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think we had put our works out quite far enough, and we zigzagged an approach and made a kind of bastion some 200 yards out on the hill, so that we could fire right into the Spanish works. He helped us dig the approach and helped us get our Colt automatic guns fixed just right. He not only fought his own guns, but he rendered us every assistance.”
Q. “Did he have smokeless powder ?”
A. “If he had not had, we would not have allowed him in the trenches unless he could have stayed there in spite of us. I would say that some of the Seventy-First New York came up in the trenches right by some of the cavalry of the First Brigade, and the cavalrymen ordered them out, saying that they would not have them in their trenches; they would rather fight without support than with the black powder, insuring their being the one point at which the enemy were firing."
The command was fully supplied with ammunition all this time, but the rations were insufficient. Something was taken from the Spaniards, but there was not a sufficiency of good food until the 24th of July. There was about enough of bacon and hard-tack, and half rations of coffee and sugar. The men began to sicken. Digging trenches and sleeping on the ground caused it. There was not at any time more than one day's rations at the front for the entire army, and if there had been a three days' rain, it would have been necessary to go down to a diet of new meat and mangoes before food could be got up from the coast. The Colonel was especially energetic. His regiment kept about two days ahead with provision, and one day the First Illinois had no food at all. One of the men offered seven dollars for seven hard-tacks. Colonel Roosevelt rode to the seacoast and got a pack train to bring up something for the Illinois boys to eat. A commissary is mentioned, Colonel Weston, “who would let me get the food without inquiring too closely whether I wanted it for officers or men.” The medical supplies were insufficient. There was plenty of quinine and calomel, and very little else. After the truce, they got some tarpaulins and dog tents; finally, two big tarpaulins for the hospital.
Going to look after some of his men, the Colonel saw terrible sights. There were not enough surgeons. They could be seen jerking their heads to keep awake at the operating table. Some of the men after being operated upon were carried out and put down in the jungle and left in the tall grass, because there was no one to look after them, and some of them said afterward it was from twenty-four to twenty-six hours before anyone gave them water. This was at the Red Cross Hospital. Miss Clara Barton was right there; the doctors were all doing their best, working as hard as any soldier in the trenches, but the treatment was so hard upon the men, even sick men could not be got to go to the rear. There were no cots for the wounded; they lay in the mud on their blankets.
"Finally General Wood ordered me not to send any man to the rear who was sick or wounded if he could possibly be attended to at the front, for there was no provision for attending to them at the rear, and even before he had given this order we had ceased sending them. There were no cots for the wounded. They only had blankets, and they lay in the mud on their blankets. If they didn't have blankets they lay in the mud without their blankets, sick and wounded alike. I saw one of my men who was shot through the hips; his blanket had been taken. His name, I think, was Gievers, and he was lying there in the mud without a blanket. I succeeded in getting a man to give him his blanket. I promised him half my blanket if he would give me his, and I would tear his in half and give it to Gievers and keep half myself; but he gave half to Gievers and took the other half himself and wouldn't take mine at all. The wounded behaved in the most uncomplaining way. I can't sufficiently emphasize how they (and of course the bulk of them were soldiers in the Regular Army) behaved; how brave they were. It has left an impression that will never wear out. I can not say too much of the Regulars, of their courage in battle, and their uncomplaining endurance both of hardships and of suffering afterward. I never heard them grumble, I never heard them complain, and they would help one another all they could; but the suffering was great, and that was why I wanted some delicacies for my men at the camp. We would normally have only 15 to 25 per cent on the sick list, but of the remaining 75 per cent 50 were more than half sick. Toward the end, in the whole cavalry division, you could not have gotten more than a fourth of the men who could have carried their packs and walked 5 miles in that hot weather. It was for those half-sick men, and for the sick with temperatures of 102 and 103, that I wanted something besides the bacon and hard tack, and that I wanted condensed milk, oatmeal, and rice; and those things I did at last get in the city and from the Red Cross."
The transports were better going home than coming back.
THE SANTIAGO BATTLES ASHORE.
Col. Roosevelt on the Fire Lines—Led the Way with His Volunteers-Official Reports
of Superior Officers and His Own—Going Home with the Sick--Important Military Suggestions--Lessons of Actual Service.
AJOR GENERAL JOSEPH WHEELER'S report, dated "Head
quarters, Cavalry Division, camp six and one-half miles east of San
tiago de Cuba, June 26, 1898,” states, that on the evening of the 23rd General Young reached Siboney, with eight troops of Colonel Wood's regiment (it will be remembered that this was the regiment of which President Roosevelt was Lieutenant Colonel), and troops of other cavalry regiments, making a total force of nine hundred and sixty-four men, who had marched eleven miles; and General Wheeler states, that when the position of the enemy was explained, he determined to make an attack. No one who knew General Wheeler was surprised that he would determine to make an attack at any time. The position of the enemy was examined, and the fighting was very warm, "the enemy being very lavish in the expenditure of ammunition." The enemy gave way finally, and retreated rapidly, "our line keeping well closed upon them,” but our men, physically exhausted by their exertions and the great heat, were incapable of maintaining the pursuit.
Colonel Wood's regiment (Roosevelt Lieutenant Colonel), General Wheeler remarked, was too far distant on the extreme left of his line, for him to be a personal witness of the individual conduct of his officers and men; "but the magnificent and brave work done by its regiment under the lead of the Colonel, testifies to his courage and skill;" and General Wheeler says, "I desire personally to add that all I have said about Colonel Wood applies equally to Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt."
General Kent reports, that at Fort San Juan, at 1:30 P. M., the attack was made under the personal leadership of General Hawkins, and the enemy driven to the second line of rifle pickets. At ten minutes past three two requests were received, one from Colonel Wood and one from General Sumner, asking for assistance for the cavalry, "as they were hard pressed.” The Thirteenth Infantry was immediately sent. Brigadier General Young, in his report, dated
near Santiago, June 29th says: "Attention is called to Colonel Wood's report on the conduct of Captain Capron, Major Brodie, Captain McClintock, and others.” General Young added: “I cannot speak too highly of the efficient manner in which Colonel Wood handles his regiment, and of his magnificent behavior on the field. The conduct of Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, as reported to me by my two aides, deserves my highest commendation. Both Colonel Wood and Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt disdained to take advantage of shelter or cover from the enemy's fire while any of their men remained exposed to it-an error of judgment, but happily on the heroic side. I beg leave to repeat that the behavior of all men of the regular and volunteer forces engaged in this action, was simply superb, and I feel highly honored to be in the command of such troops.” Colonel Leonard Wood, First United States Volunteer Cavalry, commanding Second Brigade, Cavalry Division, reports from the trenches about Santiago de Cuba, July 5th. He bears the usual testimony about the superiority of the Spanish artillery, using smokeless powder, with the result that they promptly located by the clouds of smoke from our guns our position, and inflicted quite a severe loss upon both the brigade and battery, the First Volunteer Cavalry (the Roosevelt regiment) being the principal sufferers.
The Colonel traces the course of the action, and says "that dismounted cavalry should have been able to charge regular infantry in the strong position supported by artillery and the general lay of the land, seems almost incredible; yet this is exactly what the cavalry division did in this fight, passing over a long zone of fire, and charging steep hills topped with works and blockhouses. Of the five officers of the Brigade staff, four were killed or wounded, and one exhausted by the intense heat;" and Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is credited with conspicuous gallantry in leading a charge on one of the hills. The brigade took into action 75 officers and 1,446 men ; lost 21 officers, killed and wounded; 217 men, killed and wounded; a loss of twenty-eight per cent of officers and fifteen per cent of enlisted men. Colonel Wood says: - "Major Webb Hayes, a son of President Hayes, on duty temporarily with the brigade, was cool and collected under fire, did gallant service, and was slightly wounded.”
Colonel Wood, in his report of the engagement at Guasavas, nine miles from Santiago, June 24, refers to the severe loss of gallant men, Captain Capron dying soon after the termination of the fight, but performed service "of the very greatest value," and Colonel Wood says: “The First Squadron was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, and the Second under Major Alex O. Brodie. Both of these officers deserve great credit for the intelligence and courage with which they handled their men."
We append the official reports of Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt
to Colonel Wood; the first dated "Trenches outside Santiago, July 4, 1898;" and the second dated at "Camp Hamilton, near Santiago de Cuba, July 20, 1898."
“Trenches outside Santiago, July 4, 1898. "Col. Leonard Wood,
“Commanding Second Cavalry Brigade. “Sir: On July 1 the regiment, with myself in command, was moved out by your orders directly following the First Brigade. Before leaving the camping ground several of our men were wounded by shrapnel. After crossing the river at the ford we were moved along and up its right bank under fire and were held in reserve at a sunken road. Here we lost a good many men, including Captain O'Neil, killed, and Lieutenant Haskell, wounded. We then received your order to advance and support the regular cavalry in the attack on the intrenchments and blockhouses on the hills to the left. The regiment was deployed on both sides of the road, and moved forward until we came to the rearmost lines of the regulars. We continued to move forward until I ordered a charge, and the men rushed the blockhouse and rifle pits on the hill to the right of our advance. They did the work in fine shape, though suffering severely. The guidons of Troops E and G were first planted on the summit, though the first men up were some A and B troopers, who were with me.
"We then opened fire on the intrenchments on a hill to our left which some of the other regiments were assailing and which they carried a few minutes later. Meanwhile we were under a heavy rifle fire from the intrenchments along the hills to our front, from whence they also shelled us with a piece of field artillery until some of our marksmen silenced it. When the men got their wind we charged again and carried the second line of intrenchments with a rush. Swinging to the left, we then drove the Spaniards over the brow of the chain of hills fronting Santiago. By this time the regiments were much mixed, and we were under a very heavy fire, both of shrapnel and from rifles from the batteries, intrenchments, and forts immediately in front of the city. On the extreme front I now found myself in command with fragments of the six cavalry regiments of the two brigades under me. The Spaniards made one or two efforts to retake the line, but were promptly driven back.
"Both General Sumner and you sent me word to hold the line at all hazards, and that night we dug a line of intrenchments across our front, using the captured Spaniards' intrenching tools. We had nothing to eat except what we captured from the Spaniards; but their dinners had fortunately been cooked, and we ate them with relish, having been fighting all day. We had no blankets and coats, and lay by the trenches all night. The Spaniards attacked us once in the night, and at dawn they opposed a heavy artillery and rifle fire. Very great assistance was rendered us by Lieutenant Parker's Gatling battery at crit