Winfield Scott’s Vera Cruz campaign stands… as one of the great military expeditions in all history. He severed ties to his base of supplies, traversed the rocky mountain paths to Mexico City, and battled outbreaks of yellow fever to storm the Halls of Montezuma and conquer the Mexican capital. In London, the Duke of Wellington proclaimed, “Scott is lost!” when he learned of the bold move from the coast. By the end of Summer 1847, the Iron Duke had changed his mind declaring Scott the, “greatest living soldier, unsurpassed in military annals.”
As brilliant as Scott’s strategy was… he had extraordinary tactical support, especially from his talented company of engineers. The victory at the battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847 opened the door to the Valley of Mexico. Often called the Thermopylae of the West, Cerro Gordo featured a treacherous march around the Mexican lines over a tiny mountain trail. Scott’s army was able to flank the Mexican forces because of the bravery and skill of his engineers. Major Robert E. Lee commanded a talented group that included Captain George B. McClellan, Captain Joseph E. Johnston, and Lieutenant PGT Beauregard. Names that become iconic figures in the Civil War cut their tactical teeth during Scott’s masterful campaign.