Winfield Scott Hancock

Burial: Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown, Montgomery County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Directly on the left as you enter the cemetery, in a fenced area

Taken in the Montgomery Cemetery, West Norriton, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and was submitted by Fred Otto.

Winfield Scott Hancock, one of twin brothers, was born on February 14, 1824, in the Pennsylvania hamlet of Montgomery Square, eleven miles north of Norristown. Four years after his birth the family moved to Norristown, where his father studied law and his mother became a milliner. Young Winfield attended school in Norristown and in 1840 received an appointment to West Point, where he was graduated eighteenth of twenty-five members four years later—probably the youngest graduate of that year. After two years' service in the Indian Territory, Hancock won a brevet for gallantry in Mexico, following which he took part in operations against the Seminoles in the Kansas War, in the Utah expedition against the Mormons as quartermaster under General William S. Harney with the forces sent to reenforce Albert Sidney Johnston, and as chief quartermaster at Los Angeles until the Civil War was well underway. When he arrived in the East, General George B. McClellan at once secured Hancock's appointment as brigadier general of volunteers to rank from September 23, 1861. The following spring his brigade— containing one regiment each from Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—took a gallant part in the Peninsular and Maryland campaigns. In the course of the battle of Sharpsburg, Hancock succeeded to the command of the 1st Division of the II Corps after the mortal wounding of General Israel B. Richardson and was made major general to rank from November 29, 1862. He took a distinguished part in the battle of Fredericksburg; at Chancellorsville under Darius N. Couch, he employed parts of three regiments to cover his entire division front in the protection of the Union left flank and rear guard, while the balance of the Army of the Potomac retired across the Rappahannock. The employment of a skirmish line consisting of a man every three yards, which successfully resisted a series of heavy Confederate attacks, came to be regarded as a classic maneuver of defensive warfare. Two months later Hancock rode upon the field of Gettysburg on July 1, with broad discretionary powers from army commander George G. Meade, to find the I and XI Corps shattered and driven from their original positions; John F. Reynolds was dead and Oliver O. Howard was contentious about seniority. Brushing aside the objections of Howard, Hancock took command, ordered the Federal line anchored on Cemetery Ridge, advised Meade this was the place to fight, and threw up such a formidable front to the on-rushing Confederates that General Robert E. Lee issued discretionary orders to General Richard S. Ewell relative to attacking. This cost the South the position of Culp's Hill and possibly the campaign. On the second day the left wing of the Federal army under Hancock successfully prevented James Long-street's two divisions under John B. Hood and Lafayette McLaws from flanking the Union position on the Round Tops. The following day while his corps was repulsing George E. Pickett's celebrated charge against the Union left center, Hancock received a wound from which he never fully recovered (a bullet carried a nail and bits of wood from the pommel of his saddle into his thigh). Disabled by his wound, he did not return to duty until the end of the year, when he reassumed command of the II Corps. Both he and the corps were conspicuous in the desperate fighting which marked U. S. Grant's advance on Petersburg, punctuated by the bloody battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Deep Bottom, Reams's Station, and the Boydton Plank Road. On August 12, 1864, he was made brigadier general in the Regular Army. After his wound reopened in November, 1864, he went to Washington to attempt to recruit a "Veteran Reserve Corps." His efforts met with slight success, and in February, 1865, he assumed departmental command, which he exercised until the war's end. From 1866, Hancock, now a regular major general, saw varied service throughout the nation, ultimately assuming command of the Department of the East, with headquarters at Governors Island, New York, on November 8, 1877. In 1880, General Hancock, who had received the votes of a number of delegates at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, was nominated at Cincinnati for the presidency. He ran against James A. Garfield and lost by a narrow margin. On February 9, 1886, he died at Governors Island while still in command of the Department of the East, and was buried in Montgomery Cemetery, Norristown. Of all the accolades which came his way, including the thanks of Congress for his services at Gettysburg, perhaps the most revealing was that of one of his staff members: "One felt safe when near him."

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