Snyder, Emanuel (Private)

Born in Pennsylvania in 1823, Emanuel Snyder was a 27-year-old farmer living in Buffalo Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania in 1850 with his wife, Caroline. A 19-year-old Pennsylvania native shown as “Carolina” on the federal census that year, she was the daughter of Jacob Charles. Emanuel and Caroline’s one-year-old son, Jacob Augustus Snyder (born in Perry County, Pennsylvania on 29 June 1849), lived with them in 1850, as did 73-year-old, Mary Anderson.

Emanuel and Caroline (Charles) Snyder had been united in marriage by the Rev. Mr. Schull just four years earlier in Bloomfield, Perry County on 7 May 1846. Together, the couple also welcomed to the world Perry County-born daughters, Mary Elizabeth (born 15 January 1851) and Margaret Helen (born 8 September 1854).

* Note: The Civil War minors’ pension file created for the children of Emanuel and Caroline Snyder indicates that the couple may have had as many as nine children, but that only three (Jacob, Mary and Margaret) were still alive by 1863.

Less than six months after their littlest one’s birth, Caroline (Charles) Snyder widowed her husband, Emanuel, passing away on 22 March 1855. According to affidavits filed in 1863 on behalf of their minor children with the Pennsylvania court system, Caroline was subsequently interred at a cemetery in Buffalo Township, Perry County; her burial was witnessed by several residents of the community who had known and respected the couple.

By 1860, Emanuel Snyder – now a widower with three young children, was living in Montgomery’s Ferry, Buffalo Township, Perry County, where he was employed as a farm hand by his father-in-law, Jacob Charles. By the time the Civil War broke out, military records documented that Emanuel was a 38-year-old farmer residing in Liverpool, Perry County.

Civil War Military Service

Camp Curtin (Harpers Weekly, 1861; public domain).

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

Emanuel Snyder enrolled for military service at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania on 2 September 1861, and mustered in at Camp Curtin on 11 September as a Private with Company D of the newly formed 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

While there, he received basic training in light infantry tactics before being shipped by rail with his regiment to Washington, D.C. Stationed about two miles from the White House at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown beginning 21 September, Private Emanuel Snyder and his regiment were officially mustered into federal service with the U.S. Army on 24 September.

On 27 September, a rainy, drill-free day which permitted many of the men to read or write letters home, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of W.F. Smith’s Army of the Potomac. That afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians moved to the Potomac River’s eastern side and, after arriving at Camp Lyon, Maryland, marched double-quick over a chain bridge before moving on toward Fall’s Church, Virginia. Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, they pitched their tents in a deep ravine about two miles from the bridge they had just crossed (an important enough spot to have actually been marked on Union Army maps as “Chain Bridge”). They were also encamped near a new federal military facility under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). Armed with Mississippi rifles supplied by the Keystone State, they joined with the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac in defending the nation’s capital.

On October 11, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads after having been ordered with the 3rd Brigade to Camp Griffin, Virginia (also known as “Camp Big Chestnut” for a prominently located chestnut tree). In a letter home in mid-October, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to command the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left wing companies (B, G, K, E, and H) had been forced to return to camp by Confederate  troops.

On Friday morning, 22 October 1861, 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.” On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. According to Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.”

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

Springfield rifle, 1861 model (public domain).

Afterward, wrote Schmidt, “Gen. Smith requested Gen. Brannan to inform Col. Good that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.” As a reward – and in preparation for even bigger things yet to come, Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan ordered that brand new Springfield rifles be obtained and distributed to every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.


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

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

Having been ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, Emanuel Snyder and his fellow 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 in order to reach the railroad station at Fall’s Church. Sent by rail to Alexandria, they then sailed the Potomac via the steamship City of Richmond to the Washington Arsenal, where they were reequipped before they were marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C. The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped cars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.

According to Schmidt and letters home from members of the regiment, those preparations ceased on Monday, 27 January, at 10 a.m. when:

The regiment was formed and instructed by Lt. Col. Alexander ‘that we were about drumming out a member who had behaved himself unlike a soldier.’ …. The prisoner, Pvt. James C. Robinson of Company I, was a 36 year old miner from Allentown who had been ‘disgracefully discharged’ by order of the War Department. Pvt. Robinson was marched out with martial music playing and a guard of nine men, two men on each side and five behind him at charge bayonets. The music then struck up with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as the procession was marched up and down in front of the regiment, and Pvt. Robinson was marched out of the yard.

Reloading then resumed. By that afternoon, when the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers. The officers boarded last and, per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, the Oriental steamed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. They were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the Union, remained strategically important to the Union due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.

In early February 1862, Private Emanuel Smith and his fellow 47th Pennsylvanians arrived in Key West, and were promptly assigned to garrison Fort Taylor. On 14 February, the regiment made itself known to area residents via a parade through the city’s streets. That weekend, a number of men from the regiment mingled with residents while attending local church services.

Drilling daily in heavy artillery tactics, they also helped to cut trees, build new roads and strengthen the fortifications at the federal installation.

From mid-June through July 1862, the 47th was ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where the men made camp before being housed in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District. Picket duties north of the 3rd Brigade’s camp were commonly rotated among the regiments present there at the time, putting soldiers at increased risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”

Illness, Furlough from Military Service, Death and Interment (1863)

U.S. General Hospital, Hilton Head, South Carolina, c. 1861-1865. Built facing the ocean/Port Royal Bay (Broad River). Hospital medical director's residence, left foreground. Source: Library of Congress, public domain.

U.S. General Hospital, Hilton Head, South Carolina, c. 1861-1865. Built facing the ocean/Port Royal Bay (Broad River). Hospital medical director’s residence, left foreground. Source: Library of Congress, public domain.

It was during this phase of service in South Carolina that Emanuel Snyder fell ill. Confined to the Union Army’s post hospital at Hilton Head, South Carolina, he was ultimately sent home on a “sick furlough” with the hope that a change in climate would speed his recovery. It didn’t.

According to an affidavit from his commanding officer, Captain Henry Durant Woodruff, Private Emanuel Snyder, Company D, 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers:

was attacked with dysentery on or about the 1st of June 1862, at Hilton Head, in the State of South Carolina whilst in the service of the United States and in the line of his duty. And that he subsequently returned home to Buffalo Township, Perry County, Penna., on furlough, for the purpose of visiting his minor children and recuperating his health. That after his return home the condition of his health was such that he was unable to return to his regiment. And that the said Emanuel Snyder died in Buffalo Township, Perry County, Penna. on the 8th day of January 1863 last past of chronic dysentery whilst he was still in the service of the United States and whilst he was absent from his Regiment on furlough, being sick as aforesaid.

While some records indicate that Private Emanuel Snyder died at home in Liverpool, Perry County, Pennsylvania on 8 February 1863, this sworn affidavit by his commanding officer makes clear that he died in Buffalo Township, Perry County on 8 January 1863.

* Note: Captain Woodruff’s affidavit was filed with the Pennsylvania courts as part of the Civil War pension application made on behalf of Emanuel Snyder’s children by the children’s grandfather, Jacob Charles (Emanuel Snyder’s father-in-law).

Other records of the time, including sworn testimony from Emanuel Snyder’s father-in-law, document that, in addition to chronic dysentery, Emanuel also suffered from dropsy.

Still on the muster rolls as being a serving member of the United States military and the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Private Emanuel Snyder was interred at the Hunters Valley Cemetery in Liverpool, Perry County, Pennsylvania in early to mid-January 1863.

Three months later, his father-in-law, Jacob Charles, was appointed by the local court to serve as the legal guardian of Emanuel’s surviving children: Jacob (age 14), Mary (age 12) and Margaret (age 9). Assuming responsibility for the care and upbringing of his grandchildren, Jacob Charles filed a U.S. Civil War Minor’s Pension application on behalf of the three youngsters with help from his attorney, Lewis Potter. A pension of $8 per month was awarded on 20 November 1863 (commencing 8 January 1863 and running until 8 September 1870) with an additional $2 granted per child, as was standard with many soldiers’ families during this time. An application was also made later for an increase to the pension of behalf of the minor child, Mary Elizabeth Snyder.



1.Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5. Harrisburg: 1869.

2.Civil War Minors’ Pension Application File (filed on behalf of the children of Emanuel Snyder by the children’s guardian, Jacob Charles, and his attorney, Lewis Potter). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives, 1863.

3. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State Archives.

4.Pennsylvania Veterans’ Burial Index Card. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

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

6. U.S. Census (1850, 1860).

7. U.S. Civil War Pension Index ((Application No.: 18412, Certificate No.: 9217, filed 15 April 1863). Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives, 1863.

* Note: Although this record states “Name of Dependent: Snyder, Charles J. (guardian)”, there was no such individual. Jacob Charles was the father-in-law of Emanuel Snyder, and had been appointed by the Pennsylvania court system on 7 April 1863 as the guardian of Emanuel Snyder’s children.


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