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William Winder
Historical Figure
Nationality: United States
Date of Birth: 1775
Date of Death: 1824
Cause of Death: Natural Causes
Occupation: Lawyer, Soldier
Affiliations: United States Army
Trail of Glory
POD: March 27, 1814
Appearance(s): 1812: The Rivers of War
Type of Appearance: Direct

William Winder (1775-1824) was a Maryland lawyer,colonel and later promoted as general during the War of 1812. His legacy is controversial. Despite being captured in 1813, he was exchanged, promoted, and placed in command of the defenses of Washington, D.C. in July, 1814. In August, he attempted to meet the British invasion led by John Ross at the Battle of Bladensburg. However, Winder showed no leadership at the battle, and the American forces were soon routed, and the British took Washington. Winder survived a court-marshal.

William Winder in Trail of Glory[]

William Winder was in command of the defenses of Washington, D.C. in August, 1814. With British troops marching on the capital, Winder rode out to meet them near the town of Bladensburg. When the British made use of their Congreve rockets, the units under his command broke and ran. Winder also ran, leaving the rest of the American forces vulnerable. The Battle of Bladensburg was a rout.

Winder ordered that all troops regroup at Georgetown, and evacuate the capital. No one could see the value in this, but most troops followed orders. Some, however, stayed in the city, under the command of Captain Sam Houston.

That evening, news of Houston's plans came to the government officials who'd regrouped in Georgetown. This group included most of President James Madison's Cabinet. William Winder was immediately furious at having his authority undermined, and called for Houston's execution by firing squad.

However, without his knowledge, Secretary of War John Armstrong and Secretary of State James Monroe began to quietly plot to support Houston. Armstrong, who'd somewhat carelessly appointed Winder to defend Washington and had already come to regret it, but had no interest in undermining the chain of command, agreed to distract Winder while Monroe returned to the city.

Winder grew tired of planning Houston's execution. When President Madison returned to the tavern, Winder attempted to speak to him, but Armstrong intervened, suggesting Winder be detached to Baltimore to help defend it. As Baltimore was probably no longer under direct threat, this move was purely to get Winder out of the way. Madison realized this, and ordered Winder to Baltimore.