Jacob (Swanson) Johnson, A Swedish Immigrant Awarded the Medal of Honor

Jacob (Swanson) Johnson, A Swedish Immigrant Awarded the Medal of Honor
(1840 or 1842 – June 13, 1923)

Jacob (Swanson) JohnsonJacob (Swanson) Johnson was born in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1840. After making his way to America, he volunteered for service in the United States Navy during the American Civil War. On January 15, 1865, while assigned to the U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba, he took part in an assault on the Confederate’s Fort Fisher in North Carolina.

Fort Fisher had been important to the Confederacy in protecting the Port of Wilmington, NC through most of the war. The successful capture of Fort Fisher cut off its last remaining supply line, helping to seal the South’s ultimate doom.

The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865, and Swanson, as he was still called at the time, was awarded the Medal of Honor on June 22, 1865 by Massachusetts General Order No. 59. His citation reads: “The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Seaman John Swanson, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving on board the U.S.S. Santiago de Cuba during the assault on Fort Fisher, North Carolina, on 15 January 1865. As one of a boat crew detailed to one of the generals on shore, Seaman Swanson bravely entered the fort in the assault and accompanied his party in carrying dispatches at the height of the battle. He was one of six men who entered the fort in the assault from the fleet.”

The ensuing years brought Swanson to Indianapolis under the anglicized name Jacob Johnson. (While his birth name of Swanson is not reflected on his monument, it is recorded in our records.) He died June 13, 1923, and was buried at Crown Hill.

Location: Section 37, Lot 1970; GPS (39.8224187,-86.1778324)