Thomas William Sweeny
|Thomas William Sweeny|
Thomas W. Sweeny
December 25, 1820|
|Died||April 10, 1892
Long Island, New York
|Place of burial||Green-Wood Cemetery|
|Allegiance|| United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1846–1870|
Birth and early years
Sweeny was born in Cork, Ireland, on Christmas Day, 1820. He immigrated to the United States in 1833. In 1846, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in Burnett's New York Volunteers, and fought under General Winfield Scott in Mexico. Sweeny was wounded in the groin at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and his right arm was so badly injured at the Battle of Churubusco that it had to be amputated. For his heroics, his fellow servicemen nicknamed him "Fighting Tom". Despite this possible career-ending injury, he continued serving with the 2nd US Infantry until the outbreak of the Civil War. Sweeny was active in the Yuma War (1850–1853), fighting in several engagements against native Americans.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Sweeny was in command of the arsenal at St. Louis, Missouri In reply to efforts of Confederate sympathizers to induce him to surrender that important post, he declared that before he would do so, he would blow it up. As second in command, he participated in the capture of Camp Jackson in May 1861 and later assisted in organizing the Home Guards. He was chosen as the brigadier general of that organization.
Sweeny commanded the Fifty-second Illinois at Fort Donelson. At Shiloh, in command of a brigade, he successfully defended a gap in the Union line. He returned to command his regiment but returned to brigade command when General Pleasant A. Hackleman was killed at Corinth. He commanded the Second Division of the Sixteenth Army Corps in the Atlanta campaign. At the Battle of Atlanta Sweeny's division intercepted John B. Hood's flank attack. Sweeny got into a fistfight with his corps commander, General Grenville M. Dodge, when Dodge broke protocol and personally directed one of Sweeny's brigades during the fight. Sweeny received a court-martial for these actions but was acquitted.
In 1866, he commanded the ill-fated Fenian invasion of Canada, after which he was arrested for breaking neutrality laws between the United States and Britain, but was soon released. He retired from the Regular Army in 1870 as a brigadier general.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
- Jack Morgan, Through American and Irish Wars: The Life and Times of General Thomas W. Sweeny 1820-1892 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2005).