A native of Hanover County, Virginia, Swift came to Texas in January, 1836, shortly after the rest of his family. He took the oath of allegiance to Texas at Nacogdoches on January 14, 1836 and within weeks enlisted in the Texican army on February 1. He initially served as a member of Captain Isaac N. Moreland's Company, with whom he fought in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21. On June 24, he was commissioned Adjutant on the staff of the First Regiment of Artillery, under Colonel James C. Neill, and was honorably discharged on November 5, 1836. After his time in the army he worked as "a Mississippi River pilot like Mark Twain and a gambler" according to his descendants, likely up and down the Seguin River. Swift died June 15, 1838 and was buried in the Vaughan Cemetery in Seguin, Guadalupe County, in a grave that still remains unmarked.