SUBMITTED BY: Candace Snead Atwood
Four of the sons of Robert William Snead and Mary “Polly” Williams Snead of Johnston County, NC served in the Confederate Army:
Edward Dudley Snead, MD, Captain; born Jan. 1837; died in July of 1914; buried at Antioch UMC, Four Oaks, NC
Charles Henry Dudley Snead, Lt.; born in May of 1833; died in July of 1882; buried at Walker Cemetery, Angelino Co TX
Nathan Williams Snead, Pvt.; born in April of 1840; died Sept. 17, 1862 at Battle of Antietam, Sharpsburg MD; Buried in an unmarked grave
Walter Robert Snead, 2nd LF.; born in Jan. of 1845; died in Sept. 1931; buried at Riverside Cemetery; Marianna, FL
The Snead family is fortunate that some of the letters from this time are available to us and give some insight to the characters and service of these men. Other information comes from newspaper articles and Confederate records discovered during years of research. There is more information on the Snead family, but for the purposes of this report the concentration will be on the war years.
The brothers were born into a family of twelve children. Their mother, Polly, died in childbirth along with her thirteenth child in 1849. Their father, Robert, died in 1854, so they were orphaned at an early age. While the family was all together they lived on a 2,000-acre farm bordered on the south by Stone Creek, just north of Sampson County, and adjoining the much larger plantation owned by their mother’s family (Isaac and son Nathan Williams). I believe their oldest brother Thomas D. Snead Sr. oversaw their upbringing and education. Thomas served in the local militia as a quartermaster and was elected to the North Carolina Senate during the war. He had farmland near his boyhood home and a home in Smithfield. He was also Clerk of Court of Johnston County for a time.
Edward Dudley Snead
Captain Edward Dudley Snead, MD attended Normal College in Randolph County (1857-1858). (Normal became Trinity in 1859, moved to Durham, and later became Duke University in 1924). In March 1861 Edward received his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. This was just a month before the firing on Fort Sumter.
Edward enlisted May 13, 1861 at Garysburg, NC as a Captain, 5th NC. He was 24. His enlistment contract shows his occupation as Doctor of Medicine, and having blue eyes, light hair, and standing six feet tall. He served the entire span of the war with various regiments and sometimes during breaks in service as a private citizen contracting to the medical hospitals in Richmond and Lynchburg. He married Anna G. Claiborne of Richmond, VA in June of 1861—a month after he enlisted. Edward joined his regiment on June 20, 1861. His letter of July 25, 1861 confirms he was at the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run), fought on July 21,1861.
The Sept. 1, 1861: Special Orders No. 140 from the Secretary of War shows “the resignation of Capt. E. D. Snead [had] been accepted.” North Carolinian men who volunteered immediately alter Ft. Sumter were joining the N.C. State Troops for a 6-month enlistment. After the six months, the troops who rejoined were then enlisting in the Confederate Army for a term of three years.
A letter dated July 14, 1862 attests that Edward was with the 49th NC at Drewry’s Bluff near Richmond. He wrote that his brother Tom “must try to keep Walter out of the war. It is a bad place for young boys.” Walter was 17 years old at the time. This letter placing Edward Snead at Drury’s Bluff during July 1862 and in the 49th Regiment, NC Troops confirmed that he was the “Dr. Sneade” mentioned in W. A. Day’s book A True History of Co. L 49th Regiment, North Carolina Troops. On pg. 24: “When the regiment left here it went to Petersburg. The sick were left in camp with Dr. Sneade. The whole under the command of Major Petty. When the sick got well enough to travel, all who were able, marched down the turnpike and all who were not able went over to Chester and went down to Petersburg on the train.”
A letter dated Aug. 12, 1862 says that E. D. was transferred from the 49th NC to a Virginia regiment under Stonewall Jackson. E. D. writes to his brother Tom: “He has just gained another great victory, he is the greatest man now living.” He also wrote, “I lost my horse the other day—he broke loose. I have not heard from him since.”
A letter dated Oct 9, 1862, addressed to his brother Tom, revealed that Edward was an Assistant Surgeon in the 13th NC Regiment. He wrote that he and his brother Nathan were at the Battle of South Mountain and Sharpsburg (Antietam). He tells of Nathan’s death at Antietam and how he was unable to find Nathan’s body. Dr. Snead stayed behind with the wounded and was taken prisoner. He noted that his letter was being sent “under a flag of truce” and that he would be released “in a few days.” That did not occur. The “Roll of Prisoners of War” states, [he was held at] Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, MD. Release date unknown. Lieutenant and Asst. Surgeon.”
On May 20, 1863, after his release as a POW, Dr. Edward Snead entered into a contract with the Confederate States Army to provide services as a medical officer at General Hospital No. 11 in Richmond, VA. (see copy of contract, NC State Archives). Gen Hospital No. 11 was known as the Florida Hospital. The wounded were housed in hospitals based upon their home state.
In an Aug. 18, 1863 letter to Tom sent from Lynchburg, VA (where there were many hospitals around the town to care for the wounded soldiers), E. D. stated that his wife Anna was with him and that her uncle was killed in the battle at Gettysburg.
I have no other information on Dr. Edward Snead until 1864 when he was at Salisbury Confederate Prison in Salisbury, NC as Captain of “Snead’s Company,” a company of prison guards in Freeman’s Battalion. His brothers, Charles Henry Snead and Walter Robert Snead, were assigned there at the same time. All of the prison records were burned as a result of Stoneman’s Raid so we have no known records of how the Snead brothers came to be there.
On Oct. 28, 1864, orders from John W. Riley, Asst. Adj. Gen. stated, “Capts. H. P. Allen and E. D. Snead will…proceed to Wilmington and report to General Bragg for temporary duty at that point.” Other military correspondence at that time indicates an assault was expected in Wilmington. The Fort Fisher State Historic Site listed “Captain E. D. Sneed’s (sp.) Company, North Carolina Local Defense Troops” among the troops stationed at Wilmington, Dec. 1864 – Feb. 1865.
An interesting note is that the removal of the large number of guards resulted in reduced security at Salisbury Prison, and in Nov. 1864, there was a prisoner uprising while the guards were at the railroad station for transport to Wilmington. Hearing cannon and gunfire, the guards ran back to the prison and helped to stop the riot. We can assume that Captain Snead was among them. Former Salisbury Prison Commandant, Major John Gee, was arrested and tried after the war. The transcript of the trial mentions “Sneed” ten times.
I have been unable to locate any further Confederate Anny information for Captain Edward Snead after he was sent to Wilmington, NC. His application for pension in 1902 states only that he enlisted in Company C, 5th Regiment North Carolina State Troops and was supported by a statement from a man who served with him in the 5th Regiment, and one from a man who served under him at Salisbury.
He later practiced medicine in Richmond before returning to North Carolina. He taught school in Johnston County, and then moved to Hope Mills, NC, where he taught school and worked for the post office. In the late 1890s, in Johnston County, he was an active member of Sons of Confederate Veterans. After his death in 1914, his wife Anna would sometimes go to the street corner to “wait for Doctor Snead” to come home.
Nathan Williams Snead
Nathan Williams Snead attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1861. He was a member of the Philanthropic Society. He left school to enlist in the Confederate Army and served with the 20th North Carolina. He was killed in Bloody Lane at the Battle of Sharpsburg, MD (Antietam), and his body was never identified. In 1911, the University awarded him a posthumous AB (as of 1864).
It was stated in a deed, dated May 12, 1861, that “Nathan Snead of Johnston County to Susan Williams Eason of Johnston County for $1.00, 615 acres in Johnston County. Signed Nov. 26, 1861.” Possibly, Nathan wanted to take precautions in case he did not return from the war, and so he signed over his property to his aunt. Susan was his mother’s sister and lived on an adjoining farm. Since Nathan was only nine when his mother died, I think he was very close to this aunt and his cousins. Two of Susan’s sons also died during the war. They were James and John T. Eason, first cousins of the Snead brothers.
In the Sept. 1862 letter to his brother Tom, Nathan wrote that he was “not in the great battle at Manassas” and thought they were going to Baltimore. Brother E. D. Snead had been with him the last two or three days and had not been assigned to any regiment.
On Sept. 14, 1862, Nathan is in Co. H 20th NC Regiment. He was in the battle of South Mountain, MD. Union General Jesse Reno and Confederate General Samuel Garland, Jr. were killed at South Mountain. Garland was Brigadier General of Garland’s Brigade to which the 20th NC was assigned.
On Sept 17, 1862, Nathan Williams Snead was killed at Sharpsburg, MD, known as Antietam. The 20th North Carolina was in Bloody Lane. His body was never identified. His brother Captain Edward D. Snead, MD was also at that battle and wrote to their brother Tom about trying to find his body but stated that “they were all disfigured.” Many years later, Edward wrote to his niece, Jesse, that he kept the portrait of Nathan turned to the wall because it hurt him so much to see it. (The location of this portrait is unknown).
Charles Henry Dudley Snead
Charles Henry Dudley Snead moved to Marion, Alabama just before the war. I do not have any record of his education, but he apparently earned a law degree. He was referred to as Esquire and later practiced law. In 1859, he wrote that he was preparing “A History of Southern Colleges” in eight volumes and hoped to publish it by March 1860. The Virginia Military Institute Archives has a letter from him regarding his “History of Southern Colleges.” It appears these volumes were never published, probably due to the war.
On June 12, 1861, Charles Snead, aged 28 years, enlisted in the Confederate Army as a 1st Lieut. The Weekly Standard listed him as 1st Lt. of the Fourth Company in the 5th Regiment. He was later assigned to Co. I in the 14th Regiment, NC Volunteers. This later became the 24th Regiment when the Confederate Army took over the NC Volunteers.
On Aug. 25, 1861, Charles Henry wrote to his brother Tom from the banks of the Jackson River in North Western Virginia, stating that they will be at Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, Virginia (later became West Virginia) and planned to attack the federal troops near the Cheat Mountains.
On Oct. 10, 1861, according to a letter he sent to Tom, Charles was 1st Lt. of Co. I, 14th Reg. Floyd’s Brigade and camped on Sewell’s Mountain. In this very interesting letter, he wrote, “Tom, tell Betsy Jane not to speak in Anna’s presence anything about my courting so many women and one or two other matters which would do me no good for Anna to know.” Anna was his new sister-in-law. We know from an existing photograph that he was a handsome man.
In an article dated May 7, 1862 in the Raleigh Standard, it was announced that “Capt. Charles H. Snead of Johnston County authorized by Major-General Holmes and The Secretary of War to raise and organize a company of Partisan Rangers. Let our good riders and brave men rally to Captain Snead. If we do not mistake the man, he will make a good leader. The Rangers are entitled to the same pay as other soldiers in the army, and as an additional stimulus to great daring and bravery, they are entitled to the ‘spoils’ captured, i.e. the government will pay them extra for all arms, horses and equipage they may capture.”
In The Greensborough Patriot, on May 8, 1862, according to an article titled “A Guerrilla Company,” “Captain Charles H. Snead of Smithfield, NC has received the authority to raise and organize a Guerrilla Company for service in the military department commanded by Major General T. H. Holmes. Captain Snead was formerly a first Lieutenant of a company from Johnston County, and while in the mountains of Virginia, as we are reliably informed, his conduct was that of a gentleman, a soldier, and an officer. We would rejoice to see him successful.” The Partisan Rangers were required to be excellent horsemen and good shots.
On August 7, 1863, Charles Henry Snead (then of Richmond, VA) buys lots 115 & 116 in Smithfield NC. In Oct. 1863, he witnessed a deed for the sale of property from L.R. Waddell to Patrick T. Massey.
May of 1864 finds Charles Henry Snead a 1st Lt. in Allen’s Company at Salisbury Confederate Prison in Salisbury, NC. His brothers, Cpt. Edward D. Snead and 2nd Lt. Walter Robert Snead were also there. On April 12,1865, three days after the surrender, Union General Stoneman captured and terrorized Salisbury, NC and burned the Confederate prison to the ground. All prison records were destroyed. Lt. Charles H. Snead was taken prisoner April 12, 1865 and was sent to prisons in Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, and Camp Chase, Ohio before he took the oath on June 14, 1865.
In the June 1870 census, Charles Henry was shown living in Smithfield, NC, age 35, a lawyer, living in the home of John D. and Kate Snead Massey (his sister). He married Frances Shaw of Alabama in 1871 and was living in Alabama in 1880. He later moved his family to Texas where he died in 1882 at the age of 49.
Walter Robert Snead
Walter’s mother died shortly after his fourth birthday, and he was an orphan by the age of nine. He was just sixteen and a student at Trinity College in Randolph County when war was declared. I think he wanted to be like his older brothers who were soldiers.
In a letter dated Oct. 9, 1861 to his oldest brother Thomas D. Snead, Sr., Walter wrote home from Trinity College, stating that “B. Craven said he wanted all of the boys to have uniforms…I will send this back and get some like Bro. E. D.” Braxton Craven was the President of Trinity. When war began, Craven organized his students into a volunteer militia company to prevent a disruption of the school. The company was then attached to the 63rd Regiment NC Militia, a Randolph County regiment. Its members served in the summer and fall of 1861 as guards at the new Confederate prison at Salisbury, NC. So, Walter had some military-type training as a young man. If he did serve at Salisbury in 1861, then he was there twice and saw great changes in the prison.
In spite of his older brothers’ efforts to keep him out of the war, Walter enlisted on March 4, 1864 as a 2nd Lieutenant. He served as a guard at Salisbury prison in Co. C., Freeman’s Battalion under his older brother, Captain E. D. Snead (in “Snead’s Company”). I have found no other information regarding his service and do not know if he went with Snead’s Company when they were assigned to Wilmington in late 1864. Walter’s pension request states that in April 1865 he mustered out of the Confederate Army in Greensboro, NC. He was 20 years old at the time.
Walter graduated from Baltimore Dental College in 1872. He moved to Florida, not very far from where his former Salisbury Prison Commandant, Maj. John Gee, lived. He married Elizabeth Thigpen in Alachua County, Florida on January 23, 1873. He practiced dentistry in a rural Florida community and was so well thought of that it was renamed “Sneads” in his honor. Dr. Snead and his wife had no children of their own but brought two of his great-nieces, Pearl and Loula Snead, to live with them to give them an opportunity for a better education. He died on Sept. 2, 1931, and is buried with his wife in Riverside Cemetery, Marianna FL.
Some of the sources used in the preparation of this report:
Letters cited were written to Thomas D. Snead, Sr. Some originals are located in the “Personal Collection” of the Rare Book, Manuscript and Special Collections Library, Duke Univ. Durham, NC. One original letter is owned by Candace Snead Atwood of Four Oaks, NC. Some letters from E. D. Duke Univ. Snead to niece Jesse Snead are owned by Roberta Walker Butler.
Personal information provided by Patsy Gray, great-granddaughter of E. D. Snead.
Copy of photograph of Charles Henry Snead provided by Ann Snead Okita, his great-granddaughter
Application for Pension, Florida Archives & War Dept. Record 5580
Application for Pension – E. D. Snead
A True History of Co. L 49th Regiment, North Carolina Troops – W. A. Day
Johnston County Military Roll of Honor, Civil War 1861-1865
Articles in The Smithfield Herald, The Weekly Standard, The Daily Carolina Watchman
Johnston County, NC census records
Florida census records
Roll of Honor documentation for the 5th Regiment, North Carolina Troops
North Carolina Troops 1861-I865, A Roster
The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
The Recollections and Letters of Robert E. Lee
Microfilm records in the Rowan County Library
Documents found on line posted by The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC
State Troops and Volunteers, A Photographic Record of North Carolina ‘s Civil War Soldiers, Vol. I
The Heritage of Sampson County, NC – Oscar Bizzell, editor
America’s Historical Newspapers, an online source
Additional information and family photographs can be found in the two-volume set The Sneads of Accomack County, Virginia, Craven, Onslow, and Johnston Counties, North Carolina and Allied Families by Florence Roberta Walker Butler.