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Thomas William Sweeny


Thomas William Sweeny

Thomas William Sweeny
Thomas W. Sweeny
Nickname(s) Fighting Tom
Born (1820-12-25)December 25, 1820
Cork, Ireland
Died April 10, 1892(1892-04-10) (aged 71)
Long Island, New York
Place of burial Green-Wood Cemetery
Allegiance United States (Union)
Fenian Brotherhood
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1846–1865, 1866–1870
Rank Brigadier General

Mexican-American War

Yuma War

American Civil War

Fenian raids
Other work Secretary of War[1]

Thomas William Sweeny (December 25, 1820 – April 10, 1892) was an Irish soldier who served in the Mexican-American War and then was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.


  • Birth and early years 1
  • Civil War 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

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 the 2nd 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.

Civil War

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Sweeny was in command of 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 was wounded in the battle having received two shots in his only remaining arm and a shot in one of his legs.[2] Col. Sweany kept the field until the close of the fight, exciting the admiration of the whole army. 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.

Sweeny retired to Astoria on Long Island. He died there on April 10, 1892, and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

See also


  1. ^ "The Fenian Raids -- 1866". Human Resources Development SCP Grant / 1997. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  2. ^
  • Jack Morgan, Through American and Irish Wars: The Life and Times of General Thomas W. Sweeny 1820-1892 (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2005).

External links

  • Wild Geese bio
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