The War Criminal's Son


The War Criminal's Son

The Civil War Saga of William A. Winder

Jane Singer

312 pages
25 illustrations


May 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

May 2019


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The War Criminal’s Son brings to life hidden aspects of the Civil War through the sweeping saga of the firstborn son in the infamous Confederate Winder family, who shattered family ties to stand with the Union.

Gen. John H. Winder was the commandant of most prison camps in the Confederacy, including Andersonville. When Winder gave his son William Andrew Winder the order to come south and fight, desert, or commit suicide, William went to the White House and swore his allegiance to President Lincoln and the Union. Despite his pleas to remain at the front, it was not enough. Winder was ordered to command Alcatraz, a fortress that became a Civil War prison, where he treated his prisoners humanely despite repeated accusations of disloyalty and treason because the Winder name had become shorthand for brutality during an already brutal war.

John Winder died before he could be brought to justice as a war criminal. Haunted by his father’s villainy, William went into a self-imposed exile for twenty years and eventually ended up at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, to fulfill his longstanding desire to better the lot of Native Americans.

In The War Criminal’s Son Jane Singer evokes the universal themes of loyalty, shame, and redemption in the face of unspeakable cruelty.

Author Bio

Jane Singer is a Civil War author, researcher, and lecturer. She is the author of Lincoln’s Secret Spy: The Civil War Case That Changed the Future of Espionage and The Confederate Dirty War: Arson, Bombings, Assassination and Plots for Chemical and Germ Attacks on the Union. Singer’s work has been featured in the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and the Chicago Sun-Times. A popular lecturer and Civil War research consultant, she lives in Venice, California.


“A must-read for those who enjoy the hidden stories behind American history. Singer has captured a tumultuous family history as she traces the life and trials of William Andrew Winder, the only Union man in an otherwise Confederate family.”—Laurie Verge, director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland

“Jane Singer is a passionate storyteller and indefatigable researcher. In William A. Winder’s compelling saga she has met a subject worthy of her talents. It’s a rattling good tale of shame and redemption, a metaphor, as the author demonstrates, for the ‘recovery and reinvention of a fractured nation and her people’ at the time of the Civil War. It’s great to see Singer in action again!”—Richard Willing, intelligence officer and historian

“A movie mogul once opined that there are thousands of stories from the Civil War that are worthy of a book or movie. Jane Singer identifies one in The War Criminal’s Son. . . . Capt. William A. Winder led a long, peripatetic life, splendidly told here. The author confronts us with the excitement and detritus that filled his days. . . . This is a great read.”—Frank J. Williams, founding chair of the Lincoln Forum and president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association and Presidential Library

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations




1. Bedeviled Winter of War

2. The Double Agent and the Captain

3. Of Toil, Treason, and the Golden Land

4. A Godforsaken Fortress

5. Treason at Alcatraz

6. A Rebel Cell

7. Invasions, Arrests, and Cannon Fire

8. The Loyal Man and the Madman

9. A Slog to Hell

10. The War Criminal’s Son

11. Of Resignation, Railroads, and Exile

12. Heal Thyself

13. The Lone and Goodly Doctor

14. Pension or Ruination

15. Round Valley

16. Rosebud

17. Of Lives Lost




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