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General John L. Swift was born of good stock. He had patriotic blood, and lived many years in Boston. He was appointed United States Storekeeper at Boston Custom House in 1861, but resigned in 1862, to enter the army.
His military career began early during the civil war. Of a patriotic temperament, he volunteered as a private,in 1862, in Captain King s company, Thirty-fifth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, Six weeks later, he was made a Sergeant. The regiment was ordered to Antietam, and, just as the train was leaving the station, Sergeant Swift was ordered by Governor Andrew to return to Roxbury, and raise a company of volunteers. This he did in ten days. He was now commissioned as Captain of this Roxbury company, which became Company C, the color company of the Forty-first Massachusetts Volunteers. The sergeant, who took Swift s place was killed at Antietam, five minutes after the battle opened.
Swift drilled his company at Lynnfield, and Boxford,having as his First Lieutenant, W. T. Hodges, of Roxbury, and Otis, of same city, as Second Lieutenant. He went South with his regiment to New Orleans, and, at Baton Rouge, was made Provost Judge. He was present at the Battle of Irish Bend, on General Grover s staff,and during the siege of Port Hudson, he was one of the" Forlorn Hope" who volunteered to storm the works of the enemy in response to the call of General Banks.He remained on the staff of General Grover as Captain and Judge Advocate until 1864. He also served on the staff of the first Governor of Louisiana, Michael Hahn,after the reconstruction of the State.
General Swift was honorably discharged from the army,in order to accept a position as Adjutant-General of Louisiana, which position he held until 1865, when he resigned.
Returning North, he re-entered the service of the United States Government at the Boston Custom House,where he was an efficient official for many years. He was in great demand as a lecturer and orator, and stumped the State during many political campaigns.He was an ardent Republican, a true patriot, a friend of education, reform and religion, and died respected by all who knew him.