Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Washington Irving Snyder Collection, 1862-1898

James S. Schoff Civil War Collection

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, June 2010

Summary Information
Title: Washington Irving Snyder collection
Creator: Snyder family
Inclusive dates: 1862-1898
Extent: 25 items
The Washington Irving Snyder collection contains several letters and diaries relating to the Civil War service of Washington Irving Snyder, of the 11th Michigan Infantry, and his brother, James Madison Snyder, of the 25th Michigan Infantry. Also included are several miscellaneous pieces of 19th-century ephemera.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1997. M-3394.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Washington Irving Snyder Collection, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Washington Irving Snyder papers are arranged into two series:

  • Series I: Letters and Ephemera
  • Series II: Diaries.


Washington Irving Snyder, called Irving, was born around 1843 in Briar Creek Township, Columbia County, Pennsylvania, the son of Nathan Snyder and Frances Millard. Between 1850 and 1860, the family moved to Lockport Township, St. Joseph County, Michigan. After working as a laborer on the farm of John Major, Irving enlisted at age 18 as a corporal in Company E, 11th Michigan Infantry, on August 24, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant on January 1, 1863, and then to sergeant major on April 7, 1863. During the Battle of Chickamauga, Snyder was wounded in the side and died on October 5, 1863.

Snyder's older brother, James Madison Snyder, was born around 1836 and enlisted in Company G, 25th Michigan Infantry, on August 25, 1862. He died of disease on August 8, 1864, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Washington Irving Snyder papers, 1862-1898, contain 25 items: 2 letters, 2 diaries, 13 offprints from Photographic History of the Civil War, and 8 pieces of ephemera.

James Snyder wrote the first letter on January 23, 1863, to his brother (presumably Irving Snyder), describing the poor health of his regiment (25th Michigan Infantry), his impressions of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and some orders which he found peculiar. The second letter, written by W. Frankish to Snyder's parents, is a notice of Irving Snyder's death and the circumstances surrounding it (October 5, 1863).

Also included in the collection are eight ephemera items: an illustration of Major-General John Logan; a photograph of Borden M. Hicks of the 11th Michigan Infantry; an 1864 dance card for a "May Party" held in Elgin, Illinois; an undated postcard from Havana, Cuba; an order for the 33rd Michigan Infantry during the Spanish-American War, dated August 1, 1898; and a souvenir program for the inauguration of President Benjamin Harrison. The last four items have no direct connection to the Snyder family.

The Diaries series contains two pocket diaries kept by Irving Snyder during his service in the 11th Michigan Infantry. The first contains 194 pages covering January 1-December 31, 1862. In it, Snyder described movements around Kentucky and Tennessee, duties, health, and interesting incidents in very brief, near-daily entries. He did not write between September 15 and November 8. In his March 12 entry, Snyder wrote about a visit to Sulphur Springs near Shepherdsville, Kentucky, where he was treated to good whiskey by a generous saloonkeeper. On April 11, he described his arrest of two soldiers for getting drunk and abusing superior officers while on duty. Throughout the year, he kept meticulous records of letters sent and received.

The 1863 diary contains 30 pages of very short entries, for January-March and September of 1863. In early January, Snyder wrote briefly about the Battle of Stones River (Second Battle of Murfreesboro), noting that he took part in driving the Confederates across the river (January 2, 1863). Entries become somewhat more detailed and frequent beginning September 1, including descriptions of time spent in the woods for several days, of wounds sustained during the Battle of Chickamauga (September 20, 1863), about his transfer to a hospital, and about updates on the wound that killed him on October 5, 1863, five days after his last entry.

Subject Terms

    • Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
    • Logan, John Alexander, 1826-1886.
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 11th (1861-1864)
    • United States. Army. Michigan Infantry Regiment, 25th (1862-1865)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • Snyder, James Madison, b. ca. 1836.
    • Snyder, Washington Irving, 1843-1863.
    Genre Terms:
    • Correspondence.
    • Photographs.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   76, Schoff Civil War Collection  
    Washington Irving Snyder collection [series]
    Folder   1  
    Letters and Ephemera,  January 23, 1863-August 1, 1898    [Note: 13 offprints from Photographic History of the Civil War are located in the Graphics Division]
    Folder   2  
    Diaries,  1862-1863 (2 items)
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    The 13 offprints from Photographic History of the Civil War are located in the Clements Library Graphics Division.