"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
Next event
Featured Promotion

Give a Gift of Membership, and you and your recipient will receive a 2014 special-edition ornament.

2014 special-edition pineapple ornament
Stop by the VHS museum shop and see a few of our favorite things #ShopRVA #ShopVA t.co/FCNyL6BPtc

Civil War Journey: The Maps and Sketches of Private Robert Sneden

Civil War Journey: The Maps and Sketches of Private Robert Sneden is a traveling exhibition organized by the VHS to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

This traveling exhibition features eyewitness accounts and images from Union soldier Robert Knox Sneden’s (1832–1918) memoir, showcasing forty-five of his watercolor maps and drawings that provide a unique and mesmerizing perspective on the Civil War. Seldom has one been invited into the heart and soul of such an important historical event as Sneden does through his imagery and personal accounts.

The Sneden collection is one of the premier treasures in the 8.5 million-object collection at the Virginia Historical Society. It consists of a 5,000-page memoir and 1,000 watercolors that include views of battles and battlefields, maps, and depictions of military life during the Civil War.

Sneden was a Union soldier who served as a mapmaker in the Army of the Potomac. His scrapbooks came to light in 1993 after spending more than sixty years in a bank vault. Additional research led to the discovery in 1997 of the five-volume memoir in a storage unit outside Tucson, Arizona.
 
With the exception of a few watercolors in the collection of the New-York Historical Society, the VHS is the sole steward of the Sneden artwork and writings. More information about the collection can be found in the online.

Traveling Schedule 

On display at Manassas Museum, Manassas, VA from June 1-August 30, 2014.

  • The VHS is currently booking venues for three-month display periods. Any interested museums should contact Rebecca A. Rose, Registrar, with a facility report at rrose@vahistorical.org.
  • View prospectus

Related Resources

Rebecca Rose

Rebecca Rose, Registrar

Do you have a question about traveling exhibitions?  Are you interested in booking our exhibition for your venue?  Contact me at rrose@vahistorical.org or 804.342.9679.

Encampment of the 40th New York at Yonkers, N.Y., July 1861 Enter Fullscreen More information
Encampment of the 40th New York at Yonkers, N.Y., July 1861
“A large field was then selected about a mile from the landing. Tents were sent up from New York, [and] the regiment went into camp [and] for the first time . . . they had ample room for all military [activities].” (June 7, 1861) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 1 p. 121)
Headquarters of Gen. John Sedgwick, Leesburg Turnpike, January 1862 Enter Fullscreen More information
Headquarters of Gen. John Sedgwick, Leesburg Turnpike, January 1862
“The snow is yet on the ground, about six inches deep, but the wagon wheels on the roads cut this up and churns it into filthy red paste. All the cavalry who return from picket [duty] are splashed with this filthy, vile smelling compound from head to foot.” (January 5, 1862) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 1 p. 357)
View of Yorktown, Va., with Union observation balloon Enter Fullscreen More information
View of Yorktown, Va., with Union observation balloon, April 1862
“General Heintzelman selected Howe’s Sawmill for his headquarters on the right center of the line” (April 6, 1862). “[Professor Lowe’s] balloon went up for the first time this afternoon. Thousands of soldiers swarmed out from their camps in the woods to see it.” (April 9, 1862) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 1 p. 587)
Map of the country between Yorktown and Williamsburg in May 1862 Enter Fullscreen More information
Map of the country between Yorktown and Williamsburg, May 1862
Sneden’s map shows the portion of the Virginia between Yorktown and Williamsburg. Following the clash at Williamsburg on May 5th, the Confederates retreated to the Richmond defenses. The battle of Seven Pines on May 31, fought on the outskirts of Richmond, decided little, but the Confederate commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, was wounded late on the thirty-first. (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 1 p. 811)
Battle of Savage's Station, Va., June 29, 1862 Enter Fullscreen More information
Battle of Savage's Station, Va., June 29, 1862
“After the Rebels had sustained their first repulse . . . a shrill locomotive whistle was heard up the railroad. . . . And soon appeared, coming down the track towards us, a nondescript car, which was roofed over at sides with railroad iron set at an angle, and from which projected a heavy gun.” (June 29, 1862) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 3 p. 39)
Map of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Va., August 30, 1862 Enter Fullscreen More information
Map of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Va., August 30, 1862
According to Sneden’s note, “[t]he whole Union forces recrossed Bull Run from 8 p.m. to midnight of 30th Aug., and took up position at Centreville.” His map of Second Bull Run (Manassas) shows the two armies as they appeared at the end of the battle before the Union retreat began. (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 3 p. 525)
Miller's House, Brandy Station, Va., 3rd Corps HQ, November 26, 1863 Enter Fullscreen More information
Miller's House, Brandy Station, Va., 3rd Corps HQ, November 26, 1863
“Several log houses were in close proximity to Miller’s house, which had been slave quarters. The staff of General W. H. French occupied the whole front ground of the rising knoll” (November 26, 1863). Early on November 27, after most of French’s staff had left, John S. Mosby’s Rangers captured Sneden and a handful of other soldiers at the house. (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 5 p. 52)
Malvern House Enter Fullscreen More information
View of The Malvern House
Battle of Malvern Hill, Va., 1 July 1862.
View of Sneden's shanty at Andersonville Prison, July 1864 Enter Fullscreen More information
View of Sneden's shanty at Andersonville Prison, July 1864
“The camp [at Andersonville] was not laid out in any order or shape, everyone had built his tent or shanty where he thought would be a good place, all along the road which ran from the north gate straight through the camp.” (March 1, 1864) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 5 p. 415)
Rebel Prison at Savannah, Ga., October 1864 Enter Fullscreen More information
Rebel Prison at Savannah, Ga., October 1864
“We were marched past the waterworks . . . thence to the South Common; where a large new stockade loomed up before us. We were kept closed up. . . . Several villainous looking Rebel officers were at the entrance gate to the pen and yelled to hasten the column.” (September 18, 1864) (VHS call number: Mss5:1 Sn237:1 v. 6 p. 18)
Plan of Camp Lawton Prison near Millen, Ga., November 1864 Enter Fullscreen More information
Plan of Camp Lawton Prison near Millen, Ga., November 1864
“I walked around the prescribed limits today. . . . [and] made a careful plan of the grounds and stockade” (November 12, 1864). In 2009, Georgia Southern University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology began a project to investigate the site of Camp Lawton. Archaeologists used Sneden’s drawings to help identify the likely location of the camp stockade. (VHS accession number: 1994.80.369)
Encampment of the 40th New York at Yonkers, N.Y., July 1861
Encampment of the 40th New York at Yonkers
Headquarters of Gen. John Sedgwick, Leesburg Turnpike, January 1862
Headquarters of Gen.
View of Yorktown, Va., with Union observation balloon
View of Yorktown, Va., with Union observat
Map of the country between Yorktown and Williamsburg in May 1862
Map of the country between Yorktown and Wi
Battle of Savage's Station, Va., June 29, 1862
Battle of Savage's Station, Va., June
Map of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Va., August 30, 1862
Map of the Second Battle of Bull Run, Va.,
Miller's House, Brandy Station, Va., 3rd Corps HQ, November 26, 1863
Miller's House, Brandy Station, Va.,
Malvern House
View of The Malvern House
View of Sneden's shanty at Andersonville Prison, July 1864
View of Sneden's shanty at Andersonvi
Rebel Prison at Savannah, Ga., October 1864
Rebel Prison at Savannah, Ga., October 186
Plan of Camp Lawton Prison near Millen, Ga., November 1864
Plan of Camp Lawton Prison near Millen, Ga

You might also be interested in