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Sneden aimed for vivid detail and documentary accuracy in his maps, landscapes, battles, and scenes of camp life. He sketched the camps and surroundings of the Union army, the siege of Yorktown, the battle of Williamsburg, the approach of the army to within sight of the church spires of Richmond, and the tumultuous fighting retreat of the Seven Days' battles as the Union army shrank before a relentless Confederate offensive. He drew dozens of maps and sketched daily life around Washington, D.C., before his capture in autumn 1863.
For the next thirteen months, Sneden was a prisoner of the Confederacy. In a drafty tobacco warehouse in Richmond, he sketched prison life and Confederate scenes before being packed with others aboard cattle cars for a jolting train ride south. In a remote corner of rural Georgia, he survived the outdoor prison at Andersonville and drew some of his most astonishing images of camp life and its suffering. When Andersonville was evacuated, he continued to make secret pencil sketches of Confederate prisons in Savannah and Millen, Georgia, and in Florence and Charleston, South Carolina.
Finally freed in a massive prisoner exchange in Charleston harbor, he returned home to New York at Christmas 1864. He made little use of his architectural training thereafter, but devoted himself to compiling his memoir of the war and converting his pencil sketches into watercolors. A solitary man who never married, Sneden died at an old soldiers' home in Bath, New York, in 1918. His watercolors and his story were forgotten for nearly a century. Images from the Storm reproduces the best of Sneden's art in sharp colors, so we can appreciate fully the mastery of a miniaturist who saw it all, and sketched whenever and wherever he could.
Library of Congress subject headings for this publication: United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Pictorial works, United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Art and the war, Historic sites United States Pictorial works, Historic buildings United States Pictorial works, Sneden, Robert Knox, 1832-1918 Quotations, United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Personal narratives