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Army Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor Citation

Lieutenant Colonel

Frederic William Swift

[more about him]


Organization: 17th Michigan Infantry

Entered Service: Michigan

Birth: 30 January 1831, Mansfield Center, Conn.

Date Medal Issued: 15 February 1897

Date of Action: 16 November 1863

Place of Action: Lenoire Station, Tenn.


Gallantly seized the colors and rallied the regiment after 3 color bearers had been shot and the regiment, having become demoralized, was in imminent danger of capture.

More about this award

Lieutenant Colonel Frederic Swift was one of two men awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic defense of the regimental colors of his unit in action against Confederate forces at Lenoire Station, Tennessee, on November 16, 1863. Lieutenant Colonel Swift had been ordered to hold the line of the creek under an intense fire that soon demoralized his men, sending many into a panicky retreat across the creek. "Fearing a stampede," he recalled, "I assumed the responsibility of moving the regiment across the creek and up to the top of the hill on the other side. One of the color guard was killed, another had his eye shot out, and a third was seriously wounded. Seeing the colors fall, I snatched them up and call to the men: 'We have fallen back just far enough; we will form here.' Someone asked: 'Who shall we form on?' and I replied: 'Form on me!' Personally bearing the flag, Lieutenant Colonel Swift then valiantly led his men in a daring charge that sent the rebel forces retreating in panic. The color bearer referred to in his account, whose eye had been shot out, was Private Joseph Brandle, who was the other man who earned the Medal of Honor in this battle.
(quote is from Home of Heroes text by C. Douglas Sterner accompanying photo of Swift's gravesite)


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