Civil War Wiki
John David Winters
Born December 23, 1916(1916-12-23)
McCool, Attala County
Mississippi, USA
Died December 9, 1997 (aged 80)
Ruston, Lincoln Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater Louisiana State University
Occupation Historian
Professor at Louisiana Tech University,
Religion United Methodist
Spouse(s) Frances Locke Winters (married 1952-his death)
Children No children
Winters was the foremost authority on the events of the American Civil War within Louisiana though his mentor, T. Harry Williams was particularly known for the volume Lincoln and His Generals.

John David Winters (December 23, 1916–December 9, 1997)[1] was an historian at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston, Louisiana, best known for his definitive and award-winning study, The Civil War in Louisiana, still in print, published in 1963 and released in paperback in 1991.[2]


Winters was born to John David Winters, Sr. (1891-1944), and the former Estrella Fancher (1890-1958) in rural McCool in Attala County (county seat: Kosciusko) in central Mississippi but reared in Lake Providence, the seat of East Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana,[1]where his parents are interred at Lake Providence Cemetery.[3]

Winters, who did not use the designation "Jr.," was professor of history at Louisiana Tech from 1948 until his retirement in 1984.[4] He held the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He served in the Pacific Theatre of World War II.[1] On January 26, 1952, he wed the former Frances Locke (1921-2006) in her native Ashdown in Little River County in southwestern Arkansas.[5]

The Civil War in Louisiana[]

As the Louisiana Tech acquisitions librarian from 1948-1984, Mrs. Winters assisted her husband in writing The Civil War in Louisiana, a project that required years of extensive research in various historical records. In his preface to the book, Winters acknowledges his wife's assistance and also the contributions of two historians who guided him in the process, former Louisiana Tech president F. Jay Taylor, who read the manuscript, and the LSU historian T. Harry Williams, who wrote the foreward.[6] According to Williams, Winters "researched widely and deeply, in scattered and sometimes fugitive sources, and he has produced a fuller story of Louisiana in the Civil War than has ever before been told. He spreads out a full story but not a mere accumulation of facts. He has written his narrative with sympathy and humor and interest, and always with objective restraint. It is a work that should stand for many years as authoritative in its field.”[7]The Civil War in Louisiana won the 1963 Louisiana Literary Award presented by the Louisiana Library Association and the 1964 "Special Merit Book Award" from the Greater Louisiana Tech Foundation.[1][8]

Winters estimates that three thousand free blacks volunteered for militia duty in Louisiana by 1862, but two others historians, Lawrence L. Hewitt and Arthur W. Bergeron, in their Louisianians in the Civil War claim that number is too high, that no more than two thousand participated. Fifteen free blacks are documented by Hewitt and Bergeron as having joined the Confederate Army as privates.The three most prominent instances of such volunteers were in St. Landry Parish in south Louisiana.[9][10]

Historical career[]

From 1977 until his retirement in 1984, Winters was the first recipient and holder of the Garnie W. McGinty Chair of History, named for the former Louisiana Tech history department chairman. In 1991, Winters was named Louisiana Tech professor emeritus.[1] Louisiana Tech also honored Winters by naming an "Endowed Professorship in History" after him.[11]There is also an endowed professorship at Louisiana named for Winters' colleague, William Y. Thompson, a specialist in the history of the American South as well as the Civil War.

In 1968, Winters was elected president of the Louisiana Historical Association, now based in Lafayette. He was named a fellow by the association in 1993.[12]He was also active in other historical societies.[1]Winters won awards in 1975 and 1980, respectively, from the Daughters of the American Revolution and Amoco Oil Company, the latter for excellence in undergraduate education.[1]

In 1980, Winters and Danelle Bradford co-authored "Seventy-Eight Years of Football at Louisiana Tech" in the North Louisiana Historical Association Journal, since renamed North Louisiana History.[13]Winters also wrote an article on the Ouachita and Black rivers of Louisiana.[14]

In 1994, Winters participated in the Centennial Oral History Collection at Louisiana Tech. In this hour-long conversation, he discusses his varied experiences on the campus, the impact of desegregation in the 1960s, the impact of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and his own participation in the Louisiana Tech-Rome studies program.[15]

In civic matter, Winters served on the board of directors for the Ruston Community Theatre and the Louisiana Tech Concert Association. He was a past president of the Ruston Civic Symphony.[1]


Winters died at Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston at the age of eighty. He was survived by his wife Frances and two sisters-in-law, Doris M. Winters (1917-2004) of Lake Providence and Elizabeth Winters of Garland, Texas. He was predeceased by two brothers, one of whom was Doris' husband, Henry F. Winters (1915-1987). Frances Winters died some eight years after his passing. They were cremated. His memorial service was held on December 11, 1997, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ruston.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 John D. Winters obituary, Ruston Daily Leader, December 10, 1997
  2. "The Civil War in Louisiana". Retrieved June 13, 2010. 
  3. "Lake Providence Cemetery". Retrieved July 3, 2010. 
  4. "Communique: A Publication of the State Library of Louisiana"., January 2007. Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  5. Family Search Record Search "Discover Your Ancestors"; also confirmed by Owens Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Ruston, Louisiana
  6. John D. Winters, The Civil War in Louisiana, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 1963, ISBN: 0-8071-0834-0, pp. xvi-xii
  7. "The Civil War in Louisiana". Retrieved June 12, 2010. 
  8. Winters' work contains few dates by years but abounds with months and days. Dates given without occasional years are confusing to those using his book as a reference. He begins new chapters without using the year of the events. He does not clearly identify whether a military officer is Union or Confederate, and he sometimes omits the rank of the officer. He does not clearly identify some of the place names, which makes the specifics unclear to those outside of an immediate geographic area. He does not repeat first names of lesser-known military officers, which may require the reader to check constantly in the index and backtrack to refresh his memory of the particular individual. Winters' prose style reflects the human factors involved in war, and he delves into subjects not always covered in standard narratives. The work is particularly quotable and though fully factual goes beyond mere citing of facts.
  9. "Lawrence L. Hewitt and Arthur W. Bergeron, Louisianians in the Civil War". Google Books. Retrieved June 16, 2010. 
  10. Winters, p. 21
  11. "Board of Regents awards". Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  12. "Louisiana Historical Association Company of Fellows". Retrieved June 4, 2010. 
  13. "Jim Sumner, Football in History Journals, 1970-1988". 
  14. "Twelve Years a Slave: By Solomon Northup". Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  15. "Louisiana Tech University, Centennial Oral History Collection, 1994-1995".,+MS+%2B+Ruston,+LA&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. Retrieved June 18, 2010. 

Template:Start box |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
Leonard V. Huber |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of the Louisiana Historical Association John David Winters
|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Henry W. Morris |- |}