« PreviousContinue »
In his own excellent work, “The Rough Riders,” and in his sworn testimony before the Commission of Investigation of the Spanish War, Mr. Roosevelt has given us graphic pictures of how the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, commonly called the Rough Riders, happened to be organized, and what it tried to do and did, and this testimony is supplemented by many who know the facts, and who took part in the battles which made the organization famous throughout the length and breadth of our land:
At first Theodore Roosevelt thought to attach himself to the militia of New York, but found every place taken.
“Let us try one of my Massachusetts regiments,” said Dr. Wood. And this was also done, with a like result.
“We could fill every place, did we want five times as many men,” said one colonel. “Everybody seems crazy to go.” This shows how truly patriotic our nation can become when the occasion arises for going to the front.
While Theodore Roosevelt and his intimate friend were wondering what to do
next, Congress authorized the raising of three cavalry regiments, to be composed of the daring riflemen and riders of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arizona, and Indian Territory.
There, that will just suit me,” said Theodore Roosevelt.
“I know many of those men, and I know we can raise a regiment in no time."
And without delay he sought out Secretary of War Alger and told him of his hopes.
“I am perfectly willing to give you command of one of those regiments,” said the war secretary. “I know you are something of a rough rider yourself, and a good marksman to boot."
This was certainly flattering, but Theodore Roosevelt's head was not turned by the offer.
“I don't think I am quite ready to take command,” said he. “I know that I can learn, and that quickly, but it will be precious time wasted."
Well, what do you wish, Mr. Roosevelt ?” asked the Secretary of War, curiously.
“ What I should like best of all is for Dr. Wood to become colonel of the regiment, and for myself to become lieutenant-colonel.”
“ Very well; I will consult President McKinley on the, subject,” said the secretary. The request was granted, and in a few days more Colonel Wood and Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt sallied forth to organize the Rough Riders, and fit them for service in Cuba.
Leaving his family, which now consisted of his wife and six children, the lieutenantcolonel made his way to San Antonio, Texas, where the regiment was to gather. Previous to going he spent a full week in Washington, seeing to it that arrangements were completed for supplying the command with uniforms, carbines, saddles, and other articles which were needed. This was in itself quite a task, for all of the departments at the Capitol were more than busy, and it took a great amount of “hustling to get what one wanted.
As soon as it was known that Theodore Roosevelt was going to help organize the Rough Riders, offers from everywhere began to pour in upon him.
him. Not alone did the