Winder, John H.


CSA brigadier general, ran notorious prisoner of war camps including Libby Prison and Andersonville, died February 1865



Type: Signature
Description:  (1800-1865) USMA 1820, Maryland US Army officer in the Mexican-American War, CSA brigadier general noted for commanding POW camps in the South and for charges of improperly supplying prisoners in his charge.

He taught tactics at West Point in 1827 where he met Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, fought with distinction in Mexico, breveted major 1847 for conduct at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, and to lieut. colonel for Mexico City. At the Battle of Chapultepec, Winder was responsible for attacking the Military Academy and either killed or capturing many of the cadets, the battle a key part of Mexico’s patriotic lore.

Winder resigned his US Army commission April 20, 1861, appointed CSA Infantry colonel May 21st, promoted to brigadier general June 21 and next day was made Asst. Inspector General of the Camps of Instruction in Richmond to Oct. 21. 

On March 1, 1862, Jefferson Davis declared martial law in Richmond and appointed Winder provost marshal general. His 1st order banned alcohol and required all citizens to surrender their firearms, earning him the moniker “The Dictator of Richmond”. He was responsible for dealing with deserters and commanded Richmond’s notorious Libby Prison as well. Camp Winder and Winder Hospital in Richmond were named for him.

In April 1864, he appointed Captain Henry Wirz commandant of the new and notorious Camp Sumter (also called Andersonville) prison camp in Georgia. Winder commanded the Department of Henrico until May 5, 1864, then the 2nd District of the Department of North Carolina & Southern Virginia May 25-June 7. He briefly commanded Andersonville himself June 7-July 26, then given command of all military prisons in Georgia and Alabama until November 21, when led the Confederate Bureau of Prison Camps to his death from a heart attack Feb. 7, 1865.

Running prisons in the South during the Civil War was hampered by the Confederacy’s poor supply system combined with inadequate supplies of men, food, clothing, and medicines. Winder was often accused of intentionally starving Union prisoners. The major causes of high mortality rates in Andersonville, Florence, and other prisons overseen by Winder were scurvy and exposure. Most prisoners slept on the ground, even in freezing weather and prisoners generally were not permitted to build huts or make fires to cook their daily ration of poorly ground corn meal.

Rare War-dated 1 ¼ x 4 ¼ close of an LS as Brigadier General

Condition: Very good

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