THOMAS WINTERS, Captain, Company "G"

Ironton Register, April 5, 1888
Interesting War Experiences
NO. 73

     In the early days of '61, before the rebellion was in fair shape and fighting was new and strange, war lowered about these borders so darkly as to make public apprehension serious and sad. There was a disposition at various points, not remote from the Ohio River, to set up the standards of the Confederacy and maintain the southern idea to the extent of whatever blood-letting was necessary.

     In the region of Trouts Hill or Wayne Courthouse was one of these rendezvous of disloyalty, and many were the alarms that came from that town, of the gatherings hosts setting themselves up to dispute the efforts to maintain the authority of the Union. There was a man known as Bill Smith, whose name brought terror to the listener and whose cruel minions were ever dodging along the Kentucky and Virginia horizons. Col. Zeigler was then forming a regiment in the new and novel town of Ceredo, and every night or so, Bill Smith startled the camp into battle array. Sometimes Bill Smith wasn't within twenty miles of the place, but the name mentioned in the middle of the night, was a call to arms!

     Two years ago, the writer of this sketch, stood in the old fashioned Courthouse at Trout's Hill. Not a hammer or brush had been used on the old edifice since the days of Sumter; and many a little scar on wall and pillar recalls those times of excitement and alarm, when from the woods and hills that fringed the town, the watchful bushwhacker sent his bullet to crush the invader of the sacred soil. One bullet hole we noticed in a pillar that sustains the floor-a good round hole that were far better in the pillar than in some soldier's body. We wondered at the time what sort of a history that bullet could tell, and of the scramble it made when it whistled through the door and "chugged" in the wood.

     "What's your narrowest escape in the array?" asked the reporter of Captain Thomas Winters who was standing on the corner watching the workmen pulling down the brittle walls of the burnt Merchants block.

     "Oh, I don't know, says the Captain "the hardest time I ever experienced in the army was at Moorfield, while crossing the river. It was an awful experience, but nothing personal-no close call."

     "Well, something of your own is what I'm after," said the reporter.

     "Let me see then ." said Capt. Winters, looking about meditatively a moment, "a little affair up at Trout's Hill, in the early part of the war, made me shiver about as coldly as anything that happened. My Company G. of the 1st Va. Cavalry, was sent there with two companies of Col. Zeigler's regiment , the 5th Va. Infantry, to get the public records and care for the county property. We took the town without trouble and stayed there two or three days, gathering what county records we could and holding up the stars and stripes in the face of the bushwhackers. We camped in the Courthouse, which was the occasional target for some of Bill Smith's gang. One day I stood in the door, enjoying the sunshine and the stars and stripes, and the boys rollicking on the grass in front, when "band" went a rifle from the copse nearby, and "zip came a bullet right over my head, so close as to raise the hair, and struck in a pillar just back of me. I jumped inside and congratulated myself on my narrow escape. I have thought many times I'd like to go up there and see the mark of that bullet again; but I expect it has long disappeared under the magic hand of time or Progress."

     "No, Captain," said we, "its there yet, or was a year or two ago. We saw it and wondered what history it might tell, never dreaming we would find the hero of that bullet." "Indeed? And it is there yet? Well, well, I must go up and see where the ball that come for me, but didn't find me, has been lodged all this time."

     "And if you go,," said we, "tell us more about it when you return."

     "I will."


     WINTERS, THOMAS SR. - Ironton Weekly Register - FEB. 04, 1893 - A pioneer resident of Ironton, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Samuel Sample, on Railroad street Wednesday night, age 78 years. Born at Chillicothe, Ohio, Feb. 12, 1845. When he was quite young his parents moved to a farm near McArthur where he resided until he became of age. . . . he moved to Olive Furnace, thence in 1849 came to the then new town of Ironton, which has ever since been his home. He was a carpenter and builder and erected many of the first buildings constructed in this city. At the breaking out of the rebellion, he aided in raising the 1st Virginia Calvary regiment and commanded Co. G. He served until 1862 when he was disabled by a fall of his horse at Winchester and was compelled to resign. After the war he had charge of the mines at Vesuvius Fce. And conducted a store there. Later he engaged in the grocery business in this city.

     Mr. Winters was married twice. His first wife was Miss Mary Jane Parker, who bore him five children, one of whom died in infancy, another, Capt. W. H. Winters of the U. S. A. died in 1880. Thomas Winters, Jr., Aaron Winters and James H. Winters survive their father. Mrs. Winters died in 1851, and in 1852 Mr. Winters married Lavina Bush and by this union one child was born. This is Mrs. Samuel Sample. Mrs. Winters died two years ago. Mr. Winters turned the first shovel full of earth for the excavations for Memorial Hall, and he lived to see the building completed and occupied, and then his remains were the first to be carried through its portals to their final resting place.