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Winston Family Letters

Identifier: Ms-1995-004

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters (photocopies of transcripts) of letters written to Winston family relatives--including Mary Harris Clark, of Campbell County, Virginia, and others--during the American Civil War. Most of the letters are from Charles Jones Winston, William Henry Harrison Winston, and Ambrose Winston, all serving with Virginia infantry regiments in the Confederate Army.

The 29 letters of Charles Jones Winston (Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry) comprise more than half of the collection. Commencing on July 9, 1861, in Centerville [Virginia], Winston's letters trace his regiment's movements through camps in Virginia and North Carolina. Among many other topics, he writes of picket duty, incidents in camp life, the deaths and woundings of mutual acquaintances, camp rations and other food, Christmas dinner, constructing quarters, and his efforts to secure a position in a cavalry regiment. He describes in detail the Battle of Williamsburg and his regiment's march through North Carolina. The final letter is dated March 8, 1865, at Chester Station [Virginia].

Letters from William Henry Harrison Winston (Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry) are also located in the collection and begin with a letter written at Centerville on August 15, 1861. Winston writes briefly of mutual acqaintances and life in camp, and soldiers absent without leave. On March 20, 1863, he writes from the hospital in Petersburg, being unable to march. Winston's two final letters are dated from Point Lookout [Virginia], on January 27, 1865, and discuss a recent death in the family.

Among the other correspondence in the collection are three letters written by Ambrose W. Winston (Company E, 58th Virginia Infantry) at Central Depot, Richmond (October 19, 1861); camp at Alleghany (January 4, 1862); and Elm Wood (December 30, 1863). Winston writes briefly of regimental movements and mutual acquaintances, and in the final letter, he discusses at length the need to find a place to care for his horse over the winter. Also in the collection are single letters from V. J. Butcher; (Miss) M. Clark; M. A. Dearing; Maria (Horton?); M. C. Massie; Lucy E. Winston; and Florence, a student at Wytheville Female College.

Also in the collection are copies of a four-page typescript narrative, "Reminiscences of the War," by William Henry Harrison Winston, and a page of genealogical information on the Pleasant and Elizabeth Clark Winston family.


  • 1861 - 1865


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Pleasant Winston (1792-1876) was born in Henrico County, Virginia, and attended Jefferson Medical College. In 1820, Winston married Elizabeth Cheadle Clark (1800-1852), daughter of Bowling and Elizabeth Cheadle Clark; the couple would have five sons. Among Elizabeth Clark Winston's five siblings were Lucy Clark (1793-1864), Mary Harris Clark (1797-1865), and Bowling Clark (1798-1877), likely the recipients of most of the letters in this collection.

A member of the Society of Friends, Winston was opposed to slavery and moved his family to Indiana in 1830 to be distanced from it. The 1850 census lists the Winstons, with sons Ambrose, Charles, and William H. H., as residents of Franklin (Montgomery County), Indiana. Elizabeth Winston later returned to Virginia with sons Ambrose, Charles, and William H. H. and died there. Pleasant Winston remained in Indiana with eldest sons Bowling and Pleasant.

Ambrose Whitlock Winston was born in Indiana on May 30, 1835. Though he appears with his family in the 1850 federal census in Montgomery County, Indiana, he apparently moved to Virginia with his mother and two of his brothers later that year. A resident of Lynchubrg, Winston enlisted in Company E, 58th Virginia Infantry at Richmond on October 12, 1861. By March, 1862, he had been commissioned a lieutenant. He is listed on company muster rolls until May 1, 1862. (According to brother William H. H. Winston, Ambrose served throughout the war in southwestern Virginia, "with the exception of one year that he was detailed Quarter-Master-Sergeant to buy supplies around Lynchburg for the Army." He is likely the A. W. Winston who served in Company A, 22nd Virginia Cavalry, and was paroled at Campbell Court House, Virginia, on June 12, 1865. On May 20, 1863, Ambrose Winston married Lucy Eldridge Davis (1838-1864); later he married Lelia Lee Rucker (1848-1916), with whom he fathered four children. Ambrose W. Whitlock died on May 11, 1897, and was buried in Winston-Clark Family Cemetery, Altavista (Campbell County), Virginia.

William Henry Harrison Winston was born in Montgmery County, Indiana, on July 29, 1840. In early 1861, he was an overseer on the Campbell County, Virginia, plantation ("LaGrange") of his uncle, Bowling Clark. On May 23, 1861, with his brother Charles, Winston went to Manassas, Virginia, where they joined the Lynchburg Home Guard, which later became Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry. Winston remained with the regiment until being wounded at the Battle of Frazier's Farm (June 30, 1862). He rejoined the regiment following the Battle of Antietam. At the Battle of Gettysburg, he was again wounded and was taken prisoner, held at Fort McKinsie, then Fort Delaware, and finally Point Lookout before being exchanged on February 13, 1865. He married Nancy Powell Moorman (1841-1916) on February 29, 1866; the couple had three children. The 1870 census shows the Winstons living and farming in Amherst County, Virginia. William H. H. Winston died while living with his daughter in Southampton County, Virginia, on March 14, 1934, and was buried in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Charles Jones Winston was born in Montgomery County, Indiana, on August 22, 1837. In early 1861, he was overseer on Hills Creek plantation in Campbell County, Virginia. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, he enlisted with his brother William in the Lynchburg Home Guard, later Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry. He remained with the regiment throughout the war, but is listed on company muster rolls as sick on October 1, 1861; wounded in action, July 3, 1863; and again wounded in action April 1, 1865. In 1867, he married Mary Elizabeth Alexander; the couple would have five children. The 1880 federal census shows the Winstons living and farming in Campbell County, Virginia. Charles J. Winston died on March 16, 1889, and was buried in Winston-Clark Family Cemetery.

Ambrose W. Winston


0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)


Letters (photocopies of transcripts) of brothers Ambrose Whitlock Winston (Company E, 58th Virginia Infantry), Charles Jones Winston (Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry), and William Henry Harrison Winston (Company G, 11th Virginia Infantry) written during the American Civil War to Clark family relatives in Campbell County, Virginia.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Winston Family Letters were donated to Special Collections and University Libraries in 1995.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Winston Family Letters by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the Winston Family Letters commenced and was completed in October, 2023.

Winston Family Letters, 1861-1865
John M. Jackson
2023 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-09-23: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US