Winder was a prominent
lawyer before being appointed to command the Fourteenth U.S. Infantry. He led
this regiment during the Battle of Frenchman’s Creek in November 1812. During
this battle, Colonel Winder was ordered to send his men across the river to
cover the American withdrawal. Winder sent part of his forces across when the
British suddenly appeared with over 300 men. Winder’s force was seriously
outnumbered and the men scampered back to the boats with the British in
pursuit. The unlucky appearance of the British cost Winder almost 30
After Frenchman’s Creek, Winder was promoted to brigadier general in early 1813; many had mixed feelings about this appointment. One contemporary described Winder as knowing “no more of Military affairs than his horse.” Others were more kind and commented that Winder would be “a tolerable good General” with more training. Despite some misgivings, General Winder took part in the successful capture of
Fort George in May 1813. After
the fort’s capture, General Winder, along with General Chandler, advanced to Stoney Creek in pursuit of the retreating British forces.
The Americans set up camp at Stoney Creek on
the night of June 5 with plans to advance upon the British the next day.
The British decided to launch a surprise attack against the American forces in the middle of the night. The British successfully silenced some of the American sentries as they advanced towards the American encampment. When the British opened fire the surprised American camp jumped into action. The Americans managed to recover from the initial surprise and began to create a stiff defence. However, fortune was not with Winder that night. As he redeployed his troops to protect the American left flank, Winder left a gap in the American lines as well as leaving the artillery unsupported by infantry. The British managed to exploit this mistake by routing and killing the
artillerists. In the confusion, General Chandler proceeded towards the captured
artillery not realizing he had walked into the hands of British troops. Shortly
thereafter General Winder made the same mistake, but he managed to draw his
pistol and pointed it at Sergeant Fraser of the British 49th Regiment. Fraser pointed
his musket at Winder’s breast and exclaimed, “if you stir, sir; you die.” U.S.
|Battle of Stoney Creek
After Winder’s capture, he was eventually sent to
Montreal to await exchange back to the The British were reluctant to
exchange Winder since many British officers thought him to be a talented general.
Winder managed to secure his release from British captivity just in time to be
appointed by President Madison to command the newly formed military district
around U.S. .
Winder’s unlucky streak continued with the British invasion of Washington in August
1814. Winder was not given proper resources for the defence of the capital and
was unable to prevent the capture of Washington .
After the war, Winder managed to survive a court martial and was discharged
from the military in 1815. Washington
Winder went on to continue his law practice in
when he died
nine years later from tuberculosis at the age of 49. Winfield Scott described
Winder as having the elements of a good soldier but no luck. Baltimore
If you want to find out more about Winder’s unlucky engagement at
Stoney Creek, you can join
Battlefield House in their 31st re-enactment of the Battle of Stoney Creek. The
re-enactment goes from June 1 to 3 with a full list of activities. Don’t miss
the night battle re-enactment on Saturday, June 2nd at 8:30 p.m. To see the full
schedule of events, click here.