Scott prefers complaint against General Jesup—Court of inquiry ordered by the President—Scott fully exonerated by the court—Complaints of citizens—Difficulties of the campaign—Speech in Congress of Hon. Richard Biddle—Scott declines an invitation to a dinner in New York city—Resolutions of the subscribers—Scott is ordered to take charge of and remove the Cherokee Indians—Orders issued to troops and address to the Indians—Origin of the Cherokee Indian troubles—Collision threatened between Maine and New Brunswick, and Scott sent there—Correspondence with Lieutenant-Governor Harvey—Seizure of Navy Island by Van Rensselaer—Governor Marcy.
General Scott had, a short time previous to the events just narrated, complained to the War Department of disobedience of orders on the part of General Jesup, who had written a letter to the Globe newspaper in Washington charging that Scott’s conduct had been destructive of the best interests of the country. Mr. Francis P. Blair, the editor to whom the letter was addressed, showed it to President Jackson, who indorsed on it an order to the Secretary of War to recall General Scott to Washington, and that an inquiry be held as to his delay in prosecuting the Creek War and the failure of the Florida campaign. On Scott’s arrival in Washington he asked for a court of inquiry, which was ordered on October 3d, composed of Major-General Alexander Macomb and Brigadier-Generals Henry Atkinson and Hugh Brady, with Colonel Cooper, General Macomb’s aid-de-camp, as judge advocate. The court assembled at Frederick, Md., and was delayed some time by the absence of witnesses. General Scott addressed the court in his own defense.
The finding was unanimous that the plan of the Seminole campaign was well devised, and prosecuted with energy, steadiness, and ability; and as to the Creek campaign, the court decided that the plan of the campaign as adopted by General Scott was well calculated to lead to successful results, and that it was prosecuted by him, as far as practicable, with zeal and ability until he was recalled from the command. This was not only a full vindication, but a compliment to him expressed in the broadest sense.
He now addressed a letter to Secretary of War Joel R. Poinsett, asking the immediate direction of affairs in Florida, as this was a part of the geographical division to which he had been assigned, and a large number of the troops of his command had been ordered there; and that he was senior in rank to General Jesup, then commanding there. The members of Congress from his native State made a unanimous appeal to the Secretary of War seconding his application, but the application was denied.
Some citizens of Florida made complaints of the nonsuccess of the army, and severely censured General Scott. In fact, complaints of this nature were made against every officer who commanded in Florida, except General Zachary Taylor. It has been seen that the court of inquiry fully vindicated General Scott’s course in the management of the war in Florida. The campaign, however, vindicated itself. Considering the scarcity of all the means at hand, it is remarkable how much was accomplished with so little loss of life.