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through every peril, that they would suffer uncomplainingly, and that they would obey his every order, even to the death.
They had suffered for food. Stacks of commissary stores were waiting for them on the beach at Daiquiri, for the Government had made small provision for bringing it to the front. So Colonel Roosevelt rigged up a pack-train after the first day's fighting, when the conditions warranted taking a few men from the lines. And after that the Rough Riders lived better; and their spirits as well as their health improved.
July 17 the city of Santiago surrendered. The new Armada had been destroyed by Commodore Schley. The power of Spain in the Western world was broken. The work of the Rough Riders, and of their active commander, was ended.
General Wheeler, second in command on the island, says in his book, “The Santiago Campaign”: “The first squadron in the battle of Las Guasimas) was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt, who deserves great credit for the intelligence and courage with which he handled his men.” Again, after the battle of July 3, General Wheeler forwarded to head
quarters the reports of his subalterns, and makes upon one this endorsement: “Colonel Roosevelt and his entire command deserve high commendation.” The general, being by nature and training a soldier, takes occasion in the book mentioned to view the “might have been.” After the Americans had captured the city, he tried to estimate the damage that would have been inflicted upon his soldiers if a more stubborn defense had been made by the Spaniards. “As we rode for the first time into Santiago," he says, “we were struck by the excellent manner in which the Spanish lines were fortified, and more especially by the formidable defenses with which they had barricaded the roads. The one in question, on which we were traveling, was barricaded in no less than four places, said defenses consisting of an enormous mass of barbed iron wire, stretched across the entire width of the road. They were not merely single lines of wire, but pieces running perpendicularly, diagonally, horizontally, and in every other direction, resembling nothing so much as a huge thick spiderweb, with an enormous mass in the center. Behind this some ten or fifteen feet were barrels of an extraordinary size, filled with sand, stones
and concrete, on the tops of which sand-bags were placed in such fashion as to leave small holes through which the Spaniards could sight their guns. It would, indeed, have been a hard task for American troops, were they never so brave and courageous, to have taken by storm a city which was protected by such defenses as these. Nothing short of artillery could have swept such obstructions out of the way, and even then they would have been more or less effective because of the narrowness of the road and the high banks on each side, which would have prevented getting the obstructions out of the way. Even the streets were intrenched in similar fashion, the people taking refuge in the upper stories of their houses. Had it come to a hand-to-hand fight, as at one time was feared, the American troops would have suffered a fearful loss, being necessarily placed at such a disadvantage. It was fortunate, therefore, that the surrender came when it did; for otherwise many a brave boy who has returned to resume his avocations of peace, or to do his duty as a soldier in his native land, would have found his last resting-place on Cuban soil.”
Instead of that a series of glorious battles had
been won, an honorable peace had been achieved, and to Colonel Roosevelt and the Rough Riders was left that home-coming for which all the nation had prayed. Let no man attempt to detract from the credit due to the soldiers of the regular army, or their officers. Yet it is a matter of record that the Rough Riders, were equally engaged in every fight of great or less magnitude; and the official reports show that the casualties in Colonel Roosevelt's regiment were both more numerous and more severe than those of any of the regulars. That regiment lost more officers than any other. It lost more men killed, and had more wounded, and fewer missing. It very nobly sustained the honor of the American volunteer soldier.
RETURN OF THE REGIMENT.
THE ROUND ROBIN
ORDERED BACK TO THE UNITED STATES
SICK, WOUNDED AND WELL ON THE VOYAGE HOME-LANDING
OF ROUGH RIDERS AT MONTAUK POINT
ANGELS OF MERCY
IN THE HOSPITALS-MUSTERED OUT-BACK TO THE OLD LIFE,
WHERE A ROUGH RIDER MAY RIDE.
The fighting was over. Spain had felt the force of a premonitory blow, and knew her house of cards would go down in a night if the strength of the young American giant were ever exerted to the full against her. The truce was followed with prompt orders for the Rough Riders to retire to the hills about El Caney, and go into regular camp; for peace was assured. There had been no assault on Havana, and the Morro Castle at the gate of that harbor had not been humbled with the stroke of cannon-shot, as American spirit had intended should be done. It had not been necessary to march the victorious army from the province of Santiago to the country