The First City Troop has been full of interesting characters over the years. Two weeks ago, a friend in Chestnut Hill told me about a Troop Captain in his family tree called Archibald Loudon Snowden. In addition to boasting a melodic name, Snowden was quite an accomplished cat.
Born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1835, he moved to Philadelphia to attend Jefferson College. At the Civil War's outbreak in 1861, he helped raise a regiment of infantry, and was elected Lieutenant Colonel of that unit. Instead of helping to lead that unit, he chose instead to join the First City Troop at the rank of private. In 1863 he deployed with the Troop to Gettysburg, where they were the first unit to discover the Confederate army's presence in the local vicinity. A decade after the war, Snowden rose to the rank of Troop captain, commanding the unit during the 1875 coal miner strikes in Pennsylvania.
As a civilian, he worked as chief coiner and then superintendent of the Philadelphia Mint and from 1877 to 1879 as Philadelphia postmaster. He introduced a number of inventions that improved coining machinery, and wrote articles on subjects relating to coinage. Like many heavy-hitting Philadelphia businessmen of his era, he was also involved with railroads, insurance companies, and manufacturing business interests.
Snowden later served in the State Department as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Greece, Romania, and Serbia as from 1889 to 1892, and then U.S. minister to Spain from 1892 to 1893. His modern day descendant told me that Snowden thought the Balkans were a mess when he was there, and predicted that the region would someday cause a major war in Europe.
Image: A. Loudon Snowden Mint and Treasury Medallion, from New York Historical Society website