded with reproach by the world for this, but his course has been applauded.
https://leefamilyarchive.org/family...bert-e-lee-to-p-g-t-beauregard-1865-october-3
I'm sure Lee rationalized in his head he was doing the right thing...many criminals rationalize their act of the crime as doing the right thing...but were they? Did Lee do the right thing fighting for the cause of slavery under the false pretense of loyalty?
 

Waterloo50

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#12
Lee really wanted to be transferred west to avoid choosing a side...if Lee was so loyal to Virginia and the "cause", why was he willing to serve in the west, and let the civil war take its course without him?
Not wanting to chose a side and preferring to remain neutral doesn’t mean Lee wasn’t loyal to Virginia, as for his loyalty to the cause, I guess one could argue that his patriotism and his thoughts on the confederate cause were two separate issues.
 

ErnieMac

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#13
Lee was giving up a commission but Scott would have been giving up so much more. Was it loyalty or future political aspirations that prevented Scott from joining Lee. In Britain we have a saying ‘we know which side our bread is buttered.’
We Americans know which side the bread is buttered on too, it's the side that lands on the expensive new carpet. :D Scott and Jefferson Davis had not played nice in the past. IMO there was no political or military future for him in the Confederacy. Another consideration is that while Scott was Virginia born, he'd spent little time there after he became a soldier.
 

BlueandGrayl

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#14
Winfield Scott had a much longer military service than Robert E. Lee having been in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War which given his successes solidified his loyalty to the United States rather than the Confederate States plus he also witnessed the Nullification Crisis of 1832-1833 which shaped his views towards secession.
 
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#15
Hi,

The answer to why Scott did not side with the Confederacy is because his mortal adversary was Jeff Davis, their epic feud dating back to the Mexican War. To put it succinctly, Scott would have jumpred into Perdition's flames before he would have cast his lot with Jeff Davis. Almost no other historian discusses this, much less analyzes the significant effects the feud had on Davis, Scott and Lee.

I do all this and much more in my "Robert E. Lee at War" series, the first two volumes of which have been released and shown here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0692867422/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i8

and

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0985357223/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0


Regards,
 
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Ole Miss

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#17
Lee's decisions were made in a different era of different social mores and political issues and seems hard to judge him today. If you believe him to be a traitor ala Benedict Arnold or patriot ala George Washington that is your opinion but it does not judge Lee's actions based on his beliefs. I am of the opinion, that he like all of us, made his choices and had to bear the responsibility.

General Grant in his surrender terms at Appomattox offered and signed by Grant included the clause “…each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States Authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.” Lee and all those who signed the surrender terms were protected as far as Grant was concerned.

In June of 1865 U.S. District Judge John C. Underwood in Norfolk, Virginia, handed down treason indictments against Lee, James Longstreet, Jubal Early, and others stating the terms of parole agreed upon with Lee were “a mere military arrangement, and can have no influence upon civil rights or the status of the persons interested.” Upon hearing of this action Lee wrote Grant to determine if his surrender terms prevented this charge of treason.

Grant wrote Secretary Stanton expressing:
"In my opinion the officers and men paroled at Appomattox Court-House, and since, upon the same terms given to Lee, cannot be tried for treason so long as they observe the terms of their parole. This is my understanding. Good faith, as well as true policy, dictates that we should observe the conditions of that convention. ...The action of Judge Underwood, in Norfolk, has already had an injurious effect, and I would ask that he be ordered to quash all indictments found against paroled prisoners of war, and to desist from further prosecution of them."

This matter dragged along for about a year and a half, with Johnston's impeachment trial ongoing and Supreme Court Justice Salmon Chase unwilling to be part of the issue stating “While military authority was supreme in the South,” Chase explained, “no Justice of the Supreme Court could properly hold a Court there.” which left the matter in Johnston's lap. He issued “a full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason” to “all and to every person who directly or indirectly participated in the late insurrection or rebellion” on Christmas Day, 1868 which effectively settled the matter.
Regards
David
Sources
https://www.weeklystandard.com/allen-c-guelzo/the-trial-that-didnt-happen
https://www.civilwarprofiles.com/grant-protects-lee-from-treason-trial/
 
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#19
Scott had no decision to make. He would give up absolutely everything if he sided with Virginia.
Lee perfectly understood he had to determine which side would harm him more.
If Lee had been in Scott's position, he also would not have had a decision to make.
Had Scott been a 40 year old field grade officer, he would have had a decision to make. I would not guess which way that might have gone.
 

Old_Glory

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#20
Both Scott and Lee were Virginians...one of them had to be a traitor...my guess its Lee.
Winfield Scott was popular in New York and New Jersey was where he resided and called home. Comparing him to Lee in this regard is an apples to oranges comparison. There was no choice to make for Scott. He had lived in the North for much of his life and that is who he sided with in the War like almost everyone else.
 



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