Brigadier–General John H.
Winder, C. S. A.
John H. Winder was born in Maryland, where his family
had been prominent for many years. He was a son of General W. H. Winder,
commanding the American forces at the battle of Bladensburg (luring the war
of 1812. General Winder was graduated at West Point in 1820 and assigned to
the artillery; he resigned in 1823 but returned to the army in 1827. For a
time he served as instructor at West Point, and entered the Mexican War as
captain. He was brevetted major for gallantry at Contreras and Churubusco,
and lieutenant-colonel for gallantry in the attack upon the City of Mexico.
He reached the rank of major in the regular army in 1860 but resigned April
27, 1861. He was soon appointed brigadier-general in the Confederate army
and made inspector-general of the camps around Richmond, which included for
the first few months supervision of the prisons. He afterward commanded the
Department of Henrico, which is the county in which Richmond is situated,
and was also provost-marshal-general of Richmond, where his strictness
created considerable feeling against him. In 1864, after the largest number
of enlisted men had been transferred to Andersonville and many of the
officers to Macon, he was placed in charge of all the prisons in Alabama and
Georgia. Finally, November 21, 1861, he was made commissary-general of
prisoners east of the Mississippi River. He died February 7, 1865, it is
said from disease contracted while visiting the prison stockade at Florence.
General Winder's character has been the subject of much dispute. To the
last, President Davis, Secretary Seddon, and Adjutant Cooper declared that
he was a much-maligned man. He was set to perform a task made impossible by
the inadequacy of supplies of men, food, clothing, and medicines.