Thursday, June 12, 2008
Thomas Sweeny is a fascinating character. He fought in the Mexican War as a second lieutenant in the 2nd New York. At Churubusco he was severely wounded in the right arm and it had to amputated. Instead of this forcing him out of the army he actually was offered a commission in the 2nd US Infantry. He had risen to captain by the time the war broke out. He soon commanded a Missouri regiment and was wounded at Wilson's Creek. After his regiment mustered out he became the colonel of the 52nd Illinois, which is what brought him to Shiloh. He would be wounded again here, on April 6th. In the Atlanta campaign he got into a (likely drunken) wrestling bout with Generals Grenville Dodge and John W. Fuller which ended his Civil War service despite being cleared by a military tribunal. After the war he was very active in the Fenians, and was one of the planners of the failed Canadian invasion. He truly earned his nickname, "Fighting Tom."
Likely due to his Shiloh wounding Sweeny left no report of his brigade's activities during the battle. His successor, Colonel Silas Baldwin did not do so either. Essentially this brigade was used to fill in holes in the Sunken Road-Hornets's Nest defenses. His regiments fought at different places along the line, from the Bloody Pond on the left to being the extreme right flank connecting to McClernand's forces.