WWI Profile: Samuel Claudius Swain 1890-1918

Source: Library of Congress
Camp Sevier, SC
October 18, 1917

Samuel Claudius Swain
Bolivia, Brunswick County, NC
US Army

October 7, 1917 – January 7, 1918
Died of Disease: January 7, 1918

Samuel Claudius Swain was born and raised in Brunswick County, NC. Most of his family is buried in Bolivia or Wilmington. On April 25, 1917, Samuel Swain married Myrtle Clemmons.

Samuel was ordered to report for duty on October 6, 1917, then accepted into the military at Camp Jackson, SC, on October 15, 1917. [Source: ancestry.com] He eventually was assigned to Company C, 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division and began training at Camp Sevier, SC. More details on the 119th Infantry to follow in later posts.

Three months later, on January 7, 1918, Pvt Samuel Claudius Swain died of pneumonia. His was the first known casualty in the 119th Infantry from Brunswick County. His death certificate was filed from Camp Sevier and shows that he had been ill since December 14, 1917. His death was a month after Pvt Carl Danford lost his life from pneumonia following measles, when 4000 men were still under quarantine. Recall from Pvt Danford’s profile that the entire camp was under a quarantine during the month of November 1917.

This table from Chapter 32, Military Hospitals in the US, shows the statistics from the base hospital in Camp Sevier. The hospital opened in September 1917. The patient totals for several months, with resulting deaths are shown below.

November 1917: 2,228 total patients; 82 deaths

December 1917: 1,217 total patients; 56 deaths

January 1918: 2,082 total patients; 31 deaths

The pandemic of 1918 was yet to occur, beginning in September 1918 with a peak in October of nearly 7000 patients and 332 deaths in one month. More information on the pandemic, commonly referred to as the “Spanish Flu” is planned for a later post.

Samuel Claudius Swain was laid to rest in the Antioch Baptist Church Cemetery in Bolivia, NC. The Wilmington Morning Star, 10 Jan 1918, p. 6, published this account.

Brunswick Soldier Dead.
News of the death of Private Samuel Claudius Swain, stationed at Camp Sevier, S. C., resulting from pneumonia, was received by relatives yesterday. He was 29 years old and had been in the service but a few months. He was a son of Mr. B. F. Swain, of Suburb, Brunswick county, and is survived by his wife, one sister, Mrs. Walter Clark, and three brothers, Preston, Cleveland and Roger. The funeral and interment will take place probably today at his old home. The bereaved family have the tender sympathy of a host of friends.

Several members of the Friends of Fort Caswell Rifle Range recently visited his gravesite to pay respects and take photos of a very nicely restored headstone, as well as identify whether military honors are shown.

Samuel Claudius Swain lost his life while serving his country.

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