John McAllister Schofield

John McAllister Schofield was born in the western New York State hamlet of Gerry on September 29, 1831. At the age of twelve he was taken by his father, a Baptist preacher, to Freeport, Illinois. At the age of sixteen young Schofield worked as a surveyor in Wisconsin and at seventeen taught school there. Although he had determined to be a lawyer, he accepted an appointment to West Point in 1849 and was graduated in 1853, ranking seventh in the class. In the years before the Civil War he served in Florida and as an instructor at the Military Academy. In 1860 he became professor of physics at Washington University, St. Louis, under a leave of absence from the army. During the early part of the war Schofield served as mustering officer for the state of Missouri, as major of the 1st Missouri Infantry, which he subsequently reorganized as artillery, and as chief of staff to General Nathaniel Lyon at the battle of Wilson's Creek. On November 21, he was made a brigadier general of volunteers and charged with the command of all of the Union militia of the state of Missouri. From October, 1862, until April, 1863, he commanded the Army of the Frontier, which was operating in southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas. He was promoted major general on November 29, but this appointment expired on March 4, 1863, for lack of Senate confirmation; however, on May 12, he was again appointed with the same date of rank and was duly confirmed. Meanwhile he commanded a division of the XIV Corps in Tennessee, and from May, 1863, until January, 1864, he commanded the Department of the Missouri. During the Atlanta campaign Schofield commanded the Army of the Ohio (XXIII Corps). After W. T. Sherman started on his "March to the Sea," Schofield was left under the general direction of G. H. Thomas to oppose John B. Hood's invasion of Tennessee. With the XXIII Corps and two divisions of the IV Corps he inflicted a bloody and crippling repulse on Hood at Franklin, although he was compelled to evacuate the field and leave his dead and wounded in the hands of the enemy. At Nashville two weeks later, where Hood was virtually destroyed, Schofield again directed the XXIII Corps. For his services in Tennessee he was made brigadier in the Regular Army to rank from November 30, 1864, the date of the battle of Franklin. His command was then moved by rail and water to North Carolina, where he effected a junction with Sherman at Goldsboro on March 23, 1865. While commanding the newly created Department of North Carolina, he participated in Sherman's closing operations which terminated in the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston at Durham Station. Schofield was brevetted major general, U. S. Army, again for services at Franklin, and then went to France to negotiate for the withdrawal of French troops from Mexico. In 1868 he served as Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Johnson, but resigned soon after U. S. Grant's inauguration. At this time he became major general, U. S. Army, to fill the vacancy caused by the promotion of Philip Sheridan to the grade of lieutenant general. Perhaps his most notable postwar contribution to the nation's welfare was his recom'-mendation that Pearl Harbor be acquired for a naval base. From 1876 to 1881 he was superintendent at West Point, where he acted as president of the board which exonerated Fitz John Porter from the accusations which had caused Porter's dismissal from the army in 1863. After commanding various military departments and divisions, General Schofield succeeded to the command of the army upon the death of General Sheridan in 1888. He was promoted to lieutenant general in February, 1895, and retired on his sixty-fourth birthday in September. He died in St. Augustine, Florida, March 4, 1906, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.