John Schofield

From Academic Kids

For John Schofield, the recipient of a Victoria Cross, see John Schofield (VC).

Missing image
Portrait of John Schofield during the Civil War

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

Schofield was born in Gerry, New York, and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1853. He 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 (18601861) was professor of physics at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

American Civil War

When the Civil War broke out, Schofield became a major in a Missouri volunteer regiment and served as chief of staff to Major General Nathaniel Lyon until the death of that officer. In August, 1861, Schofield led with "conspicuous gallantry" at the Battle of Wilson's Creek (Missouri), and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1892 for that action. He was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on November 21, 1861, and to major general on November 29, 1862. From 1861 to 1863 he performed various military duties in Missouri. On April 17, 1863, he took command of a division in the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. In 1864, as commander of the Army of the Ohio, he took part in the Atlanta Campaign under Major General William T. Sherman.

In October 1864 Schofield was sent to Tennessee to join Major General George H. Thomas in opposing General John B. Hood, and on the November 30 he fought General Hood in the desperate and decisive Battle of Franklin. Two weeks later he took part in Thomas's crowning victory at Nashville. 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.

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.


After the war Schofield was sent on a special diplomatic mission to France, on account of the presence of French troops in Mexico. From June 1868 to March 1869 he served as Secretary of War under President Andrew Johnson, after the retirement of Edwin M. Stanton. From 1876 to 1881 he was superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, and from 1888 until his retirement in 1895 he 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 made lieutenant general.

General Schofield died at St. Augustine, Florida, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His memoirs, Forty-six Years in the Army, were published in 1897. He is memorialized by the military installation Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.


  • Eicher, John H., & Eicher, David J.: Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3

Preceded by:
Edwin M. Stanton
United States Secretary of War
Succeeded by:
John Aaron Rawlins
Preceded by:
Philip H. Sheridan
Commanding General of the United States Army
Succeeded by:
Nelson A. Miles

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