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William J. Snow (December 16, 1868 – February 27, 1947) was a career officer in the United States Army. He attained the rank of major general, and served as the Chief of Field Artillery for seven years in the 1920s.

William J. Snow
William J. Snow (US Army Major General 1946).jpg
Front cover of the June 1946 edition of the Field Artillery Journal
Born(1868-12-16)December 16, 1868
Brooklyn, New York
DiedFebruary 27, 1947(1947-02-27) (aged 78)
Washington, DC
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army seal United States Army
Years of service1890–1927
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
UnitField Artillery Branch
Commands held
Battles/warsSpanish–American War
Philippine–American War
World War I
AwardsU.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal
Order of the Bath (Companion) (Great Britain)
Legion of Honor (Commander) (France)
Spouse(s)Isabel O’Hear Locke (1872-1944) (m. 1892)
Other workSecretary, United States Field Artillery Association
Editor, Field Artillery Journal

A native of Brooklyn, New York who grew up in New Jersey, Snow graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1890 and commenced a long career in the Army's field artillery branch. After serving in New York early in his career, he graduated from the artillery school at Fort Monroe and took part in the Spanish–American War by performing coast artillery duty in Louisiana. He then served in the Philippines during the Philippine–American War before returning to the United States to command a battery at Fort Riley. He spent several years on duty at the Militia Bureau, and commanded a battalion at Fort Myer. He commanded the 1st Field Artillery Regiment in the period immediately preceding World War I.

During World War I, Snow commanded the 4th Field Artillery Regiment, the Field Artillery School, and the 156th Field Artillery Brigade. In 1918 he was assigned to serve as the first Chief of Field Artillery as a major general, and held this position until retiring in 1927. Snow died in Washington, DC in 1947, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Early lifeEdit

William Josiah Snow was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 16, 1868, the son of William Dunham Snow and Mary Elizabeth (Newell) Snow.[1][2] In 1876, his family moved to River Vale, New Jersey, and Snow graduated from Hackensack High School in 1885.[1] He attended the Stevens Institute of Technology from 1885 to 1886, and then began attendance at the United States Military Academy.[1] He graduated in 1890, and was ranked 24th of 54 students.[3][2] Snow received his commission as a second lieutenant of field artillery, and was assigned to the 1st Artillery Regiment.[1]

Start of careerEdit

From 1890 to 1894, Snow served at Fort Hamilton and Fort Wadsworth in New York, and alternated between coast artillery and field artillery duties.[1] In 1896 he began attendance at the Fort Monroe, Virginia artillery school, and he graduated in 1898.[1]

During the Spanish–American War, Snow performed coast artillery duty at Fort St. Philip, Louisiana, and was promoted to first lieutenant.[1] He then traveled to Fort Slocum, New York to serve as quartermaster of the 7th Artillery Regiment.[1] In 1900, Snow was assigned to 1st Battery, 7th Artillery which was slated for assignment to China during the Boxer Rebellion.[1] The battery was subsequently ordered to the Philippines for service in the Philippine–American War, and Snow served there until May, 1901.[1]

Continued careerEdit

Snow was promoted to captain in 1901 and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas as commander of the 20th Field Battery (Horse), which was later re-designated as Battery E, 6th Field Artillery Regiment.[1] He attended the Army War College from 1907 to 1908, after which he returned to the 6th Field Artillery to serve as regimental adjutant.[1] In 1910, Snow played the lead role in organizing the United States Field Artillery Association; he became its first Secretary and the first editor of the Field Artillery Journal.[1]

In 1910, Snow was assigned to the Militia Bureau as senior inspector and instructor of National Guard artillery units.[1] He was commended for his work to standardize unit organizations and training activities, efforts which were credited with enabling National Guard artillery organizations to perform capably during World War I.[1] Snow was promoted to major in 1911, and from 1911 to 1914 he commanded 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Virginia.[3]

Snow was assigned to the 2nd Field Artillery (Mountain) at Camp Stotsenburg, Philippines in January 1915.[1] He commanded the regiment's 1st Battalion until June 1916, when he was assigned to command the 1st Field Artillery Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.[1] Snow was promoted to lieutenant colonel in June and colonel in July.[1]

World War IEdit

In April 1917, Snow was assigned to command the 4th Field Artillery Regiment, which he led during training at Fort Bliss, Texas and at a temporary camp in Syracuse, New York.[3] in July 1917, Snow was selected to command the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and promoted to brigadier general.[3] While at the school, Snow began the process of reorganizing it and modernizing the program of instruction to meet the increased demand created by the war.[1]

Snow was assigned to command the 156th Field Artillery Brigade at Camp Jackson, South Carolina in September 1917.[3] In February 1918, Snow was selected to serve as the first Chief of Field Artillery, an unofficial position created to oversee the field artillery branch's wartime mobilization and training, and he was promoted to major general in June.[3] In this role, he created a system of training centers and replacement depots, which enabled the artillery branch to meet the wartime demand for qualified artillerymen.[3]

Post-World War IEdit

From 1920's F.A.C.O.T.S.: The Story of the Field Artillery Central Officers Training School, Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky

After the war, Snow continued to serve as the Chief of Field Artillery, and the position was codified by law in 1920.[1] He served until retiring in 1927, and oversaw the artillery branch's postwar reorganization, including the beginning of testing and experimentation to determine how to transition from horse drawn equipment to mechanized, and modernize processes for directing and controlling indirect fire to improve speed and accuracy.[1]

Retirement and deathEdit

After retiring in 1927, Snow resided in Washington, DC, and Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.[1] In 1940, Snow published a memoir, Signposts of Experience, which was reissued in 2014.[4] He died in Washington on February 27, 1947, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Section South, Site 3953.[5]


Snow was a recipient of the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal for his World War I service.[1] He also received the British Order of the Bath (Companion) and the French Legion of Honor (Commander).[1]

In 1919, Snow received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Yale University.[6]


In 1892, Snow married Isabel O'Hear Locke (1872–1944) of Atlanta, Georgia.[1] They were the parents of a son, William Arthur Snow (1894–1940), who was also a graduate of West Point.[7] William A. Snow was a World War I veteran who attained the rank of lieutenant colonel as an engineer officer, and was a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross and other decorations to recognize his wartime heroism.[7]

Snow was survived by his daughter in law, Margaret Payne Snow and two grandchildren, Margaret and William.[1] Margaret Snow (1922-2011) was a teacher and the wife of Dr. John H. Hill (d. 1980) and General Melville B. Coburn (d. 1992).[7] William J. Snow II (1923-2011) was a 1945 graduate of West Point and a veteran of the United States Air Force who went on to a career as an Episcopal clergyman.[8]




  • "Memorial, William J. Snow 1890". West Point, NY: West Point Association of Graduates. 1947.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  • "Memorial, William J. Snow II 1945". West Point, NY: West Point Association of Graduates. 2011.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  • "Obituary, Margaret Payne Snow Coburn, 1922-2011". Norfolk, VA: The Virginian-Pilot. November 16, 2011.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  • "Burial Record, William Josiah Snow (1868-1947)". Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington, VA: United States Department of the Army. Retrieved October 27, 2017.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)



External sourcesEdit