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Iowa History Daily: September 14 - Roberts Captures the Flag

Iowa History Daily: On September 14, 1847, 1st Lieutenant Benjamin Stone Roberts of Fort Madison captured the Mexican flag flying over the National Palace of Mexico in Mexico City and raised the Stars & Stripes. The culminating moment of the Mexican-American War, Roberts served with the Mounted Rifles in General Winfield Scott’s American forces.

Born in Vermont and educated at the United States Military Academy, Roberts first found himself in Iowa while serving as adjutant at First Fort Des Moines (Montrose) under Stephen Watts Kearny in 1836. Too late for the Dragoons, famed march across Iowa Roberts served at the post until 1839. Leaving the service to pursue civil engineering, Roberts left the state briefly before returning to open a law practice in Lee County’s Fort Madison in 1843.

The United States Congress authorized the raising of fifty-thousand volunteers during May of 1846, following the outbreak of hostilities in a disputed strip of territory between the US and Mexico. Although Iowa still existed as a territory for another seven months, many of the inhabitants of the area jumped at the opportunity to volunteer for military service.

Territorial Governor James Clarke called for ten companies. Twelve companies formed from ten Iowa counties. Many of the companies waited for service, but only Company K from Fort Madison got the call to action. Roberts served in the regular Army with the Mounted Rifles, and saw action at Matamoros, Galajara Pass, Churubusco, and in the siege of Mexico City where he gained distinction for his famous capture and replacement of flags at the National Palace. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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