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John Schofield

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John Schofield

John McAllister Schofield
28th United States Secretary of War
In office
June 1, 1868 – March 13, 1869
President Andrew Johnson
Preceded by Edwin M. Stanton
Succeeded by John Aaron Rawlins
Personal details
Born (1831-09-29)September 29, 1831
Gerry, New York
Died March 4, 1906(1906-03-04) (aged 74)
St. Augustine, Florida
Political party Republican
Alma mater United States Military Academy
Awards Medal of Honor
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1853–1860, 1861–1895
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands Army of the Frontier
Department of the Missouri
Army of the Ohio
United States Army

American Civil War

John McAllister Schofield (September 29, 1831 – March 4, 1906) was an American soldier who held major commands during the American Civil War. He later served as U.S. Secretary of War and Commanding General of the United States Army.


  • Early life 1
  • Civil War 2
  • Postbellum career 3
  • Medal of Honor citation 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Schofield was born in

Military offices
Preceded by
Commander of the Army of the Frontier
October 12, 1862 - March 30, 1863
Succeeded by
James G. Blunt
Preceded by
Thomas H. Ruger
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Oliver O. Howard
Preceded by
Philip H. Sheridan
Commanding General of the United States Army
Succeeded by
Nelson A. Miles
Political offices
Preceded by
Edwin M. Stanton
U.S. Secretary of War
Served under: Andrew Johnson

June 1, 1868 – March 13, 1869
Succeeded by
John Aaron Rawlins
  • Works by John McAllister Schofield at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about John Schofield at Internet Archive
  •  "Schofield, John McAllister".  
  • "John Schofield". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients.  

External links

  • Bobrick, Benson. Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7432-9025-8.
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Einolf, Christopher J. George Thomas: Virginian for the Union. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8061-3867-1.
  • McDonough, James L. "John Schofield as Military Director of Reconstruction in Virginia." Civil War History, September 1969, pp. 237–256.
  • Schofield, John M. Forty-Six Years in the Army. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-8061-3080-4. First published 1897 by The Century Co.


  1. ^ a b c d Eicher, pp. 472–73.
  2. ^ Einolf, p. 64; Schofield, pp. 13–14.
  3. ^ a b Bobrick, p. 288, states "Much later, as secretary of war (1868-1869), he would award himself the Congressional Medal of Honor (actual award was in 1892) for undocumented valor at Wilson's Creek."
  4. ^ Bobrick, pp. 287–88, 329–31, 336–37.
  5. ^ Bell, William Gardner (2005). Commanding Generals and Chiefs of Staff 1775–2005. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army. p. 90. 
  6. ^ Civil War Medal of Honor citations" (S-Z): Schofield, John M.""". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  7. ^ "Medal of Honor website (M-Z): Schofield, John M.".  


See also

The medal was recommended by Schofield himself when he was interim U.S. Secretary of War (1868–69). Historian Benson Bobrick is critical of this and notes the vagueness of the details in the citation.[3]

Was conspicuously gallant in leading a regiment in a successful charge versus the enemy.[6][7]


Major, 1st Missouri Infantry. Place and date: At Wilsons Creek, Mo., August 10, 1861. Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo. Born: September 29, 1831, Gerry, N.Y. Date of issue: July 2, 1892.

Rank and organization:

Medal of Honor citation

Today, Schofield is remembered for a lengthy quotation that all cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, and the United States Air Force Academy are required to memorize. It is an excerpt from his graduation address to the class of 1879 at West Point:

General Schofield died at St. Augustine, Florida, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[1] His memoirs, Forty-six Years in the Army, were published in 1897. He is memorialized by the military installation Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. Prior to his death, Schofield was the last surviving member of Andrew Johnson's cabinet.

General Schofield was an honorary companion of the Military Order of Foreign Wars.

From 1888 until his retirement in 1895, Schofield was commanding general of the United States Army. He had become a major general on March 4, 1869, and on February 5, 1895, he was commissioned a lieutenant general. Schofield retired on September 29, 1895, upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 64.

Official U.S. Army Chiefs of Staff portrait, by Stephen W. Shaw, 1874 [5]

On April 5, 1880, an African American cadet at West Point, Johnson Chesnut Whittaker, was found bruised and beaten in his cot. He claimed that he had been attacked by fellow cadets, but the administration claimed he had fabricated his story to win sympathy. Whittaker was court-martialed and expelled for allegedly faking an assault on himself staged by his fellow cadets. A Congressional investigation into the incident resulted in Schofield's removal from his post as superintendent in 1881. Following that incident, Schofield served in the Department of the Gulf (1881–82), the Military Division of the Pacific (1882–83), the Military Division of the Missouri (1883–86), and the Military Division of the Atlantic (1886–88), He also went to France to witness military maneuvers there.

Starting in 1876 Schofield was superintendent of the United States Military Academy. In 1878, Schofield won the ire of the Radical Republicans when he was asked by President Rutherford B. Hayes to reopen the case of Major General Fitz John Porter, who had been convicted by a court-martial for cowardice and disobedience at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Schofield's board made use of a great amount of new evidence from Confederate generals who had participated in the battle and found that Porter had been wrongly convicted and that his actions might have saved the entire Union army from complete defeat caused by the ineptitude of Maj. Gens. John Pope and Irvin McDowell.

In 1873, Schofield was given a secret task by Secretary of War William Belknap to investigate the strategic potential of a United States presence in the Hawaiian Islands. Schofield's report recommended that the United States establish a naval port at Pearl Harbor.

From June 1868 to March 1869, Schofield served as Military Division of the Pacific.

After the war, Schofield was sent on a special diplomatic mission to France, on account of the presence of French troops in Mexico. During Reconstruction, Schofield was appointed by President Andrew Johnson to serve as military governor of Virginia and of the First Military District.

Postbellum career

After the war, General Schofield joined the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Ordered to operate with Sherman in North Carolina, Schofield moved his corps by rail and sea to Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in 17 days, occupied Wilmington on February 22, 1865, fought the action at Kinston on March 10, and on March 23, joined Sherman at Goldsboro.

Sherman, after the fall of Atlanta, took the majority of his forces on a Confederate General John Bell Hood invaded Tennessee and nearly cut off Schofield's command at Spring Hill, Hood's rash assault to regain momentum at the subsequent Battle of Franklin resulted in a significant defeat. On December 15–16, Schofield took part in Thomas's crowning victory at the Battle of Nashville where Hood's Army of Tennessee was decisively defeated, and effectively destroyed as a fighting force for the remainder of the war. However, during the buildup towards the battle Schofield intrigued against Thomas, feeding Grant false information, in order to try to succeed his senior in command.[4] For his services at Franklin he was awarded the rank of brigadier general in the regular army on November 30, 1864, and the brevet rank of major general on March 13, 1865.[1]

John Schofield during the Civil War.

On April 17, 1863, he took command of the 3rd Division in the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. He returned to Missouri as commander of the Department of Missouri in 1863. His command in Missouri was marred by controversy, with pro-Union Missourians sending a delegation to Washington DC to plead with President Lincoln to dismiss Schofield—for sympathizing with pro-Confederate Bushwhacker para-military marauders who were attacking loyal Union citizens. In 1864, as commander of the Army of the Ohio, he took part in the Atlanta Campaign under Major General William T. Sherman. Sherman placed him in command of a major operation to break the rail lines in late July 1864, Schofield became embroiled in another controversy with the commander of the US XIV Corps Major General John M. Palmer who resigned from his position as Corps Commander, rather than to serve under Schofield at Utoy Creek. Schofield with his XXIII Corps and the XIV Corps spent the month in front of Atlanta and East Point with lackluster results. Sherman resorted to a flanking movement to defeat the Confederates under Hood. Schofield was sent to cut off Hardee's retreat at Jonesboro but failed to move, he became embroiled in a further controversy, when he was placed under General Stanley commanding the US IV Corps, on 30 August 1864.

Schofield was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on November 21, 1861, and to major general on November 29, 1862. From 1861 to 1863 he held various commands in the Trans-Mississippi Theater, most of the time in command of the Army of the Frontier. He was eventually relieved of duty in the West, at his own request, due to altercations with his superior Samuel R. Curtis.

When the Civil War broke out, Schofield became a major in the 1st Missouri Infantry Regiment and served as chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon until Lyon's death during the Battle of Wilson's Creek (Missouri) in August 1861. Schofield acted with "conspicuous gallantry" during the battle, and received the Medal of Honor in 1892 for that action.[3]

Civil War

Schofield served for two years in the artillery, was assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy at West Point from 1855 to 1860, and while on leave (1860–1861) was professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.[1]


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