JOHN McALLSTER SCHOFIELD (September 29, 1831 – March 4, 1906) was a soldier during the Civil War and later served as Secretary of War under Presidents Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant and Commanding General of the United States Army. Schofield secured an appointment at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He reported on June 1, 1849. In his final year, he was accused of allowing others in his classroom to make offensive jokes and drawings on the blackboard. He was dismissed but after meeting with U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas, appealed his decision to the Secretary of War and ultimately was reinstated. Schofield graduated in 1853, seventh in his class, and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the artillery, where he served for two years.
When the Civil War broke out, Schofield and his brothers helped assure that Missouri didn’t join the Confederacy. He became a major in the 1st Missouri Infantry Regiment and served as chief of staff to Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon until Lyon’s death during the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in August 1861. Schofield acted with “conspicuous gallantry” during the battle and decades later received the Medal of Honor. Schofield was promoted to Brigadier General of volunteers on November 21, 1861 and to major general on November 29, 1862. On April 17, 1863, he took command of the 3rd Division in the XIV Corps of the Army of the Cumberland. His command in Missouri was marred by controversy after a massacre at Lawrence, Kansas, when Schofield refused to allow a posse to pursue the combatants into Missouri. Pro-Union Missourians sent a delegation to plead with President Lincoln to dismiss Schofield for sympathizing with pro-Confederate Bushwhacker para-military marauders who were attacking loyal Union citizens. Lincoln backed Schofield. In 1864, as commander of the Army of the Ohio, Schofield participated in the Atlantic Campaign under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman.
Schofield became superintendent of the United States Military Academy from 1876 to 1881. On April 5, 1880, an African American cadet at West Point, Johnson Chesnut Whitaker, was found bruised and beaten in his cot. He claimed he had been attacked by fellow cadets but the administration claimed he had fabricated is story to win sympathy. Whitaker was court-martialed and expelled. A congressional investigation resulted in Schofield’s removal from his post as superintendent in 1881.
Offering a one-page 5 x 8 ALS on U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY, June 28, 1878, to Maj. Gen. Curtis, Judge Advocate, U.S.A. Washington, DC.
“Dear Major, I take pleasure in complying with the wish of your nephew conveyed in your note of June 26th.
“Very Truly yours
“Maj. Genl U.S.A.”
Light toning, folds. Overall excellent.
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