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William H. Winder papers

Identifier: MS 0919


This collection contains military papers and correspondence of General William H. Winder (1775-1824). The materials relate to his activities during the War of 1812 and subsequent court martial after the defeat at Bladensburg, Maryland. Posthumous material consists of his son’s correspondence concerning his father.


  • 1807-1879
  • Majority of material found in 1812-1820


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Note

William Henry Winder (1775-1824), a Baltimore lawyer, volunteered to serve in the army during the War of 1812. He was given the rank of colonel and sent to the Niagara frontier early in the war. Within a year, he became a brigadier general. In July 1813, he and fellow commander John Chandler were captured at the Battle of Stoney Creek in Ontario.

A prisoner exchange in 1814 brought Winder back to Washington. In early July, when rumors that the British would soon invade the capital seemed credible, Winder was given command of the Tenth Military District that included the cities of Washington and Baltimore. This is likely to have been politically motivated (his uncle was Governor of Maryland, and it was hoped that he would send troops aid in the defense of Washington) rather than a sound military decision. Winder’s appointment was strongly opposed by Secretary of War, John Armstrong, who provided Winder with little logistical support.

At the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, 1814, Winder’s forces were soundly defeated by the British. That evening the capital was invaded by the British who set fire to the unfinished capitol and other buildings. A court martial later acquitted Winder of blame; Secretary of War, John Armstrong, was forced to resign.

After serving in the defense of Baltimore, September 12-14, 1814, Winder returned to the northern frontier for the remainder of the war. He was discharged in 1815 and resumed practicing law in Baltimore. Nine years later, at age 49, he died from tuberculosis.


2 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by Johns Hopkins University on January 20, 1948.

Related Materials

MS 0918, William Henry Winder letter book, 1814

MS 2310, William Henry Winder papers, 1817-1888

Scope and Contents

The collection contains military papers and correspondence of General William H. Winder relating to administrative and military activities during the War of 1812. Included are Winder’s commission as Brigadier General (signed by President Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe), and communications from Monroe in his role as Secretary of War. Later papers consist of Winder’s obituary and correspondence of William H. Winder, Jr. regarding his father. Correspondence with J. Thomas Scharf, 1849-1850s, concerns Scharf’s research on General Winder, and includes notes and related documents compiled by Scharf.

Guide to the William H. Winder papers
Under Revision
Cathy Gaines
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-16: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Sandra Glascock

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States