General James Winchester
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General James Winchester

Born in Maryland in 1752, Brigadier General James Winchester started out as a captain in the Revolutionary War and was twice captured by the British. After the war, he moved to Tennessee to engage in farming, militia service, and politics.

At the beginning of the War of 1812, Winchester was commissioned a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and was ordered to Kentucky to build an army to relieve Detroit. Unpopular with his troops for being too refined and disciplined, he lost his bid to command the entire Northwestern Army to William Henry Harrison.

In command of Harrison’s Left Wing, Winchester advanced down the Maumee River, arriving at the Rapids in January of 1813, just in time to answer pleas for help from the citizens French Town on the River Raisin, which was being occupied and pillaged by the British & Indians. Winchester dispatched a force to liberate the settlement on January 18, and personally led reinforcements, only to be overwhelmed by a British & Indian counterattack on January 22.
After a year in captivity, Winchester was exchanged and assigned to a quiet sector near Mobile, Alabama. In January of 1815, he almost found himself in hot water again, when the British took nearby Fort Bowyer in the final months of the war.