Item contributed by Massachusetts Historical Society
Born in Pennsylvania in 1823 to freed parents from Maryland, Stephen Swails resettled with his family in Elmira New York. Following the formation of the 54th Massachusetts, Swails enlisted in and joined the regiment at Camp Meigs. He saw action at the Battle of Fort Wagner and received a serious wound at the Battle of Olustee. Surviving his wound, Swails settled in South Carolina. Reconstruction provided Swails an opportunity to serve his community as a politician and, in 1868, he won the first of three elections to the state senate. Facing an assassination attempt as a part of the violent and racist backlash to Reconstruction policies, Swails left the senate in 1878.
Copy photograph of carte de visite, originally taken circa 1863, 8 cm x 4.5 cm.
From the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment photographs, Photo. 72.62.