Swift, Eben (1854–1938)

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: July 1, 1995

Eben Swift, United States Army officer and military historian, son of Capt. Ebenezer and Sarah Edwards (Capers) Swift, was born on May 11, 1854, at Fort Chadbourne, Texas, where his father, an army surgeon, was stationed. He studied at Racine College in Wisconsin, Washington University, and Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1876. His first active-duty assignment was on the Indian frontiers of Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Idaho, and Colorado, against Sioux, Cheyenne, Barrock, and Ute Indians. On May 18, 1880, he married Susan Bonaparte Palmer, the daughter of Gen. Innis N. Palmer. The couple had five children. During the Spanish-American War, Swift was appointed major and later lieutenant colonel and in 1899 was in charge of preparing a district of 300,000 inhabitants at Humacao, Puerto Rico, for civil government. He did valuable relief work after a hurricane that killed 2,600 people and destroyed $100 million worth of property. Swift was in the campaign against the Moros in the Philippines and commanded the Second Cavalry in the punitive expedition in Mexico in 1916 (see PERSHING, JOHN J.). He was made commander of a cavalry division at El Paso in 1916 and commander of Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia, in 1917. He organized and commanded the Eighty-second Division in World War I and was chief of the American Military Mission and Commander of United States forces in Italy until his retirement on May 11, 1918. At retirement he held the rank of major general. Swift was the author of numerous military history books. He died on April 25, 1938, in Washington, D.C. Camp Swift, in Bastrop, Texas, was named in his honor during World War II.

Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army (2 vols., Washington: GPO, 1903; rpt., Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965). Who Was Who in America, Vol. 1.
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era

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

Anonymous, “Swift, Eben,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 03, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/swift-eben.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

July 1, 1995