Theodore Roosevelt, born October 27, 1858, was the United States twenty sixth President. Roosevelt was born into a wealthy and socially dominant family. Though he was a quick thinker and very bright, he was not very physically fit; Roosevelt had severe asthma attacks as a youth. (Andrews) Roosevelt attended Harvard College starting with a science major, but his eventual majors were law and politics. After graduating Harvard in 1880, Roosevelt married his first wife, had his first child, and lost his wife two weeks after the birth of their daughter on Valentines day 1884. He had also begun his career in politics, joining the Republican Party when they were treated like a private organization, having few credentials that were needed to become a member. (Roosevelt)
Roosevelt did many beneficial things for his country, both as the President and as a soldier. One of the key features in his life was his involvement with the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War, from April of 1898 to September of 1898.
Prior to his involvement in the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt was the Secretary of the Navy. He resigned from that position to begin organizing the First Volunteer Calvary Regiment. 23,000 men from all parts of the United States of America; cowboys, Indians, NY policeman, Athletes from ivy league colleges and more, were eager to volunteer for the regiment. (Andrew) All of these patriots felt it was there duty to defend their country after the USS Maine had been bombed in Havana, with the blame on Spain. (Harbaugh) The majority of the men in the regiment, which was originally composed of 1000 men (Hill), were from the southwestern ranch country. These men were skilled wild horsemen, thus the regiment was given the name Rough Riders. (Roosevelt)
Roosevelt was offered the position of commander of the regiment but had to decline because he did not have the time to train the soldiers. He suggested that he work under Colonel Leonard Wood as a lieutenant colonel. (Hill) Wood had received the Medal of Honor for his military action in the capture of Apache chief Geronimo. (Harbaugh)
The first battle to ever take place during the Spanish-American War was the battle of Las Guasimas, which was a small village in Cuba. Sixteen Rough Riders died in the battle, June 24th, 1889. (Harbaugh)
Because the Rough Riders were strictly volunteer, their rations and supplies were not always delivered on time. Roosevelt had stated, If I wanted anything to eat it was wise to carry it with me. He also suggested, I would earnestly advise the men of every volunteer organization always to proceed upon the belief that their supplies will not turn up. (Roosevelt)
In June of 1898 at the battle of San Juan Hill, Roosevelt was given notification that there might be orders to fall back. After seeing his men fight, he told General Joseph Wheeler that he did not know if he could follow those orders. Roosevelt and his men were often told that the battles would take place at night and it so happened that one Saturday morning there were shots fired and by morning there was artillery being fired at the regiment. (Roosevelt)
After the battle at San Juan Hill, the men were exhausted and hungry. They had managed to gain control of some of the Spanishs supplies and provisions. (Jeffers)
Despite the Rough Riders accomplishments during the Spanish American War, Washington was given the option to withdraw their troops from Cuba, but the proposal was vetoed. Allowing the men to fulfill their patriotic duty, but also caused a huge increase in sickness and fatigue. (Roosevelt) Even though Roosevelt and his men were always eager to fight, three fourths of the men had either died, became sick with malaria or came down with a bad case of diarrhea, also called dysentery. Roosevelt was invited to a Generals Council, where the generals met to discuss their strategies and their mens conditions. Roosevelt suggested that his men be taken home or to some part of the northern United States. However the War Department did not understand the predicament that they were in. General Wheeler had invited him to the Council because Roosevelt was a volunteer and would no sooner return to civilization. Thus he was chosen to attend so he could hear what every regiment was going through and would help publicize the devastation of what was going on in Cuba. They needed to get the word out so that they could get attention from the War Department. Roosevelt could take the risk but the employed regiments could not. (Roosevelt) This had shown that not only was Roosevelt a great leader but also a considerate and empathetic human being.
In September,1898, the First Voluntary Cavalry, along with the rest of the fifth army corps, boarded vessels home from Montauk Point, Cuba. The Voluntary Cavalry was no longer active and Roosevelt got his nomination for governor of New York. Which lead up to his outstanding accomplishments with the national parks and others.
Andrew, Paul.T.R. Takes Charge, American History Magazine, http://americanhistory.about.com/library/ prm/bltrtakescharge2.htm
Andrews, Wayne. The Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958.
Harbaugh, William Henry. Power and Responsibility.Chicago: American Book-Stratford Press, 1961.
Hill, Howard C. Roosevelt and the Caribbean. New York: Russell & Russell, 1927
Jeffers, H. Paul. Colonel Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt Goes to War, 1897-1898. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996
Roosevelt, Theodore. The Rough Riders, New York: Charles Scribners sons, 1899; Bartleby.com, 1997. www.bartleby.com/51/. Mar. 31, 2003