|Southern Victory |
POD: September 10, 1862
|Type of Appearance:||Direct (POV WiH and B)|
|Date of Birth:||Late 19th century|
|Date of Death:||1917|
|Cause of Death:||Killed by a river monitor shell|
|Military Branch:||United States Army|
Born into a Midwestern farming family of Scottish descent, McSweeney was devoutly Presbyterian, reflecting an uncompromising spirit of piety that had not been seen in his Scottish Presbyterian tradition since the days of the Puritans. He was extremely intolerant of those who did not share his beliefs, especially of Catholics. This brought him into conflict with fellow soldier Paul Mantarakis, who was actually Greek Orthodox, a distinction of which McSweeney was ignorant. In addition, he was fond of singing hymns. During battle, he was known to have screamed praises to God and Jesus while advancing, with demoralizing effects to his foes. The only thing he read was the Bible, deeming newspapers and the like as immoral.
Beginning as an infantry private during the invasion of Kentucky, McSweeney gained a reputation for bravery. When his marching column of infantrymen was strafed by a Confederate fighter aircraft, McSweeney remained on his feet and returned fire with his M1903 Springfield rifle. Due to attrition, he was promoted to sergeant during the fight for Utah. He eventually acquired a flamethrower, which he used well. After a brief spell in Baja California, McSweeney's unit was assigned back to Kentucky.
It was his skill and suicidal courage with his flamethrower that gained him further rank and honors. During a Confederate assault, he used his flamethrower on a Confederate barrel, an act that earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Later on, he used his flamethrower on a Confederate machine gun nest in a daring solo raid, which earned him a battlefield commission to the rank of Second Lieutenant. His commanding officer, Captain Cecil Schneider, only did this because of his inability to recommend McSweeney for a second award of the Medal of Honor.
Second Lieutenant McSweeney was placed in charge of a platoon of riflemen, but was stripped of his flamethrower. During the fight for Craighead Forest, McSweeney ended up in charge of his company when the other officers were killed or wounded. Driving his men hard, but leading them at the front of any attack, McSweeney lead his men deep into Craighead Forest. However, their advance was stymied by bombardment by Confederate monitors. In a typical action, McSweeney swam out to the monitor and destroyed it with demolition charges. Upon his return to US lines, he intimidated officers by telling them of what he had done to the monitor. For this action he received an oak leaf cluster to his Medal of Honor, and was promoted to the rank of Captain.
During the final stretch of the Great War, McSweeney fell to a bombardment by another monitor, after having killed a wounded Ben Carlton in an act of mercy. Oddly enough, he died not at the forefront of an assault, but while talking to Carlton about what he would do after the war ended.
McSweeney was a stickler for military etiquette and protocol. His idea of a good leave was one in which he prayed devoutly. He did not drink, smoke, or patronize the services of loose women. He routinely wrote up soldiers in his squad (and presumably his platoon) for having what saw as dirty or unkempt uniforms and equipment. However, he was not a hypocrite, in that he demanded no more of his men than he demanded of himself, and readily reported any infractions or slackening he noticed in himself. Eventually tiring of his superfluous neatness in a war of mud and trenches, he was ordered to stop this by his superiors. McSweeney could not understand their lack of concern for such detail, as he saw attention to detail as a necessity in warfare.
On the whole, McSweeney was a frightening man to friend and foe alike. However, despite his decorations, he remained humble about his accomplishments. He considered them nothing out of the ordinary, extraordinary as they were to his fellow soldiers. Every action he performed in battle was in the name of God and the United States.