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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Scott

Birthplace: Goochland County, VA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Continental Army (1775 - 1784)

Date of Birth: 1739

Date of Death: 22 October 1813

Rank: Major General

Years Served:
Charles Scott

•  Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783)


Charles Scott
Major General, Continental Army

Charles Scott was born in April 1739 in Goochland County, VA, in the area that became Powhatan County. His father, Samuel Scott, and his grandfather, Captain John Scott, were both vestrymen of St. Peter's Parish. Samuel Scott, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, died in 1755 and left the younger Scott an orphan. Charles Scott was educated by his parents and in the rural schools of Virginia. In 1755, he was apprenticed to a carpenter.

On 25 February 1762, Scott married Frances Sweeney of Cumberland County, VA, and the couple settled in Woodford County, KY. With the help of slaves owned by his wife, Scott ran a mill on a large land plot near Muddy Creek and the James River. Scott and Frances had eight children, one of whom was a twin believed to have died in infancy.

As a young man, Scott was on his way home from the market with a beef when he heard a sergeant recruiting soldiers. Enamored of the uniforms and military music, he immediately enlisted to serve in the French and Indian War. He was given the rank of Corporal and participated in Braddock's Expedition in 1755. In October 1755, he was assigned to George Washington's Virginia Regiment and won acclaim as a scout and woodsman. He was assigned to Colonel William Byrd's command in 1760. During Byrd's expeditions against the Cherokee, Scott rose to the rank of Captain.

Revolutionary War

At the outset of the Revolutionary War, Scott raised a company of Virginia militia and commanded them in the 9 December 1775 Battle of Great Bridge. Scott's Company was the first raised south of the James River for service in the Revolutionary War. On 13 February 1776, Congress commissioned him as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd Virginia Regiment. On 12 August 1776, he was promoted to Colonel of the 5th Virginia Regiment.

In November 1776, Scott's unit joined General George Washington in New Jersey. They remained with Washington through 1778, and Scott served as Washington's Chief of Intelligence toward the end of this period. He was promoted to Brigadier General on 2 April 1777, and his Unit weathered the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge. Scott's Brigade participated in both the first and second Battles of Trenton, but their major engagement was the 1 February 1777 Battle of Drake's Farm. Later, they fought in the battles of Germantown and Brandywine, and were the last unit to leave the field following the Battle of Monmouth. Scott also participated in General Wayne's victory at the Battle of Stony Point in 1779.

Scott's Brigade joined Benjamin Lincoln's Army at Charleston, SC, on 30 March 1780. Scott was captured by the British at Fall of Charleston later that year, and was held prisoner at Haddrell's Point for two years. He was paroled in March 1781 and exchanged for Lord Rawdon in July 1782. For his service, he was brevetted to the rank of Major General in 1783.

Settlement in Kentucky

In 1785, Scott visited the area that would become Kentucky with Peyton Short. He moved to Woodford County near Versailles in 1787. His first foray into the political arena came in 1789, when he served one term in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Woodford County. In 1792, the same year Kentucky became a state, the state legislature created a new county from Woodford County and named it Scott County in honor of General Scott. He was also chosen as a presidential elector in 1793, 1801, and 1809. He dreamed of founding a settlement on his land called "Petersburg" and having it become the state capital.

In June 1782, Scott's son, Samuel, had been shot and scalped by Indians while fishing with a friend. In 1790, President Washington appointed Scott to a military board in Kentucky to investigate the need for armed frontier troops to quell Indian attacks. He and James Wilkinson were given charge of the Kentucky Militia and Scott participated in the Harmar Campaign against the Scioto during the Northwest Indian War. During that campaign, Merritt, another of Scott's sons, was killed. Charles Scott commanded the Kentucky forces in St. Clair's campaign in 1791, including the disastrous Battle of the Wabash. On 25 June 1792, he was appointed Major General of the Kentucky Militia, 2nd Division. On 20 August 1794, he participated in the American victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Scott's wife, Frances, died 6 October 1804, and on 25 July 1807, he married Judith Cary (Bell) Gist, widow of Nathaniel Gist - a cousin of General Mordecai Gist. They moved to her family's plantation in Bourbon and Clark counties.

Governor of Kentucky

In 1808, Scott was elected Governor of Kentucky by a wide margin over John Allen and Green Clay. He was injured in a fall on the icy steps of the Governor's mansion during his first year in office, leaving him on crutches for the rest of his life. His handicap forced him to rely heavily on Secretary of State Jesse Bledsoe throughout his term; Bledsoe often delivered the governor's messages to the legislature.

Scott attempted to improve the state's faltering economy by lowering taxes, encouraging economic development in the state, and pursuing sound financial policies, but many of his proposed reforms did not pass the General Assembly. He did secure passage of a replevy law that allowed debtors up to a year to repay their creditors if they offered bond and security.

As tensions with Britain increased in the lead-up to the War of 1812, Scott tried to pacify the General Assembly by pointing out that France had also violated American rights. However, when it became clear that war was inevitable, Scott brevetted William Henry Harrison to the rank of Major General in the State's Militia, and raised an additional 1,400 recruits to serve under him.

Following his term as governor, Scott retired from public life to "Canewood," his farm in Clark County. During his retirement years, he was dogged by rumors that he drank and used profanity excessively.


The following are named in his honor:

Scott County and Scottsville in Kentucky

Scott County, Indiana

Scottsville, Virginia

Death and Burial

Charles Scott died on 22 October 1813. He was originally buried in a private family cemetery, but was re-interred at Frankfort Cemetery in Frankfort, KY, on 8 November 1854.

Honoree ID: 3053   Created by: MHOH




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