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hungry, and ate it, it nauseated them at the worst; and the best of it was tasteless and insipid, and no salt was issued with the travel rations. If they had had salt and onions, and means for cooking, an eatable stew would have been possible. Arrangements were made by which the men were allowed to cook coffee. There were no arrangements for ice. No horses were taken. The field officers took their horses on another transport. The sleeping accommodations of the men were not good; those who slept on deck were the best off. There were sufficient medical supplies and three surgeons; but they waited off Port Tampa for five days. It took seven days to reach Santiago, and it was two days before they disembarked. There was a great lack of material for disembarking. When the Colonel was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, he had a naval aide, Lieutenant Sharp, who was there, off the coast of Cuba with a converted yacht. He came along and loaned a Cuban pilot, who took the Yucatan a mile and a half nearer the shore than any other transport. They had a dynamite gun and two Colt's automatic guns aboard, and got them ashore, but could not land the baggage or food, because there were not boats enough. The men had three days' equipment of rations. Roosevelt's baggage consisted of a light mackintosh, and the next day he got a tooth brush. Next morning the officers' baggage was taken ashore. The Colonel adds: “One of my horses was drowned, but I got on the other. Colonel Wood got both of his, and Major Brody got neither of his.” General Young commanded the brigade.
In the afternoon there was a hard march for the men; but the Colonel was on his horse, and it was perfectly easy, he says, for him. The men were clothed in the regular winter army clothes, which made it hot in the jungle, but all that had gone wrong was forgotten, or at least neglected, for "about nine o'clock in the evening we reached Siboney, at which time we were well to the front; no other regiment was ahead of us.” And the fighting boys were in high spirits, and needed to be, for as they got the fires kindled and supper cooked, "there came down a very heavy rain storm, and then we went to bed.” The Colonel doesn't say what sort of bed it was. At midnight Colonel Wood came, and they were to march at daybreak the next morning, along a hill trail to the left, and other troops were to go up the valley trail to the right, and where the trails come together they expected to strike the Spaniards, and so they did.
The march next morning was a hard one, and going up the hill made it so hard, the Colonel didn't appreciate the object of so much speed. Over a hundred men fell out exhausted; others dropped their blankets and packs; but the Colonel rejoiced afterward, for he saw, if they hadn't marched that way, they wouldn't have been able to strike the Spaniards just when they did. They were looking for a fight, and it was a triumph to get there and get into the real war business. They were marching in single file—the jungle was too thick for flankers to be put out, and Sergeant Fish, under Captain Capron was of the advance guard. After about two hours, there was a halt, word sent down that the Spanish outposts had been discovered, and Colonel Wood gave the order to cease talking, and see that the magazines were all loaded. Colonel Wood gave Roosevelt instructions to deploy with two troops to the right. One troop was deployed to the left and immediately afterward the firing began between that and the point where Sergeant Fish was. Roosevelt deployed to the right and Major Brody to the left, under a "pretty brisk fire."
The Colonel says: “It was a brisk skirmish, and it being my first experience, and with smokeless powder in use, it took me a little time to make out exactly what was up, and I couldn't see the Spaniards for a long time. They were using smokeless powder; but, fortunately, I knew one rule, that 'if you are in doubt go ahead and be sure you go toward the guns! We finally discovered the Spaniards through Mr. Richard Harding Davis, who was with me on the line. He pointed across the ravine to an elevation, where he thought were some Spaniards, as he could see their hats; and I got my glasses on them and saw they were Spanish hats, and got my men volley firing on them and they were driven out and ran back where there were other Spaniards, and pretty soon we had them all going back.” Some troops were seen on the right flank across the ravine, and proved to be our own regulars. A sergeant named Lee climbed a tree, and waved a guidon, so that the regulars should not fire on the volunteers. There was a report that they had fired a volley at Roosevelt's regiment, but it was not known. The right wing being established, Roosevelt moved to the left to the centre of the regiment, where Colonel Wood was. Major Brody was shot at this time and had to go to the rear, and Roosevelt was sent by Colonel Wood to the left wing, and was there in the thick jungle with three troops with him, and lost touch of the right wing until he heard them cheer.
The regiment was firing at the Spaniards, where there was a sugar house and plantation. When the men were heard cheering on the right, Roosevelt testified: “I knew they must be charging; so, then I charged too, and we drove the Spaniards out of that plantation and sugar house and came to a halt, and didn't know exactly what had become of the rest of the regiment.” A false report was circulated that Colonel Wood was killed, and Roosevelt started out to find the missing men of the regiment. He had arranged his own wing behind an overgrown and sunken road, and to his delight met Colonel Wood, asked him where the Spaniards were, and he said they had run away. Immediately afterward, General Chaffee came along, and Roosevelt's words of this are: "I think, before that, three troops of the Ninth Cavalry came along just ahead of General Chaffee, and I then found the thing was all over.” A Spanish mule loaded with beans was captured; and as the men were about out of provisions, those Spanish beans came in very handy. The regiment had improvised a field hospital during the fight, and the men were provided with first-aid material, which was entirely satisfactory. Dr. James Robbins Church not only took care of the wounded, but ran up on the firing line to rescue them. He was an old Princeton foot-ball player and repeatedly took men bigger than himself on his back all the way to the hospital.
The regiment moved next and had no transportation at all. The mess kits of the men were lost. It was said water ought to be boiled, but there was nothing to boil it in. They didn't get camp utensils because there was no transportation. Colonel Wood obtained about sixteen mules; but in forty-eight hours they were taken away, and the Colonel didn't know who took them. The troops had the regular ration of salt pork, hard-tack and coffee, but nothing else. They wanted beans and tomatoes, and the Colonel took forty of the men, marched back to Siboney, taking the officers' horses and some Cuban horses, and wanted to purchase beans to take them to the men, but there were no beans for sale, nobody to issue them. They wouldn't sell beans unless the Colonel would say they were only for the officers. He didn't think that right, but, however, he says: “I bought all that an elastic stretch of my conscience would allow me to say could be used for the officers, and then I got a boat and went out to the transport, bought five hundred pounds of beans, and all the tomatoes we wanted, loaded them on the horses and the men, and marched back and it was a great thing for the men.” The food was not suited to the climate, the hats were excellent, flannel shirts good, but exactly what would be used in Montana in the fall. The underclothes were Canton flannel and not good. The drawers got stiff and chafed the men. The trousers tore when they got drenched, and the men were in rags afterwards. The leggings were good; but it was a mistake in a muddy country to have leggings that strapped under the foot. The trousers were brown and khaki, but were not the real thing. Colonel Roosevelt testified that he wanted to put the men in good shape when they went on to Santiago, and one could hardly realize how well General Young handled the brigade and how he got work out of it. He was taken sick and went back. Colonel Wood succeeded him. Roosevelt succeeded Wood, and says: "I was very much pleased at that. I wouldn't have wanted it until I had had a little experience, but having been through that skirmish, I felt I could handle it.”
On the 30th of June word was received to go forward to Santiago. The next morning was the battle before Santiago. The artillery went up and opened fire upon the trench just in front of the regiment. The Spaniards replied with shrapnel that killed and wounded four in the regiment, and quite a number of Cubans.
Colonel Roosevelt received orders to lead the brigade. We quote his T. R.-7
led the nelago, and
official report: "My regiment went first, the Second Brigade following the First Brigade along the road to join on General Lawton's left. That was the order we received. General Lawton was attacking El Caney. We marched out behind the First Brigade until we came to the San Juan River, which we forded, and then turned to the right. I got my regiment across just as the captive balloon was coming along down to the ford. There was a good deal of firing going on, and I knew when that balloon got down there would be hot work at the ford, so I hurried my men along as quickly as I could, and my regiment marched at the head of the Second Brigade to the right alongside San Juan River, with the First Cavalry Brigade to our left, between us and the blockhouses and intrenchments on the hills, and the firing got heavier and heavier, and we finally received word to halt and await orders.
“There was a kind of sunken lane going up from the river where we halted, and I made the men all lie down and get under cover as much as they could, and we lay there for, I should judge, certainly an hour. Finally we got the welcome order to advance. I received instructions to move forward and support the regular cavalry in the assault on the hills in front, and we moved forward, and then we took Kettle Hill, as we called it. I never heard the term San Juan Hill until two or three days later. After we went up Kettle Hill, Colonel Hamilton and Colonel Carroll were both shot, and that left me in command on the hill until General Sumner got there. I got my men together and got them volley firing across at the San Juan blockhouse on the hill which the infantry of Kent and Hawkins were attacking. We kept up firing for some time, and I recollect we heard Parker's Gatlings begin shooting on the left and our men cheered them, and we kept up our fire until the infantry got so near the top of the hill that I was afraid of hitting them, and in another minute we saw the infantry swarm over the intrenchments and the Spaniards run out; and then we charged from Kettle Hill across at the next line of hills which was in the rear where there were Spanish trenches and another blockhouse. General Sumner was on Kettle Hill before this; he had been riding along the lines of the cavalry seeing that they went forward. He had command of the cavalry division at that time. Then we took the next line of intrenchments. The Spaniards were still firing at us, and we formed and went to the left, and got on the crest of the chain of hills overlooking Santiago. By that time I was the highest officer in command on the extreme front, and I had six regiments under me. Major Wessels had been wounded, and Captains Morton and Boughton came up and reported to me, and Captains Stevens and McNamee of the Ninth reported to me. I received orders, then, from Captain Howze, of General Sumner's staff, not to advance but to hold that hill at all hazards. Captain Howze was always at the front when he could be. We held the hill until nightfall, when we received orders to intrench.