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in a detail of six officers and men to see if they could not purchase or make arrangements for a supply of proper food and proper clothing for the men, even if we had to pay for it out of our own pockets. Our suffering has been due primarily to lack of transportation, and of proper food, and sufficient clothing, and of medical supplies. We should now have wagon sheets for tentage.
“THEODORE ROOSEVELT.” The war over, the Colonel's testimony continued, there were privations; “still, we got along home, and we were very glad to get back.” Camp Wikoff was reached August 15, and “after a few days all was agreeable, except the confusion in finding where the men were in hospital, because the paper work was not as good as the medical work." The Colonel would ask his men how they were being treated, and they would answer, "This is Heaven.” They were getting chicken broth; they were getting milk. “We got so much milk and goodies and things like that that we finally had to stop receiving them. I would take them around, and give them to other regiments. My troop commanders, and the regimental commanders who reported to me when I was brigade commander would report that they could not use any more delicacies; that they didn't want any more and couldn't use any more."
The Colonel was asked whether the privations were greater than he expected and his reply was, "I didn't expect anything one way or another. I just went to take things as they occurred. I didn't know what we would have, but I think that the privations as regards medical supplies and food were greater than it was necessary to have them, because I believe if we had had sufficient animals for transportation that most of the privations could have been avoided.” Asked whether there was anything he could add that would assist in the labors the President had assigned, the Colonel said: "I believe that if our Army were exercised in peace as European armies are, very much of this trouble would have been avoided. I do not see how you can expect to avoid serious trouble if you are not accustomed to handling more than 300 men at a time. I believe that if in time of peace you could get ten or fifteen thousand men together, and one year take them to the Turtle Mountains and march them across to Pembina, or from San Antonio to Galveston, say, and then embark them for Tampa and disembark them and march up to Jacksonville, after you had done that two or three times all of the defects in the Quartermaster's Department and the Commissary Department would have been made evident and would have worked their own cure, and you would not have one tithe of the difficulties that we had when we started suddenly to do it offhand. I would like to say, too (and this is part from my experience in the Navy Department), that the Ordnance and Quartermaster's Bureau and I think the Commissary Bureau should not be separated from the line.
Admiral Sampson used the guns which he built when he was head of the Ordnance Bureau of the Navy Department, and a man goes through the Ordnance Bureau fresh from being a line officer. I believe it would be of the greatest advantage if you could have your ordnance men and your quartermasters in the Army detailed for some years from the line and sent back to the line again. I believe it would be for the advantage of the line and for the advantage of the Army, as it is for the Navy. I am basing my opinion, of course, not so much upon my experience in the Army as in the Navy, and upon what so many officers have told me in the Army itself. But as for the other matter —the need of exercising the Army in peace-I am sure it is the only practical way of working out all the reforms that we need. You can not sit down and plan out on paper so that the thing will move smoothly if you don't have practice in the field, and I could see the improvement that went on before my eyes, even among the regular officers, in the field. I saw the men embarking on the transports the second time, and the improvement in the order in which it was done. The quartermaster and commissaries began to accommodate themselves to the needs of the service after we had been on the island a few weeks. Any amount of good will be done if each year the Army is actually put through in peace what it might have to be put through in war, only you have got to make up your mind that it will take some money to allow that to be done."
As the Colonel who made these remarkable recommendations is President of the United States, the suggestions are important. There is reason to believe that the President is of the same mind that the Colonel was.
When and where there was no fighting to do, Colonel Roosevelt did not want to stay with the forms, but not the facts of war. He was headstrong to go to the fight, but when it was fought out, he wanted to abandon the fields that were won, and there was no further harvest of glory to gather, but the fever had already glared in the sickly camps, clutching victims here and there, while history told that the yellow horror would hasten thousands to their graves, where the smokeless Spanish rifle had harvested but hundreds.
It was not in the nature of the man who had fitted our fleets for war while there was peace, so that two days' good work cleared the seas for us and gave us command of the Spanish colonies; hastened from Texas with the finest war material on the continent and stormed to the front, seizing a transport subject to discordant jurisdiction, and with a Cuban pilot secured a landing among the first, and made a forced march to the front where the fighting was hottest, putting the volunteers at the head of the invasion at one point, and elsewhere a close and pushing second to the regulars--it was not according to the make-up of this leader to await the tediousness of the summons to join the caravan that we read of in Thanatopsis "moves
forever through the gates of death," in the very heart of that region in the Antilles, where the pestilence wastes; and the armies of the great nations that contended for dominion of the islands that had the fatal gift of beautyEngland, Spain and France-perished by tens of thousands. It was not a secret to those vigilant for finding information that Spain lost sixteen thousand men by fever in one of the years of what was called the Ten Years War-the great struggle terminated by the peace made with Gomez and others by Martinez Campos.
Colonel Roosevelt was convinced that the place where the first clash of arms would be heard between the American and Spanish armies in Cuba, would be the spot history would mark with the decree of destiny-the Decision of the Trial by Battle. President McKinley had in mind the same thing. He knew the war must not wait for the volunteer army in the course of organization; for, if that was to be the way, there would be a frightful sacrifice of the young men of our country, and a flood of money poured out. The one thing needful and urgent was to use the troops in fighting trim, and put them forward as the head of a spear, thrust where the stab would inflict a mortal wound and break the force of Spain.
The Spanish fleet was sent forward from Cadiz as a forlorn hope of preventing what we call the investment of Cuba; and such was the improvidence of Spain that her navy was but ill provided to cross the ocean and go into active service in the West Indies. There has been no Assistant Secretary of the Roosevelt stamp in the Spanish Navy Department. Only a part of the home fleet of the Spaniards was seaworthy, as was established when there was an attempted diversion by an advertised expedition through the Mediterranean and beyond to Manila to attack the victorious fleet of Admiral Dewey in Philippine waters. Cervera's squadron, after making a show in the Southern part of the Caribbean Sea, disappeared for a time, and the defense had the advantage of detaining for a few days our Cuban expedition, because it was impossible to foresee what the Spaniards would attempt, though certainly they could not have any chance of doing great damage to the Americans except by attacking unguarded transports carrying masses of troops. It was Cervera's fate to be constrained by a scarcity of coal to put into Santiago, and there the facilities for coaling the ships were so insufficient that the Spaniards were detained and blockaded in a port not connected with Havana or any other city of Cuba, by railroad. The fleet indispensable to the defense of Cuba by Spain was, therefore, by the act of running into the Harbor of Santiago, put out of touch with the Spanish army in Cuba, with the exception of the garrison of Santiago. A spirited effort was made to reinforce Santiago, but the Cuban insurgents interfered materially with the movement of the Spaniards for the relief of Santiago, detaining the