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JOSEPH GARDINER SWIFT - (1783-dead) - Army Engineer, born
Nantucket, Mass. Graduated at West Point (1802), on duty
in the Atlantic coast and harbor defense. At outbreak of
the War of 1812, appointed aid to General Pickney, during
which time he became Colonel and Chief Engineer of the
Army. Planned defenses of New York harbor, was brevetted
Brigadier-general (1814) and became superintendent of
(1816) the Military Academy, resigning two years later.
Became U.S. surveyor of port of New York (1818-27), and
superintendent of harbor improvement on the lakes.
Constructed (1839) railroad from New Orleans to Lake
Pontchartrain, believed to be the first road in which the
T-rail was used. Appointed peace ambassador to Canada,
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (1841). During great New
York fire of 1835, took charge of destruction of buildings
to arrest the progress of flames, thus saving millions of
dollars worth of property. First student and first
graduate of West Point.