Sweet, James R. (1818–1880)

By: S. W. Pease

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: May 7, 2016

James R. Sweet, Confederate officer, was born in Bridgetown, Nova Scotia, in 1818. He was married to Charlotte James, and they had two children. He established a business in St. John, New Brunswick, but in 1849, after business reverses, he moved with his family to San Antonio, Texas. He entered a partnership with his brother-in-law John James in June 1850. James supplied the capital, and Sweet ran the business. He was engaged in the mercantile business, speculated in mining, and bought land at the head of the San Antonio River within the site of present-day Alamo Heights, where he built a large home. The property was later purchased by George W. Brackenridge and became the site of the campus of Incarnate Word College. Sweet served as mayor of San Antonio from January 1, 1859, to May 26, 1862, when he resigned to join the Confederate Army. He entered as a major in the Fourteenth Cavalry battalion and was promoted to lieutenant colonel when his unit was merged into the Thirty-third Cavalry regiment. He served in the Rio Grande valley. At the end of the war, along with Gen. John B. Magruder, Gen. Joseph Orville Shelby, and others, he remained in Mexico during the Reconstruction period. After his return to San Antonio he bought an interest in the San Antonio Herald in 1873; later, failing health forced him to retire. His son Alexander Edwin Sweet was a journalist on the Herald before gaining nationwide fame in Galveston. James R. Sweet died in San Antonio on December 12, 1880, and was buried in City Cemetery.

Vinton Lee James, Frontier and Pioneer Recollections of Early Days in San Antonio and West Texas (San Antonio, 1938). San Antonio Express, December 13, 1880. Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).


  • Peoples
  • English
  • Military
  • Soldiers

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

S. W. Pease, “Sweet, James R.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 26, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/sweet-james-r.

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May 7, 2016

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