Saturday, November 30, 2013

Antietam: Private Nelson Snow 'was brave enough to die'

A memorial and state-issued marker for 16th Connecticut Private Nelson Snow
in West Suffield (Conn.) Cemetery.
Nelson Snow, a 23-year-old private in Company D of the 16th Connecticut, was sick several days before the Battle of Antietam, but his illness didn't keep him from fighting. "[Snow] went into the fight for fear someone would call him a coward," wrote William Relyea, a comrade in Company D. "He was brave enough to die." (1) Snow, from Enfield, and 42 other 16th Connecticut soldiers were killed in John Otto's 40-acre cornfield on Sept. 17, 1862.

With the exception of Captain Newton Manross, who was killed early in the regiment’s fight and carried to the rear, the dead of the 16th Connecticut were interred near a large tree on the Otto farm that 16th Connecticut adjutant John Burnham marked on all sides. Snow was buried on the north side of that tree with his Company D comrades: corporals Horace Warner of Suffield and Michael Grace of Enfield and Private George Allen, also of Suffield. Privates Henry Aldrich of Bristol, John Bingham of East Haddam and Theodore DeMarrs of Cromwell and Sergeant Wadsworth Washburn of Berlin were also buried in the large trench. (Click here for my downloadable Excel spreadsheet of Connecticut Antietam deaths.)

"I have been particular to mention the precise locality of each (body)," Burnham wrote days after the battle, "so that in the event of the signs being displaced by the elements or otherwise, they may be found; and I trust that anyone who comes to the spot will be very particular and disturb none but those of whom they are in search.” (2) It's unknown, however, whether Snow's remains were returned to the state or re-buried in Antietam National Cemetery.

A state-issued marker and a memorial for Snow and his brother are in West Suffield (Conn.) Cemetery. Orlando Snow, also a private in the 16th Connecticut, was captured at Plymouth, N.C.., in April 1864 and died at Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp on Nov. 17, 1864. He's buried there, probably under a marker that reads "Unknown."

(1) Relyea, William Henry. “The History of the 16th Connecticut Volunteers,” MS 72782, Connecticut Historical Society
(2) Hartford Courant, Sept. 30, 1862
State-issued markers for brothers Orlando and Nelson Snow. It's unclear whether
the soldiers' remains were returned to Connecticut.

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