top of page

Iowa History Daily: February 17 - Raising the Flag in South Carolina

Iowa History Daily: On February 17, 1865, H.C. MacArthur of the 15th Iowa Infantry raised the American flag over Columbia, South Carolina, as the state whose succession from the United States drew the nation into civil war came to its knees.

After mustering in Eastern Iowa, the 15th Iowa arrived under the command of Colonel Hugh T. Reid by riverboat in Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee on April 6, 1862. Initially in reserve at the Battle of Shiloh, General Grant called upon the brave Iowans of the 15th and 16th to fill a cap in Jones Field. “"The recollection of that march to this point of attack, is as vivid to my mind as if made but yesterday. We hear again the command of the officers, the roar of distant artillery and musketry; we see dashing orderlies, the rapid advance, the forming line, the charging column, the wounded, the dying, the dead,” recalled MacArthur years later. 56 Iowans died on the field while another 146 found themselves wounded.

Composed mainly of men from southeastern and south central Iowa, the 15th continued to serve valiantly as the United States crushed the rebellious southern states during the final three years of the war. Present at significant battles including Vicksburg, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanton, and Sherman’s March to the Sea, the 15th lost 126 men over the course of the war.

After the Battle of Rivers’ Bridge in early February, Sherman’s army including the Iowa 15th prepared to sack Columbia, South Carolina, following the retreat of Confederate Major General Lafayette McClaws. As the triumphant army entered the city, accounts relay MacArthur running up the American flag in a crisp wind. The same strong wind eventually carried massive fires throughout the city as Sherman’s army burned the once proud Confederate city to the ground. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page