Corporal Timothy Matthias Snyder — A Patriot’s Great-Grandson and Telephone Pioneer’s Father

American Revolutionary War Patriot Johann Nicholas Schneider, great-grandfather of Civil War soldier Timothy Matthias Snyder, was an organizer in 1778 of Himmel’s Lutheran Church in Rebuck, Pennsylvania, and of its 1818 replacement with this stone building (circa 1899, public domain).

He was a simple carpenter whose life was neither easy, nor long. But his impact on those around him was lasting, inspiring generations of descendants to preserve their nation’s hard-won freedoms while bettering their communities and world. He was Timothy Matthias Snyder, a veteran of America’s Civil War, and he was also the great-grandfather of this website’s founder.

Formative Years

Born on 27 March 1840 in Rebuck, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Timothy Matthias Snyder was a great-grandson of Revolutionary War Patriot and Lancaster-Berks County native, Johann Nicholas Schneider, and his wife, Anna Maria (Bordner) Schneider, and a son of Perry County native, Elisabeth Christina (Montelius) Schneider (1816-1871), and Northumberland County native, Johannes Matthias Schneider (1815-1863), who was known in later life as John M. Schneider.

Note: Johann Nicholas Schneider was born in Lancaster County’s Tulpehocken Settlement [in what is now Berks County, Pennsylvania], and was “the first of the [Schneider] family in Northumberland county,” according to Floyd’s Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County:

He settled in what is now Upper Mahanoy township, being one of the very early settlers of the valley. He was a farmer by occupation, and lived on the farm [later owned by Andrew Geist in 1911], the original place comprising a large acreage. He was born Sept. 10, 1749, and died Oct. 28, 1821; his wife Anna Maria, born Nov. 25, 1756, died Dec. 23, 1827. They are buried at Himmel’s Church…. Johann Nicholas Schneider and his family were Lutherans, and in 1778 helped to organize Himmel’s Church, and in 1818 he assisted in the building of the new church, the old log structure being replaced by one of stone…. The early members of the family were all good singers, and they were not only active in the church and in the choir but also in the singing schools held at that day. To Johann Nicholas and Anna Maria Schneider were born six children: Johan Jacob, Johan Peter, Abraham, George, Maria Christina [who wed Abraham Geist], and Anna Catharine [who wed Georg Erdman].

A Patriot during the American Revolution, Johann N. Schneider fought under Captain Thomas Koppenheffer [alternate spelling “Koppenhaver”] with his fellow volunteer soldiers from the Bethel area of Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties as part of the battalion commanded by Colonel Timothy Green. Captain Koppenheffer’s company mustered in at Lancaster on 12 August 1776, and encamped “in the Jerseys,” according to historian and Civil War surgeon William Henry Egle, M.D. Records from the Daughters of the American Revolution also confirm John N. Schneider’s service and that his rank was that of Private.

His second son, Johan Peter Schneider (1782-1841), was a farmer who resided in Washington Township, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Maria Gertraud (Maurer) Schneider (1779-1844), and their children, including son Johannes Matthias Schneider—the father of Timothy Matthias Snyder.

Baptized as Timotheus Matthias Schneider on 25 April 1840 at Himmel’s Lutheran Church in Rebuck, Timothy M. Snyder’s given name and surname were anglicized sometime around the start of America’s Civil War.

According to the 1840 U.S. Census, Timothy Snyder resided in Northumberland County’s Upper Mahanoy Township with his parents and sister, Charlotte, who had been born on 29 April 1838. That same decade, Timothy and his older sister welcomed the arrival of additional siblings: Johannes Matthias (1842-1862), Ellis Arlee (1844-1919), Peter (1847-1879), and Emma J. (born sometime around 1849).

By 1850, the Schneider family was documented by the federal census taker as residing in Jackson Township, Northumberland County, where family patriarch John worked his farm. Sometime around 1855, Timothy Snyder’s older sister, Charlotte, wed and began a new family life in Schuylkill County with William S. Ditzler (1835-1906).

Civil War Military Service

Camp Curtin (Harper’s Weekly, 1861, public domain).

A 21-year-old resident of the Borough of Sunbury by 1861, Timothy Snyder had grown up to become a carpenter. Like many other Northumberland County natives during that winter, he and his younger brothers monitored the splintering of America’s foundation as one state after another followed South Carolina in seceding from the United States. In mid-April, he watched as neighbors and friends marched off to help defend the nation’s capital following the fall of Fort Sumter. Before the summer was over, he too was headed to war, becoming one of the early responders to President Abraham Lincoln’s requests for volunteers to preserve America’s union when he enrolled for military service in Sunbury on 19 August 1861. Officially mustering in for duty at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 2 September 1861, he became a Private with Company C of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

* Note: Enrolled at Northumberland County, Pennsylvania in August 1861, Company C of the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, was more commonly known as the Sunbury Guards because it was largely composed of men from that area’s longtime militia organization bearing the same name. Many of these same men had reenlisted after having already performed their Three Months’ Service with the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteers from April to late July 1861 in response to Fort Sumter’s fall to Confederate forces.

Led by Sunbury attorney John Peter Shindel Gobin, Company C of the 47th Pennsylvania was designated as the color-bearer unit, charged with protecting the national and regimental flags. Among Company C’s ranks were both the youngest and oldest members of the regiment—drummer boy John Boulton Young (aged 12) and Benjamin Walls (aged 65), a gentleman farmer from Juniata County, Pennsylvania who was appointed as the regiment’s Color-Bearer Sergeant.

Military records at the time of the 47th Pennsylvania’s mustering in described Private Timothy M. Snyder as a 5 feet, 9½-inch tall carpenter from Sunbury who had sandy hair, gray eyes and a light complexion. Throughout much of his military career and later life, he was known by his nickname “Tim.”

An update by Company C’s captain (Sunbury American, 14 September 1861, public domain).

By 17 September 1861, according to Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin, a total of 101 men had officially mustered in for service with Company C of the 47th Pennsylvania. In a letter home, Gobin detailed the regiment’s status:

We expect to leave tonight for Washington or Baltimore. Our company has been made the color company of the regiment, the letter being accorded to rotation used, C. It is the same as E in the 11th. Wm. M. Hendricks has been appointed Sergeant Major, so that Sunbury is pretty well represented in the regiment, having the Quartermaster, Sergeant Major and Color Company…. Boulton is lying by me as I write, just about going to sleep.

During their basic training, which was based on Hardee’s manual of rifle and light infantry tactics, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were housed at Camp Curtin No. 2 (on a field next to the main camp) before being sent by train to Washington, D.C. Beginning 21 September, they were stationed roughly two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on the Kalorama Heights near Georgetown—described as “a very fine location for a camp” by Gobin. “Good water is handy, while Rock Creek, which skirts one side of us, affords an excellent place for washing and bathing.”

The next day, fellow C Company member Henry Wharton penned an update to their hometown newspaper, the Sunbury American:

After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.

After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.

We were reviewed by Gen. McClellan yesterday [21 September 1861] without our knowing it. All along the march we noticed a considerable number of officers, both mounted and on foot; the horse of one of the officers was so beautiful that he was noticed by the whole regiment, in fact, so wrapt [sic] up were they in the horse, the rider wasn’t noticed, and the boys were considerably mortified this morning on dis-covering they had missed the sight of, and the neglect of not saluting the soldier next in command to Gen. Scott.

Col. Good, who has command of our regiment, is an excellent man and a splendid soldier. He is a man of very few words, and is continually attending to his duties and the wants of the Regiment.

I am happy to inform you that our young townsman, Mr. William Hendricks, has received the appointment of Sergeant Major to our Regiment. He made his first appearance at guard mounting this morning; he looked well, done up his duties admirably, and, in time, will make an excellent officer. Our Regiment will now be put to hard work; such as drilling and the usual business of camp life, and the boys expect and hope an occasional ‘pop’ at the enemy.

Chain Bridge across the Potomac above Georgetown looking toward Virginia (The Illustrated London News, 1861, public domain).

Private Tim Snyder and the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were then formally mustered into the U.S. Army on 24 September. Three days later, they were assigned to the 3rd Brigade of Brigadier-General Isaac Ingalls Stevens, which also included the 33rd, 49th and 79th New York regiments. By that afternoon, the Mississippi Rifle-armed 47th Pennsylvanians were on the move again. Ordered onward by Brigadier-General Silas Casey, they marched behind their regimental band until reaching Camp Lyon, Maryland on the Potomac River’s eastern shore. At 5 p.m., they joined the 46th Pennsylvania in moving double-quick (165 steps per minute using 33-inch steps) across the “Chain Bridge” marked on federal maps, and continued on for roughly another mile before being ordered to make camp.

The next morning, they broke camp and moved again. Marching toward Falls Church, Virginia, they arrived at Camp Advance around dusk. There, about two miles from the bridge they had crossed a day earlier, they re-pitched their tents in a deep ravine near a new federal fort under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). Having completed a roughly eight-mile trek and situated close to the headquarters of Brigadier-General William Farrar Smith, they were now part of the massive Army of the Potomac (“Mr. Lincoln’s Army:). Under Smith’s leadership, they would help to defend the nation’s capital through late January 1862.

Once again, Company C Musician Henry Wharton recapped their activities, via a 29 September letter home to the Sunbury American:

On Friday last we left Camp Kalorama, and the same night encamped about one mile from the Chain Bridge on the opposite side of the Potomac from Washington. The next morning, Saturday, we were ordered to this Camp [Camp Advance near Fort Ethan Allen, Virginia], one and a half miles from the one we occupied the night previous. I should have mentioned that we halted on a high hill (on our march here) at the Chain Bridge, called Camp Lyon, but were immediately ordered on this side of the river. On the route from Kalorama we were for two hours exposed to the hardest rain I ever experienced. Whew, it was a whopper; but the fellows stood it well – not a murmur – and they waited in their wet clothes until nine o’clock at night for their supper. Our Camp adjoins that of the N.Y. 79th (Highlanders.)….

We had not been in this Camp more than six hours before our boys were supplied with twenty rounds of ball and cartridge, and ordered to march and meet the enemy; they were out all night and got back to Camp at nine o’clock this morning, without having a fight. They are now in their tents taking a snooze preparatory to another march this morning…. I don’t know how long the boys will be gone, but the orders are to cook two days’ rations and take it with them in their haversacks….

There was a nice little affair came off at Lavensville [sic], a few miles from here on Wednesday last; our troops surprised a party of rebels (much larger than our own.) killing ten, took a Major prisoner, and captured a large number of horses, sheep and cattle, besides a large quantity of corn and potatoes, and about ninety six tons of hay….

Sometime during this phase of duty, as part of the 3rd Brigade, the 47th Pennsylvanians were moved to a site they initially christened “Camp Big Chestnut” (due to a neighboring chestnut tree). The site would eventually become known to the Keystone Staters as “Camp Griffin,” and was located roughly 10 miles from Washington, D.C.

On 11 October, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads. In a letter home, Captain Gobin reported that the regiment’s right wing (companies A, C, D, F and I) was ordered to picket duty after the left wing’s companies (B, G, K, E, and H) were forced to return to camp by Confederate  troops:

I was ordered to take my company to Stewart’s house, drive the Rebels from it, and hold it at all hazards. It was about 3 o’clock in the morning, so waiting until it was just getting day, I marched 80 men up; but the Rebels had left after driving Capt. Kacy’s company [H] into the woods. I took possession of it, and stationed my men, and there we were for 24 hours with our hands on our rifles, and without closing an eye. I took ten men, and went out scouting within half a mile of the Rebels, but could not get a prisoner, and we did not dare fire on them first … had ten men with me who could whip a hundred; Brosius, Piers [sic], Harp and McEwen were among the number. Every man in the company wanted to go. The Rebels did not attack us, and if they had they would have met with a warm reception, as I had my men posted in such a manner that I could have whipped a regiment. My men were all ready and anxious for a “fight.”

In his own letter on 13 October, Henry Wharton observed that:

The location of our camp is fine and the scenery would be splendid if the view was not obstructed by heavy thickets of pine and innumerable chesnut [sic] trees. The country around us is excellent for the Rebel scouts to display their bravery; that is, to lurk in the dense woods and pick off one of our unsuspecting pickets. Last night, however, they (the Rebels) calculated wide of their mark; some of the New York 33d boys were out on picket; some fourteen or fifteen shots were exchanged, when our side succeeded in bringing to the dust, (or rather mud,) an officer and two privates of the enemy’s mounted pickets. The officer was shot by a Lieutenant in Company H [?], of the 33d.

Our own boys have seen hard service since we have been on the ‘sacred soil.’ One day and night on picket, next day working on entrenchments at the Fort, (Ethan Allen.) another on guard, next on march and so on continually, but the hardest was on picket from last Thursday morning ‘till Saturday morning – all the time four miles from camp, and both of the nights the rain poured in torrents, so much so that their clothes were completely saturated with the rain. They stood it nobly – not one complaining; but from the size of their haversacks on their return, it is no wonder that they were satisfied and are so eager to go again tomorrow. I heard one of them say ‘there was such nice cabbage, sweet and Irish potatoes, turnips, &c., out where their duty called them, and then there was a likelihood of a Rebel sheep or young porker advancing over our lines and then he could take them as ‘contraband’ and have them for his own use.’ When they were out they saw about a dozen of the Rebel cavalry and would have had a bout with them, had it not been for…unlucky circumstance – one of the men caught the hammer of his rifle in the strap of his knapsack and caused his gun to fire; the Rebels heard the report and scampered in quick time….

But sadness was just around the corner. On 17 October 1861, death claimed the regiment’s first member when drummer boy John Boulton Young died from Variola (smallpox). In the aftermath, Captain Gobin penned additional letters home:

The government has supplied them with one blanket apiece, which, as the cold weather approaches, is not sufficient…. Some of my men have none, two of them, Theodore Kiehl and Robert McNeal, having given theirs to our lamented drummer boy when he was taken sick… Each [Sunbury family] can give at least one blanket, (no matter what color, although we would prefer dark,) and never miss it, while it would add to the comfort of the soldiers tenfold. Very frequently while on picket duty their overcoats and blankets are both saturated by the rain. They must then wait until they can dry them by the fire before they can take their rest.

Shortly thereafter, Captain Gobin penned another letter home to express his appreciation for a package that had been hand-delivered by an officer’s wife:

I have not tried that Brandy yet, but am very grateful for it. After being out on the picket in the rain for 24 hours, a little of it is worth a fortune. Tell Mrs. Snyder I will think of her kindness every time I take a drink. You know I will not abuse it, or disgrace myself… I had all my men vaccinated, and myself too. Mine took well, and my arm is getting very sore. [Bill Hendricks] arm is very sore, and he is quite sick tonight from it. I think we have blocked it completely.

On Friday morning, 22 October, the 47th engaged in a Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” In early November, Captain Gobin reported that “the health of the Company and Regiment are in the best condition. No cases of small pox have appeared since the death of Boultie.”

That month, half of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers (including C Company men) were ordered to join parts of the 33rd Maine and 46th New York in extending the reach of divisional picket lines. They did—to “a half mile beyond Lewinsville”—according to Gobin. In a letter on 17 November, Henry Wharton revealed more details about life at Camp Griffin:

This morning our brigade was out for inspection; arms, accoutrements [sic], clothing, knapsacks, etc, all were out through a thorough examination, and if I must say it myself, our company stood best, A No. 1, for cleanliness. We have a new commander to our Brigade, Brigadier General Brannen [sic], of the U.S. Army, and if looks are any criterion, I think he is a strict disciplinarian and one who will be as able to get his men out of danger as he is willing to lead them to battle….

The boys have plenty of work to do, such as piquet [sic] duty, standing guard, wood-chopping, police duty and day drill; but then they have the most substantial food; our rations consist of fresh beef (three times a week) pickled pork, pickled beef, smoked pork, fresh bread, daily, which is baked by our own bakers, the Quartermaster having procured portable ovens for that purpose, potatoes, split peas, beans, occasionally molasses and plenty of good coffee, so you see Uncle Sam supplies us plentifully….

A few nights ago our Company was out on piquet [sic]; it was a terrible night, raining very hard the whole night, and what made it worse, the boys had to stand well to their work and dare not leave to look for shelter. Some of them consider they are well paid for their exposure, as they captured two ancient muskets belonging to Secessia. One of them is of English manufacture, and the other has the Virginia militia mark on it. They are both in a dilapidated condition, but the boys hold them in high estimation as they are trophies from the enemy, and besides they were taken from the house of Mrs. Stewart, sister to the rebel Jackson who assassinated the lamented Ellsworth at Alexandria. The honorable lady, Mrs. Stewart, is now a prisoner at Washington and her house is the headquarters of the command of the piquets [sic]….

Since the success of the secret expedition, we have all kinds of rumors in camp. One is that our Brigade will be sent to the relief of Gen. Sherman, in South Carolina….

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

On 21 November, the 47th Pennsylvanians participated in a morning divisional headquarters review, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. According to historian Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.” Afterward, Brigadier-Generals Smith and Brannan informed regimental leaders “that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.”

As a reward for their outstanding performance, Brannan directed his staff to ensure that new Springfield rifles were obtained and distributed to every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

A holiday surprise for the 47th (Sunbury American, 21 December 1861, public domain).

As fall turned to winter that first year of the Civil War, several officers were able to secure approved furloughs, enabling them to return home to Pennsylvania for brief visits with loved ones and to perform tasks on behalf of their fellow soldiers. One such man was Regimental Quartermaster James Van Dyke, a former sheriff of the Borough of Sunbury.

While at home, he arranged for the procurement and shipment south to the 47th Pennsylvania of “various articles of comfort, for the inner as well as the outer man.” Upon his return to camp, he carried an even bigger surprise—a sizable supply of sauerkraut—the equivalent of “comfort food” for the German and German-American members of the regiment.


When the 47th Pennsylvania was ordered to the Deep South, Sunbury families traveled to bid them farewell (Sunbury American, 18 January 1862, public domain).

Having been ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland after the start of the New Year, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862. Marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles to the railroad station at Falls Church, they were sent by train to Alexandria. There, they boarded the steamship City of Richmond, and sailed the Potomac to the Washington Arsenal, where they were reequipped and marched off again for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat.

The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped onto Baltimore & Ohio Railroad cars and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. Then, from Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862), they loaded their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.

During the afternoon of 27 January, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ferried by smaller steamers to the Oriental with the officers boarding last. At 4 p.m., per the directive of Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan, they steamed away for Florida.

Rendering of Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida (Harper’s Weekly, 1864, public domain).

They arrived in Key West, Florida in early February 1862. Assigned to garrison duty at Fort Taylor, they drilled daily in heavy artillery and other military tactics, felled trees, built new roads, and helped to strengthen the installation’s fortifications. On Friday, 14 February, the regiment introduced itself to Key West residents via a parade through the city’s streets. That Sunday, the men also mingled with locals at area church services. But once again, disease became a constant companion and foe.

Next ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina from mid-June through July, the regiment camped near Fort Walker before quartering in the Beaufort District, Department of the South. Frequently assigned to hazardous picket detail north of the main camp, the 47th Pennsylvanians garnered respect for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing,” and “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan,” according to historian Samuel P. Bates.

During this phase of duty, members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers helped to free a number of Black men from enslavement at plantations in and around the Beaufort area, several of whom opted to enroll for military duty with the regiment—making the 47th Pennsylvania one of the earliest regiments to be racially integrated. (The 47th would continue this practice throughout its tenure, enrolling additional Black soldiers, as well as two men from Cuba and one from Spain’s Canary Islands.)

Tragically, while Private Tim Snyder was reasonably safe during this time, one of his younger brothers was not. According to research conducted by a professional genealogist on behalf of the Snyder family, Johannes M. Schneider was killed near Sharpsburg, Virginia on 17 September 1862 while fighting with his own Union regiment in the Battle of Antietam. As of this writing, the location of his grave remains undetermined.

Union Navy base of operations, Mayport Mills, (circa 1862, public domain).

Two weeks later, on 30 September 1862, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were also headed for combat duty. Sent back to Fort Taylor in Florida, they joined the 1,500-plus, gunboat-escorted force lead by Brigadier-General Brannan. Upon arrival at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek, they disembarked from their troop carriers and, with the 47th Pennsylvanians on point, pushed through 25 dense miles of forests and swamps occupied by alligators, snakes and Rebel troops as they assaulted and captured Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Their success paved the way for the Union’s subsequent occupation of Jacksonville, Florida.

The challenging environment of the Charleston & Savannah Railroad was illustrated by Harper’s Weekly in 1865.

From 21-23 October, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians then engaged Confederate forces in the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina. Landing at Mackay’s Point under the brigade command of 47th Pennsylvania founder, Colonel Tilghman H. Good, and regimental command of Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th led the way once again.

This time, however, Tim Snyder’s luck ran out.

Pocotaligo-Coosawhatchie Expedition, 21-23 October 1862 (Union Army map, public domain).

Bedeviled by snipers, his Union brigade faced massive resistance from an entrenched Confederate battery, as well as withering fire upon entering a cotton field. Those headed for the higher ground of Frampton Plantation were pounded by Rebel artillery and infantry from the surrounding forests. Undaunted, they charged into the fire, forcing Rebel troops into a four-mile retreat to the Pocotaligo Bridge.

Relieving the 7th Connecticut, the 47th Pennsylvanians exchanged fire with the enemy for the next two hours in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, but ran low on ammunition and were forced to withdraw to Mackay’s Point.

As battle reports were penned following the 47th’s first major combat test, they documented staggering figures. Two officers and 18 enlisted men from the 47th had been killed with an additional two officers and 114 enlisted men wounded, including Private Tim Snyder. Many of the worst casualties had occurred during the fighting at the Frampton Plantation and at the bridge; others were incurred as the regiment covered their brigade’s retreat.

Having returned to Hilton Head on 23 October 1862, several members of the 47th were assigned to Honor Guard duty for the funeral of Major-General Ormsby Mitchel, who had succumbed to yellow fever on 20 October while serving as commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South.

Note: After freeing enslaved men, women and children from the plantations of Hilton Head, South Carolina in 1862, Major-General Ormsby Mitchel provided them with land and supplies to begin new lives in Mitchelville—the first Freedmen’s town in America.


Woodcut depicting the harsh climate at Fort Taylor in Key West, Florida during the Civil War (U.S. Library of Congress, public domain).

Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November 1862, much of 1863 for the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers was spent garrisoning federal installations in Florida as part of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps, Department of the South. Soldiers from the 47th Pennsylvania’s C Company participated with the infantrymen of Companies A, B, E, G, and I in duties at Key West’s Fort Taylor while the soldiers from Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson, the Union’s remote outpost in the Dry Tortugas off the coast of Florida.

It was a noteworthy year both for the number of men lost to disease—and because the majority of 47th Pennsylvanians chose to reenlist when their original three-year terms of service expired.

Among those re-upping at this time was Private Tim Snyder, who reenrolled for a second, three-year term at Fort Taylor on 12 October 1863. Just over a month later, his family was struck by tragedy a second time when family patriarch John M. Schneider died on 20 November. (His grave is located at what is now Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church Cemetery in Red Cross, Northumberland County, Pennsylvania.)


Bayou Teche, Louisiana (Harper’s Weekly, 14 February 1863, public domain).

As the cold winter of January 1864 gave way to a warmer February in Sunbury, Ellis Arlee Snyder, the younger brother of 47th Pennsylvania Private Tim Snyder, began his own term of Civil War military service, enrolling and mustering in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg as a Private with Battery D of the 3rd Artillery, 152 Pennsylvania Volunteers. Military records described him as a 19-year-old farmer, who was 5 feet, 5½-inch tall with light hair, blue eyes and a ruddy complexion.

A week later, Private Tim Snyder began a new phase of his own life as the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left their Florida encampment and headed for Louisiana. Steaming aboard the Charles Thomas on 25 February 1864, he made his way with his regiment from New Orleans to Algiers. Arriving on 28 February, the 47th then moved by train to Brashear City before heading to Franklin via another steamer through the Bayou Teche. There, the 47th Pennsylvania joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, and became the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks.

19th U.S. Army Map, Phase 3, Battle of Sabine Cross Roads/Mansfield (8 April 1864, public domain).

From 14-26 March, the 47th Pennsylvanians marched for the top of the L in the L-shaped state, passing through New Iberia, Vermilionville, Opelousas, and Washington en route to Alexandria. Arriving in Natchitoches Parish, the 47th Pennsylvanians freed more young Black men from area plantations, several of whom opted to enroll with the 47th for Civil War military duty on 5 April.

Three days later, on 8 April 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers and other Union troops engaged in the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads (also known as the Battle of Mansfield). Opposing them in a six-hour waiting game that morning were 10,000 troops from the Confederate States of America led by CSA Major-General Richard Taylor, a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States. By 4 p.m., the fighting had begun in earnest as Taylor’s left flank attacked in echelon formation, buckling the right side of the Union cavalry’s front line. Union Major-General Nathaniel Banks’ left flank then also collapsed as Taylor’s troops forced their way nearly a mile inward.

In response, Banks ordered Brigadier-General William Emory to move his 1st Division, 19th U.S. Army Corps men to the front. Among Emory’s 5,859 men were nine New York regiments, three from Maine—and the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Ninety minutes and seven miles of marching later, Emory’s men were waiting for the Rebels on the ridge above Chapman’s Bayou about five miles southeast of Mansfield.

Positioned behind the 161st New York and 29th Maine at sites termed the “Peach Orchard” by Rebels and “Pleasant Grove” by members of the 47th and their Union commanders, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvania infantrymen were stationed at or close to the farm of Joshua Chapman.

Note: The name “Pleasant Grove” is believed by some historians to have been a reference to the live oak trees in front of Chapman’s house. The fighting here and at the orchard was particularly brutal.

The 161st New York line buckled as Confederates attacked the center position of the massive Union force, but the 29th Maine Volunteers stood their ground. The 47th Pennsylvania and 13th Maine then both pinwheeled, and successfully fought off an attempted end run around the Union’s right flank by the cavalrymen of Confederate Brigadier-General Thomas Green.

The intense fighting finally waned and ceased as darkness fell and exhausted troops on both sides collapsed between the rows of bodies of their dead comrades. Among the Union soldiers who had been severely wounded or killed in action were 60 members of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

After receiving word of another likely attack, Banks ordered his Union troops to withdraw to Pleasant Hill (not to be confused with the aforementioned Pleasant Grove). This withdrawal commenced after midnight and lasted through the early hours of 9 April 1864. According to Banks:

From Pleasant Grove, where this action occurred, to Pleasant Hill was 15 miles. It was certain that the enemy, who was within the reach of re-enforcements, would renew the attack in the morning, and it was wholly uncertain whether the command of General Smith could reach the position we held in season for a second engagement. For this reason the army toward morning fell back to Pleasant Hill, General Emory covering the rear, burying the dead, bringing off the wounded, and all the material of the army. It arrived there at 8.30 on the morning of the 9th, effecting a junction with the forces of General Smith and the colored brigade under Colonel Dickey, which had reached that point the evening previous.

Battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, 9 April 1864 (Harper’s Weekly, 7 May 1864, public domain).

Ordered to move out again the next morning, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians were just hours from the start of a new combat engagement—the Battle of Pleasant Hill. In his official Red River Campaign Report penned a year later, Banks described how the day unfolded:

A line of battle was formed in the following order: First Brigade, Nineteenth Corps, on the right, resting on a ravine; Second Brigade in the center, and Third Brigade on the left. The center was strengthened by a brigade of General Smith’s forces, whose main force was held in reserve. The enemy moved toward our right flank. The Second Brigade [including the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers] withdrew from the center to the support of the First Brigade. The brigade in support of the center moved up into position, and another of General Smith’s brigades was posted to the extreme left position on the hill, in echelon to the rear of the left main line.

Light skirmishing occurred during the afternoon. Between 4 and 5 o’clock it increased in vigor, and about 5 p.m., when it appeared to have nearly ceased, the enemy drove in our skirmishers and attacked in force, his first onset being against the left. He advanced in two oblique lines, extending well over toward the right of the Third Brigade, Nineteenth Corps. After a determined resistance this part of the line gave way and went slowly back to the reserves. The First and Second Brigades were soon enveloped in front, right, and rear. By skillful movements of General Emory the flanks of the two brigades, now bearing the brunt of the battle, were covered. The enemy pursued the brigades, passing the left and center, until he approached the reserves under General Smith, when he was met by a charge led by General Mower and checked. The whole of the reserves were now ordered up, and in turn we drove the enemy, continuing the pursuit until night compelled us to halt.

The battle of the 9th was desperate and sanguinary. The defeat of the enemy was complete, and his loss in officers and men more than double that sustained by our forces. There was nothing in the immediate position or condition of the two armies to prevent a forward movement the next morning, and orders were given to prepare for an advance. The train, which had been turned to the rear on the day of the battle, was ordered to reform and advance at daybreak. I communicated this purpose at the close of the day to General A. J. Smith, who expressed his concurrence therein. But representations subsequently received from General Franklin and all the general officers of the Nineteenth Corps, as to the condition of their respective commands for immediate active operations against the enemy, caused a suspension of this order, and a conference of the general officers was held in the evening, in which it was determined, upon the urgent recommendation of all the general officers above named, and with the acquiescence of General Smith, to retire upon Grand Ecore the following day. The reasons urged for this course by the officers commanding the Nineteenth and Thirteenth Corps were, first, that the absence of water made it absolutely necessary to advance or retire without delay. General Emory’s command [including the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers] had been without rations for two days, and the train, which had been turned to the rear during the battle, could not be put in condition to move forward upon the single road through dense woods, in which it stood, without difficulty and loss of time. It was for the purpose of communicating with the fleet at Springfield Landing from the Sabine Cross-Roads to the river, as well as to prevent the concentration of the Texan troops with the enemy at Mansfield, that we had pushed for the early occupation of that point. Considering the difficulty with which the gun-boats passed Alexandria and Grand Ecore, there was every reason to believe that the navigation of the river would be found impracticable…. The forces designated for this campaign numbered 42,000 men. Less than half that number was actually available for service against the enemy during its progress…. The losses sustained in the very severe battles of the 7th, 8th, and 9th of April amounted to about 3,969 men, and necessarily reduced our active forces to that extent.

The enemy, superior to us in numbers in the outset, by falling back was able to recover from his great losses by means of re-enforcements, which were within his reach as he approached his base of operations, while we were growing weaker as we departed from ours. We had fought the battle at Pleasant Hill with about 15,000 against 22,000 men and won a victory….

Upon these general considerations, and without reference to the actual condition of the respective armies, at 12 o’clock midnight on the 9th I countermanded the order for the return of the train, and directed preparations to be made for the return of the army to Grand Ecore. The dead were buried and the wounded brought in from the field of battle and placed in the most comfortable hospitals that could be provided, and surgeons and supplies furnished for them….

During that Battle of Pleasant Hill, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers had been ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. According to Bates, after fighting off a charge by the troops of Confederate Major-General Richard Taylor, the 47th Pennsylvanians were forced to bolster the buckling lines of the 165th New York Infantry—just as the 47th was shifting to the left of the massed Union forces.

As a result, the regiment sustained heavy casualties, including Lieutenant-Colonel G. W. Alexander, the 47th’s second in command who was severely wounded in both legs. C Company’s Regimental Color-Sergeant Benjamin Walls and Sergeant William Pyers also both sustained gunshot wounds—Walls while attempting to mount the regimental colors on a recaptured Massachusetts artillery caisson and Pyers while preventing those same colors from falling into enemy hands.

Others from the 47th were captured, marched roughly 125 miles to the largest Confederate prison camp west of the Mississippi—Camp Ford near Tyler, Texas—and held there as POWs until they were released during prisoner exchanges from July through November. Sadly, at least two members of the 47th never made it out of that POW camp alive while still others remain missing to this day.

As a result, leadership positions were restructured during post-battle military assessments. On 11 and 15 April 1864, regimental Major William S. Gausler and C Company First Lieutenant William Reese were discharged for cowardice.

Note: The charges for both men were later proven to be unfounded. In October 1864, President Abraham Lincoln personally reversed the U.S. Adjutant General’s ruling against Gausler, allowing him to resign with rank intact. William Reese was then exonerated by the U.S. War Department and Office of the Adjutant General on 18 February 1865. A third officer, First Lieutenant and Regimental Adjutant Washington H. R. Hangen, who was also charged with cowardice, also appears to have been exonerated; researchers have confirmed that he was awarded a U.S. Civil War Pension (based on the 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule) and that he was employed in Louisiana post-war by the U.S. government as a surveyor and with its Freedmen’s Bureau offices in St. Tammany and Washington parishes.

Meanwhile, following their brigade’s retreat, as the 47th Pennsylvanians were busily engaged in restoring some semblance of normalcy to their lives, scribe Henry D. Wharton finally had time to gather his thoughts and pen an account of the regiment’s recent battles for the Sunbury American:

Grand Ecore, Western La. }
April 12, 1864.

DEAR WILVERT:–After lying over for three days at Natchitoches to recruit and get a fresh supply from the Commisariat [sic], we again pushed forward in hunt of the rebs…. On the first days march we were detained several hours by letting the 13th Army Corps pass by us, when we pushed forward to Double Bridges, a distance of sixteen miles. It was at this place, shortly before our arrival that a brisk skirmish came off between our cavalry and the rebs, in which we lost ninety men in killed and wounded. The rebs loss was more severe, besides a number of prisoners. On our march next day we saw unmistakeable [sic] evidence of hot work, the limbs were knocked from trees and their trunks were well pierced with shot and a number of horses lie dead by the road side, which showed the good work done by our cavalry…. We made Pleasant Hill that day and encamped. It was here that we expected a heavy fight, but there was a mere skirmish, the rebs skedaddling in a hurry, followed by our cavalry. Our forces moved early next morning, the 13th corps far in the advance. We made but seven miles and then went into camp, when the news [broke] that the 13th and cavalry had engaged the enemy in force. Receiving two days hard tack, orders came to forward, which was done in double quick, making the distance, eight miles, in one hour and twenty minutes. We reached there at the right time, for the 13th had fought hard, expending their ammunition; the cavalry were repulsed and in their retreat made such confusion among the teams, that had it not been for our timely arrival, a panic would have ensued, exceeding that of Bull Run.

Our corps, the 19th, rushed to the rescue, fell into line of battle, and were soon pouring on the rebs a fire which turned the tide of affairs. We were two hours under fire, giving the enemy more than we received, when darkness caused the fight to come to a close, not, however, until we gave them a parting salute of two volleys from the whole corps. Three pieces of Nimm’s battery was [sic] captured by the enemy before our corps got there, besides the train of the cavalry, with ammunition and stores.

About 10 o’clock that night our forces made a retrograde movement, falling back to Pleasant Hill, to secure a better position.– The trains were sent back so as not to interfere with our movements. We arrived safely at nine o’clock, next morning [10 April 1864], and immediately prepared for the coming work. An hour later the rear guard came in informing us of the approach of the enemy.– Our skirmishers of cavalry and infantry were sent out, and ’twas not long until shots were exchanged. At this time, 10 o’clock, Smith’s 16th Army Corps reinforced us, and was soon formed in line of battle. Skirmishing continued until four o’clock, when the rebs commenced feeling our lines, with artillery, on right, left and centre [sic]. This was well replied to by the 25th N.Y. Battery….

The battle then commenced in real earnest. The rebs charged our lines, with cheers, firing volleys of musketry that would seem to annihilate our forces. They tried to flank our right and left, but the boys repulsed them handsomely. Batteries were captured and recaptured; advances were made and repulsed, the enemy fighting as though it was the last of a desperate cause. Our volleys of musketry, of which more was used than in any fight during the war, and the executions of the artillery was too much for them, for they fled, our men after them, yelling shouts of victory, and chasing them for five miles beyond the battlefield. Our fire told with terrible effect. A rebel Lieut.-Col. prisoner, said that in a charge made by one of their Brigades, when they advanced so far as to make a capture of a portion of our left a sure thing, they were met by a fire that destroyed four hundred, and then were driven back in confusion. In another advance, our fire was so destructive that only three men were left unscathed to return within their lines.

The prisoners captured amounted to two thousand; among them one General, one Lieutenant-Colonel, and any quantity of Captains and Lieutenants. Of the number killed and wounded I am unable to say, but the general impression is it amounted to over five thousand. The dead body of Lieut.-Gen. Mouton was found on the field, they leaving him in their hasty retreat. He was killed by the explosion of a shell, tearing away the upper portion of his head.

Nimm’s Battery was recaptured by our regiment. Twenty-three pieces of artillery were captured by the enemy. It was at the recaptured of Nimm’s Battery that our Color Sergeant, B. F. Walls, received his wound. The Squire was so well pleased at the recapture, that he rushed forward with his flag and raised it on the wheels of a caisson, when he fell pierced by a bullet in the left shoulder.

It seems the enemy were panic stricken, fleeing from the field in confusion, not caring for the wounded. They burned their entire train for fear of its falling into our hands. Part of this was well for us, for by doing so, the train taken from our cavalry was destroyed, giving us the satisfaction that our stores done [sic] them no good.

Our whole loss, in killed, wounded, missing and stragglers is estimated at three thousand. The greatest portion belonging to the 13th corps, having occurred at Sabine, on the 8th, in the first fight. The loss in Company “C,” is Jeremiah Haas, killed. Jerry felt no pain, dying almost instantly. He was beloved by his comrades, and his loss is much regretted by them. He was a good soldier, a young man whose morals were not injured from the influences of an army, and best of all, an honest man. The wounded are – 

Serg. Wm. Pyers, arm and side, not dangerous.
”  B. F. Walls, left shoulder.
Private Thomas Lothard, two wounds in arm, slight.
”  Cornelius Kramer, left leg, below knee.
”  George Miller, side.
”  Thomas Nipple, hip, slight.
”  James Kennedy, right and side, severe.

Missing – J. W. McNew, J. W. Firth, Samuel Miller, Edward Matthews, John Sterner and Conrad Holman.

The whole force of the enemy was thirty-five thousand – ten thousand of them coming fresh into the fight on the second day, at Pleasant Hill, under General (Pap) Price. Our forces, parts of the 19th and 16th corps, amounted to fifteen thousand, the 13th taking no part in this action. We expect to have another fight soon, probably at Shreveport, where it is expected the rebellion will be crushed on the western side of the Mississippi.

Our wounded are getting along finely, and are in the best of spirits. They will be sent to New Orleans to remain in hospital until convalescent. The boys remaining are well and seem anxious for another encounter with the graybacks.

After a week of strengthening brigade fortifications at Grand Ecore, the 47th Pennsylvanians marched back to Natchitoches Parish, arriving in Cloutierville at 10 p.m. on 22 April. En route, they were attacked again—this time in the rear of their brigade, but they were able to end the encounter fairly quickly and continue on.

The 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were stationed just to the left of the “Thick Woods” with Emory’s 2nd Brigade, 1st Division during the Battle of Cane River Crossing at Monett’s Ferry, Louisiana, 23 April 1864 (Major-General Nathaniel Banks’ official Red River Campaign Report, public domain).

The next morning (23 April 1864), as members of Brigadier-General William Emory’s advance party, Private Tim Snyder and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians took on Brigadier-General Hamilton P. Bee’s Confederate Cavalry in the Battle of Cane River near Monett’s Ferry (also known as the “Cane River Crossing”).

Responding to a barrage from the Confederate’s 20-pound Parrott guns and raking fire from enemy troops situated near a bayou and on a bluff, one of Emory’s brigades—the one to which the 47th Pennsylvania was attached—kept Bee’s Confederates busy while the other two brigades found a safe spot where Union forces could ford the Cane River.

After fording the river and attacking Bee’s flank, those troops then forced the Rebels into retreat and erected a series of pontoon bridges, enabling the 47th and other remaining Union troops to complete the Cane River Crossing by the next day.

Christened “Bailey’s Dam” for Lt.-Col. Joseph Bailey, the officer overseeing its construction, this timber dam built by the Union Army on the Red River in Alexandria, Louisiana in May 1864 facilitated Union gunboat passage (public domain).

Encamping overnight before resuming their march toward Rapides Parish, the 47th Pennsylvanians arrived in Alexandria on 26 April 1864. Encamped there through 13 May, they engaged yet again in the hard labor of fortification work and also helped to build “Bailey’s Dam,” a timber structure which made it possible for Union gunboats to travel more easily along the notoriously challenging Red River. In a follow-up letter penned on 29 May during the regiment’s encampment at Morganza, Henry Wharton provided key details about this period:

Our sojourn at Grand Ecore was for eleven days, during which time our position was well fortified by entrenchments for a length of five miles, made of heavy logs, five feet high and six feet wide, filled in with dirt. In front of this, trees were felled for a distance of two hundred yards, so that if the enemy attacked we had an open space before us which would enable our forces to repel them and follow if necessary. But our labor seemed to the men as useless, for on the morning of 22d April, the army abandoned these works and started for Alexandria. From our scouts it was ascertained that the enemy had passed some miles to our left with the intention of making a stand against our right at Bayou Cane, where there is a high bluff and dense woods, and at the same attack Smith’s forces who were bringing up the rear. This first day was a hard one on the boys, for by ten o’clock at night they made Cloutierville, a distance of forty-five miles. On that day the rear was attacked which caused our forces to reverse their front and form in line of battle, expecting too, to go back to the relief of Smith, but he needed no assistance, sending word to the front that he had ‘whipped them, and could do it again.’ It was well that Banks made so long a march on that day, for on the next we found the enemy prepared to carry out their design of attacking us front and rear. Skirmishing commenced early in the morning and as our columns advanced he fell back towards the bayou, when we soon discovered the position of their batteries on the bluff. There was then an artillery duel by the smaller pieces, and some sharp fighting by the cavalry, when the ‘mule battery,’ twenty pound Parrott guns, opened a heavy fire, which soon dislodged them, forcing the chivalry to flee in a manner not at all suitable to their boasted courage. Before this one cavalry, the 3d Brigade of the 1st Div., and Birges’ brigade of the second, had crossed the bayou and were doing good service, which, with the other work, made the enemy show their heels. The 3d brigade done some daring deeds in this fight, as also did the cavalry. In one instance the 3d charged up a hill almost perpendicular, driving the enemy back by the bayonet without firing a gun. The woods on this bluff was so thick that the cavalry had to dismount and fight on foot. During the whole of the day, our brigade, the 2d was supporting artillery, under fire all the time, and could not give Mr. Reb a return shot.

While we were fighting in front, Smith was engaged some miles in the rear, but he done his part well and drove them back. The rebel commanders thought by attacking us in the rear, and having a large face on the bluffs, they would be able to capture our train and take us all prisoners, but in this they were mistaken, for our march was so rapid that we were on them before they had thrown up the necessary earthworks….

The damage done to the Confederate cause by the burning of cotton was immense. On the night of the 22d our route was lighted up for miles and millions of dollars worth [sic] of this production was destroyed. This loss will be felt more by Davis & Co., than several defeats in this region, for the basis of the loan in England was on the cotton of Western Louisiana.

After the rebels had fled from the bluff the negro troops put down the pontoons, and by ten that night we were six miles beyond the bayou safely encamped. The next morning we moved forward and in two days were in Alexandria. Johnnys followed Smith’s forces, keeping out of range of his guns, except when he had gained the eminence across the bayou, when he punished them (the rebs) severely.

We were at Alexandria seventeen days, during which time the men were kept busy at throwing up earthworks, foraging and three times went out some distance to meet the enemy, but they did not make their appearance in numbers large enough for an engagement. The water in the Red river had fallen so much that it prevented the gunboats from operating with us, and kept our transports from supplying the troops with rations, (and you know soldiers, like other people, will eat) so Banks was compelled to relinquish his designs on Shreveport and fall back to the Mississippi. To do this a large dam had to be built on the falls at Alexandria to get the ironclads down the river. After a great deal labor this was accomplished and by the morning of May 13th the last one was through the shute [sic], when we bade adieu to Alexandria, marching through the town with banners flying and keeping step to the music of ‘Rally around the flag,’ and ‘When this cruel war is over.’

Tragically, sometime after the 47th’s departure from Alexandria, an individual or groups of individuals torched the city. Although many present-day historians indicate that this terrible act was the work of Union troops, Henry Wharton recounted in his letter of 29 May what had been reported about the fire to leaders of the 47th on 14 May 1864:

The next morning, at our camping place, the fleet of boats passed us, when we were informed that Alexandria had been destroyed by fire – the act of a dissatisfied citizen and several negroes. Incendiary acts were strictly forbidden in a general order the day before we left the place, and a cavalry guard was left in the rear to see the order enforced. After marching a few miles skirmishing commenced in front between the cavalry and the enemy in riflepits [sic] on the bank of the river, but they were easily driven away. When we came up we discovered their pits and places where there had been batteries planted. At this point the John Warren, an unarmed transport, on which were sick soldiers and women, was fired into and sunk, killing many and those that were not drowned taken prisoners. A tin-clad gunboat was destroyed at the same place, by which we lost a large mail. Many letters and directed envelopes were found on the bank – thrown there after the contents had been read by the unprincipled scoundrels. The inhumanity of Guerrilla bands in this department is beyond belief, and if one did not know the truth of it or saw some of their barbarities, he would write it down as the story of a ‘reliable gentleman’ or as told by an ‘intelligent contraband.’ Not satisfied with his murderous intent on unarmed transports he fires into the Hospital steamer Laurel Hill, with four hundred sick on board. This boat had the usual hospital signal floating fore and aft, yet, notwithstanding all this, and the customs of war, they fired on them, proving by this act that they are more hardened than the Indians on the frontier.

As the 47th Pennsylvanians and other Union troops continued marching toward southeastern Louisiana, they passed Fort DeRussy and engaged in more fighting during the Battle of Mansura in Avoyelles Parish near Marksville on 16 May 1864. Once again, they skirmished with Dick Taylor’s Confederates, but this time, Union forces were able to flank Taylor’s troops and force them into retreat following a four-hour artillery shoot out:

On Sunday, May 15, we left the river road and took a short route through the woods, saving considerable distance. The windings of Red river are so numerous that it resembles the tape-worm railroad wherewith the politicians frightened the dear people during the administration of Ritner and Stevens. – We stopped several hours in the woods to leave cavalry pass, when we moved forward and by four o’clock emerged into a large open plain where we formed in line of battle, expecting a regular engagement. The enemy, however, retired and we advanced ‘till dark, when the forces halted for the night, with orders to rest on their arms. – ‘Twas here that Banks rode through our regiment, amidst the cheers of the boys, and gave the pleasant news that Grant had defeated Lee. Early next morning we marched through Marksville into a prairie nine miles long and six wide where every preparation was made for a fight. The whole of our force was formed in line, in support of artillery in front, who commenced operations on the enemy driving him gradually from the prairie into the woods. As the enemy retreated before the heavy fire of our artillery, the infantry advanced in line until they reached Mousoula [sic], where they formed in column, taking the whole field in an attempt to flank the enemy, but their running qualities were so good that we were foiled. The maneuvring [sic] of the troops was handsomely done, and the movements was [sic] one of the finest things of the war. The fight of artillery was a steady one of five miles. The enemy merely stood that they might cover the retreat of their infantry and train under cover of their artillery. Our loss was slight. Of the rebels we could not ascertain correctly, but learned from citizens who had secreted themselves during the fight, that they had many killed and wounded, who threw them into wagons, promiscuously, and drove them off so that we could not learn their casualties. The next day we moved to Simmsport on the Achafalaya [sic] river, where a bridge was made by putting the transports side by side, which enabled the troops and train to pass safely over. – The day before we crossed the rebels attacked Smith, thinking it was but the rear guard, in which they, the graybacks, were awfully cut up, and four hundred prisoners fell into our hands. Our loss in killed and wounded was ninety. This fight was the last one of the expedition. The whole of the force is safe on the Mississippi, gunboats, transports and trains. The 16th and 17th have gone to their old commands….

I have it from the best source that the Federal loss from Franklin to Mansfield, and from their [sic] to this point does not exceed thirty-five hundred in killed, wounded and missing, while that of the rebels is over eight thousand.

On Saturday, 21 May 1864, Brigadier-General Emory ordered the men of Company C to transfer Rebel prisoners to a safer stronghold. So, Private Tim Snyder and his C Company comrades marched 187 CSA POWs south to New Orleans, transferred their management to the appropriate Union authorities, and returned to their encampment at Morganza a week later. “While in the City,” wrote Henry Wharton, “some of the boys made Captain Gobin quite a handsome present, to show their appreciation of him as an officer gentleman. The boys are well.”

The entire regiment then broke camp and headed for a new duty assignment—at New Orleans, arriving on 20 June. While stationed here, they received new orders on the 4th of July, and learned that their fight was far from over.

Read about the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers’ continuing fight to preserve America’s Union and their encounter with one of America’s most inspiring figures in part two of this biographical sketch of Timothy Matthias Snyder.


1. “A Badge from Admiral Dewey and Schuylkill County” (announcements of Timothy Grant Snyder’s service on Admiral Dewey’s flagship). Reading, Pennsylvania: Reading Eagle: 3 October 1899 and 21 November 1899.

2. Baptismal, marriage, military, death, and burial records of the Snyder family. Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Ohio, etc.: Snyder Family Archives, 1650-present; and in Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records (baptismal, marriage, death and burial records of various churches across Pennsylvania). Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1776-1918.

3. Banks, Nathaniel P. “General Banks’s Report of the Red River Campaign,” in Annual Report of the Secretary of War, in Message of the President of the United States, and Accompanying Documents, to the Two Houses of Congress, at the Commencement of the First Session of the Thirty-Ninth Congress. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1866.

4. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, vol. 1. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.

5. Bell, Herbert C. History of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Including Its Aboriginal History; the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods; Early Settlement and Subsequent Growth; Political Organization; Agricultural, Mining, and Manufacturing Interests; Internal Improvements; Religious, Educational, Social, and Military History; Sketches of Its Boroughs, Villages, and Townships; Portraits and Biographies of Pioneers and Representative Citizens, Etc., Etc. Chicago, Illinois: Brown, Runk, & Co. Publishers: 1891.

6. Egle, M.D., William Henry, ed. Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution: Associated Battalions and Militia, 1775-1783, vol. 1. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: E. K. Meyers, State Printer, 1890.

7. Johann Nicholas Schneider, et. al., in Genealogical and Biographical Annals of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, Containing a Genealogical Record of Representative Families, Including Many of the Early Settlers, and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens, Prepared from Data Obtained from Original Sources of Information. Chicago, Illinois: J. L. Floyd & Co., 1911.

8. Lutz, June Shaull. A Historical Account of the Schneider/Snider/Snyder Family. Grand Rapids, Michigan: J. S. Lutz, 1981.

9. Reports of Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks (dated 6 April 1865), et. al., in The War of the Rebellion, Vol. XXXIV: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1891.

10. Schmidt, Lewis G. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.

11. Snyder, Johann Nicholas (Ancestor No. A106950), in Ancestor Database. Washington, D.C.: Daughters of the American Revolution.

12. Snyder, Laurie. 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers: One Civil War Regiment’s Story. Retrieved Online: 10 May 2017.

13. Snyder, Timothy (Timothy Matthias Snyder), in Civil War Muster Rolls, in Records of the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs (Record Group 19, Series 19.11). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1861-1866.

14. Snyder, Timothy M. and Timothy G. Snyder, in Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Index Cards. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, 1889.

15. Snyder, Timothy M. and Snyder, Ellis A., in Civil War Veterans’ Card File, 1861-1866. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.

16. Timothy M. Snyder and Catharine Snyder, et. al. in Claims for Widow and Minor Pensions, in U.S. Civil War Widows’ Pension Files. Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, 1889-1918.

17. Timothy M. Snyder, Catherine [sic] Snyder, and William Snyder, in Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Commission of Soldiers’ Orphan Schools for the Year Ending May 31, 1901. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Wm. Stanley Ray, State Printer of Pennsylvania, 1901.

18. Timothy Snyder and Henry D. Wharton (as “H. D. W.”), et. al., in Letters from the Sunbury Guards. Sunbury, Pennsylvania: Sunbury American, 1861-1866.

19. U.S. Census (1840, 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, 1940). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

20. U.S. Veterans’ Schedule (1890). Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.