Benjamin Sweet

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Benjamin Jeffery Sweet (April 24, 1832 – January 1, 1874) was an American politician, soldier and Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue.


Sweet was born Benjamin Jeffery Sweet on April 24, 1832 in New York City. He later moved to Chilton, Wisconsin.[1] Sweet died on January 1, 1874 and is buried at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.[2] His daughter, Ada Celeste Sweet, was a social reformer.

Political career[edit]

Sweet was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate. He later served as Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue of the United States from 1872 until his death.

Military career[edit]

Soon after the outbreak of the American Civil War, on July 16, 1861, Sweet joined the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army and was given the rank of major.[3] On September 17, 1861, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.[3] On September 5, 1862, Sweet was promoted to colonel and given command of the 21st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment.[3] During the Battle of Perryville, despite being sick from malaria, he led his men in combat until he was seriously wounded in his right arm. The wound ultimately left Sweet paralyzed in that arm for the rest of his life. Sweet resigned his commission on September 8, 1863.[3]

On September 25, 1863, Sweet was appointed a colonel in the Veteran Reserve Corps and assigned to the garrison at the Union Army prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate States Army soldiers at Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois.[3] Following recuperation from his injury, Sweet was given command of Camp Douglas after Brigadier General William W. Orme resigned on May 2, 1864.[3] At Camp Douglas, Sweet oversaw the unnecessarily harsh and cruel treatment of Confederate prisoners. His inhumanity notwithstanding, Sweet would soon be lauded for "discovering" and "thwarting" a bogus plot by spies for the Confederacy to liberate Confederate prisoners of war and attack Chicago on the eve of the 1864 United States presidential election.[4] Sweet's efforts to prevent the conspirators from achieving their objective earned him the thanks of the United States Department of War. On December 12, 1864, President Lincoln awarded Sweet the rank of brevet brigadier general of volunteers to rank from December 20, 1864, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the award on February 14, 1865.[5] Sweet resigned from the army on September 19, 1865.[3]


  1. ^ "Sweet, Col. Benjamin (1832-1874)". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  2. ^ "Benjamin Jeffrey Sweet". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher, Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3. p. 520.
  4. ^ Most historians now question the seriousness of the plot and even think it may have dissipated before Sweet made his efforts to stop the conspiracy and arrest conspirators. Levy, George, To Die in Chicago: Confederate Prisoners at Camp Douglas 1862–1865. Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, revised edition 1999, original edition 1994. ISBN 978-1-56554-331-7. pp. 259, 261.
  5. ^ Eicher, 2001, p. 759