Civil War Wiki
Theodore Schwan
[[Image:File:TSchwan.jpg|center|200px|border]]Medal of Honor recipient
Personal Information
Born: July 9, 1841(1841-07-09)
Place of Birth: {{{place of birth}}}
Died: May 27, 1926 (aged 84)
Place of Death: {{{place of death}}}
Nickname: {{{nickname}}}
Birth Name: {{{birth name}}}
Other Information
Allegiance: United States of America
Participation(s): {{{participations}}}
Branch: United States Army
Union Army
Service Years: {{{service years}}}
Rank: Brigadier General
Service number : {{{servicenumber}}}
Unit: 10th U.S. Infantry

11th U.S. Infantry

Commands: IV Corps

VIII Corps

Battles: American Civil War

Indian Wars

  • Red River War
  • Great Sioux War of 1876-77

Spanish-American War

  • Battle of Silva Heights

Philippine-American War

Awards: Medal of Honor
Relations: {{{relations}}}
Other work: {{{otherwork}}}

Theodore Schwan (July 9, 1841 – May 27, 1926) was a Union Army officer during the American Civil War who received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Peebles' Farm. He also served with distinction during the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars.

Early life and Civil War[]

Schwan was born in Hanover, Germany, and received his initial schooling in Germany. His family immigrated to the United States in 1857. Upon his arrival in the U.S., Schwan enlisted as a private in the Regular Army at age 16 and served in the 10th U.S. Infantry.

When the Civil War broke out, he served with his regiment, rising from private to Quartermaster-Sergeant by 1863. He was made a First Lieutenant in 1864 and received the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Peebles' Farm for dragging a wounded Union officer to the rear and preventing him from being captured.

After the war[]

He remained in the Regular Army after the close of the Civil War and was promoted to captain, March 14, 1866. He was commanding a company, dept. quartermaster, and chief quartermaster District of Minnesota; Fort Snelling, Minn., from May, 1866, to May, 1867; on leave of absence from May to October, 1867 ; commanding company at Fort Snelling, Minn., to April, 1869; unassigned May, 1869 ; on duty at Galveston, Indianola, Corpus Christi, and Jefferson, Texas, 1869.[1]

Indian Wars[]

Captain Schwan was assigned to Eleventh U.S. Infantry regiment December, 1869; Commanding Company G, on frontier duty at Fort Griffin, and a subpost Fort Phantom Hill,[2] Texas, 1870-73 (the intervening ten months having been spent on sick-leave of absence).

During the Red River War, 1874-76 he again was commanding Company G, at Fort Griffin. On February 5, 1874, detachments of Companies A and G, Eleventh Infantry, attacked a camp of hostile Qua ha dee Comanches on the Double Mountain Fork Brazos River, Texas, killed eleven Indians and captured sixty-five horses. One enlisted man was wounded in the fight.

In August and September, 1876, He was sent with the Eleventh Infantry from the Department of Texas to the Department of Dakota for field service in connection with the Great Sioux War of 1876-77 in the Dakota Territory and in Montana. Captain Schwan served at Cheyenne River Agency, D.T., Fort Custer, M.T., Fort Bennett, D.T., and Fort Sully, D.T., 1876-80.

On May 16, 1877, Lt. Gen. Sheridan directed his brother Lt. Col. Michael V. Sheridan to retrieve the bodies of Custer and his officers. On June 20, 1877, About 7 o'clock Company I, Seventh Cavalry (Captain Nowlan), reached the north bank of the Yellowstone, having been detached as the escort of Colonel Sheridan, who was to proceed to the Little Bighorn for the purpose of securing the bodies of the officers who fell in the Custer fight. Later in the day Colonel Sheridan passed up the river on the steamer Fletcher, being accompanied by Captain Schwan, Company G, Eleventh Infantry.

Headquarters of the Military District of Dakota Territory, March 15, 1878, designated Capt. Theodore Schwan to act as Indian agent at the Cheyenne Agency, Dakota Territory. [3] On June 20, the commissioner of Indian Affaires instructed Captain Schwan to form an Indian police force on the Cheyenne River Agency in order to reduce the need of a military force at the agency.[4]

He was then on recruiting service at David's Island N.Y. Harbor 1880-82. Captain Schwan was an instructor on the staff of the United States School of Application for Cavalry and Infantry, at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., 1882-86.

Adjutant-General's Department[]

Captain Theodore Schwan, of the 11th Infantry, to be assistant adjutant general with the rank of major, July 6, 1886, vice Benjamin, deceased.[5]

Maj. (now Lieut. Col.) Theodore Schwan, assistant adjutant-general, detailed as acting inspector-general, Department of Dakota, July 17, 1894, per Special Orders, No. 140, Adjutaut-General's Office, 1894; relieved April 30, 1895, per Special Orders, No. 75, Adjutant-General's Office, current series[6] (lieutenant colonel and assistant adjutant general, February 19, 1895).

He was promoted to colonel and assistant adjutant-general, May 18, 1898. The Adjutant-General's Department was then Adjt.-Gen'l, Brig.-Gen. H. C. Corbin. Assistants, Col. Theodore Schwan, Col. Thos. Ward, Lieut.-Col. W. H. Carter, Maj. H. O. S. Heistand, Maj. J. A. Johnston and Maj. W. A. Simpson.

Two weeks before his last promotion in the regular army he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, and in accordance with the Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1899, he will retain that rank until July 1, 1901. He was brevetted several times.[7]

Spanish-American War[]

When the Spanish-American War erupted, Lt. Col. Schwan was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and colonel in the Regular Army in May 1898, making him one of the only foreign-born generals in the Spanish-American War. He assumed command of the 1st Division, IV Corps which was stationed in Miami, Florida. That unit was never called into action, but he assumed command of the Independent Regular Brigade and sailed for Puerto Rico. His brigade landed at Guánica and moved west along the coast. On August 10, his brigade won the Battle of Silva Heights. The next day, he entered the town of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The Spanish moved up for another attack on Schwan, but a cease fire was enacted before either side attacked. Allegedly during this cease fire, Schwan's troops engaged in the first game of baseball to be played in Puerto Rico.

Philippine-American War[]

With the fighting on Puerto Rico over, General Schwan was transferred to the Philippines, where he became chief-of-staff in the VIII Corps, engaged in the Philippine-American War. He personally directed the first Cavite Expedition then took command of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, VIII Corps during the second Cavite Expedition.

Retirement and death[]

He retired from the army in 1901 and was made a Major General of Regulars and put on the retired list. Theodore Schwan died in 1926 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[8]

Medal of Honor citation[]

Rank and Organization:

First Lieutenant, 10th U.S. Infantry. Place and date: At Peebles Farm, Va., October 1, 1864. Entered service at: New York. Born: July 9, 1841, Germany. Date of issue: December 12, 1898.


At the imminent risk of his own life, while his regiment was falling back before a superior force of the enemy, he dragged a wounded and helpless officer to the rear, thus saving him from death or capture.[9][10]

See also[]


  1. Hamersly, Lewis Randolph, Records of living officers of the United States Army, Hamersly, 1883.
  2. Anderson, Hugh Allen, Fort Phantom Hill: Outpost on the Clear Fork of the Brazos, The Museum Journal, Volume, XVI , West Texas Museum Association, Lubbock, TX, 1976.
  3. Kingsbury, George Washington, Smith George Martin, History of Dakota Territory, Volume 2, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1915.
  4. Report and historical collections, Volume 28, South Dakota. Dept. of History, South Dakota State Historical Society, State Pub. Co., 1956.
  5. General orders, United States. War Dept, United States Adjutant-General's Office, United States Military Secretary's Dept Publisher The Dept., 1887
  6. Annual report of the Secretary of War, Volume 1, United States. War Dept., 1895.
  7. Herrmann, Karl Stephen, From Yauco to Las Marias: being a story of the recent campaign in western Puerto Rico by the independent regular brigade, under command of Brigadier-General Schwan, R. G. Badger & Co., 1900.
  8. Theodore Schwan at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2007-11-08
  9. ""Civil War Medal of Honor citations" (S-Z): Schwan, Theodore". Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  10. ""Medal of Honor website” (M-Z): Schwan, Theodore". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 2007-11-09.