Charles Scott

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Date: 1936
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Biography
Length: 692 words
Content Level: (Level 4)
Lexile Measure: 1290L

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About this Person
Born: 1739 in Virginia, United States
Died: October 22, 1813 in Clark County, Kentucky, United States
Nationality: American
Occupation: General
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Scott, Charles (c. 1739 - Oct. 22, 1813), soldier and governor of Kentucky, was born in that part of Goochland County, Va., which later became Powhatan County. Scottsville, formerly the county seat of Powhatan, was named in his honor. In his seventeenth year he served as a non-commissioned officer under Washington in the Braddock campaign. At the commencement of the Revolution, he raised the first companies of volunteers from south of James River to enter actual service, and commanded them at Williamsburg, Va., in July 1775. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd Virginia Regiment, Feb. 13, 1776, became colonel of the 5th in May, was transferred to the 3rd in August, and on Apr. 2, 1777, was commissioned brigadier-general in the Continental Army. A great part of the winter of 1777-78 he spent at Valley Forge. He rendered gallant service at Trenton, Germantown, Monmouth, and Stony Point, and in 1780 was captured at Charleston, S. C., remaining on parole thereafter until his exchange near the close of the war. He was brevetted major-general Sept. 30, 1783, and was one of the original members of the Society of the Cincinnati.

By an act of the Virginia legislature in October 1783, Scott was designated one of a deputation of officers of the Continental line to appoint superintendents and surveyors to locate and survey the western lands given by law to the officers and soldiers on the Continental establishment. He removed to Kentucky two years later and settled in that part of Fayette afterwards taken to form the county of Woodford. In 1789 and 1790 he represented Woodford County in the Virginia Assembly. In April 1790 he took part in the fruitless expedition of Gen. Josiah Harmar [q.v.] against the Indians on the Scioto, and in 1791 was a member of the local board of war and commandant of the Kentucky district, with the rank of brigadier-general. Between May 23 and June 4, 1791, with Col. James Wilkinson [q.v.] as second in command, he conducted an expedition against the Indians on the Wabash River, and in the fall, advancing from Cincinnati with a force of Kentuckians, he was with Gen. Arthur St. Clair [q.v.] at the disastrous defeat of Nov. 4, 1791. In 1792 Scott County, created out of Woodford County, was named for him. On Oct. 24, 1793, with 1,000 mounted Kentuckians, he joined Gen. Anthony Wayne [q.v.] for another projected campaign against the Indians, but the operation was abandoned. In the following summer, however, at the head of about 1,500 mounted Kentucky volunteers, Scott took part with Wayne's army in the battle of the Fallen Timbers (Aug. 20, 1794), which resulted in a decisive victory over the Indians.

Scott had only an elementary English schooling, but in the rugged life of the frontier he gained a fund of practical wisdom which richly reinforced his naturally sound judgment and good sense. He was frank and direct in speech, simple and unaffected in social intercourse. A type of the strong man of the frontier whose military leadership led to leadership in politics, he was chosen presidential elector from Kentucky in 1793, 1801, 1805, and 1809, and in August 1808 was elected governor of the state. He served in that capacity four years. In his public utterances before the War of 1812 he boldly declared the duty of his fellow countrymen in the emergency, and one of his last official acts was to commission Gen. William Henry Harrison [q.v.] of the United States Army a major-general of the Kentucky militia in order to give him unquestioned authority over Kentucky troops participating in the northwestern campaign.

Scott married, Feb. 25, 1762, Frances Sweeney of Cumberland County, Va., by whom he had several children. She died in October 1804, and on July 25, 1807, he married Judith Cary (Bell) Gist, widow of Col. Nathaniel Gist and daughter of Capt. David Bell, formerly of Buckingham County, Va. She survived him, dying in 1833. Scott died at her home, "Canewood," in Clark County, Ky., and on Nov. 8, 1854, his body was reinterred in the State Cemetery, Frankfort.


[F. B. Heitman, Hist. Reg. and Dict. U. S. Army (1903); Henry Howe, Hist. Colls. of Va. (1846); T. L. Crittenden, in Obituary Addresses Delivered upon the Occasion of the Re-interment of the Remains of Gen. Charles Scott (1855); William Littell, The Statute Law of Ky. (5 vols., 1809-19), esp. I, 442, 629, II, 140, III, 582; Lewis and R. H. Collins, Hist. of Ky. (2 vols., 1874); Thomas Boyd, Mad Anthony Wayne (1929); Ky. Gazette, Feb. 5, 1791, Jan. 23, 1800, Oct. 26, 1813; Ky. Reporter, Nov. 6, 1813; Va. Mag. of Hist. and Biog., Jan. 1925; Ind. Mag. of Hist., Mar. 1925; "Governors Messages and Letters . . . Wm. Henry Harrison," Ind. Hist. Colls., vols. VII, IX (1922); Reg. Ky. State Hist. Soc., Sept. 1903, inaccurate in certain details; court records; acquaintance with members of the family.]

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Gale Document Number: GALE|BT2310003891