If these guys were around today, I truly believe they could take care of our issues with North Korea along with other countries that are pushing the buttons of American military might.
If Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders strolled in, it would be like putting Chuck Norris against Pee Wee Herman.
But it won’t happen because Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders are deceased and in the history books.
I have decided to delve deeply into those history books to give you 25 cool facts about Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
These are in no particular order, so read them all and learn some interesting military history.
Fact #1: Actual Unit Name
The name Rough Riders was a nickname of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry.
Fact #2: Most Volunteers
The majority of volunteers were from the Southwest United States and were:
- Cattle hands
- Law enforcement agents
- and some college boys from the East
Fact #3: 1898
The Rough Riders were started in 1898 just for the Spanish American War.
Fact #4: Navy
Just before the Rough Riders were made an Army unit, Theodore Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
Fact #5: Roosevelt Turned Down Command Of The Rough Riders
Theodore Roosevelt did not originally command the Rough Riders. He was asked to, but turned it down saying he did not have the experience.
Roosevelt suggested that Colonel Leonard Wood be given command and he be made Lieutenant Colonel. It was that way through training, but just after being deployed to war, Wood was promoted to brigade commander which left Roosevelt in command of the Rough Riders.
Fact #6: Few Rough Riders Rode
While it was a cavalry unit, upon entering Cuba, very few of the Rough Riders actually rode horses. Most walked and marched. Roosevelt was able to ride, but the majority of horses and mules could not be hauled to Cuba.
Fact #7: First Battle
Teddy Roosevelt, Leonard Wood and the Rough Riders landed at Daiquiri, Cuba and 2 days later entered their first battle.
They fought with honor at Las Guásimas.
Fact #8: Kettle Hill
While so much glory is given Roosevelt and the Rough Riders as being the primary takers of San Juan Hill, that is taking away from many other brave soldiers.
If you want to give honor to the Rough Riders, say it was Kettle Hill. They are the unit that defeated that hill. But there were many other units who helped defeat the Spanish at San Juan Hill.
Fact #9: Training
The Rough Riders trained at Fort Sam Houston, Texas before being deployed to Cuba.
Fact #10: Political Maneuver?
I can not call this a fact, but some opponents of Theodore Roosevelt claimed that the whole process was a political maneuver since Roosevelt even ensured newspapermen were there to cover the short wartime drama.
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Fact #11: Why The Government Called For Volunteers
When war against Spain was being threatened, the United States Army only had 28,000 men. Due to the fact that both Cuba and the Philippines were targeted locations, the Army had to dramatically increase in size.
Volunteers were called for and this situation and that is how the Rough Riders came to be.
Fact #12: The Rough Riders Club
In 1978, Charlie Spicola started a club that honors the Rough Riders and participates in various community activities. There are well over 500 members. This club raises funds for charity and participates in various parades and such.
Fact #13: The First Nickname
Before the nickname “Rough Riders,” the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry were known as “Wood’s Weary Walkers.”
Fact #14: The Menger Hotel
While recruiting and training near San Antonio, Theodore Roosevelt and Leonard Wood, as well as other Army leaders stayed at the infamous Menger Hotel.
Fact #15: Mascots
The Rough Riders had 3 mascots.
- A dog named Cuba
- A mountain lion named Josephine
- And a golden eagle named Teddy.
Fact #16: The Primary Killer
Spanish guns were not the biggest killer in this short war. The primary killer was Yellow Fever and Typhoid.
Fact #17: Quarantine
After the war was done, the Rough Riders were held in quarantine in Long Island until they were mustered out of service.
Fact #18: Teddy Roosevelt’s Medal of Honor
100 years after action in Cuba, Theodore Roosevelt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in that war.
Fact #19: Fifth Corps
The Rough Riders were just a small part of the troops who traveled to Cuba. They were a part of Fifth Corps which consisted of:
- 3 divisions
- 17,000 officers and soldiers
- 18 regular Army and 2 volunteer infantry regiments
- 10 regular Army and 2 volunteer cavalry regiments
- An engineer battalion
- A detachment of Signal Corps
- An observation balloon detail
- And a slew of gun batteries
Fact #20: Weapons
The weapons soldiers and officers took to Cuba were:
- M1892/98 Springfield (Krag) bolt-action rifles
- Colt .45s
- Krag–Jørgensen carbines
- M1895 Winchester rifles
- Bowie Knives
- and M1895 Colt–Browning machine guns
Fact #21: High Casualty Rate
The Rough Riders suffered a 37% casualty rate in the Spanish American War.
Fact #22: Left Behind
The bigger percentage of the Rough Riders did not even travel to Cuba. They stayed behind in Tampa, Florida caring for horses and mules. This included:
- Troop C from Arizona
- Troop H from New Mexico
- and Troop I from New Mexico
- Troop M from Indian Territory
Fact #23: The News Reporter Who Fought
During the battle at Las Guasimas, a newspaper reporter by the name of Edward Marshall grabbed a gun and started fighting. Being shot and killed, a soldier thought he was Colonel Wood and reported his death. Roosevelt took command, but after the battle, he stepped down discovering Colonel Wood alive and well.
Fact #24: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
After the war, some of the Rough Riders traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and demonstrated their horsemanship abilities.
Fact #25: The Last Survivor
The last Rough Rider was Jesse Langdon who joined at 16 years old. He was from what is now North Dakota.
Jesse died June 29th, 1975 at 94 years old.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders showed the United States what true patriotism is all about.
In these days and times, I believe many U.S. citizens really need to understand this level of dedication to our country.
What are your thoughts?
Just leave your comments below and please share this with others.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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