During the American Civil War, the Union and the Confederacy went through many different generals at the head of their armies. These generals ranged from very skilled, highly educated generals to battle bred, tacticians who were always one step ahead of the enemy in the battles. Today, I will be writing about one of the generals that does not get enough recognition in writings about the Civil War, General Winfield Scott Hancock.
Hancock was one of the bravest, most liked commanders of the Union army who was definitely a top three behind Ulysses S. Grant and George Meade. He participated on many battles through the war most notably the Battle of Williamsburg where his brilliant strategies made the enemy withdrawal and earned him the title “Hancock the Superb”, the Battle of Gettysburg where his valiant efforts allowed the Union army to successfully beat Robert E. Lee and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House where he had a massive breakthrough in the enemy defensive line at the Bloody Angle.
The Battle of Williamsburg was one of the first battles for Hancock, where he had a brigade to lead into battle and have an influence on the outcome. During this battle he was fighting against seasoned Confederate commanders such as General James Longstreet and D. H. Hill, but he was able to very well and keep the enemy from flanking his lines. During his engagement with Longstreet’s division he took over two abandoned redoubts which put him at an advantageous position against the 24th Virginia Infantry and D. H Hill which were trying to flank him.
Hancock was very confident in his abilities and positioning that even after being requested to retreat, he persisted that it was an opportunity to counter attack since the enemy had recalled its attack. After a successful victory against the 24th Virginia Infantry and D. H Hill, he was able to make the enemy withdrawal from the battle. This battle earned Hancock the title of “Hancock the Superb” which he effectively kept throughout the war until he resigned.
GENERAL WINFIELD S. HANCOCK 3 The Battle of Gettysburg was his second battle as a commander and the one that tested his true skills since he had been now promoted to commanding four different Corps in the most decisive battle of the war. During day two of the battle, Hancock was positioned at Cemetery Ridge where his II Corp covered the center of the Union army and the engaged Robert E. Lee’s troops directly. It was a very tough battle, but Hancock managed to maintain his position and reinforce the areas that needed troops the most such as the Wheatfield.
Due to the nature of the battle, Hancock found himself in a situation that required him to attack a brigade four times the size of the his regiment 1st Minnesota and essentially were crushed. This act was not a mistake though, because of this brave act, he was able to provide enough time for the Union line to reorganize and not be overrun. On day three, Hancock continued to hold his position at Cemetery Ridge and faced a massive assault from Lee, but this did not discourage him from keeping the morale of his troops high by being on his horse at the front line.
This battle resulted in Hancock getting wounded, but he persisted on staying on the battlefield until it was a total victory. The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House was one of his last battles in which he did very well after the injury he received at the Battle of Gettysburg. This battle occurred after Ulysses S. Grant had taken over the Union army and was effectively trying to end the war by taking it to Virginia in his Overland Campaign. The first few days of Battle in the Wilderness, Hancock did a splendid job at attacking the Longstreet and A. P.
Hill and keeping them guessing even though the battles were inconclusive due to the nature of the wilderness where the battle were taking place. After the Confederate retreat, Hancock reengaged at Bloody Angle and although he succeeded in breaking through the enemy line, he did not receive the support needed to deal a massive blow to the Confederates, thus he had to retreat back to the line. The following battles GENERAL WINFIELD S. HANCOCK4 turned out to be in favor of the Confederacy due to their defensive positions that were very hard to break.
These are the battles which show best how brave and skillful Winfield S. Hancock was at commanding his troops and thus earned him the title “Hancock the Superb. ” The Battle of Williamsburg showed how Hancock was a very good tactician and had a great understanding of positioning that no one would have expected since it was his first major battle as a commander. The Battle of Gettysburg was undoubtedly the toughest battle in the war and the one that had the most influence on the results of the war.
Hancock did an outstanding job in ensuring that the Union would not be defeated by defending the center line and supporting the other lines to ensure they would not be flanked. Lastly, the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House while not as achieving as the other two ensured that the Union kept pressuring the Confederacy into surrender. Hancock’s achievements are shown best by the fact that his Corps truly cared about him and even his superiors complimented his victories at times when the Union army was lacking good commanders.