John Louis Taylor Sneed
John Louis Taylor Sneed was born
on May 12, 1820, in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of Major Junius and Julia
Rowan (Taylor) Sneed. His father was a cashier of the state bank; his mother, a
daughter of North Carolina Chief Justice John Louis Taylor. Sneed was admitted
to the Tennessee bar in 1841. In 1843 he settled in Memphis and started a
distinguished legal and political career. A Whig, Sneed served in the Tennessee
General Assembly from 1843 to 1846. During the Mexican War Sneed was sergeant
major, then captain, of Company G, Regiment of Tennessee Mounted Volunteers.
Returning to Memphis at the conclusion of that war, Sneed was a district
attorney general from 1851 to 1854 and state attorney general from 1854 to 1859.
In 1858 and 1859 he ran, unsuccessfully, as an opposition (old Whig party)
candidate for Congress.
On May 9, 1861, Governor Isham Harris appointed Sneed brigadier general of Tennessee state forces. Sneed was placed in command of the volunteers encampment at Fort Randolph, Tennessee (near Memphis), and later led the "River Brigade" in Major General Leonidas Polk's army. Sneed's war service was brief, but praiseworthy. He even survived the daily panicking of his superior, Major General Gideon Pillow. The Tennessee army was transferred to Confederate service in August, 1861. Sneed, however, was one of three generals in that force (all prewar Whigs) who were not, despite the governor's urgings, subsequently appointed generals in the regular Confederate army. In 1862 Sneed attempted to raise a regiment of infantry, but the Federal advance ended those plans. Governor Harris later appointed Sneed to settle accounts between the Tennessee provisional army and the Confederacy.
After the war General Sneed returned to Memphis and rebuilt his legal career. A "high-toned, honorable gentleman," Sneed served as a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1870 to 1878, judge of the Court of Arbitration in 1879, judge of the Court of Referees from 1883 to 1884, and chancellor of the Eleventh Chancery Division of Tennessee from 1894 to 1900. Sneed also served as a Democratic elector in 1880, vice president of the American Bar Association in 1882, president of the Memphis law school from 1887 to 1893, and was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1887. General Sneed died on July 29, 1901, in Memphis, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery.
SHSP and CV list General Sneed as a Confederate general.
Reference: More Generals in Gray. Bruce S. Allardice. A companion volume to Generals in Gray. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.