How Camp Lawton Looked
The only known illustrations of Camp Lawton as it existed in 1864 are from the hand of Robert Knox Sneden (1832-1918), a Union private who was a prolific sketcher and illustrator during the Civil War.
An architect’s apprentice from New York, Sneden saw action at many battles, including the siege of Yorktown and Second Bull Run/Manassas, frequently drawing maps and making sketches of what he observed. He was captured by the Confederate Army in November, 1863, and began a 13-month odyssey as a prisoner, including a stint at Andersonville and another at nearby Camp Lawton. Whenever possible, he drew what he observed, frequently in secret.
Sneden was freed in a prisoner exchange in December, 1864, and returned home to New York. He wrote a memoir of the war, and converted many of his simple pencil sketches to watercolors. When he died in 1918, his work was unknown, but it was discovered in 1993 in a Connecticut bank vault and sold to the Virginia Historical Society. His illustrations and maps are the largest collection of Civil War art by a single individual known to exist.
The following are three of the illustrations made by Robert Knox Sneden.
Illustrations of Camp Lawton in 1864 by Private Robert Knox Sneden, a Union prisoner in the camp. Used by permission of Virginia Historical Society.