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Frederick William Swift
Frederick W. Swift MOH.jpg
Born 30 January 1831
Mansfield City, Connecticut
Died 30 January 1916 (aged 85)
Detroit, Michigan
Buried
Elmwood Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1862-1865
Rank Colonel
Brevet Brigadier General
Commands held 17th Michigan Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor

Frederick W. Swift (30 January 1831 - 30 January 1916) was a Colonel of the United States Army who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry in the American Civil War. He was awarded the medal on 15 February 1897 for actions performed at the Battle of Lenoir's Station in Tennessee in November 1863.

Personal life

Swift was born on 30 January 1831 in Mansfield, Connecticut. He married twice, first to Mary Amelia Bradford in 1855 and then to Ella Berdan and fathered three total children. After the war, he served as postmaster of Detroit, Michigan. He died on 30 January 1916 in Detroit and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.

Military service

Swift enlisted in the Army as a captain on 29 July 1862 in Detroit and was assigned to Company F of the 17th Michigan Infantry Regiment on 26 August 1862. On 16 November 1863, while acting as the rearguard of the Union force under General Ambrose Burnside in their retreat towards Knoxville, the 17th was attacked by the advance units of Confederate general James Longstreet's force. Demoralised and facing a charge from Confederate troops, the 17th's line was about to break. Swift, however, was able to take command by grabbing the unit colors and inspiring the men to form up on him. With a volley of musket fire, Swift was able to repulse the Confederate advance. For this action, Swift was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Swift's Medal of Honor citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Colonel Frederic William Swift, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 16 November 1863, while serving with 17th Michigan Infantry, in action at Lenoire Station, Tennessee. Lieutenant Colonel Swift gallantly seized the colors and rallied the regiment after three Color Bearers had been shot and the regiment, having become demoralized, was in imminent danger of capture.

Swift was promoted to lieutenant colonel on 26 November 1863 and assumed command of the 17th that same day. He was captured by the Confederates on 12 May 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia and was held in Macon, Georgia until he was exchanged for Confederate prisoners of war on 3 August 1864 in Charleston, South Carolina. He was added to General Cadmus Wilcox's staff in October 1864. He was promoted to Colonel in December 1864 and after the war received a brevet promotion to Brigadier General, backdated to 13 March 1865. He was mustered out of the army on 3 June 1865 at Delaney House, Washington D.C..

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