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and one other things. Most of the visitors, especially the ladies, wanted our autographs, and I had to write mine as many as forty times a day. I remember one of the men, a cowboy from Oklahoma, couldn't write, and he got so upset over this that every time somebody asked him for his autograph he would run away, saying he had forgotten to do something that he had been ordered to do. When I and some chums went down to New York to look around, all the folks stared at us, and many insisted on shaking hands and treating.'
The uniforms the Rough Riders had worn in Cuba were in rags, and many had boarded the transport barefooted. The rags were saved as trophies of the occasion, and many are still in existence.
At Camp Wykoff, as the place was called, there was a large hospital for the sick, and to this many came to do what they could for the sufferers, who were now given every possible attention. Among the visitors was Miss Helen Gould, who had used her ample means for the benefit of the sick all through the war, and who now continued to play the good Samaritan. President McKinley and
many of his cabinet likewise visited the camp, and saw to it that everything in the hospital and out of it was as it should be. The sick were presented with the best of fruits and other things, and many ladies assisted the nurses by reading to the patients and by writing letters for them.
Now that they had nothing to do in the shape of fighting, many of the Rough Riders were anxious to get back to the wild West. Life in an ordinary camp did not suit them, and at every available opportunity they indulged in “ horse play,” working off many practical jokes upon each other.
One day a report went the rounds that a member of another cavalry organization could not master a certain horse that had been assigned to him. The report was true, for the horse was what is called by ranchmen a bad bucker.'
“I think Sergeant Darnell can master him,” said Colonel Roosevelt.
He referred to one of the best “ bronco busters ” among the Rough Riders, a man who had never yet allowed a steed to get the best of him.
“All right, let Darnell try him," said
others. And a test was arranged for the day following
At that time Secretary of War Alger was in camp, and a great crowd of visitors, military men and others, gathered before Colonel Roosevelt's quarters to watch the contest. At the proper time the vicious horse was brought forth, and watching his chance, Sergeant Darnell leaped upon his back. Then came such a bucking, leaping, and prancing as many had never witnessed before.
“He'll be killed !” cried many of the ladies. “The horse will have him under in another moment." But such fears were groundless. Darnell knew exactly what he was doing, and in the end the fiery steed had to give in, completely conquered.
On the last Sunday in camp, Chaplain Brown delivered an impressive sermon, to which all listened with grave attention. After he had finished, Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the men in a feeling way. “I told them how proud I was of them,”
“ But warned them not to think that they could go back and rest on their laurels, bidding them remember that though
for ten days or so the world would be willing to treat them as heroes, yet after that time they would find they would have to get down to hard work just like anybody else, unless they were willing to be regarded as worthless do-nothings.” This was the best possible advice, and it is believed that many of the soldiers profited
Before the men were mustered out, they treated their beloved commander to a genuine surprise. They had had a fine bronze of a “Bronco Buster” made, and this was presented to Colonel Roosevelt on behalf of the whole regiment. It touched him deeply, and to-day this bronze is one of his most highly prized gifts.
At last came news that the Rough Riders would be mustered out of the United States service the next day. That evening a great celebration took place, in which all of the men joined, each according to his own notion of what a celebration should be. Large bonfires were lit, and here some delivered speeches, the soldiers from the colleges sang, those with Indian blood in them gave a characteristic dance, and cow
boys and ranchmen did “double-shuffles” and “cut up
up” as suited them. On the morning of September 15, four months after the Rough Riders had been organized, the colors were lowered in camp, the men were mustered out, and officers and privates shook hands and said goodby.
“ It was the greatest sight I ever saw,' says one of the number.
“Not until that moment came did we realize what it meant to part with those who had fought with us in battle and suffered the hardships of life in the trenches. Strange friendships had been formed, some between those who were very rich and very poor, and others between those who were well educated and very ignorant. One man who was studying for a professional life had as his particular chum a rough cowboy who had never spent six months over his books. But the two had stood by each other and suffered, and I really believe they were willing to lay down their lives for each other.
“Many of the men could hardly bear to part with Colonel Roosevelt. He had stuck by them through thick and thin, and they