|Incorporating the double meaning for "dead of winter" is brilliant! It draws attention right away to the heart of what you want to portray in your scene. Makes for a very appropriate title as well.
The bit with the attraction/repulsion to the bonfire is also nice technique. The fire encompasses the same dual meaning as your title. Nicely done.
The contrast with how the dead would normally be handled is a good way to reference the civil war: "but these were not normal times."
The part that lost me for a bit was where you talk about Kiel's company approching the village. For one, you backtrack in time and that takes a second to register. Part of the problem is the reference to "the company of armed, mounted men" is not obviously inclusive of Kiel. Then there is the phrase "drawing nearer." I think of a thing as drawing nearer to the observer, rather than the observer drawing nearer to something else. Probably just me, since I can't think of why it would be incorrect to use it your way. I vaguely recall some rule about come/go usage but that doesn't apply here. Anyway, it was confusing at first as to who "the company" was, and if the village was a new one or the same as at the beginning.
I like the part about Kiel feeling useless, until the part about "no spells could find the elusive band." I think that calls for some more explanation as to why he is not able to use his spells to help find the rebels. Instead I would focus on feeling useless in the immediate situation at hand, dealing with the aftermath of coming too late to the village. It's the differnece between "why did I come along at all?" and "I can't help this village, so let me focus on divining the rebel camp so this doesn't happen again."
Three other points:
* "On this cold, cold afternoon..." Sometimes I think repitition is good for effect, but in this case if you want to stress the cold I would throw in some other adjective. "Bitter cold" wouldn't be very original, but something like that.
* "As scouts were sent to look for survivors and the rebel trail, the rest of the men were sent gather up the bodies." Rather than have men "sent" to do this and "sent" to do that, I would put the action on the men rather than on the "sender" and describe their "scouting" and "gathering." Doesn't have to be any more than the one sentence, but would provide a more immediate view of their actions rather than just their orders.
* You use both Kiel and Keil (at the beginning) in this piece