More on Confederate prisons

Archaeologists in Georgia announced yesterday that they have found the site of Camp Lawton, a Confederate prison camp near Millen, Georgia. You can read more about the project at Georgia Southern University’s Camp Lawton web site.

As you may remember, we processed a collection earlier in the Digital Center for Americana project that included images of Confederate prisons. Previously absent from HSP’s catalogs, the collection is now titled Sketches of Confederate Prisons (drawings) by Robert K. Sneden (Collection 3129).

I decided to check to see if Camp Lawton was depicted in our set of Sneden sketches. It is!

Here’s how Sneden sketched the camp in 1864:

For more on HSP’s collection of Sneden sketches, check out Cathleen Miller’s earlier post.

Our collection includes eight mounted wash and ink drawings, depicting not only Camp Lawton, but also prisons in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Here are a few more:

Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia

Prison on the South Common in Savannah, Georgia

Prisons in Salisbury, North Carolina (left) and Charleston, South Carolina (right)

One of our unknown gems

Early on in the Digital Center project, I worked on a description for the Robert Knox Sneden collection of “Sketches of Confederate Prisons.”  I discovered that not only did this collection have an obsolete call number, but it was not listed in either our OPAC or our graphics card catalog.  The only way to find this collection was by searching our Access database.  This still remains true, and will until we import our database into Archivists’ Toolkit sometime toward the end of the DCA project.  It pains me to know that little gems like the Sneden drawings are unknown to researchers, so I thought I could at least add a little plug for it here until it gets an OPAC record and is visible in our still-in-progress DAMS.

This collection consists of eight mounted wash and ink drawings of Confederate prisons by Robert Knox Sneden during his service with the 40th New York volunteers during the Civil War.  Each is captioned, identifying the prison, describing the site, listing the number of prisoners, noting how many deaths occurred there, along with the date when he was imprisoned there.  The watercolors are copies of original sketches done by Sneden while in the service.  They offer extensively detailed perspectives on the prisons, and suggest the difficult conditions within the walls of the buildings Sneden illustrated.

Sneden was a mapmaker with the 40th NY Vols., Army of the Potomac.  Sneden was captured by Confederate forces in 1863, and was imprisoned in the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia.  His nearly 1,000 maps and paintings, along with his 5,000 page manuscript were edited and abridged into a book published by the Virginia Historical Society, “The Eye of the Storm.”