John Henry Winder

Monument: Find-a-Grave

John Henry Winder was born in Somerset County, Maryland, February 21, 1800, and was graduated from West Point at the age of twenty. He was later an instructor of tactics there when Jefferson Davis was a cadet. Resigning in 1823, he was reappointed to the army four years later, and was brevetted major and lieutenant colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct during the Mexican War. He resigned his commission as major, 3rd Artillery, on April 27, 1861; and was appointed brigadier general in the Provisional Confederate Army on June 21, and made provost marshal of Richmond. This office made him not only responsible for the prison camps in the vicinity, but also for the arrest and return of deserters, and for the maintenance of order in a city swelled to more than twice its normal size by the war. At one period the fixing of commodity prices for the inhabitants of the Confederate capital also devolved upon him. On November 21, 1864 he assumed the duties of commissary general of prisoners east of the Mississippi. His earlier police powers had made him generally unpopular in Richmond. However, the opprobrium heaped upon him by loyal Confederates was nothing compared to the execrations of the Northern press and public, who accused him of deliberately starving Union prisoners of war. The charges were utterly without foundation. Winder adopted every means at his command to assure that the prisoners received the same ration as did Confederate soldiers in the field, scanty as that allotment was. His task was rendered almost impossible by the refusal of the Federal government to effect an exchange. Weighed down by the fatigue and anxiety of his duties, he died at Florence, South Carolina, on February 7, 1865, and is buried in Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.

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