The War Criminal's Son

The Civil War Saga of William A. Winder

Jane Singer

The story of Confederate General John H. Winder and his son, Union Captain William Andrew Winder, who both served as prison commandants on opposite sides of the conflict throughout the Civil War, becoming blood-sworn enemies.
Publication date:
May 2019
Publisher :
Potomac Books, Inc.
Illustration :
25 illustrations
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781612349114

Dimensions : 228 X 152 mm
Available in 3-4 weeks


• Jane Singer tells the story of the infamous Winder family during the Civil War, and how father and son were blood-sworn enemies that served as prison commandants on opposite sides of the conflict
• Author reexamines the Civil War prisons of Alcatraz and Andersonville with new, unpublished research, as well as family materials and knowledge of the Winder family descendants
• Gives details on the trial and execution of Henry Wirz, John H. Winder's subordinate, which was the first war crime trial by military commission in American history
• Jane Singer is a Civil War author, researcher, and lecturer whose work has been featured in the Washington Post, Washington Times, and Chicago Sun Times
• Her book, The Confederate Dirty War, was based on the History Channel's two-hour special Civil War Terror, in which Singer served as both historical consultant and primary onscreen narrator

Set against the backdrop of the Civil War and its aftermath, War Criminals's Son by Civil War scholar Jane Singer brings to life hidden aspects of the conflict through the sweeping sage of the infamous Confederate Winder family and it's first born son, who shattered family ties to stand with the Union. General John H. Winder was the hard-handed provost martial of Richmond and subsequent commander of all prisons in the Confederate capital --including the prisoner of war death camp, Andersonville Prison--who had a reputation of being a cruel tyrant who brutalized his prisoners, even his own people. When he gives his son, William Andrew Winder, the order to come south and fight, or desert or commit suicide rather than ally with the Union, William goes to the White House, swearing his alligiance to President Lincoln, and is sent to command Alcatraz, a fortess-turned-Civil War prison.

As the war dragged on and men were dying daily in his father's keep, William treated his prisoners humanely in spite of being repeatedly accused of disloyalty and treason. Though General John Winder died before he could be brought to justice, his subordinate, Henry Wirz, was charged with war crimes and executed after his trial, the first war crime trial by military commission in American history. Haunted by his father's villainy, William is sent into a lifelong exile, on a mission to do good at all costs. We meet the politicians, pioneers, traitors, and generals who blazed through William's life until he stops at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, where alone, old, and ailing, he vowed to better the lot of the Native Americans. In War Criminal's Son, Jane Singer reexamines the horrors of Andersonville Prison and the command of Alcatraz with new, unpublished research and family materials, bringing to life a family and a country at war, with the universal themes of loyalty, family shame, and reclamation of lost honor in the face of unspeakable cruelty.