Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918

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Robert Knox Sneden was born in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia, Canada and moved to New York City in 1851 at age 19. He received some architectural education.

Sneden left Brooklyn in 1861 to enlist in the 40th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, or the Mozart Regiment, of the Army of the Potomac. He served as a quartermaster when his regiment camped near Leesburg Turnpike. Starting from January 12, 1862, Sneden served on Samuel P. Heintzelman's III Corps staff, at first, as a draughtsman on map work, later, as a topographical engineer. On March 22, 1862, Sneden embarked with Heintzelman for the Peninsula Campaign, participating in the Battle of Williamsburg, Battle of Seven Pines, Battle of Savage's Station, and Battle of Glendale. Returning to Northern Virginia, he took part in the Second Battle of Bull Run. He was assigned to the defenses of Washington, D.C., first in Alexandria, Virginia, then at Arlington House.

In October, 1863, after the Battle of Bristoe Station, he was assigned to David B. Birney's division, participating in the Battle of Kelly's Ford.

He was assigned to the staff of general William H. French, during the abortive Battle of Mine Run.

On November 27, 1863, Sneden was captured by Confederate rangers under John S. Mosby and became a prisoner-of-war for the next thirteen months. In November 1863, he was held at a tobacco warehouse next to Libby Prison, where he suffered from typhoid fever. On February 22, 1864, after a prison escape, prisoners were shipped to a new camp in Georgia. Sneden was placed in the notorious Andersonville Prison, but continued making clandestine drawings. Altogether, he sketched scenes of prison life in Savannah and Millen, Georgia, and in Florence and Charleston, South Carolina. On December 11, 1864, he was exchanged at Charleston.

After the Civil war, although crippled from his time in Andersonville, Sneden returned to Brooklyn, where he was already declared dead or missing. He made a number of his war sketches into watercolors, leaving a legacy of close to 1000 watercolors, drawings, sketches, maps, and diagrams. Sneden contributed some of them to the Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, a series of articles published between 1884 and 1887 in The Century Magazine and then reissued as a four-volume set of books.

Sneden never married and devoted the rest of his life to preserving the Civil war memory. In 1918, Sneden died in New York State Soldiers' and Sailors' Home.

In 1994, an art dealer approached the Virginia Historical Society about a Civil War archive that had languished in a Connecticut bank vault. Robert Sneden's great-great-nephew also transferred through purchase Sneden's diary and watercolors, close to 5,000 pages of the diary entries and memoirs, and near 500 watercolors and maps.

In the fall of 2000, Sneden was rediscovered by the general public and the Civil war enthusiasts after about 300 pieces of his artwork were revealed in the Eye of the Storm exhibition and subsequent book, which became a bestseller. According to the Virginia Historical Society, it was, "the largest collection of [American] Civil War soldier art ever produced". Documentary-style images created by Sneden are considered as important historical records.

His works are currently held by the Virginia Historical Society, and also are available through the Library of Congress.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of attack on Marie's Heights, Fredericksburg, Va. or 2nd Battle of Fredericksburg. : By Maj. Genl. John Sedgwick with 6th Army Corps, Sunday, May 3rd, 1863. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Position of 3rd Army Corps at Harrison's Landing, Va., July 9th 1862. : From actual survey made for Genl. Heintzelman / by R.K. Sneden, Topog. Engr., 3rd Corps. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the Battle of Chantilly, Va., September 1st, 1862, 5 to 10 p.m. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Battle at Dranesville, Va. Decr. 20th, 1861. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Gaine's Mill, Virginia fought June 27th, 1862. / Copy of official map by engineers of Porter's Corps. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the redoubt and rifle pits ensilading [sic] the Leesburg and Fairfax turnpikes 2 miles from Alexandria, Virginia. : Built by the 38th, 40th N.Y. and 3rd Maine regiments during October and November 1861. / Planned and laid out by R.K. Sneden and Lt. Woodward and others of the 40th Mozart Regiment. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn Sneden, Private Robert Knox : [miscellaneous ephemeral material]. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the tunnel and vicinity [of Libby Prison, Richmond, Va.]. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Glendale and White Oak Swamp, Virginia : also known as Frazier's Farm and Charles City Crossroads, fought June 30th, 1862, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. The Battlefield of Williamsburg, Va. : fought 5th May 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn [New York] Sneden, Robert K - Unit: 40th Infantry, Company: E,D - Enlistment Rank: Private, Discharge Rank: Private United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of Warrenton Junction : Orange and Alexandria R.R., Virginia shewing destruction of R.R. by enemy, October 1863. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. The Rebel defences [sic] of Savannah, Georgia, Nov. 1864. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of Alexandria, Virginia. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of Andersonville Prison or "Camp Sumter," April, 1864. / Drawn by R.K. Sneden, while a prisoner there, April, 1864. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Scrapbook, 1861-1899. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of country between Yorktown and Williamsbu[rg] in Virginia. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Siege of Yorktown [Virginia]. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map showing route taken by U.S. prisoners of war, Feby. 1864, when sent from Richmond, Va., to Andersonville, Georgia. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the Union and Rebel position at Yorktown, Va., April 7th, 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Georgia. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Chancellorsville. : Virginia position, 5 p.m., 2nd May 1863. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of Popes [sic] campaign in northern Virginia, August 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
referencedIn Compiled Military Service Record of Private Robert K. Sneden, Companies D and E, 40th New York Infantry Regiment United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map shewing [sic] country opposite Harrison's Landing, Va., and position of [U.S.] Army. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. The March from Hampton to before Yorktown, Va., April 1862. : Map showing route of 3rd Army Corps. A.P. from Howard's Bridge to the sawmill, April 5 and 6th, 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Mill Spring or Logan's Cross Roads : fought January 19th, 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Va. : Showing position of both armies at 6 p.m. 29th august 1862. Virginia Historical Society Library
contributorOf Approved Pension File for Private Robert K. Sneden, Companies D and E, 40th New York Infantry Regiment (SC-437454) United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of Harrison's Landing, James River, Virginia. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Diary, 1861-1865. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of Andersonville Prison, Sumter Co., Georgia. / Drawn by R.K. Sneden, 40th N.Y. Vols. while a prisoner of war, March to Sept. 1864. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map of Mount Vernon, Virginia and vicinity : shewing [sic] Union picket lines, March 186[1]. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. The 2nd Battle of Bull Run, Va., August 1862. : Map showing position of the Union and Rebel forces, August 26th, 1862 at 7 p.m. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Salem Church or Salem Heights, Va. : Attack and repulse of the 6th Army Corps, Maj. Genl. John Sedgwick, U.S.A., afternoon of 3rd May 1863. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of part of Richmond, Virginia : showing locations of Rebel prisons [in] winter of 1863. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Plan of the battle of Savage's Station, Virginia, fought Sunday, 29th June 1862 / From engineer's official map, staff of Maj. Genl. Franklin, 6th Corps, additions by R.K. Sneden, Topgr., 3rd Corps. Virginia Historical Society Library
creatorOf Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918. Map showing the Chicahominy [sic] and James rivers and from Richmond to Harrison's Landing, Va. / From the official map made for Genl. Heintzelman by R.K. Sneden, Topgr. Virginia Historical Society Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Anderson, Richard Heron, 1821-1879. person
associatedWith Andersonville Prison. corporateBody
associatedWith Birney, David Bell, 1825-1864. person
associatedWith Castle Thunder Prison (Richmond, Va.) corporateBody
associatedWith Confederate States of America. Army corporateBody
associatedWith Confederate States of America. Army. Florida Artillery Battery, 1st. corporateBody
associatedWith Franklin, William Buel, 1823-1903. person
associatedWith French, Wm. H. (William Henry), 1815-1881. person
associatedWith Grover, Cuvier, 1828-1885. person
associatedWith Hancock, Winfield Scott, 1824-1886. person
associatedWith Heintzelman, Samuel Peter, 1805-1880. person
associatedWith Hill, D. H. (Daniel Harvey), 1821-1889. person
associatedWith Hooker, Joseph, 1814-1879. person
associatedWith Howard, O. O. (Oliver Otis), 1830-1909. person
associatedWith Kearny, Philip, 1815-1862. person
associatedWith Libby Prison. corporateBody
associatedWith McLaws, Lafayette, 1821-1897. person
associatedWith Meade, George Gordon, 1815-1872. person
associatedWith Mosby, John Singleton, 1833-1916 person
associatedWith Orange and Alexandria Railroad. corporateBody
associatedWith Pope, John, 1822-1892. person
associatedWith Porter, Fitz-John, 1822-1901. person
associatedWith Richardson, Israel Bush, 1815-1862. person
associatedWith Sedgwick, John, 1813-1864. person
associatedWith Sherman, William T. (William Tecumseh), 1820-1891. person
associatedWith Sickles, Daniel Edgar, 1825-1914. person
associatedWith Slocum, Henry Warner, 1827-1894. person
associatedWith Sykes, George, 1822-1880. person
associatedWith United States. Army. Maine Infantry Regiment, 3rd (1861-1864) corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 38th (1861-1863) corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 40th (1861-1865) corporateBody
memberOf United States. Army of the Potomac. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 11th. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 12th. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 2nd. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 3rd. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 5th. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Army of the Potomac. Corps, 6th. corporateBody
associatedWith Walker, James A. (James Alexander), 1832-1901. person
associatedWith Wirz, Henry, 1823?-1865. person
associatedWith Woodward, George, b. 1831? person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Richmond VA US
Annapolis Royal 07 CA
Georgia GA US
Brooklyn NY US
Brandy Station VA US
Alexandria VA US
South Carolina SC US
Bath NY US
Ramapo NY US
Savannah GA US
New York City NY US
Annapolis MD US
Charleston SC US
Andersonville GA US
Arlington VA US
Subject
Railroads--Maps
Seven Days' Battles, Va., 1862--Maps
Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863
Chantilly, Battle of, Va., 1862--Maps
Mill Springs, Battle of, Ky., 1862
Peninsular Campaign, 1862--Maps
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, Va., 1862--Maps
Railroads
Military hospitals--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps
Sherman's March to the Sea
Spanish--American War, 1898--Pictorial works
Salem Church, Battle of, Va., 1863
Gaines Mill (Va.), Battle of, 1862--Maps
Fortification--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps
Spanish--American War, 1898--Maps
Prisoners of war
Savage's Station (Va.), Battle of, 1862--Maps
White Oak Swamp, Battle of, Va., 1862--Maps
Williamsburg, Battle of, Williamsburg, Va., 1862--Maps
Dranesville (Fairfax County, Va.), Battle of, 1861--Maps
Bristoe Campaign (Va.), 1863
Bull Run Campaign, 2nd, 1862--Maps
Military prisons--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps
Occupation
Draftsman
Topographical engineers
Soldiers--19 century.--United States
Writer
Function

Person

Birth 1832-06-03

Death 1918-09-18

Male

Americans,

Canadians

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 16100350