Scott Hancock commanded II Corps, Army of the Potomac. He had a
reputation for being the best general and the best cusser in the Union
Army. On 1 July, George Meade ordered him to turn II Corps over to John Gibbon and go to Gettysburg to take operational command of the Union forces consisting of I Corps, under Abner Doubleday after John Reynold's death, and O. O. Howard's XI Corps, with Daniel Sickles's
III Corps coming up. Howard rankled at Meade's order because, although
he and Hancock were promoted to major general on the same day, Howard
had been a brigadier 28 days before Hancock, and thus ranked him.
Howard probably did not know that Meade believed that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and General-in-Chief Henry Halleck
gave him the latitude to appoint commanders in an emergency, without
regard to military hierarchy. Settling into a truce, Hancock and Howard
managed to work together during the fighting in the late afternoon,
with Howard responsible for dispositions to the east of the Baltimore
Pike, and Hancock to the west. When Henry Slocum
and XII Corps arrived, Hancock turned over command to Slocum, and
rejoined II Corps, located to the south and east of Culp's Hill, about
3 miles (5 km) from Gettysburg.
During the Second Day, Hancock was given control of the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. After Sickles was wounded, Hancock's operational command was extended to III Corps. In one well-known incident, Hancock ordered the 1st Minnesota to blunt Cadmus M. Wilcox's Alabama Brigade of Richard Anderson's Division of A. P. Hill's III Corps. While the 1st MN suffered 82% casualties, they bought the Federals some much needed time giving them the opportunity to bring up reinforcements for III Corps.
On the Third Day, Hancock's II Corps, in the center of the Union lines, bore the brunt of the fighting during James Longstreet's assault with the divisions under George Pickett (I Corps, ANV) and James J. Pettigrew and Isaac Trimble (III Corps, ANV). Hancock was wounded during the assault but refused to be carried from the field until the results were clear. The wound never healed properly, and bothered him for the rest of his life.
In 1880, Hancock ran for President on the Democratic ticket, opposing the Republican nominee, James A. Garfield. Garfield won the election with a margin of 10,000 popular votes.
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