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Sweet, Benjamin Jeffrey 1832-

Military officer; born in Kirkland, N. Y., April 24, 1832; settled with his father in Stockbridge, Wis., in 1848; elected a member of the Wisconsin legislature just prior to the Civil War, but at the outbreak of hostilities was made major of the 6th Wisconsin Regiment. Later he became colonel of the 21st and 22d Wisconsin regiments, which he had recruited. During the battle of Perryville he lost 300 in killed and wounded, being himself among the latter. In May, 1864, he was placed in command of Camp Douglas, Chicago, which contained about 10,000 Confederate prisoners. Through his watchfulness he discovered and prevented a plot to arm these soldiers, who were then to escape and fire the city, which was to be a signal for a general uprising of 500,000 men throughout the West. Sweet had but 796 men, and it was impossible to secure others. He therefore took the unprecedented means of confiding in a Confederate prisoner to shadow the leaders of the plot. The man engaged was John T. Shanks, a Texas Ranger, who knew personally the Confederate leaders. Sweet permitted Shanks to escape from prison and apparently made strenuous efforts to retake him. The man was followed by detectives who were to take his life on the slightest treachery. Shanks, however, attended so well to his work that the leaders of the plot were captured within thirty-six hours. In recognition of this service Sweet was promoted brigadier-general of volunteers. He was United States pension-agent in Chicago in 1869-70; supervisor of internal revenue for Illinois in 1870-72; and was then appointed first deputy commissioner of internal revenue and took up his residence in Washington. He died there, Jan. 1, 1874.

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