William Scott
William Scott of Groton, the “Sleeping Sentinel,” was probably one of the most infamous Vermonters to serve in the Civil War. Scott, a private in Company K, 3rd Vermont Regiment, was found sleeping on duty. To set an example and to instill discipline in the other new recruits Scott was arrested. He was court-martialed and given the harsh sentence of death by a firing squad. President Lincoln eventually pardoned him, much to the relief of his family and fellow Vermonters. His story caught the attention of the press and became widely know. A poem of the day, “The Sleeping Sentinel,” by Francis De Haes Janivier, helped popularize the myth that Lincoln actually raced to the scene of the execution to save Scott.  Scott went back to his regiment and died on April 16, 1862 from wounds he received near Lee’s Mill, Virginia.

Illustration depicting President Lincoln racing to save Private William Scott

Cartoon (right) William Scott, image from ambrotype. A newspaper illustration from Harper’s Weekly showing President Lincoln racing to save Private William Scott from execution. Stories and illustrations like this one perpetuated the myth that Lincoln actually pardoned Scott in person.

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