Eben Swift

Eben Swift in 1916

Eben Swift (May 11, 1854 April 25, 1938) was a major general in the United States Army.


Swift was born on May 11, 1854, at Fort Chadbourne, Texas, to Captain Ebenezer Swift and his wife, Sarah.[1]

He attended Racine College, Washington University in St. Louis, and Dickinson College. He then attended the United States Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1876.

On May 18, 1880, he married Susan Bonaparte Palmer, daughter of Brigadier General Innis N. Palmer, and they had five children.[2] Their son, Innis P. Swift also became a major general. One of their daughters, Clara, was the wife of Brigadier General Evan Harris Humphrey.


Swift was initially assigned to the 14th Infantry, and soon transferred to the 5th Cavalry. He spent several years at posts in the western United States during the American Indian Wars, including assignments in Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Idaho, and Colorado. From 1887 to 1890 he was aide-de-camp to Wesley Merritt.

He took part in the Spanish–American War, serving in Cuba and Puerto Rico with several volunteer units from Illinois, and advancing from temporary Major to temporary Colonel and commander of the 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry by the time he returned to the regular Army in 1899.

His early 1900s assignments director of the Army War College and military observer in Manchuria of the Russo-Japanese War. He commanded the 2nd Cavalry Division on the U.S.-Mexico border during the Pancho Villa Expedition.

At the start of World War I he was assigned to command of Camp Gordon and promoted to brigadier general. He was the first commander of the 82nd Division, which he led from August to November 1917.

Swift later served as head of the U.S. Military Mission and commander of U.S. forces in Italy and was promoted to major general. He reached the statutory retirement age of 64 on May 11, 1918, but continued to serve until September. Swift was awarded the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Commander) for his service in Italy.

In 1919 and 1920 he was recalled to temporary duty as a lecturer on tactics for Reserve Officer Training Corps units at several colleges and universities.

Death and burial

Swift died on April 25, 1938, in Washington, D.C.. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Camp Swift, Texas, a World War II United States Army training base, was named in his honor.


  1. "Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)". Tshaonline.org. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  2. Michael Robert Patterson. "Eben Swift, Major General, United States Army". Arlingtoncemetery.net. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
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