Medal of Honor recipient
July 9, 1841|
|Died||May 27, 1926
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
|Service/branch|| United States Army
|Years of service||1857 - 1901|
|Unit||10th U.S. Infantry
11th U.S. Infantry
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Theodore Schwan (July 9, 1841 – May 27, 1926) was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War who received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Peebles' Farm. He also served with distinction during the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars.
Early life and Civil War
Schwan was born in Hanover, Germany, and received his initial schooling in Germany. His family immigrated to the United States in 1857. Upon his arrival in the U.S., Schwan enlisted as a Private in the Regular Army at age 16 and served in the 10th U.S. Infantry.
When the Civil War broke out, he served with his regiment, rising from Private to Quartermaster sergeant by October 1863, when he was commissioned as a Second lieutenant. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1864 and received the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Peebles' Farm for dragging a wounded Union officer to the rear and preventing him from being captured.
After the war
He remained in the Regular Army after the close of the Civil War and was promoted to captain, March 14, 1866. He was commanding a company, dept. quartermaster, and chief quartermaster District of Minnesota; Fort Snelling, Minn., from May, 1866, to May, 1867; on leave of absence from May to October, 1867 ; commanding company at Fort Snelling, Minn., to April, 1869; unassigned May, 1869 ; on duty at Galveston, Indianola, Corpus Christi, and Jefferson, Texas, 1869.
Captain Schwan was assigned to Eleventh U.S. Infantry regiment December, 1869; Commanding Company G, on frontier duty at Fort Griffin, and a subpost Fort Phantom Hill, Texas, 1870-73 (the intervening ten months having been spent on sick-leave of absence).
During the Red River War, 1874-76 he again was commanding Company G, at Fort Griffin. On February 5, 1874, detachments of Companies A and G, Eleventh Infantry, attacked a camp of hostile Qua ha dee Comanches on the Double Mountain Fork Brazos River, Texas, killed eleven Indians and captured sixty-five horses. One enlisted man was wounded in the fight.
In August and September, 1876, He was sent with the Eleventh Infantry from the Department of Texas to the Department of Dakota for field service in connection with the Great Sioux War of 1876-77 in the Dakota Territory and in Montana. Captain Schwan served at Cheyenne River Agency, D.T., Fort Custer, M.T., Fort Bennett, D.T., and Fort Sully, D.T., 1876-80.
On May 16, 1877, Lt. Gen. Sheridan directed his brother Lt. Col. Michael V. Sheridan to retrieve the bodies of Custer and his officers. On June 20, 1877, About 7 o'clock Company I, Seventh Cavalry (Captain Nowlan), reached the north bank of the Yellowstone, having been detached as the escort of Colonel Sheridan, who was to proceed to the Little Bighorn for the purpose of securing the bodies of the officers who fell in the Custer fight. Later in the day Colonel Sheridan passed up the river on the steamer Fletcher, being accompanied by Captain Schwan, Company G, Eleventh Infantry.
Headquarters of the Military District of Dakota Territory, March 15, 1878, designated Capt. Theodore Schwan to act as Indian agent at the Cheyenne Agency, Dakota Territory.  On June 20, the commissioner of Indian Affaires instructed Captain Schwan to form an Indian police force on the Cheyenne River Agency in order to reduce the need of a military force at the agency.
He was then on recruiting service at David's Island N.Y. Harbor 1880-82. Captain Schwan was an instructor on the staff of the United States School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., 1882-86.
Maj. (now Lieut. Col.) Theodore Schwan, assistant adjutant-general, detailed as acting inspector-general, Department of Dakota, July 17, 1894, per Special Orders, No. 140, Adjutaut-General's Office, 1894; relieved April 30, 1895, per Special Orders, No. 75, Adjutant-General's Office, current series (lieutenant colonel and assistant adjutant general, February 19, 1895).
He was promoted to colonel and assistant adjutant-general, May 18, 1898. The Adjutant-General's Department was then Adjt.-Gen'l, Brig.-Gen. H. C. Corbin. Assistants, Col. Theodore Schwan, Col. Thos. Ward, Lieut.-Col. W. H. Carter, Maj. H. O. S. Heistand, Maj. J. A. Johnston and Maj. W. A. Simpson.
Two weeks before his last promotion in the regular army he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and in accordance with the Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1899, he will retain that rank until July 1, 1901. He was brevetted several times.
When the Spanish-American War erupted, Lt. Col. Schwan was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and colonel in the Regular Army in May 1898, making him one of the only foreign-born generals in the Spanish-American War. He assumed command of the First Division of the Fourth Army Corps, which had mustered in at Mobile, Alabama before moving to the Tampa assembly area in early June and Miami, Florida on June 20. That unit was exchanged with the First Division, Seventh Army Corps on June 27, and at the beginning of July, Schwan was relieved of that command by the War Department, freeing him for service with the Puerto Rican invasion.
Schwan assumed command of the Independent Regular Brigade and sailed for Puerto Rico; the brigade landed at Guánica on July 31 and moved west along the coast. On August 10, his brigade won the Battle of Silva Heights; the next day, he entered the town of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The Spanish moved up for another attack on Schwan, but a cease fire was enacted before either side attacked. Allegedly during this cease fire, Schwan's troops engaged in the first game of baseball to be played in Puerto Rico.
With the fighting on Puerto Rico over, General Schwan was transferred to the Philippines, where he became chief-of-staff of the Eighth Army Corps, which had become engaged in the Philippine-American War. He personally directed the first Cavite Expedition, then took command of the Second Brigade in the corps' First Division (in this era, brigade and division numbers were repeated from one corps to another) during the second Cavite Expedition.
Retirement and death
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and Organization:
- First Lieutenant, 10th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Peebles Farm, Va., October 1, 1864. Entered service at: New York. Born: July 9, 1841, Germany. Date of issue: December 12, 1898.
- At the imminent risk of his own life, while his regiment was falling back before a superior force of the enemy, he dragged a wounded and helpless officer to the rear, thus saving him from death or capture.
- List of Medal of Honor recipients
- List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: Q–S
- Puerto Rican Campaign
- Hamersly, Lewis Randolph, Records of living officers of the United States Army, Hamersly, 1883.
- Anderson, Hugh Allen, Fort Phantom Hill: Outpost on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, The Museum Journal, Volume, XVI , West Texas Museum Association, Lubbock, TX, 1976.
- Kingsbury, George Washington, Smith George Martin, History of Dakota Territory, Volume 2, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1915.
- Report and historical collections, Volume 28, South Dakota. Dept. Of History, South Dakota State Historical Society, State Pub. Co., 1956.
- General orders, United States. War Dept, United States Adjutant-General's Office, United States Military Secretary's Dept Publisher The Dept., 1887
- Annual report of the Secretary of War, Volume 1, United States. War Dept., 1895.
- Herrmann, Karl Stephen, From Yauco to Las Marias: being a story of the recent campaign in western Puerto Rico by the independent regular brigade, under command of Brigadier-General Schwan, R. G. Badger & Co., 1900.
- Report of the Commission Appointed by the President to Investigate the Conduct of the War Department in the War with Spain: Reply of the Adjutant-General. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. 1900. pp. 256–8. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- Lee, Fitzhugh (September 1, 1898). "Annual Report of Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee, commanding Seventh Army Corps". U.S. Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
- "Chronology of Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War". The World of 1898: The Spanish-American War. Library of Congress. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
- "Theodore Schwan". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2007-11-08.
- ""Civil War Medal of Honor citations" (S-Z): Schwan, Theodore". AmericanCivilWar.com. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
- "Medal of Honor website (M-Z): Schwan, Theodore". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
|Wikisource has the text of a 1921 Collier's Encyclopedia article about Theodore Schwan.|