This is how one man became Superb.
Winfield Scott Hancock was born in Montgomery Township, PA, just northwest of Philadelphia, in 1824. His parents came from respectable stock that went back several generations. His father was a schoolteacher and later a lawyer. Hancock was educated at the Norristown Academy, was nominated by his local congressman for attendance at West Point, and was accepted. There he was an average student – 18th out of a class of just 25 cadets – and after graduation in 1844 he was assigned to the infantry. War broke out with Mexico in 1846, and Hancock requested an assignment at the front. He was sent to Puebla to fight under his namesake Winfield Scott. He helped win several American victories, but after being wounded in the knee he developed a fever which caused him to miss the victory ride into Mexico City. He felt he had missed out on the greatest moment of his life.
After the war he was married and had two children. He was assigned to a string of posts from Florida, to Kansas, to Utah, and finally to California. He made an impression everywhere he went. He was a handsome, genial man, and he made friends easily. Even in the days leading up the Civil War, he bonded with northerners and southerners alike. Perhaps his greatest friend was an impressive officer from North Carolina whose roots stretched back to Colonial Virginia. His name was Lew Armistead.
And then, just as 1860 was drawing to a close, the United States came apart. Hancock returned east and became quartermaster for the Union Army as it geared up for war against the Confederacy. In 1861 he was promoted to Brigadier General. In 1862 he fought ferociously in the Peninsula Campaign. He advanced on Richmond, but his superior failed to follow his initiative, and the opportunity was lost. Later that summer, Hancock led the horrific charge on the Bloody Lane at Antietam, again providing an opportunity for victory which his superior once again squandered. In 1863, things got bad, and then awful. Hancock suffered a crushing defeat at Fredericksburg, where his men were slaughtered and he was wounded in the abdomen. And then, at the disaster of Chancellorsville, Robert E. Lee nearly destroyed the Union Army, and only a miraculous rear-guard action by Hancock – who was wounded yet again – allowed it to regroup and escape.
June 28, 1863. The morale of the north is in tatters. After a massive shakeup of the Union command, Hancock is promoted to Corps Commander, reporting to a new head of the Union army: George Gordon Meade. Together, they need to change the tide of the war. And they have no time to get ready.
They just learned that Robert E. Lee has crossed the Potomac, and is marching across central Pennsylvania…