As a labourer in his youth and with his father off to war, Alex was the man of the house with 2 younger sisters, his mother and grandmother all living under the same roof. Perhaps it was difficult making ends meet when Alex finally made the choice to follow in his father's footsteps and joined up with the 10th Vermont Volunteer Infantry. The 10th was a 3 year regiment and had just started up a month earlier when Alex signed the papers committing himself to three years of service.
Within 2 months his father would die from war wounds while in an Annapolis hospital!
Alex had yet to serve three months in the Union Army before his commanding officer recognized talent in the young soldier. He would be with the unit above Washington on the Potomac River when his bosses would approach him for a very special mission. He was soon sent off to prevent Southern sympathizers from sending signals across the Potomac near to General White's gorillas at Sugar Loaf Mountain Maryland. In fact he was event sent off to capture some of the spies. He was still a buck private at the time.
In one of his first battles... at Orange...sometimes called Locust Grove Virginia, he showed what a hero he was. When the troops got lost in the woods he became disoriented. He was on a mission to seek a doctor to bring back and help a badly wounded Sergeant. He was soon crossing open lands and taking shots from the enemy.. he continued to crawl along on his mission when it was finally discovered that it was his own side firing at him.
In Jan. of 1864 Alex was promoted to Corporal and as such was soon moved into the Colour Guard. He would be carrying the state flag at the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Tolopotoray Creek, Cold Harbour and the Weldon Railway. Carrying the unit, state of national flags was a very dangerous occupation during the Civil War. It was these fellows that had to mark out the friendly territory for their own men and leading the units into battle with their various signals. Obviously they were a very high priority target for the enemy to take out.
Hundreds of cavalry horses were killed in the battle that saw about 5,000 Union troops try to take on about 15,000 Confederates. The Union lost the battle but they won the day by holding off till more troops could arrive from DC and thus, preventing southerners from marching on to DC.
In the battle several heavy guns were taken and the union had to recapture them, they got some but then lost them, and again retook some. The battle prevented the southern advance but was still a win for them... the only Confederate win on Union soil throughout the war.
Cpl Alexander Scott was out in the front with his colours through much of the day and when a Sergeant was so exhausted, he pleaded with Scott to grab the National flag. That of course meant that he was not carrying just one flag.... on a nine foot pole... but two. As the union troops retreated it has been documented that this fellow was amongst the very last to leave those front lines. And for that, many years later he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
Then came the battles at Winchester and Fisher's Creek. Alex was offered a promotion to Sergeant several times and refused each claiming that he would prefer to stay on in serving with the most honorable occupation of being in the colour guard. At Fishers Creek he and another fellow would be the first over the enemy ramparts, colours in hand. That action alone often saw the soldiers get a MOH, and perhaps Alex was due a 2nd one. (there were only 19 in the history of the medal, so say many, but in error. There were at least 21 and possibly four others. See my past blogs in this space on Charles Robinson)
After the battle he was hospitalized for several months only to rejoin the unit still suffering from his wounds. Not long after he was mustered out of service.
After the war his Colonel William Wirt Henry was asked to take the unit flags and present them to the Legislature in Vermont. By that time 20 men had either died or got wounded carrying those flags. Scott's blood must have been on them, with that of many other brave lads.
By 1866 Alex was living in Flint Michigan and worked in the lumbering industry and also as a deputy City Marshall. In 1868 he married. Four years later he moved to Washington DC and took up work in the Patent Office as a draughtsman. A decade or so later he was the deputy in that office.
In the 1890's His Colonel served as the Council at Quebec for the US Government. It was from Quebec, Alex's home province, that the Colonel he sat down one day and wrote up a glowing account of Alexander Scott. Then so did the former Adjutant of the regiment. And then his company commander did the same. And in 1897 Scott was mailed his Medal of Honor. He was by that time an active member of various veterans organizations including the Grand Army of the Republic. In the photo above he is proudly wearing his Medal of Honor on HIS right, and to HIS left is the GAR Membership badge.
A Washington Post article in 1905 carried a short article noting that the "United States Medal of Honor Club" was having its annual meeting in Washington at the time. listed three or four officers and then gave Alexander Scott's name with the note beside it that he was... "the President." This organization could well have been the forerunner of today's Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the United States.
In 1915 the same paper ran a story about a MOH hero that died and was being buried at Arlington. Pall Bearers came from the MOH Society to perform this final task of honor. One of these was Alexander Scott, who, according to the article had then enjoyed the rank of a Captain.
Alex died in 1923 and rests today at Arlington with about a dozen other Canadians MOH recipients, and at least another dozen Canadian service men. His second wife is buried with him.