Here's the third article concerning William and Sylvanus Sweet -- found in the Patriot War Notebook at Flower Memorial Library. If anyone knows the date this was published, I would be very grateful for such information. There apparently were one or two more articles in this series.

Sweet Pardoned For Part In

Revolt But Brother Is Hung


Plessis Man Returns Home and Decides to Forget the Patriot War -- Marries and Settles Down But Joins Forces When Civil War Breaks Out -- Second Brother Dies While in Army.



Herewith The Times presents one of a series of articles by Ernest G. Cook on the life of William D. Sweet of Theresa, who fought in the Patriot war and the Civil war.

Nelson Truax and William D. Sweet always claimed that the court-martial at old Fort Henry was about like a frame-up with the matter all settled before it started. That it made just a sort of a holiday proceeding for some officers who made merry the whole proceedings over round after round of drinks. They would naturally feel that whatever was being done was against them. But one thing was quite certain. The British government had Sylvanus Sweet's record as a sharp shooter pretty well doped out. They were mourning the loss of one of their fine leaders, Lieut. Col. Ogle R. Gowam, who was shot from his horse in the very first assault that the Canadian forces made upon the windmill. They claimed it was a shot from an American in one of the top windows of the windmill that killed Gowan. And his many friends would not rest unless some action was taken against the one who fired the shot. All the evidence pointed to Sylvanus Sweet as the one with the unerring aim. So Sweet was sure of getting a death sentence. In fact all seemed to be sure of getting such a sentence who were leaders in the fight.

But strong leaders on the American side began to make a vigorous attempt to secure a pardon for the men of Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. So strongly did they plead their cause and so well did they show that many of these men were mis-informed and mis-guided, that pardons began to be given out for certain of the Americans.

At this time it is stated that Sir Allen McNab, grand master of all the Orangemen of all of British North America, put in a protest as to the pardon of Sylvanus Sweet. He contended that the death of Lieut. Col. Gowan should be accounted for. It was McNab's contention, so it is stated, that the most of the Canadian troops in that fray were soldiers known as the Queen's Royal Borders and that they came from the pick of the Orange lodges of that portion of Canada. That the officer shot was one of their finest men and the forces under his command demanded the death of Sweet. It is stated that McNab also told the officers at Fort Henry that if Sylvanus Sweet was not hanged that he, McNab, would call in his clansmen and march upon Fort Henry himself and when they left there would not be one stone on another. This seemed to seal the fate of Sylvanus Sweet. To make it even more certain Sylvanu (sic) did not attempt to deny any of the shooting. If he had put some of the blame upon some dead comrade he might have been permitted to go. But he calmly admitted all and calmly awaited his fate. The officers at the fort seemed to waver a little in their action because of the strong pressure brought to bear upon them from the American side. It is told that Sylvanus Sweet admitted all the charges brought against him and even went further. He told that it was he who fired the shot at Col. Dundas. That seemed to about settle the matter as far as Sylvanus was concerned.

It was not (sic) wonder that William D. Sweet and Nelson Truax felt strangely sad that morning as they heard sounds in the prison yard that seemed to come from about the gallows. They wondered who next was to go. They had seen four days before Count Von Schoultz and his staff taken out where they paid with their lives the error of a mis-guided judgment. And now, with the stir that was being made in the yard, the eyes of William D. Sweet and Nelson Truax went to the peep-hole and remained there until they saw two men appear. The two who were being led to the gallows were Sylvanus Sweet and his friend, Joel Peleer (sic) from Watertown. The brother within the prison knew what was to take place and shuddered and withdrew from the lookout as he saw the playmate and friend of all his boyhood days ascend the platform. It was this brother, who had helped him over many a rough place and he soon was to be no more. For aught William D. Sweet and Nelson Truax knew they too might be the next to be taken out. Maybe their time on earth was short and their friends back in Plessis would know them no more.

It was never generally told, it is stated, but according to information in the Sweet family the remaining prisoners in Fort Henry would not have been there much longer if events had not happened as they did. In a few days came the pardon from Queen Victoria of a number of prisoners. Among the number pardoned were William D. Sweet and his companion.

But if the pardon had not come when it did there probably would have been some trouble within the prison walls. Most of the prisoners were satisfied that they were facing death and had about concluded to sell their lives dearly in an effort to escape. It is told that they had their plans all made. That a certain amount of work had been carried on in digging under the walls so that in a few more days there probably would have been an attempt to break prison with the chances being very good for the escape of some, at least.

When on April 8, 1939 (sic), a British vessel appeared off Sackets Harbor there were a number of Americans interested. Some on the shore who had heard the news were awaiting the landing of the boat. On the ship were 22 Americans who held pardons from the government of Canada. The home land looked pretty good to the Americans and the people of Sackets Harbor gave them a royal welcome. But William D. Sweet had little heart for feasting or for joy making. He was thinking of his brother, so young and full of life, struck down and sleeping in a trench in the prison cemetery. He himself had come too close to death to get very joyous over any of the welcome proceedings.

As soon as possible he was back home in Plessis and determined to settle down to the quiet life of a home maker. He had seen enough of war. He learned the carpenter and joiner trade and became quite successful in his work. He married Hannah Hosner and they established a home in Plessis. They were contented with their home and family and seldom did Mr. Sweet speak of his experiences in old Fort Henry. Hannah Hosner had some family history that was quite thrilling. Back in their family record mother was scalped by the Indians. Stories of the Indians formed some of the tales told about the family fireside when the children were growing up.

But the peaceful land of the United States seemed to be facing trouble. After the election of Lincoln came the threat of the South and it looked as if there would be more fighting. Everybody thought that William D. Sweet had seen enough of fighting and none could blame him if he did not volunteer at the start. But his old friend, Nelson Truax came along and they talked the matter over. It looked as if their country needed them. If Uncle Sam needed help they were not afraid to go. So later these two men, comrades in battle for what they supposed was for the freedom of their brothers, and comrades in a prison dungeon, enlisted in the Union army. Sweet was to be the drummer of the company. Later he became a corporal in his company which was Company F of the Tenth New York Heavy artillery.

The spirit of that which sent William D. Sweet into the Union cause was working in the family and a brother came foward to join in the ranks. Thus William D. Sweet was again going to fight for the cause of liberty and again he had a brother to join him. Doubtless had Sylvanus been alive he would have joined, for he had the same spirit as the others and was ready to give his life if need be for his country. When William D. Sweet marched away he hoped that in someway (sic) he could have the brother who was to join them kept from harm and brought back to the family.

Down in Dixie Land the brother was taken ill and ordered to the hospital where he lay sick for sometime (sic) with the measles, having the disease quite hard. When he rejoined his company he was in a very weakened condition but ready to answer to duty. Almost the first night it came his turn to go on guard. Lieut. Watson came at once to speak out for the help of the soldier in such a weakened condition to go on sentry duty in the night when it was hardly fit for a well man to be out. A cold rain was falling which would wet a person through in no time and chill them to the bone. Mr. Watson contended the soldier would catch cold, for he had not yet recovered sufficiently to stand such hardships. He asked that the turn be changed so that Sweet could go on sentry duty at some later date. But the captain was strong for discipline and felt that he wanted no favoritism shown. He would not change the order and Sweet was the kind of a fellow who would not ask for favors. He stood sentry duty in the rain and caught a cold that sent him back to the hospital and this time never to return. It was just as Mr. Watson feared.

Again William D. Sweet saw a second brother go from him in a way that did not improve his idea of the justice of things. He had other things in mind, also. Let us look at a letter or two he wrote home.

Note: Those letters did not appear with the article.

Go to fourth of Mr. Cook's articles concerning the Sweet brothers.

Index of All Patriot War Articles

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