Otis Winn was born on May 16, 1816 to Peter and Lucena Winn in Utica, New York. He worked as an operator in a mill. He married Lydia Coombs of New Bedford, MA in 1862. After they were married they moved to Franklin MA where they welcomed their first and only child George Otis Winn in 1856. He joined the 35th Massachusetts Infantry, Company A in 1862. With the 35th, he fought in the Battles of South Mountain, Antietam, and Fredericksburg.
The Thirty-Fifth Massachusetts was organized in Worcester, Massachusetts. It started recruiting men from July until early August. Most of the men who enlisted in the 35th were from eastern Massachusetts. The 35th left to join the war August 22 under Col. Edward A. Wild. They reached Washington D.C on August 24th. On September 8th they were assigned to Ferrero’s second Brigade, Sturgis’ Second Division, and Reno’s Ninth Corps. Otis Winn and the other 35th members became a part of the Army of the Potomac under General George B. McClellan. With the Army of the Potomac, Otis and the rest of the 35th engaged in some of the major battles of the Civil War.
On September 14, 1862, Otis Winn and the 35th Regiment participated in their first battle together, the battle of South Mountain. General McClellan had obtained General Lee’s plans called special order 191. In the special order Lee planned to surround 12,000 men at Harper’s ferry. McClellan planned to stop this from happening so he sent troops to the base of the mountain, this included the 35th Mass. The troops charged up the mountain all day until night time when General Lee stopped firing. The next day an attack was not renewed right away by the Union. Because of that, Harpers Ferry fell to the Confederates on September 15, 1862. The first battle Winn and the 35th Regiment fought in they lost to the Confederates, but this would be nothing compared to the next battle he would fight in.
The next battle Otis Winn fought in was Antietam. On September 17, Otis would fight under Colonel Ferrero. They crossed a bridge and moved right up the hill. The 35th Mass lost 214 men. The Union had a powerful advantage in numbers against the Confederates but no follow up was made. This caused the battle to be a draw. The ending results were 32,100 dead. This became the United States’ bloodiest battle in history.
After Antietam Otis Winn and the 35th Mass traveled to Fredericksburg to fight in the Battle of Fredericksburg. This was the first battle the Army of the Potomac fought in after General McClellan was fired and replaced by General Ambrose Burnside. Burnside moved 120,000 troops to Fredericksburg, including Winn. The rapid movement by Burnside threw General Lee off. Lee split his troops in half, leaving Stonewall Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, and sent General Longstreet to face the Union troops at Culpeper. On the day of the battle Burnside had his artillery chief fire into Fredericksburg for two hours. He also had volunteers from Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York get in boats and row themselves across the river and charge Burksdale’s marksmen. This Battle was the last one Otis Winn would fight in.
On March 6, 1863 Otis Winn Died at the age of 46 in Alexandria, Virginia. Winn died of Consumption, also known as Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that infects mostly the lungs, but other organs and body parts can be involved. He left behind a wife and son to fend for themselves. Today you can visit his grave in City Mill Cemetery in Franklin, M.A. Even though Otis Winn seems like a minor part in the Civil War he volunteered to put his life on the line for his country and died for his country.