Wager Swayne

Wager Swayne, a son of U. S. Supreme Court Justice Noah Haynes Swayne, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on November 10, 1834. Both his mother and father were natives of Virginia who had moved to free territory because of their opposition to slavery. Young Swayne was graduated from Yale in 1856 and from the Cincinnati Law School in 1859. He began practice in Columbus with his father, who was elevated to the Supreme Court in 1862. On August 31, 1861, Swayne entered the army as major of the 43rd Ohio, a regiment which took part in the operations against New Madrid and Island No. 10 under John Pope. It also took part in the advance upon Corinth after the battle of Shiloh and at the battle of Corinth proper in October, 1862; Swayne later won the Congressional medal for gallantry displayed in the battle. The same month he was promoted to colonel. From that time until the opening of the Atlanta campaign in May, 1864, Swayne and his regiment performed garrison duty at various points in Tennessee. When W. T. Sherman pushed south toward Atlanta, however, the 43rd Ohio, attached to the XVI Corps, fought at Resaca, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, and in the battles around Atlanta. When Sherman's forces were regrouped for the "March to the Sea" and the campaign of the Carolinas, Swayne's regiment became part of the XVII Corps. On February 2, 1865, at the crossing of the Salkehatchie River in South Carolina, he was struck by a shell fragment which necessitated the amputation of his right leg above the knee. He was brevetted brigadier general of volunteers as of February 5 and on March 13 was given the full rank, although the records do not exhibit that he ever exercised brigade command for so much as a day (published statements to the contrary). Later that year he was selected by General Oliver O. Howard, head of the, Freedmen's Bureau, to direct bureau operations in Alabama, and since he would also be exercising military command he was advanced to major general of volunteers on May 1, 1866 (to rank June 20, 1865), the last such appointment made during the Civil War period. As a further mark of favor he was commissioned colonel of the newly authorized 45th Regular Infantry and in 1867 was brevetted brigadier and major general, U. S. Army. When the army was reorganized in 1869, Swayne's regiment was consolidated with the 14th Infantry, and he was without a command until he was placed on the retired list the following year. He then took up the practice of law in Toledo, but moved to New York in 1881, where he had a large and lucrative corporate practice. He died there December 18, 1902, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.