John H. Swift, the great-grandson of Revolutionary War hero General Heman Swift, was the only person from Cornwall to enlist with the 12th C.V.I., on February 24, 1862. At the time of his enlistment, he stated that he was living in Hartford. Prior to the war, he worked on the family farm in Cornwall Bridge.

Swift was wounded at Pattersonville, Louisiana on March 27, 1863 and taken prisoner the following day. He was promoted to Corporal on September 12, 1864 and was discharged on November 28, 1864. After the war, he lived with his mother, Lucy (Frink) Swift, who lodged at a Cornwall hotel kept by Lewis Buckley. His father, Philo Swift, had died in 1864.