- Joseph Gardner Swift
Infobox Military Person
name=Joseph Gardner Swift
Geneva, New York
caption=COL Joseph Gardner Swift
United States Army
Cape Fear Riverdefenses Fort Johnson, North Carolina
Superintendent of the USMA Superintendent
Eastern Department Defenses
Chief Engineer of the US Army
battles=Battle of Chrysler’s Farm;
St. Lawrence Campaign;
Joseph Gardner Swift, the first graduate of the
United States Military Academy, was born on 31 December 1783on Nantucket Island, the son of Foster Swift and his wife, Deborah. At the age of six, he saw George Washingtonon Boston Common, an experience that made an indelible impression on him.
Early Life and education
In 1792, the Swifts moved to
Taunton, Massachusetts, where Joseph became the student of Reverend Samuel Daggat, who prepared him to enter Harvard College. Swift had read accounts of the American Revolutionin his father’s diary and heard stories from a family friend, Major General David Cobb. With Cobb’s advice and assistance, Swift was appointed by President John Adamson 12 May 1800as a cadet of artillerists and engineers. He reported for duty a month later at Newport Harbor.
In the summer of 1801, Secretary of War
Henry Dearbornnotified the Army that President Thomas Jeffersonhad directed the establishment of a military academy at West Point, New York. Swift reported to the academy on 14 October 1801. On 15 December 1801, then-Major Jonathan Williams took command and several months later became the first Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. The Academy was established by law on 16 March 1802. Swift progressed well and was considered by Williams to be the foremost cadet. After a thorough examination, Swift became the first graduate of the Academy on 12 October 1802. Simon Maruder Levy was the only other graduate in 1802.
Swift remained at West Point until
30 April 1804, and in June of that year, became the superintending engineer of the construction of the defenses of the mouth of the Cape Fear Riverin North Carolina. In January 1805 he became the commander of Fort Johnson, North Carolina.
Swift returned to West Point in 1807 and took command of the Academy in Williams' absence. He remained there until
23 Novemberof that year, when the Academy was closed for the winter vacation. Swift was promoted to Majorin February 1808 and assigned to lead the defenses of the Eastern Department covering the New Englandcoast. He was assigned with Joseph Gilbert Tottenand Sylvanus Thayer, also graduates of West Point. Once again, Swift was assigned to his old station at the mouth of the Cape Fear Riverwhere he was charged with superintending and inspecting southern coast defenses until 1812.In July 1812, Williams resigned as Chief Engineer of the Army, and Swift, then a lieutenant colonel and the next senior Engineer in the Army, assumed command. His appointment as Colonel and Chief Engineer of the Army, to rank as such from 31 July 1812, was unanimously confirmed in December 1812.
Pending his confirmation, Swift was ordered back to superintend the defenses of North Carolina. Before leaving Washington, he sent orders to Captain Partridge, the senior Engineer officer at West Point, to open the Military Academy (then practically defunct) in the coming spring. Swift, upon becoming Chief Engineer of the Army and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, was 30 years old.
In March 1813, Swift was called to Washington and consulted with the Secretary of War on the application of large appropriations for fortifications. He then reported to New York City to supervise the fortification process and act in his capacity as the Chief Engineer and Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy.
As Superintendent, he made frequent trips to West Point, and made plans for a new mess hall, academic building, and South Barracks. He also obtained authority to employ an acting chaplain to be Professor of Ethics, History, and Geography; remodeled the functions of the academic staff; and assumed the duties of the inspector of the institution to bar the assumption of authority claimed by Partridge as local commander.
With the repairs of New York Harbor completed and fortifications against the British fleet in place, Swift requested orders for the field. He became the Chief Engineer of the Northern Army under Major General
James Wilkinson. This took him to the ill-fated St. Lawrence Campaignbut also won him a citation for gallantry in the battle of Chrysler’s Farm. He was breveted a brigadier general on 19 February 1814.
The Secretary of War refused Swift further field service on the grounds that the coast defenses required his attention. Swift was sent to New York where, in conjunction with the Committee of Safety, he established plans for the development of the coasts of New York and Brooklyn and supervised the thousands of volunteers who worked on the project. The Corporation of New York voted him a Benefactor to the City as a result of these services.
After completing the defenses of New York, Swift was called upon to form a new system of
Infantrytactics, to reduce the Army to a peacetime establishment, and later, with Colonel George Bomford, to rebuild the U.S. Capitolin Washington D.C., which had been destroyed by the British in the War of 1812.
Shortly after the war, Congress authorized the President to employ Brigadier General
Simon Bernardof the French Army, a distinguished engineer under Napoleon, as an assistant in the Corps of Engineers. He was placed at the head of the Board of Engineers while Swift became solely Superintendent of the Military Academy. Swift protested the admission of foreigners into the American military, who in the event of war might become enemies. However, Bernard stayed on the Board of Engineers until 1831.
As Superintendent, Swift recommended sending two Engineer officers to Europe to examine French and Dutch fortifications and to purchase books to form a library at West Point. It was also hoped that one of them would replace him as Superintendent. Swift also secured a loan from
Jacob Barker, a rich Quakermerchant, because no government appropriations were available. Swift saved the institution from abandonment when he personally arranged a $65,000 loan at 7% interest.
For some time, Swift remained in local command at West Point, and in January 1817, proceeded to Washington to present his grievances to President
James Madison. This resulted in Swift’s resuming his position in Washington at the head of the Corps of Engineers and leaving Bernard without any military control.
Swift accompanied newly elected President
James Monroeon his trip to examine the northern states and during the seven-week excursion was able to study the battlefields of the American Revolutionand the War of 1812, as well as inspect arsenals, Navy yards and fortifications, and study the capacity of the country for defense. He also examined institutions of learning, particularly the Military Academy, in which Monroe was very interested.
At the time of this visit to West Point, it was decided that Partridge would be replaced by then-Major Sylvanus Thayer, who became Superintendent of the Academy on
28 July 1817. The Presidential tour continued to Maine, and Swift and a joint board of Army and Navy officers examined fortifications from Penobscot, Maine, to Connecticut. He also traveled to the Chesapeake Bayarea and chose a site for a Navy yard at Norfolk, Virginia.
In 1818, just before leaving the military, Swift’s main duties were in
Virginia. He studied the northern tributaries of the Chesapeake and made his last inspection of the Military Academy in September 1818. He was engaged with Governeur Kembleand four others in establishing the West Point Foundryat Cold Spring-on-the-Hudson. After contemplating civilian life for more than two years, he submitted his resignation on 12 November 1818, reserving all his rights as a brevet brigadier general in the Army, to be called into service in the event of war. He maintained this status until his death.
Soon after he left the Army, Swift was asked by the Corps of Engineers to sit for a portrait in his honor. The portrait, painted by Sully, was hung in the Library at the Academy upon its completion and hangs there today.
The day after his resignation, Swift accepted the surveyorship of the Port of New York. As a civil engineer, he soon became involved in various important projects. In 1819, he was consulted on the feasibility of banking and draining the Newark Flats. In 1820 he was appointed by the Legislature of
New Jerseyto superintend the plan to open the Morris Canalimprovement. In 1822 he was one of the three Commissioners to regulate the streets and drainage of the eastern part of the City of New York. In 1825, he was appointed as a commissioner to determine the capacity of the Bronx and Croton Rivers to supply New York City with pure water.
Unfortunately, Swift’s office duties and other interests did not prevent him from venturing into the business dealings of
Wall Street. In 1825, he was elected vice president of a life and trust insurance company. The company failed, and all of its members were indicted for a conspiracy to defraud the state. Swift was acquitted but suffered the loss of all of his property. Deprived of the means to support his family, Swift decided to move to a small farm belonging to his wife in Haywood County, Tennessee, where he built a small cabin and began growing cotton. Finding the title to his plantation defective and his children suffering from the weather, Swift returned to New York. He returned to civil engineering and the following year took charge of the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroadin Maryland.
In March 1829, he became the superintendent of the harbor improvements on
Lake Ontarioand held this position for sixteen years. While the lake works were suspended in the winter of 1829, Swift took charge of the construction of the railroad fromNew Orleans to Lake Pontchartrain, five miles long through a dense swamp considered impassable, which could neither be drained nor piled. This was one of the pioneer railroads of the south, and it is believed the first in America upon which iron edge rails were used.
In 1832, Swift succeeded
Benjamin Wrightas Chief Engineer of the New York and Harlem Railroad, but interference from the Board of Directors caused him to resign.
Swift moved to
Geneva, New York, and Hobart Collegeelected him Professor of Engineering and Statistics. Though he declined this honor, he accepted the membership offered to him in the Society of Statistics of Paris, France, and took a great interest in statistical and educational matters. In 1833, Swift was asked to present his views on how far the West Point system of discipline and instruction could be adapted to a university to be established in the City of New York. In 1834, he proposed a plan to Governor William L. Marcyfor normal schools and advised the school system to secure the services of Professor Horace Websteras Superintendent of the Free Academy, which later became the College of the City of New York.
Marriage and family
Swift married Louisa Margaret Walker, the daughter of James and M.M. Walker, on
6 June 1805in North Carolina. They had at least six children. [ [http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyontari/washingtonstcemStoZ.htm Washington Street Cemetery ] ]
Swift died on
23 July 1865in Geneva, aged eighty-two, and was buried in Washington Street Cemeteryin Geneva next to his wife, who had died in Geneva on 15 November 1855. Six of their children are also buried there: [ [http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyontari/washingtonstcemStoZ.htm Washington Street Cemetery ] ]
* Charlotte Swift, born
5 April 1826, died 31 December 1840;
* Julius H. Swift, died
6 February 1850, aged 35;
* Thomas Delano Swift, born Wilmington,
27 November 1812, died Geneva September 1829;
* James Thomas Swift, died
31 July 1890;
Foster Swift, M.D., born Geneva 31 October 1833, died Santa Cruz, West Indies 10 May 1875;
Jonathan Williams Swift, Commodore, United States Navy, born Taunton, 30 March 1808, died Geneva 30 July, 1877.
Also buried there are three of their daughters-in-law and one of their grandsons.
*cite web | title=Colonel Joseph Gardner Swift
work=Portraits and Profiles of Chief Engineers | url=http://www.hq.usace.army.mil/history/coe.htm#7 | accessmonthday=May 12 | accessyear=2005
* [http://www.aogusma.org/pubs/register/Swift.htm USMA Register of Graduates and Former Cadets]
NAME= Swift, Joseph Gardner
DATE OF BIRTH=
December 31, 1783
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=
Geneva, New York
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Gardner — You might also be looking for articles named Gardiner Gardner may be:Towns in the United States*Gardner, Colorado *Gardner, Illinois *Gardner, Kansas *Gardner, Massachusetts *Gardner, North Dakota *Gardner, Wisconsin *Glen Gardner, New… … Wikipedia
Swift Vets and POWs for Truth — Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly known as the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (SBVT), was a political group (527 group) of American Swift boat veterans and former prisoners of war of the Vietnam War, formed during the 2004 presidential… … Wikipedia
Joseph B. Ely — Joseph Buell Ely (* 22. Februar 1881 in Westfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts; † 13. Juni 1956) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker und von 1931 bis 1935 Gouverneur des Bundesstaates Massachusetts. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Frühe Jahre und… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Henry Gardner — Henry Joseph Gardner (* 14. Juni 1818 in Boston, Massachusetts; † 21. Juli 1892) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker und von 1855 bis 1858 Gouverneur des Bundesstaates Massachusetts. Inhaltsverzeichnis … Deutsch Wikipedia
Maurice Joseph Tobin — (Portrait von C.J. Fox) Maurice Joseph Tobin (* 22. Mai 1901 in Roxbury, Boston, Massachusetts; † 19. Juli 1953 in Sc … Deutsch Wikipedia
List of United States Military Academy alumni — Traditional hat toss at the 200th anniversary graduation ceremony at the United States Military Academy June 7, 2002 … Wikipedia
List of USACE Chiefs of Engineers — United States Army Chief of Engineers Incumbent: Merdith W.B. Temple since: June 17, 2011 (acting) First … Wikipedia
Nantucket — For other uses, see Nantucket (disambiguation). Town County of Nantucket, Massachusetts Town Nantucket … Wikipedia
United States Military Academy — West Point and USMA redirect here. For other uses, see West Point (disambiguation) and USMA (disambiguation). United States Military Academy at West Point Motto Duty • Honor • Country … Wikipedia
Fort Delaware — is a harbor defense facility built in 1859 on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. During the American Civil War, the Union used Fort Delaware as a prison for Confederate prisoners of war. The fort and the island currently belong to the… … Wikipedia