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men were en march, and at a little after seven they attacked, and after a severe fight defeated a large Spanish force under Lieutenant-General Linares.
This was Roosevelt’s first experience under fire, and his superb conduct immediately established him as a brave and intrepid soldier.
The official report of the division commander said: “The magnificent and brave work done by the regiment, under the lead of Colonel Wood, testifies to his courage and skill. The energy and determination of this officer had been marked from the moment he reported to me at Tampa, Florida, and I recommended him for the consideration of the Government. I must rely upon his report to do justice to his officers and men, but I desire personally to add that all that I have said regarding Colonel Wood applies equally to Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt.”
On July 1, on account of the sickness of General Young, his brigade fell under the command of Colonel Wood, and the Rough Riders’ regiment was commanded by Colonel Roosevelt during the San Juan battle and in all the engagements which terminated in the surrender of the Spanish army.
My endorsement upon Colonel Roosevelt’s report contained these words: “Colonel Roosevelt and his entire command deserve high commendation.” I also recommended and requested that a gold medal be awarded him for his gallantry at San Juan. The conduct of Colonel Roosevelt was brave and soldierly. He was always at the front, always active, always caring for his men and always solicitous in attending to every duty. In August we sailed together upon the Miami for Montauk Point. He had become colonel of the regiment, and his excellent discipline and administration upon shipboard deserved high commendation. I saw much of him on the voyage, which lasted something over a week. I many times repeated that his party would immediately seek him as their candidate for Governor of New York, and that his wonderful civil career, supplemented by his short but very brilliant record as a soldier, would cause the American people to finally elect him to the highest office within their gift. This expression of mine was published very generally in the papers just after we landed, and I think this view was very general among those who had followed Colonel Roosevelt's career from the time he entered public life. The first prediction was verified three days after we landed by a formal tender of the nomination for Governor. His distinguished career in that high position is familiar to the people of the entire country, and especially to those of the Empire State. His reluctant consent to accept the office of Vice-President is fresh in our memory. The fearful tragedy which caused the death of William McKinley, the most loved of all our . Presidents, is constantly before us. We see it in emblems of mourning everywhere, in every city, town and hamlet in our land. We see it in the sad faces of our people in all walks of life. We realize the extent of our country’s loss when we contemplate the perfect public, as well as private, life of this great and good man. We appreciate it also when we see the prosperity of our country during all the period of his administration, and especially in the preservation of our prestige as a nation and the glorious record of our arms on both the land and Sea. And in all the nation's sadness no one has felt the bereavement more than he who must bear the
burdens and responsibilities which, in a sudden and unexpected moment, have been thrust upon him. That this new duty will be honestly, wisely and well performed those who know Theodore Roosevelt cannot for a moment doubt, and I believe that the dying moments of our martyred President were made more tranquil by the thought that his efforts for the glory, prosperity
and happiness of our country would be continued by his successor with wisdom, courage and deter