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men of the plains and ranch who knew him want to go, but likewise his old college chums at Harvard. These men, of wealth and good families, were willing to serve in any capacity, if only they could be mustered in. There were crack base-ball and foot-ball players, yachtsmen, all-round athletes and men of fortune, all mixed in with hunters, cowboys, men who had served as sheriffs in the far West, where fighting was an everyday occurrence, some policemen who had served under Roosevelt when he was a Police Commissioner in New York, and even some Indians. Nearly every nationality was represented when it came to blood, and the men ran from the best educated to the most ignorant.
But there were three tests which every man, private or officer, had to pass. He had to be in perfect health, he had to know how to ride, and he had to know how to shoot. To these conditions were afterward added two more: each man had to learn his duty as quickly as he could and had to learn to obey his superiors.
In such a collection of soldiers it was but natural that the real leaders soon asserted
themselves. Several of the captains had served in the United States army before; two were former famous western sheriffs ; and all were full of that pluck and energy which is bound to command success.
In this regiment were some men who had hunted with Theodore Roosevelt on more than one occasion. They knew him well and loved him, and did their best to serve him. To them he was really their commander, although they officially recognized Colonel Wood. They were preëminently “ Roosevelt’s Rough Riders,” and the great majority of the people of our nation call them such to this day.
The majority of the command were rather young in years, although a few were of middle age. But all were tough and hardy, either from athletic training or from years spent in the open air of the great West. Some of them could ride almost any kind of a horse, and “ bronco busting,” that is, breaking in a wild steed, was common sport among them. Some had spent nearly their entire lives in the saddle, and some could exhibit remarkable skill with their firearms while riding at full speed.
When the men began to come into San Antonio, they found but little in the way of accommodations. But soon tents and blankets were procured. It is said that good shoes were scarce, but some of the soldiers did not mind going without them. The regiment was supplied with good rifles, but the cartridges were not made of smokeless powder, which was a bad thing, for smoke sometimes enables an enemy to locate the shooter, when, if smokeless powder were used, nothing could be seen.
Each man had also a six shooter, and was to have had a machete, but the long knives did not
“On to Cuba !” was the cry. And it was taken up every day. The Rough Riders were eager for the fray. Alas! little did many of them realize that, once in the “bloody isle," they would never see their native land again.
IN CAMP AT TAMPA - To Port TAMPA IN COAL
CARS — THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S QUICK MOVE TO OBTAIN A TRANSPORT — THE WAIT IN THE HARBOR -OFF FOR CUBA AT LAST
That the path of the soldier is not always one full of glory can easily be proven by what happened to the Rough Riders when, late in May, they were ordered to Tampa, Florida, where a part of the army was gathering in readiness to be transported to Cuba.
“ We were just wild to go,” says one of the number, in speaking of that time. “We were tired of staying at San Antonio and drilling day in and day out, rain or shine. I guess everybody felt like hurrahing when we piled on to the cars.
“Colonel Roosevelt - he was only Lieutenant-Colonel then — had six troops under him, and he did all he could to make the boys comfortable.
But the cars crowded, and travelling was so slow it took
us four days to reach Tampa. Then when we got there, we found everything in confusion. The railroad yard was chock-a-block with freight and passenger cars, and nobody was there to tell us where to go or where to find provisions.
“ The boys were hungry and tired out, for sleeping on the railroad had been almost out of the question. There wasn't a sign of rations in sight, and it looked as if we would have to stay hungry. But Teddy Roosevelt just put his hand into his own pocket and bought us about all we wanted. Then he scurried around and found out where we were to go, and in another twenty-four hours were settled in camp.'
Even in camp the Rough Riders had to put up with continued discomfort. The weather was warm, flies and mosquitoes were numerous, and the drinking water was not of the best. The rations were plain, but the Rough Riders did not mind this, for many of them had often fared worse on the plains.
Although it was now a regular military camp that the Rough Riders were in, it was rather difficult to control some of the men,