“Splendid Entertainment” for General William H. Winder “about to return to captivity”

On the evening of February 28, 1814, Barney’s Fountain Inn hosted a public dinner to celebrate General William H. Winder visiting Baltimore on his way to Canada. A native of Somerset County Maryland, William Henry Winder started practicing as a lawyer in Baltimore in 1798.  In 1812, at the outset of the war, Winder joined the United States Army as a colonel. Captured at the Battle of Stoney Creek in July 1813, Winder was released on parole in early 1814 to travel to Washington and help negotiate an exchange of American and British prisoners.

The Niles’ Weekly Register published a detailed account of the dinner on March 5, 1814 included below:

Portrait of William Winder by Benson John Lossing
Portrait of William Winder by Benson John Lossing. The pictorial field-book of the war of 1812 (1896).

DINNER TO GENERAL WINDER. This gentlemen, detained in Canada, as one of the hostages selected by the British government in the system of retaliation that the United States had found it necessary to adopt, was permitted to return hither on his parole for 60 days, and is understood to have brought some propositions to our government, the nature of which has not transpired. About to return to captivity, he was invited to a splendid entertainment prepared at Barney’s Inn, on Monday last. The mayor, Edward Johnson, Esq. presided, assisted by Judge Nicholson and the venerable James H. McCulloch, Esq. Among the invited guests were several officers of the army and navy. After dinner the following, among other, toasts were drank [sic].

Our country  the president of the United States — the vice president–The brave who have fallen in battle — Canonized in the hearts of their countrymen.

The brave who have survived — What [need]of praise is due to him who sacrificed the brightest prospects of fortune and the joys of domestic life, for the toils and dangers of flood and field?

As this toast pointed at general Winder too directly to be misunderstood, the company rose and greeted it with three cheers.

Judge Nicholson then proposed as a volunteer — The health of our fellow townsman, brigadier general WINDER— May he soon be restored to that career of glory from which he was untimely snatched by one of those accidents which no human foresight can prevent. This toast was also received with heartfelt pleasure, and greeted with nine cheers.

Cator Print 163: Fountain Inn, 1776-1871
Fountain Inn, ca1871. Enoch Pratt Free Library, mdcp163.

General Winder immediately rose and said — “The emotions which this scene, and more particularly the last toast, had excited in his breast, were too powerful to permit him to express in any adequate language the strong sensibility with which he received from his fellow townsmen those marks of friendship and confidence towards him. He could only say, if an opportunity should again be afforded him, (which he ardently prayed might be soon) he should exert all his industry and such powers as he had, to justify the kind expectations which had been indulgently entertained by his friends.”

After repeated bursts of applause the following toasts were given:

  • Our citizens in captivity — May they feel that their country estimates them, not by success or disaster, but has honors for the sufferer as well as triumphs for the victor.
  • The memory of Washington — The author of the declaration of independence– The mission to Gottenburg, Etc. Etc.
  • The seamen of the United States — May the hand that impresses them be broken, and he that subscribes to their oppression be its victim.”


  • By brigadier-general Winder — Lawrence — He has taught us how to conquer and how to die.
  • By the president of the day— The sons of Maryland, found with honor to themselves wherever the enemy appears, from Canada to the shores of Chili [sic].
  • By J.H. M’Culloch, vice president — Our brethren of the west — Were we to withhold our praise, the stones in the streets would cry aloud.
  • By J. H. Nicholson, vice president— Our brethren in the east— May they recollect the time when we were brethren indeed.
  • By major Armistead, 3d regt. of artillery — Our officers and soldiers in captivity — An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Here general Winder arose and said, “He was satisfied that the very short time which was allowed him to remain with his family, would be a sufficient apology for his retiring so early from this flattering scene— The last toast,” said he, “will remind you of the state to which I am about to return, and that my country may ere long be called upon to carry into effect for me, the principle contained in that toast. In any extremity which may arrive, the sympathy which has been so warmly and so promptly evinced towards me, by so many of my respectable fellow citizens, will form one among the many strong incentives to fortitude — and will, I trust, assist me in supporting myself in the bitterest moments as becomes a soldier.”

The general then retired, and the sensations of the company can be better conceived than described.

Special thanks to Barbara Weeks for research and writing for this post.

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