A promotion delayed

2/24/1864

Recognizing the abilities of 1st Sgt. Stephen A. Swails, Col. E. N. Hallowell recommends in the letter, at left, that Swails be promoted to second lieutenant. Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew commissioned Swails on March 11, 1864. In order to accept, Swails had to be discharged from the enlisted ranks. In the letter at right, Maj. Gen. J. G. Foster denies this request because Swails is “of African descent.” Foster finally approved the discharge in 1865, and Swails’s seniority was adjusted to May 14, 1864—the day he was assigned duty as a second lieutenant.

National Archives, Records of the Adjutant General's Office


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