The July 4, 1914 issue of the San Diego Evening Tribune called the Independence Day parade “the greatest in San Diego history.”
It had a special meaning for one particular parade marcher, according to the article by Tribune reporter George White.
“Fifty years ago today in the battle of Helena, Arkansas, Captain Jack Winscott, of the Thirty-third Missouri Infantry, was shot down with wounds in his jaw, one arm and a leg. He survived and marched today in the parade, carrying the flag for which he fought in the Civil War.”
The article went on to point out that Winscott, then 76, “has lived in San Diego twelve years,” and served as “color bearer for the G.A.R. post.”
G. A. R. stood for Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization for union veterans of the Civil War.
That wouldn’t be the first or the last time that James Clayton Winscott would appear publicly to commemorate his service and that of his civil war comrades. A notice in the May 1912 Tribune on planned Memorial Day addresses by G. A. R members at city and county public schools included this entry: “Logan Heights—Arthur E. Vest, Jerome Hopkins, James Winscott.”
Winscott was also among Union veterans onstage for a commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the Strand Theater in February 1918.
A copy of an index card from the National Archives showing Winscott’s pension history.
That card seems to show that he actually never rose above private. But the fact that he received a pension in 1887 affirms that he was injured while in service, because only injured veterans could qualify for pensions at that time.
Embellishment of his rank might perhaps reflect a somewhat itinerant family background. While he was born in Missouri, his family lived in Iowa and Illinois in his youth. After his war service, young James went on to live in Texas for a time.
We do know that after coming to San Diego in the early 1900s Winscott periodically had to be admitted for treatment at the local branch of what were then called National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.
San Diego newspaper accounts show Winscott working at carpentry and other odd jobs at least into his mid-seventies. He died in San Diego on February 24, 1928 at the age of 82.
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