Robert Knox Sneden, Diary

A Guide to the Robert Knox Sneden Diary, 1861–1865
Call Number Mss5:1 Sn237:1


Collection is open for research

Use Restrictions
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Preferred Citation
Robert Knox Sneden diary, 1861–1865 (Mss5:1 Sn237:1), Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.

Purchased with funds provided by Mr. and Mrs. Floyd D. Gottwald, Jr., Richmond, Va., in 1997. Accessioned 12 October 2000.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Robert Knox Sneden diary, 1861–1865.

Collection number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1

Size: 6 v.

Language: English

Main Entry: Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832–1918.

Abstract: This diary/memoir was prepared and bound in seven individual volumes after the Civil War by Robert Knox Sneden (1832–1918) and concerns his service in the 40th New York Infantry Regiment and as a topographical engineer in the III Corps, Army of the Potomac.

Scope and Content Information

The majority of Sneden's narrative chronicles his wartime experience in Washington, D.C., and Virginia from the summer of 1861 until the fall of 1863, including his enlistment, service as a topographical engineer, and capture by John Singleton Mosby (1833–1916) in November 1863. Sneden's subsequent life as a prisoner of war is chronicled in great detail, including his seven-month imprisonment at Andersonville Prison, ending with his exchange in December 1864 and discharge in January 1865. Sneden also includes descriptions of campaigns and battles in which he did not participate, including the war in the western theater. Of particular note are the watercolor drawings and maps rendered by Sneden that are scattered throughout the volumes to illustrate his narrative. Also included are numerous pieces of ephemera, the majority of which are bank notes (federal, Confederate, and state) accompanied by notes by Sneden on their significance to his story.


The volumes are arranged chronologically. Volume two, covering the period from 5 May to 28 June 1862, was destroyed in a fire in the late nineteenth century.

Biographical/Historical Information

Robert Knox Sneden (1832–1918) was born in Nova Scotia and later moved to New York City, where, in the summer of 1861, he enlisted in the 40th New York Infantry Regiment. Sneden served with the Army of the Potomac in Virginia during the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days' Battles and in Washington, D.C., as a topographical engineer on the staff of Maj. Gen. Samuel P. Heintzelman. In November 1863 he was captured by Mosby's Rangers and spent the next thirteen months as a prisoner of war in various Confederate prisons including Andersonville in Georgia. After his exchange in December 1864, he was discharged and returned to New York City where he compiled a diary/memoir and a scrapbook of images documenting his service in the Civil War. He died at the Soldiers Home in Bath, N.Y., in 1918.

Index Terms

Andersonville (Ga.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Maps
Antietam, Battle Of, Md., 1862
Arlington (Arlington, Va. : Estate) -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865
Bristoe Station, Battle Of, Va., 1863
Bull Run, 1st Battle Of, Va., 1861
Bull Run, 2nd Battle Of, Va., 1862
Chancellorsville, Battle Of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863
Fairfax County (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865
Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.c.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865
Fredericksburg, Battle Of, Fredericksburg, Va., 1862
Gettysburg Campaign, 1863
Heintzelman, Samuel Peter, 1805–1880
Kearney, Philip, 1815–1862
Kettell, Thomas Prentice. History of the great rebellion
Maryland Campaign, 1862
Mcclellan, George Brinton, 1826–1885 -- Military Leadership
Military Engineering -- United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865
Peninsular Campaign, 1862
Petersburg (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865
Seven Days' Battles, Va., 1862
Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832–1918
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865 -- Personal Narratives
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865 -- Prisoners And Prisons
United States. Army Of The Potomac. Corps, 3rd
United States. Army. New York Infantry Regiment, 40th (1861–1865)
Vicksburg (Miss.) -- History -- Siege, 1863
Washington (D.c.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861–1865


Volume 1, 1861 April 12–1862 May 5. (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 1)

Volume 2, 1862, May 5–June 28. Destroyed in a fire in the late nineteenth century.

Volume 3, 1862 June 29–October 25 (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 3)

Volume 4, 1862 October 26–1863 November 7. (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 4)

Volume 5, 1863 November 9–1864 August 10. (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 5)

Volume 6, 1864 September 1–1865 May. (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 6)

Volume 7, Thoms Prentice Kettrell's History of the Great Rebellion (Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 7)

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