John McAllister Schofield MOH

b. 29/09/1831 Gerry, New York. d. 04/03/1906 St Augustine, Florida.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/08/1861 Wilson’s Creek, Missouri.

John M Schofield MOH

Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient, Presidential Cabinet Secretary. Growing up in Freeport, Illinois, he hoped for a military career. He entered the United States Military Academy graduating 7th in the class of 1853. After 2 years of service with the 1st Artillery in Florida, where he contracted malaria, he was ordered back to West Point.

At this point, his career changed direction for the first time when he was named to the Military Academy’s faculty in the Department of Philosophy. Shortly thereafter, he took his career in another direction, this time away from the Army, accepting a professorship in physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Civil War erupted while he was teaching there. He remained in the West, on the staff of Brigadier General Nathaniel Lyon.

At Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, he counseled retreat for the outnumbered Union forces but was not heeded, and the resulting defeat cost many Federal lives, including Lyon’s. During the battle he displayed extreme gallantry leading a charge. For his action he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

On November 21, 1861, he became a Brigadier General. From October 1862 to April 1863, he was assigned to primarily organizational duties as commander of the Army of the Frontier and the District of Southwest Missouri, while operating against guerrilla forces in Kansas and Missouri and lobbying for a more important position. Named Major General of Volunteers on May 12, 1863, he was in February 1864, appointed to command the Department and Army of the Ohio. He then took part in Major General William T. Sherman’s campaign against Atlanta. Confederate General John Bell Hood, driven from the city, was making a desperate attempt to rekindle Confederate spirits by invading Tennessee. Hood attempted to cut off his troops from Nashville but, through a combination of his ability and Hood’s blunders, the Union forces eluded the Confederates and entrenched at Franklin. On November 30, his troops destroyed Hood’s attacking forces, substantially contributing to Hood’s crushing defeat at Nashville in December by Major General George H. Thomas. In command of the Department of North Carolina, he cooperated with Sherman in final operations against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.

A competent, ambitious subordinate officer in the Civil War, he proved to be an able administrator in the peacetime army. He was at this time commanding the First Military District in Virginia, when the State Department enlisted his services. He was sent as an envoy to Paris, where he assisted in the mediation of a dispute between the United States and France over France’s intrusion into Mexican affairs. He was able to negotiate the removal of French troops from Mexico. He returned to the United States and resumed active Army duty in August 1866, assuming command of the Department of the Potomac and becoming Military Governor of Virginia during the volatile early days of Reconstruction. In 1868 President Andrew Johnson, who had just narrowly survived an impeachment trial by Congressional Radical Republicans and who was searching for a Secretary of War acceptable to his critics in Congress, called upon him as a compromise nominee to serve in that post. He served as Secretary of War only through the end of President Johnson’s term in 1869.

Once U.S. Grant came into office as President, he once again returned to active duty, was promoted to Major General, and for nineteen years held departmental and division commands which included a five-year stint as Commandant of West Point from 1876 to 1881. During his command of the Division of the Pacific in 1872, he founded the naval base at Pearl Harbor. The Schofield Barracks at Pearl Harbor are named in his honor. Upon the death of General Philip H. Sheridan in 1888, he ascended to the highest ranking position in the military, General in Chief of the Army. He remained in that post until his retirement as Lieutenant General in 1895. During a peaceful tenure as General in Chief, he set military precedent when he placed himself under the authority of the Secretary of War. This was the first time in American history that the competition for authority between the country’s ranking military officer and the Cabinet Secretary became clearly defined. Having served in both positions, he is credited with recognizing the necessity for civilian control of the military. The precedent he set remains in effect today. It should also be noted that while serving as General in Chief, he regretted the country’s Indian policy, unlike his predecessors. During the Spanish-American War, the retired General served as a personal military advisor to President William McKinley. He died in St. Augustine, Florida. His Medal of Honor citiation reads: Was conspicuously gallant in leading a regiment in a successful charge against the enemy. He was awarded the CMOH on July 2, 1892.



Was conspicuously gallant in leading a regiment in a successful charge against the enemy.