Benjamin Stone Roberts

Benjamin Stone Roberts, a descendant of an old New England family of Welsh extraction, was born in Manchester, Vermont, on November 18, 1810. He graduated from West Point, ranking near the bottom of the class of 1835, but resigned his commission four years later in order to become chief civil engineer of a New York railroad which is now a part of the Rutland. He was appointed geologist of New York State in 1841 and the following year aided in the construction of the railroad line from St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) to Moscow. After returning to the United States he studied law and began a practice in Des Moines, Iowa. With the outbreak of the Mexican War, Roberts was reappointed in the army with the rank of first lieutenant of Mounted Rifles. He was promoted to the regular rank of captain and the brevet ranks of major and lieutenant colonel and received a sword from his adopted state of Iowa—all for his distinguished service in this war. Remaining in the army, he discharged frontier duty at various stations in the Southwest and was promoted to major of his regiment on May 13, 1861 (the regiment's name was changed to 3rd Cavalry under the act of August 3, 1861). Roberts took part under Edward Canby in opposing Confederate General Henry Sibley's New Mexico invasion and was brevetted colonel for his services at the battle of Valverde. Soon after, he was summoned East and during the campaign of Second Manassas served as John Pope's inspector general as well as his chief of cavalry, thus becoming embroiled in the celebrated case of Fitz John Porter in which he officially preferred the charges which brought Porter to ruin. After the trial he was shelved along with Pope and sent to Minnesota where he remained until recalled to Washington in February, 1863, to briefly command the upper defenses of the capital. He then held a series of minor commands until the end of the war. Nevertheless, his efforts in behalf of the clique pledged to oust George B. McClellan from command of the army were not unnoticed: he had received the full rank of brigadier general of volunteers to rank from July 16, 1862, and was awarded the brevets of brigadier in the regular service and major general of volunteers at the close of the war. Roberts became lieutenant colonel of his regiment in 1866 and was assigned as Professor of Military Science at Yale in 1868. He retired in 1870 so he could prosecute claims against the United States. He died in Washington, January 29, 1875, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, his remains later being removed to his birthplace.

Previous Page

Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.