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Theodore Roosevelt An Autobiography by Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt

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the expedition, were both there. But, thanks to the fact that nobody
had had any experience in handling even such a small force as ours--
about 17,000 men--there was no semblance of order. Wood and I were
bound that we should not be left behind when the expedition started.
When we were finally informed that it was to leave next morning, we
were ordered to go to a certain track to meet a train. We went to the
track, but the train never came. Then we were sent to another track to
meet another train. Again it never came. However, we found a coal
train, of which we took possession, and the conductor, partly under
duress and partly in a spirit of friendly helpfulness, took us down to
the quay.

All kinds of other organizations, infantry and cavalry, regular and
volunteer, were arriving at the quay and wandering around it, and
there was no place where we could get any specific information as to
what transport we were to have. Finally Wood was told to "get any ship
you can get which is not already assigned." He borrowed without leave
a small motor boat, and commandeered the transport Yucatan. When asked
by the captain what his authority was, he reported that be was acting
"by orders of General Shafter," and directed the ship to be brought to
the dock. He had already sent me word to be ready, as soon as the ship
touched the pier, to put the regiment aboard her. I found that she had
already been assigned to a regular regiment, and to another volunteer
regiment, and as it was evident that not more than half of the men
assigned to her could possibly get on, I was determined that we should
not be among the men left off. The volunteer regiment offered a
comparatively easy problem. I simply marched my men past them to the
allotted place and held the gangway. With the regulars I had to be a
little more diplomatic, because their commander, a lieutenant-colonel,
was my superior in rank, and also doubtless knew his rights. He sent
word to me to make way, to draw my regiment off to one side, and let
his take possession of the gangway. I could see the transport coming
in, and could dimly make out Wood's figure thereon. Accordingly I
played for time. I sent respectful requests through his officers to
the commander of the regulars, entered into parleys, and made
protestations, until the transport got near enough so that by yelling
at the top of my voice I was able to get into a--highly constructive--
communication with Wood. What he was saying I had no idea, but he was
evidently speaking, and on my own responsibility I translated it into
directions to hold the gangway, and so informed the regulars that I
was under the orders of my superior and of a ranking officer, and--to
my great regret, etc., etc.--could not give way as they desired. As
soon as the transport was fast we put our men aboard at the double.
Half of the regular regiment got on, and the other half and the other
volunteer regiment went somewhere else.

We were kept several days on the transport, which was jammed with men,
so that it was hard to move about on the deck. Then the fleet got
under way, and we steamed slowly down to Santiago. Here we
disembarked, higgledy-piggledy, just as we had embarked. Different
parts of different outfits were jumbled together, and it was no light
labor afterwards to assemble the various batteries. For instance, one
transport had guns, and another the locks for the guns; the two not
getting together for several days after one of them had been landed.
Soldiers went here, provisions there; and who got ashore first largely
depended upon individual activity. Fortunately for us, my former naval
aide, when I had been Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Lieutenant-
Commander Sharp, a first-class fellow, was there in command of a
little ship to which I had succeeded in getting him appointed before I
left the Navy Department. He gave us a black pilot, who took our
transport right in shore, the others following like a flock of sheep;
and we disembarked with our rifles, ammunition belts, and not much
else. In theory it was out of our turn, but if we had not disembarked
then, Heaven only knows when our turn would have come, and we did not
intend to be out of the fighting if we could help it. I carried some
food in my pockets, and a light waterproof coat, which was my sole
camp equipment for the next two or three days. Twenty-four hours after
getting ashore we marched from Daiquiri, where we had landed, to
Siboney, also on the coast, reaching it during a terrific downpour of
rain. When this was over, we built a fire, dried our clothes, and ate
whatever we had brought with us.

We were brigaded with the First and Tenth Regular Cavalry, under
Brigadier-General Sam Young. He was a fine type of the American
regular. Like General Chaffee, another of the same type, he had
entered the army in the Civil War as a private. Later, when I was
President, it was my good fortune to make each of them in succession
Lieutenant-General of the army of the United States. When General
Young retired and General Chaffee was to take his place, the former
sent to the latter his three stars to wear on his first official
presentation, with a note that they were from "Private Young to
Private Chaffee." The two fine old fellows had served in the ranks,
one in the cavalry, one in the infantry, in their golden youth, in the
days of the great war nearly half a century before; each had grown
gray in a lifetime of honorable service under the flag, and each
closed his active career in command of the army. General Young was one
of the few men who had given and taken wounds with the saber. He was
an old friend of mine, and when in Washington before starting for the
front he told me that if we got in his brigade he would put us into
the fighting all right. He kept his word.

General Young had actively superintended getting his two regular
regiments, or at least a squadron of each, off the transports, and
late that night he sent us word that he had received permission to
move at dawn and strike the Spanish advance position. He directed us
to move along a ridge trail with our two squadrons (one squadron
having been left at Tampa), while with the two squadrons of regulars,
one of the First and one of the Tenth, under his personal supervision,
he marched up the valley trail. Accordingly Wood took us along the
hill trail early next morning, till we struck the Spaniards, and began
our fight just as the regulars began the fight in the valley trail.

It was a mountainous country covered with thick jungle, a most
confusing country, and I had an awful time trying to get into the
fight and trying to do what was right when in it; and all the while I
was thinking that I was the only man who did not know what I was
about, and that all the others did--whereas, as I found out later,
pretty much everybody else was as much in the dark as I was. There was
no surprise; we struck the Spaniards exactly where we had expected;
then Wood halted us and put us into the fight deliberately and in
order. He ordered us to deploy alternately by troops to the right and
left of the trail, giving our senior major, Brodie, a West Pointer and
as good a soldier as ever wore a uniform, the left wing, while I took
the right wing. I was told if possible to connect with the regulars
who were on the right. In theory this was excellent, but as the jungle
was very dense the first troop that deployed to the right vanished
forthwith, and I never saw it again until the fight was over--having a
frightful feeling meanwhile that I might be court-martialed for losing
it. The next troop deployed to the left under Brodie. Then the third
came along, and I started to deploy it to the right as before.

By the time the first platoon had gotten into the jungle I realized
that it likewise would disappear unless I kept hold of it. I managed
to keep possession of the last platoon. One learns fast in a fight,
and I marched this platoon and my next two troops in column through
the jungle without any attempt to deploy until we got on the firing
line. This sounds simple. But it was not. I did not know when I had
gotten on the firing line! I could hear a good deal of firing, some
over to my right at a good distance, and the rest to the left and
ahead. I pushed on, expecting to strike the enemy somewhere between.

Soon we came to the brink of a deep valley. There was a good deal of
cracking of rifles way off in front of us, but as they used smokeless
powder we had no idea as to exactly where they were, or who they were
shooting at. Then it dawned on us that we were the target. The bullets
began to come overhead, making a sound like the ripping of a silk
dress, with sometimes a kind of pop; a few of my men fell, and I
deployed the rest, making them lie down and get behind trees. Richard
Harding Davis was with us, and as we scanned the landscape with our
glasses it was he who first pointed out to us some Spaniards in a
trench some three-quarters of a mile off. It was difficult to make
them out. There were not many of them. However, we finally did make
them out, and we could see their conical hats, for the trench was a
poor one. We advanced, firing at them, and drove them off.

What to do then I had not an idea. The country in front fell away into
a very difficult jungle-filled valley. There was nothing but jungle
all around, and if I advanced I was afraid I might get out of touch
with everybody and not be going in the right direction. Moreover, as
far as I could see, there was now nobody in front who was shooting at
us, although some of the men on my left insisted that our own men had
fired into us--an allegation which I soon found was almost always made
in such a fight, and which in this case was not true. At this moment
some of the regulars appeared across the ravine on our right. The
first thing they did was to fire a volley at us, but one of our first
sergeants went up a tree and waved a guidon at them and they stopped.
Firing was still going on to our left, however, and I was never more
puzzled to know what to do. I did not wish to take my men out of their
position without orders, for fear that I might thereby be leaving a
gap if there was a Spanish force which meditated an offensive return.
On the other hand, it did not seem to me that I had been doing enough
fighting to justify my existence, and there was obviously fighting
going on to the left. I remember that I kept thinking of the refrain
of the fox-hunting song, "Here's to every friend who struggled to the
end"; in the hunting field I had always acted on this theory, and, no
matter how discouraging appearances might be, had never stopped trying
to get in at the death until the hunt was actually over; and now that
there was work, and not play, on hand, I intended to struggle as hard
as I knew how not to be left out of any fighting into which I could,
with any possible propriety, get.

So I left my men where they were and started off at a trot toward
where the firing was, with a couple of orderlies to send back for the
men in case that proved advisable. Like most tyros, I was wearing my
sword, which in thick jungle now and then got between my legs--from
that day on it always went corded in the baggage. I struck the trail,
and began to pass occasional dead men. Pretty soon I reached Wood and
found, much to my pleasure, that I had done the right thing, for as I
came up word was brought to him that Brodie had been shot, and he at
once sent me to take charge of the left wing. It was more open country
here, and at least I was able to get a glimpse of my own men and
exercise some control over them. There was much firing going on, but
for the life of me I could not see any Spaniards, and neither could
any one else. Finally we made up our minds that they were shooting at
us from a set of red-tiled ranch buildings a good way in front, and
these I assaulted, finally charging them. Before we came anywhere
near, the Spaniards, who, as it proved, really were inside and around
them, abandoned them, leaving a few dead men.

By the time I had taken possession of these buildings all firing had
ceased everywhere. I had not the faintest idea what had happened:
whether the fight was over; or whether this was merely a lull in the
fight; or where the Spaniards were; or whether we might be attacked
again; or whether we ought ourselves to attack somebody somewhere
else. I got my men in order and sent out small parties to explore the
ground in front, who returned without finding any foe. (By this time,
as a matter of fact, the Spaniards were in full retreat.) Meanwhile I
was extending my line so as to get into touch with our people on the
right. Word was brought to me that Wood had been shot--which
fortunately proved not to be true--and as, if this were so, it meant
that I must take charge of the regiment, I moved over personally to
inquire. Soon I learned that he was all right, that the Spaniards had
retreated along the main road, and that Colonel Wood and two or three
other officers were a short distance away. Before I reached them I
encountered a captain of the Ninth Cavalry, very glum because his
troopers had not been up in time to take part in the fight, and he
congratulated me--with visible effort!--upon my share in our first
victory. I thanked him cordially, not confiding in him that till that
moment I myself knew exceeding little about the victory; and proceeded
to where Generals Wheeler, Lawton, and Chaffee, who had just come up,
in company with Wood, were seated on a bank. They expressed
appreciation of the way that I had handled my troops, first on the
right wing and then on the left! As I was quite prepared to find I had
committed some awful sin, I did my best to accept this in a nonchalant
manner, and not to look as relieved as I felt. As throughout the
morning I had preserved a specious aspect of wisdom, and had commanded
first one and then the other wing, the fight was really a capital
thing for me, for practically all the men had served under my actual
command, and thenceforth felt an enthusiastic belief that I would lead
them aright.

It was a week after this skirmish before the army made the advance on
Santiago. Just before this occurred General Young was stricken down
with fever. General Wheeler, who had commanded the Cavalry Division,
was put in general charge of the left wing of the army, which fought
before the city itself. Brigadier-General Sam Sumner, an excellent
officer, who had the second cavalry brigade, took command of the
cavalry division, and Wood took command of our brigade, while, to my
intense delight, I got my regiment. I therefore had command of the
regiment before the stiffest fighting occurred. Later, when Wood was
put in command in Santiago, I became the brigade commander.

Late in the evening we camped at El Poso. There were two regular
officers, the brigade commander's aides, Lieutenants A. L. Mills and
W. E. Shipp, who were camped by our regiment. Each of my men had food
in his haversack, but I had none, and I would have gone supperless to
bed if Mills and Shipp had not given me out of their scanty stores a
big sandwich, which I shared with my orderly, who also had nothing.
Next morning my body servant Marshall, an ex-soldier of the Ninth
(Colored) Cavalry, a fine and faithful fellow, had turned up and I was
able in my turn to ask Mills and Shipp, who had eaten all their food
the preceding evening, to take breakfast with me. A few hours later
gallant Shipp was dead, and Mills, an exceptionally able officer, had
been shot through the head from side to side, just back of the eyes;
yet he lived, although one eye was blinded, and before I left the
Presidency I gave him his commission as Brigadier-General.

Early in the morning our artillery began firing from the hill-crest
immediately in front of where our men were camped. Several of the
regiment were killed and wounded by the shrapnel of the return fire of
the Spaniards. One of the shrapnel bullets fell on my wrist and raised
a bump as big as a hickory nut, but did not even break the skin. Then
we were marched down from the hill on a muddy road through thick
jungle towards Santiago. The heat was great, and we strolled into the
fight with no definite idea on the part of any one as to what we were
to do or what would happen. There was no plan that our left wing was
to make a serious fight that day; and as there were no plans, it was
naturally exceedingly hard to get orders, and each of us had to act
largely on his own responsibility.

Lawton's infantry division attacked the little village of El Caney,
some miles to the right. Kent's infantry division and Sumner's
dismounted cavalry division were supposed to detain the Spanish army
in Santiago until Lawton had captured El Caney. Spanish towns and
villages, however, with their massive buildings, are natural
fortifications, as the French found in the Peninsular War, and as both
the French and our people found in Mexico. The Spanish troops in El
Caney fought very bravely, as did the Spanish troops in front of us,
and it was late in the afternoon before Lawton accomplished his task.

Meanwhile we of the left wing had by degrees become involved in a
fight which toward the end became not even a colonel's fight, but a
squad leader's fight. The cavalry division was put at the head of the
line. We were told to march forward, cross a little river in front,
and then, turning to the right, march up alongside the stream until we
connected with Lawton. Incidentally, this movement would not have
brought us into touch with Lawton in any event. But we speedily had to
abandon any thought of carrying it out. The maneuver brought us within
fair range of the Spanish intrenchments along the line of hills which
we called the San Juan Hills, because on one of them was the San Juan
blockhouse. On that day my regiment had the lead of the second
brigade, and we marched down the trail following in trace behind the
first brigade. Apparently the Spaniards could not make up their minds
what to do as the three regular regiments of the first brigade crossed
and defiled along the other bank of the stream, but when our regiment
was crossing they began to fire at us.

Under this flank fire it soon became impossible to continue the march.
The first brigade halted, deployed, and finally began to fire back.
Then our brigade was halted. From time to time some of our men would
fall, and I sent repeated word to the rear to try to get authority to
attack the hills in front. Finally General Sumner, who was fighting
the division in fine shape, sent word to advance. The word was brought
to me by Mills, who said that my orders were to support the regulars
in the assault on the hills, and that my objective would be the red-
tiled ranch-house in front, on a hill which we afterwards christened
Kettle Hill. I mention Mills saying this because it was exactly the
kind of definite order the giving of which does so much to insure
success in a fight, as it prevents all obscurity as to what is to be
done. The order to attack did not reach the first brigade until after
we ourselves reached it, so that at first there was doubt on the part
of their officers whether they were at liberty to join in the advance.

I had not enjoyed the Guasimas fight at all, because I had been so
uncertain as to what I ought to do. But the San Juan fight was
entirely different. The Spaniards had a hard position to attack, it is
true, but we could see them, and I knew exactly how to proceed. I kept
on horseback, merely because I found it difficult to convey orders
along the line, as the men were lying down; and it is always hard to
get men to start when they cannot see whether their comrades are also
going. So I rode up and down the lines, keeping them straightened out,
and gradually worked through line after line until I found myself at
the head of the regiment. By the time I had reached the lines of the
regulars of the first brigade I had come to the conclusion that it was
silly to stay in the valley firing at the hills, because that was
really where we were most exposed, and that the thing to do was to try
to rush the intrenchments. Where I struck the regulars there was no
one of superior rank to mine, and after asking why they did not
charge, and being answered that they had no orders, I said I would
give the order. There was naturally a little reluctance shown by the
elderly officer in command to accept my order, so I said, "Then let my
men through, sir," and I marched through, followed by my grinning men.
The younger officers and the enlisted men of the regulars jumped up
and joined us. I waved my hat, and we went up the hill with a rush.
Having taken it, we looked across at the Spaniards in the trenches
under the San Juan blockhouse to our left, which Hawkins's brigade was
assaulting. I ordered our men to open fire on the Spaniards in the

Memory plays funny tricks in such a fight, where things happen
quickly, and all kinds of mental images succeed one another in a
detached kind of way, while the work goes on. As I gave the order in
question there slipped through my mind Mahan's account of Nelson's
orders that each ship as it sailed forward, if it saw another ship
engaged with an enemy's ship, should rake the latter as it passed.
When Hawkins's soldiers captured the blockhouse, I, very much elated,
ordered a charge on my own hook to a line of hills still farther on.
Hardly anybody heard this order, however; only four men started with
me, three of whom were shot. I gave one of them, who was only wounded,
my canteen of water, and ran back, much irritated that I had not been
followed--which was quite unjustifiable, because I found that nobody
had heard my orders. General Sumner had come up by this time, and I
asked his permission to lead the charge. He ordered me to do so, and
this time away we went, and stormed the Spanish intrenchments. There
was some close fighting, and we took a few prisoners. We also captured
the Spanish provisions, and ate them that night with great relish. One
of the items was salted flying-fish, by the way. There were also
bottles of wine, and jugs of fiery spirit, and as soon as possible I
had these broken, although not before one or two of my men had taken
too much liquor. Lieutenant Howze, of the regulars, an aide of General
Sumner's, brought me an order to halt where I was; he could not make
up his mind to return until he had spent an hour or two with us under
fire. The Spaniards attempted a counter-attack in the middle of the
afternoon, but were driven back without effort, our men laughing and
cheering as they rose to fire; because hitherto they had been
assaulting breastworks, or lying still under artillery fire, and they
were glad to get a chance to shoot at the Spaniards in the open. We
lay on our arms that night and as we were drenched with sweat, and had
no blankets save a few we took from the dead Spaniards, we found even
the tropic night chilly before morning came.

During the afternoon's fighting, while I was the highest officer at
our immediate part of the front, Captains Boughton and Morton of the
regular cavalry, two as fine officers as any man could wish to have
beside him in battle, came along the firing line to tell me that they
had heard a rumor that we might fall back, and that they wished to
record their emphatic protest against any such course. I did not
believe there was any truth in the rumor, for the Spaniards were
utterly incapable of any effective counter-attack. However, late in
the evening, after the fight, General Wheeler visited us at the front,
and he told me to keep myself in readiness, as at any moment it might
be decided to fall back. Jack Greenway was beside me when General
Wheeler was speaking. I answered, "Well, General, I really don't know
whether we would obey an order to fall back. We can take that city by
a rush, and if we have to move out of here at all I should be inclined
to make the rush in the right direction." Greenway nodded an eager
assent. The old General, after a moment's pause, expressed his hearty
agreement, and said that he would see that there was no falling back.
He had been very sick for a couple of days, but, sick as he was, he
managed to get into the fight. He was a gamecock if ever there was
one, but he was in very bad physical shape on the day of the fight. If
there had been any one in high command to supervise and press the
attack that afternoon, we would have gone right into Santiago. In my
part of the line the advance was halted only because we received
orders not to move forward, but to stay on the crest of the captured
hill and hold it.

We are always told that three-o'clock-in-the-morning courage is the
most desirable kind. Well, my men and the regulars of the cavalry had
just that brand of courage. At about three o'clock on the morning
after the first fight, shooting began in our front and there was an
alarm of a Spanish advance. I was never more pleased than to see the
way in which the hungry, tired, shabby men all jumped up and ran
forward to the hill-crest, so as to be ready for the attack; which,
however, did not come. As soon as the sun rose the Spaniards again
opened upon us with artillery. A shell burst between Dave Goodrich and
myself, blacking us with powder, and killing and wounding several of
the men immediately behind us.

Next day the fight turned into a siege; there were some stirring
incidents; but for the most part it was trench work. A fortnight later
Santiago surrendered. Wood won his brigadier-generalship by the
capital way in which he handled his brigade in the fight, and in the
following siege. He was put in command of the captured city; and in a
few days I succeeded to the command of the brigade.

The health of the troops was not good, and speedily became very bad.
There was some dysentery, and a little yellow fever; but most of the
trouble was from a severe form of malarial fever. The Washington
authorities had behaved better than those in actual command of the
expedition at one crisis. Immediately after the first day's fighting
around Santiago the latter had hinted by cable to Washington that they
might like to withdraw, and Washington had emphatically vetoed the
proposal. I record this all the more gladly because there were not too
many gleams of good sense shown in the home management of the war;
although I wish to repeat that the real blame for this rested
primarily with us ourselves, the people of the United States, who had
for years pursued in military matters a policy that rendered it
certain that there would be ineptitude and failure in high places if
ever a crisis came. After the siege the people in Washington showed no
knowledge whatever of the conditions around Santiago, and proposed to
keep the army there. This would have meant that at least three-fourths
of the men would either have died or have been permanently invalided,
as a virulent form of malaria was widespread, and there was a steady
growth of dysentery and other complaints. No object of any kind was to
be gained by keeping the army in or near the captured city. General
Shafter tried his best to get the Washington authorities to order the
army home. As he failed to accomplish anything, he called a council of
the division and brigade commanders and the chief medical officers to
consult over the situation.

Although I had command of a brigade, I was only a colonel, and so I
did not intend to attend, but the General informed me that I was
particularly wanted, and accordingly I went. At the council General
Shafter asked the medical authorities as to conditions, and they
united in informing him that they were very bad, and were certain to
grow much worse; and that in order to avoid frightful ravages from
disease, chiefly due to malaria, the army should be sent back at once
to some part of the northern United States. The General then explained
that he could not get the War Department to understand the situation;
that he could not get the attention of the public; and that he felt
that there should be some authoritative publication which would make
the War Department take action before it was too late to avert the
ruin of the army. All who were in the room expressed their agreement.

Then the reason for my being present came out. It was explained to me
by General Shafter, and by others, that as I was a volunteer officer
and intended immediately to return to civil life, I could afford to
take risks which the regular army men could not afford to take and
ought not to be expected to take, and that therefore I ought to make
the publication in question; because to incur the hostility of the War
Department would not make any difference to me, whereas it would be
destructive to the men in the regular army, or to those who hoped to
get into the regular army. I thought this true, and said I would write
a letter or make a statement which could then be published. Brigadier-
General Ames, who was in the same position that I was, also announced
that he would make a statement.

When I left the meeting it was understood that I was to make my
statement as an interview in the press; but Wood, who was by that time
Brigadier-General commanding the city of Santiago, gave me a quiet
hint to put my statement in the form of a letter to General Shafter,
and this I accordingly did. When I had written my letter, the
correspondent of the Associated Press, who had been informed by others
of what had occurred, accompanied me to General Shafter. I presented
the letter to General Shafter, who waved it away and said: "I don't
want to take it; do whatever you wish with it." I, however, insisted
on handing it to him, whereupon he shoved it toward the correspondent
of the Associated Press, who took hold of it, and I released my hold.
General Ames made a statement direct to the correspondent, and also
sent a cable to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy at Washington, a
copy of which he gave to the correspondent. By this time the other
division and brigade commanders who were present felt that they had
better take action themselves. They united in a round robin to General
Shafter, which General Wood dictated, and which was signed by Generals
Kent, Gates, Chaffee, Sumner, Ludlow, Ames, and Wood, and by myself.
General Wood handed this to General Shafter, and it was made public by
General Shafter precisely as mine was made public.[*] Later I was much
amused when General Shafter stated that he could not imagine how my
letter and the round robin got out! When I saw this statement, I
appreciated how wise Wood had been in hinting to me not to act on the
suggestion of the General that I should make a statement to the
newspapers, but to put my statement in the form of a letter to him as
my superior officer, a letter which I delivered to him. Both the
letter and the round robin were written at General Shafter's wish, and
at the unanimous suggestion of all the commanding and medical officers
of the Fifth Army Corps, and both were published by General Shafter.

[*] General Wood writes me: "The representative of the Associated
Press was very anxious to get a copy of this despatch or see it,
and I told him it was impossible for him to have it or see it. I
then went in to General Shafter and stated the case to him,
handing him the despatch, saying, 'The matter is now in your
hands.' He, General Shafter, then said, 'I don't care whether this
gentleman has it or not,' and I left then. When I went back the
General told me he had given the Press representative a copy of
the despatch, and that he had gone to the office with it."

In a regiment the prime need is to have fighting men; the prime virtue
is to be able and eager to fight with the utmost effectiveness. I have
never believed that this was incompatible with other virtues. On the
contrary, while there are of course exceptions, I believe that on the
average the best fighting men are also the best citizens. I do not
believe that a finer set of natural soldiers than the men of my
regiment could have been found anywhere, and they were first-class
citizens in civil life also. One fact may perhaps be worthy of note.
Whenever we were in camp and so fixed that we could have regular
meals, we used to have a general officers' mess, over which I of
course presided. During our entire service there was never a foul or
indecent word uttered at the officers' mess--I mean this literally;
and there was very little swearing--although now and then in the
fighting, if there was a moment when swearing seemed to be the best
method of reaching the heart of the matter, it was resorted to.

The men I cared for most in the regiment were the men who did the best
work; and therefore my liking for them was obliged to take the shape
of exposing them to the most fatigue and hardship, of demanding from
them the greatest service, and of making them incur the greatest risk.
Once I kept Greenway and Goodrich at work for forty-eight hours,
without sleeping, and with very little food, fighting and digging
trenches. I freely sent the men for whom I cared most, to where death
might smite them; and death often smote them--as it did the two best
officers in my regiment, Allyn Capron and Bucky O'Neil. My men would
not have respected me had I acted otherwise. Their creed was my creed.
The life even of the most useful man, of the best citizen, is not to
be hoarded if there be need to spend it. I felt, and feel, this about
others; and of course also about myself. This is one reason why I have
always felt impatient contempt for the effort to abolish the death
penalty on account of sympathy with criminals. I am willing to listen
to arguments in favor of abolishing the death penalty so far as they
are based purely on grounds of public expediency, although these
arguments have never convinced me. But inasmuch as, without
hesitation, in the performance of duty, I have again and again sent
good and gallant and upright men to die, it seems to me the height of
a folly both mischievous and mawkish to contend that criminals who
have deserved death should nevertheless be allowed to shirk it. No
brave and good man can properly shirk death; and no criminal who has
earned death should be allowed to shirk it.

One of the best men with our regiment was the British military
attache, Captain Arthur Lee, an old friend. The other military
attaches were herded together at headquarters and saw little. Captain
Lee, who had known me in Washington, escaped and stayed with the
regiment. We grew to feel that he was one of us, and made him an
honorary member. There were two other honorary members. One was
Richard Harding Davis, who was with us continually and who performed
valuable service on the fighting line. The other was a regular
officer, Lieutenant Parker, who had a battery of gatlings. We were
with this battery throughout the San Juan fighting, and we grew to
have the strongest admiration for Parker as a soldier and the
strongest liking for him as a man. During our brief campaign we were
closely and intimately thrown with various regular officers of the
type of Mills, Howze, and Parker. We felt not merely fondness for them
as officers and gentlemen, but pride in them as Americans. It is a
fine thing to feel that we have in the army and in the navy modest,
efficient, gallant gentlemen of this type, doing such disinterested
work for the honor of the flag and of the Nation. No American can
overpay the debt of gratitude we all of us owe to the officers and
enlisted men of the army and of the navy.

Of course with a regiment of our type there was much to learn both
among the officers and the men. There were all kinds of funny
incidents. One of my men, an ex-cow-puncher and former round-up cook,
a very good shot and rider, got into trouble on the way down on the
transport. He understood entirely that he had to obey the officers of
his own regiment, but, like so many volunteers, or at least like so
many volunteers of my regiment, he did not understand that this
obligation extended to officers of other regiments. One of the regular
officers on the transport ordered him to do something which he
declined to do. When the officer told him to consider himself under
arrest, he responded by offering to fight him for a trifling
consideration. He was brought before a court martial which sentenced
him to a year's imprisonment at hard labor with dishonorable
discharge, and the major-general commanding the division approved the

We were on the transport. There was no hard labor to do; and the
prison consisted of another cow-puncher who kept guard over him with
his carbine, evidently divided in his feelings as to whether he would
like most to shoot him or to let him go. When we landed, somebody told
the prisoner that I intended to punish him by keeping him with the
baggage. He at once came to me in great agitation, saying: "Colonel,
they say you're going to leave me with the baggage when the fight is
on. Colonel, if you do that, I will never show my face in Arizona
again. Colonel, if you will let me go to the front, I promise I will
obey any one you say; any one you say, Colonel," with the evident
feeling that, after this concession, I could not, as a gentleman,
refuse his request. Accordingly I answered: "Shields, there is no one
in this regiment more entitled to be shot than you are, and you shall
go to the front." His gratitude was great, and he kept repeating,
"I'll never forget this, Colonel, never." Nor did he. When we got very
hard up, he would now and then manage to get hold of some flour and
sugar, and would cook a doughnut and bring it round to me, and watch
me with a delighted smile as I ate it. He behaved extremely well in
both fights, and after the second one I had him formally before me and
remitted his sentence--something which of course I had not the
slightest power to do, although at the time it seemed natural and
proper to me.

When we came to be mustered out, the regular officer who was doing the
mustering, after all the men had been discharged, finally asked me
where the prisoner was. I said, "What prisoner?" He said, "The
prisoner, the man who was sentenced to a year's imprisonment with hard
labor and dishonorable discharge." I said, "Oh! I pardoned him"; to
which he responded, "I beg your pardon; you did what?" This made me
grasp the fact that I had exceeded authority, and I could only answer,
"Well, I did pardon him, anyhow, and he has gone with the rest";
whereupon the mustering-out officer sank back in his chair and
remarked, "He was sentenced by a court martial, and the sentence was
approved by the major-general commanding the division. You were a
lieutenant-colonel, and you pardoned him. Well, it was nervy, that's
all I'll say."

The simple fact was that under the circumstances it was necessary for
me to enforce discipline and control the regiment, and therefore to
reward and punish individuals in whatever way the exigencies demanded.
I often explained to the men what the reasons for an order were, the
first time it was issued, if there was any trouble on their part in
understanding what they were required to do. They were very
intelligent and very eager to do their duty, and I hardly ever had any
difficulty the second time with them. If, however, there was the
slightest willful shirking of duty or insubordination, I punished
instantly and mercilessly, and the whole regiment cordially backed me
up. To have punished men for faults and shortcomings which they had no
opportunity to know were such would have been as unwise as to have
permitted any of the occasional bad characters to exercise the
slightest license. It was a regiment which was sensitive about its
dignity and was very keenly alive to justice and to courtesy, but
which cordially approved absence of mollycoddling, insistence upon the
performance of duty, and summary punishment of wrong-doing.

In the final fighting at San Juan, when we captured one of the
trenches, Jack Greenway had seized a Spaniard, and shortly afterwards
I found Jack leading his captive round with a string. I told him to
turn him over to a man who had two or three other captives, so that
they should all be taken to the rear. It was the only time I ever saw
Jack look aggrieved. "Why, Colonel, can't I keep him for myself?" he
asked, plaintively. I think he had an idea that as a trophy of his bow
and spear the Spaniard would make a fine body servant.

One reason that we never had the slightest trouble in the regiment was
because, when we got down to hard pan, officers and men shared exactly
alike. It is all right to have differences in food and the like in
times of peace and plenty, when everybody is comfortable. But in
really hard times officers and men must share alike if the best work
is to be done. As long as I had nothing but two hardtacks, which was
the allowance to each man on the morning after the San Juan fight, no
one could complain; but if I had had any private little luxuries the
men would very naturally have realized keenly their own shortages.

Soon after the Guasimas fight we were put on short commons; and as I
knew that a good deal of food had been landed and was on the beach at
Siboney, I marched thirty or forty of the men down to see if I could
not get some and bring it up. I finally found a commissary officer,
and he asked me what I wanted, and I answered, anything he had. So he
told me to look about for myself. I found a number of sacks of beans,
I think about eleven hundred pounds, on the beach; and told the
officer that I wanted eleven hundred pounds of beans. He produced a
book of regulations, and showed me the appropriate section and
subdivision which announced that beans were issued only for the
officers' mess. This did me no good, and I told him so. He said he was
sorry, and I answered that he was not as sorry as I was. I then
"studied on it," as Br'r Rabbit would say, and came back with a
request for eleven hundred pounds of beans for the officers' mess. He
said, "Why, Colonel, your officers can't eat eleven hundred pounds of
beans," to which I responded, "You don't know what appetites my
officers have." He then said he would send the requisition to
Washington. I told him I was quite willing, so long as he gave me the
beans. He was a good fellow, so we finally effected a working
compromise--he got the requisition and I got the beans, although he
warned me that the price would probably be deducted from my salary.

Under some regulation or other only the regular supply trains were
allowed to act, and we were supposed not to have any horses or mules
in the regiment itself. This was very pretty in theory; but, as a
matter of fact, the supply trains were not numerous enough. My men had
a natural genius for acquiring horseflesh in odd ways, and I
continually found that they had staked out in the brush various
captured Spanish cavalry horses and Cuban ponies and abandoned
commissary mules. Putting these together, I would organize a small
pack train and work it industriously for a day or two, until they
learned about it at headquarters and confiscated it. Then I would have
to wait for a week or so until my men had accumulated some more
ponies, horses, and mules, the regiment meanwhile living in plenty on
what we had got before the train was confiscated.

All of our men were good at accumulating horses, but within our own
ranks I think we were inclined to award the palm to our chaplain.
There was not a better man in the regiment than the chaplain, and
there could not have been a better chaplain for our men. He took care
of the sick and the wounded, he never spared himself, and he did every
duty. In addition, he had a natural aptitude for acquiring mules,
which made some admirer, when the regiment was disbanded, propose that
we should have a special medal struck for him, with, on the obverse,
"A Mule passant and Chaplain regardant." After the surrender of
Santiago, a Philadelphia clergyman whom I knew came down to General
Wheeler's headquarters, and after visiting him announced that he
intended to call on the Rough Riders, because he knew their colonel.
One of General Wheeler's aides, Lieutenant Steele, who liked us both
individually and as a regiment, and who appreciated some of our ways,
asked the clergyman, after he had announced that he knew Colonel
Roosevelt, "But do you know Colonel Roosevelt's regiment?" "No," said
the clergyman. "Very well, then, let me give you a piece of advice.
When you go down to see the Colonel, don't let your horse out of your
sight; and if the chaplain is there, don't get off the horse!"

We came back to Montauk Point and soon after were disbanded. We had
been in the service only a little over four months. There are no four
months of my life to which I look back with more pride and
satisfaction. I believe most earnestly and sincerely in peace, but as
things are yet in this world the nation that cannot fight, the people
that have lost the fighting edge, that have lost the virile virtues,
occupy a position as dangerous as it is ignoble. The future greatness
of America in no small degree depends upon the possession by the
average American citizen of the qualities which my men showed when
they served under me at Santiago.

Moreover, there is one thing in connection with this war which it is
well that our people should remember, our people who genuinely love
the peace of righteousness, the peace of justice--and I would be
ashamed to be other than a lover of the peace of righteousness and of
justice. The true preachers of peace, who strive earnestly to bring
nearer the day when peace shall obtain among all peoples, and who
really do help forward the cause, are men who never hesitate to choose
righteous war when it is the only alternative to unrighteous peace.
These are the men who, like Dr. Lyman Abbott, have backed every
genuine movement for peace in this country, and who nevertheless
recognized our clear duty to war for the freedom of Cuba.

But there are other men who put peace ahead of righteousness, and who
care so little for facts that they treat fantastic declarations for
immediate universal arbitration as being valuable, instead of
detrimental, to the cause they profess to champion, and who seek to
make the United States impotent for international good under the
pretense of making us impotent for international evil. All the men of
this kind, and all of the organizations they have controlled, since we
began our career as a nation, all put together, have not accomplished
one hundredth part as much for both peace and righteousness, have not
done one hundredth part as much either for ourselves or for other
peoples, as was accomplished by the people of the United States when
they fought the war with Spain and with resolute good faith and common
sense worked out the solution of the problems which sprang from the

Our army and navy, and above all our people, learned some lessons from
the Spanish War, and applied them to our own uses. During the
following decade the improvement in our navy and army was very great;
not in material only, but also in personnel, and, above all, in the
ability to handle our forces in good-sized units. By 1908, when our
battle fleet steamed round the world, the navy had become in every
respect as fit a fighting instrument as any other navy in the world,
fleet for fleet. Even in size there was but one nation, England, which
was completely out of our class; and in view of our relations with
England and all the English-speaking peoples, this was of no
consequence. Of our army, of course, as much could not be said.
Nevertheless the improvement in efficiency was marked. Our artillery
was still very inferior in training and practice to the artillery arm
of any one of the great Powers such as Germany, France, or Japan--a
condition which we only then began to remedy. But the workmanlike
speed and efficiency with which the expedition of some 6000 troops of
all arms was mobilized and transported to Cuba during the revolution
of 1908 showed that, as regards our cavalry and infantry, we had at
least reached the point where we could assemble and handle in first-
rate fashion expeditionary forces. This is mighty little to boast of,
for a Nation of our wealth and population; it is not pleasant to
compare it with the extraordinary feats of contemporary Japan and the
Balkan peoples; but, such as it is, it represents a long stride in
advance over conditions as they were in 1898.



There was a sequel to the "round robin" incident which caused a little
stir at the moment; Secretary Alger had asked me to write him freely
from time to time. Accordingly, after the surrender of Santiago, I
wrote him begging that the cavalry division might be put into the
Porto Rican fighting, preparatory to what we supposed would be the big
campaign against Havana in the fall. In the letter I extolled the
merits of the Rough Riders and of the Regulars, announcing with much
complacency that each of our regiments was worth "three of the
National Guard regiments, armed with their archaic black powder
rifles."[*] Secretary Alger believed, mistakenly, that I had made
public the round robin, and was naturally irritated, and I suddenly
received from him a published telegram, not alluding to the round
robin incident, but quoting my reference to the comparative merits of
the cavalry regiments and the National Guard regiments and rebuking me
for it. The publication of the extract from my letter was not
calculated to help me secure the votes of the National Guard if I ever
became a candidate for office. However, I did not mind the matter
much, for I had at the time no idea of being a candidate for anything
--while in the campaign I ate and drank and thought and dreamed
regiment and nothing but regiment, until I got the brigade, and then I
devoted all my thoughts to handling the brigade. Anyhow, there was
nothing I could do about the matter.

[*] I quote this sentence from memory; it is substantially correct.

When our transport reached Montauk Point, an army officer came aboard
and before doing anything else handed me a sealed letter from the
Secretary of War which ran as follows:--

August 10, 1898.


You have been a most gallant officer and in the battle before
Santiago showed superb soldierly qualities. I would rather add to,
than detract from, the honors you have so fairly won, and I wish
you all good things. In a moment of aggravation under great stress
of feeling, first because I thought you spoke in a disparaging
manner of the volunteers (probably without intent, but because of
your great enthusiasm for your own men) and second that I believed
your published letter would embarrass the Department I sent you a
telegram which with an extract from a private letter of yours I
gave to the press. I would gladly recall both if I could, but
unable to do that I write you this letter which I hope you will
receive in the same friendly spirit in which I send it. Come and
see me at a very early day. No one will welcome you more heartily
than I.

Yours very truly,
(Signed) R. A. ALGER.

I thought this a manly letter, and paid no more heed to the incident;
and when I was President, and General Alger was Senator from Michigan,
he was my stanch friend and on most matters my supporter.



The San Juan fight took its name from the San Juan Hill or hills--I do
not know whether the name properly belonged to a line of hills or to
only one hill.

To compare small things with large things, this was precisely as the
Battle of Gettysburg took its name from the village of Gettysburg,
where only a small part of the fighting was done; and the battle of
Waterloo from the village of Waterloo, where none of the fighting was
done. When it became the political interest of certain people to
endeavor to minimize my part in the Santiago fighting (which was
merely like that of various other squadron, battalion and regimental
commanders) some of my opponents laid great stress on the alleged fact
that the cavalry did not charge up San Juan Hill. We certainly charged
some hills; but I did not ask their names before charging them. To say
that the Rough Riders and the cavalry division, and among other people
myself, were not in the San Juan fight is precisely like saying that
the men who made Pickett's Charge, or the men who fought at Little
Round Top and Culps Hill, were not at Gettysburg; or that Picton and
the Scotch Greys and the French and English guards were not at
Waterloo. The present Vice-President of the United States in the
campaign last year was reported in the press as repeatedly saying that
I was not in the San Juan fight. The documents following herewith have
been printed for many years, and were accessible to him had he cared
to know or to tell the truth.

These documents speak for themselves. The first is the official report
issued by the War Department. From this it will be seen that there
were in the Santiago fighting thirty infantry and cavalry regiments
represented. Six of these were volunteer, of which one was the Rough
Riders. The other twenty-four were regular regiments. The percentage
of loss of our regiment was about seven times as great as that of the
other five volunteer regiments. Of the twenty-four regular regiments,
twenty-two suffered a smaller percentage of loss than we suffered.
Two, the Sixth United States Infantry and the Thirteenth United States
Infantry, suffered a slightly greater percentage of loss--twenty-six
per cent and twenty-three per cent as against twenty-two per cent.


To be Colonel by Brevet

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, First Volunteer Cavalry,
for gallantry in battle, Las Guasima, Cuba, June 24, 1898.

To be Brigadier-General by Brevet

Lieutenant-Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, First Volunteer Cavalry,
for gallantry in battle, Santiago de Cuba, July 1, 1898.
(Nominated for brevet colonel, to rank from June 24, 1898.)

July 17, 1898.

Washington, D. C.
(Through military channels)

SIR: I have the honor to invite attention to the following list of
officers and enlisted men who specially distinguished themselves
in the action at Las Guasimas, Cuba, June 24, 1898.

These officers and men have been recommended for favorable
consideration by their immediate commanding officers in their
respective reports, and I would respectfully urge that favorable
action be taken.


. . . . .

In First United States Volunteer Cavalry--Colonel Leonard Wood,
Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt.

Major-General United States Volunteers, Commanding.

June 29, 1898.


SIR: By direction of the major-general commanding the Cavalry
Division, I have the honor to submit the following report of the
engagement of a part of this brigade with the enemy at Guasimas,
Cuba, on June 24th, accompanied by detailed reports from the
regimental and other commanders engaged, and a list of the killed
and wounded:

. . . . .

I cannot speak too highly of the efficient manner in which Colonel
Wood handled his regiment, and of his magnificent behavior on the
field. The conduct of Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt, as reported to
me by my two aides, deserves my highest commendation. Both Colonel
Wood and Lieutenant-Colonel Roosevelt disdained to take advantage
of shelter or cover from the enemy's fire while any of their men
remained exposed to it--an error of judgment, but happily on the
heroic side.

. . . . .

Very respectfully,
Brigadier General United States Volunteers, Commanding.

December 30, 1898.

Washington, D. C.

SIR: I have the honor to recommend Hon. Theodore Roosevelt, late
Colonel First United States Volunteer Cavalry, for a medal of
honor, as a reward for conspicuous gallantry at the battle of San
Juan, Cuba, on July 1, 1898.

Colonel Roosevelt by his example and fearlessness inspired his
men, and both at Kettle Hill and the ridge known as San Juan he
led his command in person. I was an eye-witness of Colonel
Roosevelt's action.

As Colonel Roosevelt has left the service, a Brevet Commission is
of no particular value in his case.

Very respectfully,
Major-General United States Volunteers.

December 17, 1898.

MY DEAR COLONEL: I saw you lead the line up the first hill--you
were certainly the first officer to reach the top--and through
your efforts, and your personally jumping to the front, a line
more or less thin, but strong enough to take it, was led by you to
the San Juan or first hill. In this your life was placed in
extreme jeopardy, as you may recall, and as it proved by the
number of dead left in that vicinity. Captain Stevens, then of the
Ninth Cavalry, now of the Second Cavalry, was with you, and I am
sure he recalls your gallant conduct. After the line started on
the advance from the first hill, I did not see you until our line
was halted, under a most galling fire, at the extreme front, where
you afterwards entrenched. I spoke to you there and gave
instructions from General Sumner that the position was to be held
and that there would be no further advance till further orders.
You were the senior officer there, took charge of the line,
scolded me for having my horse so high upon the ridge; at the same
time you were exposing yourself most conspicuously, while
adjusting the line, for the example was necessary, as was proved
when several colored soldiers--about eight or ten, Twenty-fourth
Infantry, I think--started at a run to the rear to assist a
wounded colored soldier, and you drew your revolver and put a
short and effective stop to such apparent stampede--it quieted
them. That position was hot, and now I marvel at your escaping
there. . . .
Very sincerely yours,

December 17, 1898.

I hereby certify that on July 1, 1898, Colonel (then Lieutenant-
Colonel) Theodore Roosevelt, First Volunteer Cavalry,
distinguished himself through the action, and on two occasions
during the battle when I was an eye-witness, his conduct was most
conspicuous and clearly distinguished above other men, as follows:

1. At the base of San Juan, or first hill, there was a strong wire
fence, or entanglement, at which the line hesitated under a
galling fire, and where the losses were severe. Colonel Roosevelt
jumped through the fence and by his enthusiasm, his example and
courage succeeded in leading to the crest of the hill a line
sufficiently strong to capture it. In this charge the Cavalry
Brigade suffered its greatest loss, and the Colonel's life was
placed in extreme jeopardy, owing to the conspicuous position he
took in leading the line, and being the first to reach the crest
of that hill, while under heavy fire of the enemy at close range.

2. At the extreme advanced position occupied by our lines, Colonel
Roosevelt found himself the senior, and under his instructions
from General Sumner to hold that position. He displayed the
greatest bravery and placed his life in extreme jeopardy by
unavoidable exposure to severe fire while adjusting and
strengthening the line, placing the men in positions which
afforded best protection, etc., etc. His conduct and example
steadied the men, and on one occasion by severe but not
unnecessary measures prevented a small detachment from stampeding
to the rear. He displayed the most conspicuous gallantry, courage
and coolness, in performing extraordinarily hazardous duty.

Captain A. A. G., U. S. V.
(First Lieutenant Sixth United States Cavalry.)

Washington, D. C.

April 5, 1899.

Assistant Adjutant-General United States Army,
Washington, D. C.

SIR: In compliance with the request, contained in your letter of
April 30th, of the Board convened to consider the awarding of
brevets, medals of honor, etc., for the Santiago Campaign, that I
state any facts, within my knowledge as Adjutant-General of the
Brigade in which Colonel Theodore Roosevelt served, to aid the
Board in determining, in connection with Colonel Roosevelt's
application for a medal of honor, whether his conduct at Santiago
was such as to distinguish him above others, I have the honor to
submit the following:

My duties on July 1, 1898, brought me in constant observation of
and contact with Colonel Roosevelt from early morning until
shortly before the climax of the assault of the Cavalry Division
on the San Juan Hill--the so-called Kettle Hill. During this time,
while under the enemy's artillery fire at El Poso, and while on
the march from El Poso by the San Juan ford to the point from
which his regiment moved to the assault--about two miles, the
greater part under fire--Colonel Roosevelt was conspicuous above
any others I observed in his regiment in the zealous performance
of duty, in total disregard of his personal danger and in his
eagerness to meet the enemy. At El Poso, when the enemy opened on
that place with artillery fire, a shrapnel bullet grazed and
bruised one of Colonel Roosevelt's wrists. The incident did not
lessen his hazardous exposure, but he continued so exposed until
he had placed his command under cover. In moving to the assault of
San Juan Hill, Colonel Roosevelt was most conspicuously brave,
gallant and indifferent to his own safety. He, in the open, led
his regiment; no officer could have set a more striking example to
his men or displayed greater intrepidity.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Colonel United States Army, Superintendent.

December 30, 1898.

Washington, D. C.

SIR: I have the honor to make the following statement relative to
the conduct of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, late First United
States Volunteer Cavalry, during the assault upon San Juan Hill,
July 1, 1898.

I have already recommended this officer for a medal of honor,
which I understand has been denied him, upon the ground that my
previous letter was too indefinite. I based my recommendation upon
the fact that Colonel Roosevelt, accompanied only by four or five
men, led a very desperate and extremely gallant charge on San Juan
Hill, thereby setting a splendid example to the troops and
encouraging them to pass over the open country intervening between
their position and the trenches of the enemy. In leading this
charge, he started off first, as he supposed, with quite a
following of men, but soon discovered that he was alone. He then
returned and gathered up a few men and led them to the charge, as
above stated. The charge in itself was an extremely gallant one,
and the example set a most inspiring one to the troops in that
part of the line, and while it is perfectly true that everybody
finally went up the hill in good style, yet there is no doubt that
the magnificent example set by Colonel Roosevelt had a very
encouraging effect and had great weight in bringing up the troops
behind him. During the assault, Colonel Roosevelt was the first to
reach the trenches in his part of the line and killed one of the
enemy with his own hand.

I earnestly recommend that the medal be conferred upon Colonel
Roosevelt, for I believe that he in every way deserves it, and
that his services on the day in question were of great value and
of a most distinguished character.

Very respectfully,
Major-General, United States Volunteers.
Commanding Department of Santiago de Cuba.

January 4, 1899.

Washington, D. C.

SIR: I have the honor to recommend that a "Congressional Medal of
Honor" be given to Theodore Roosevelt (late Colonel First
Volunteer Cavalry), for distinguished conduct and conspicuous
bravery in command of his regiment in the charge on San Juan Hill,
Cuba, July 1, 1898.

In compliance with G. O. 135, A. G. O. 1898, I enclose my
certificate showing my personal knowledge of Colonel Roosevelt's

Very respectfully,
Captain Second Cavalry.

I hereby certify that on July 1, 1898, at the battle of San Juan,
Cuba, I witnessed Colonel (then Lieutenant-Colonel) Roosevelt,
First Volunteer Cavalry, United States of America, mounted,
leading his regiment in the charge on San Juan. By his gallantry
and strong personality he contributed most materially to the
success of the charge of the Cavalry Division up San Juan Hill.

Colonel Roosevelt was among the first to reach the crest of the
hill, and his dashing example, his absolute fearlessness and
gallant leading rendered his conduct conspicuous and clearl
distinguished above other men.

Captain Second Cavalry.
(Late First Lieutenant Ninth Cavalry.)

December 28, 1898.

Washington, D. C.

SIR: Believing that information relating to superior conduct on
the part of any of the higher officers who participated in the
Spanish-American War (and which information may not have been
given) would be appreciated by the Department over which you
preside, I have the honor to call your attention to the part borne
by Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, of the late First United States
Volunteer Cavalry, in the battle of July 1st last. I do this not
only because I think you ought to know, but because his regiment
as a whole were very proud of his splendid actions that day and
believe they call for that most coveted distinction of the
American officer, the Medal of Honor. Held in support, he brought
his regiment, at exactly the right time, not only up to the line
of regulars, but went through them and headed, on horseback, the
charge on Kettle Hill; this being done on his own initiative, the
regulars as well as his own men following. He then headed the
charge on the next hill, both regulars and the First United States
Volunteer Cavalry following. He was so near the intrenchments on
the second hill, that he shot and killed with a revolver one of
the enemy before they broke completely. He then led the cavalry on
the chain of hills overlooking Santiago, where he remained in
charge of all the cavalry that was at the extreme front for the
rest of that day and night. His unhesitating gallantry in taking
the initiative against intrenchments lined by men armed with rapid
fire guns certainly won him the highest consideration and
admiration of all who witnessed his conduct throughout that day.

What I here write I can bear witness to from personally having

Very respectfully,
Major Late First United States Cavalry.

December 25, 1898.

I was Colonel Roosevelt's orderly at the battle of San Juan Hill,
and from that time on until our return to Montauk Point. I was
with him all through the fighting, and believe I was the only man
who was always with him, though during part of the time
Lieutenants Ferguson and Greenwald were also close to him. He led
our regiment forward on horseback until he came to the men of the
Ninth Cavalry lying down. He led us through these and they got up
and joined us. He gave the order to charge on Kettle Hill, and led
us on horseback up the hill, both Rough Riders and the Ninth
Cavalry. He was the first on the hill, I being very nearly
alongside of him. Some Spanish riflemen were coming out of the
intrenchments and he killed one with his revolver. He took the men
on to the crest of the hill and bade them begin firing on the
blockhouse on the hill to our left, the one the infantry were
attacking. When he took it, he gave the order to charge, and led
the troops on Kettle Hill forward against the blockhouse on our
front. He then had charge of all the cavalry on the hills
overlooking Santiago, where we afterwards dug our trenches. He had
command that afternoon and night, and for the rest of the time
commanded our regiment at this point.

Yours very truly,

March 27, 1902.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT, President of the United States.
Washington, D. C.

DEAR SIR: At your request, I send you the following extracts from
my diary, and from notes taken on the day of the assault on San
Juan. I kept in my pocket a small pad on which incidents were
noted daily from the landing until the surrender. On the day of
the fight notes were taken just before Grimes fired his first gun,
just after the third reply from the enemy--when we were massed in
the road about seventy paces from Grimes' guns, and when I was
beginning to get scared and to think I would be killed--at the
halt just before you advanced, and under the shelter of the hills
in the evening. Each time that notes were taken, the page was put
in an envelope addressed to my wife. At the first chance they were
mailed to her, and on my arrival in the United States the story of
the fight, taken from these notes, was entered in the diary I keep
in a book. I make this lengthy explanation that you may see that
everything put down was fresh in my memory.

I quote from my diary: "The tension on the men was great. Suddenly
a line of men appeared coming from our right. They were advancing
through the long grass, deployed as skirmishers and were under
fire. At their head, or rather in front of them and leading them,
rode Colonel Roosevelt. He was very conspicuous, mounted as he
was. The men were the 'Rough Riders,' so-called. I heard some one
calling to them not to fire into us, and seeing Colonel Carrol,
reported to him, and was told to go out and meet them, and caution
them as to our position, we being between them and the enemy. I
did so, speaking to Colonel Roosevelt. I also told him we were
under orders not to advance, and asked him if he had received any
orders. He replied that he was going to charge the Spanish
trenches. I told this to Colonel Carrol, and to Captain Dimmick,
our squadron commander. A few moments after the word passed down
that our left (Captain Taylor) was about to charge. Captain
McBlain called out, 'we must go in with those troops; we must
support Taylor.' I called this to Captain Dimmick, and he gave the
order to assault."

"The cheer was taken up and taken up again, on the left, and in
the distance it rolled on and on. And so we started. Colonel
Roosevelt, of the Rough Riders, started the whole movement on the
left, which was the first advance of the assault."

The following is taken from my notes and was hastily jotted down
on the field: "The Rough Riders came in line--Colonel Roosevelt
said he would assault--Taylor joined them with his troop--McBlain
called to Dimmick, 'let us go, we must go to support them.'
Dimmick said all right--and so, with no orders, we went in."

I find many of my notes are illegible from perspiration. My
authority for saying Taylor went in with you, "joined with his
troop" was the word passed to me and repeated to Captain Dimmick
that Taylor was about to charge with you. I could not see his
troop. I have not put it in my diary, but in another place I have
noted that Colonel Carrol, who was acting as brigade commander,
told me to ask you if you had any orders.

I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
Captain Twenty-Eighth Infantry,
(formerly of Ninth Cavalry.)

May 11, 1905.

DEAR MR. PRESIDENT: As some discussion has arisen in the public
prints regarding the battle of San Juan, Cuba, July 1, 1898, and
your personal movements during that day have been the subject of
comment, it may not be amiss in me to state some facts coming
under my personal observation as Commanding General of the Cavalry
Division of which your regiment formed a part. It will, perhaps,
be advisable to show first how I came to be in command, in order
that my statement may have due weight as an authoritative
statement of facts: I was placed in command of the Cavalry
Division on the afternoon of June 30th by General Shafter; the
assignment was made owing to the severe illness of General
Wheeler, who was the permanent commander of said Division.
Brigadier General Young, who commanded the Second Cavalry Brigade,
of which your regiment--the First Volunteer Cavalry--formed a
part, was also very ill, and I found it necessary to relieve him
from command and place Colonel Wood, of the Rough Riders, in
command of the Brigade; this change placed you in command of your

The Division moved from its camp on the evening of June 30th, and
bivouacked at and about El Poso. I saw you personally in the
vicinity of El Poso, about 8 A.M., July 1st. I saw you again on
the road leading from El Poso to the San Juan River; you were at
the head of your regiment, which was leading the Second Brigade,
and immediately behind the rear regiment of the First Brigade. My
orders were to turn to the right at San Juan River and take up a
line along that stream and try and connect with General Lawton,
who was to engage the enemy at El Caney. On reaching the river we
came under the fire of the Spanish forces posted on San Juan Ridge
and Kettle Hill. The First Brigade was faced to the front in line
as soon as it had cleared the road, and the Second Brigade was
ordered to pass in rear of the first and face to the front when
clear of the First Brigade. This movement was very difficult,
owing to the heavy undergrowth, and the regiments became more or
less tangled up, but eventually the formation was accomplished,
and the Division stood in an irregular line along the San Juan
River, the Second Brigade on the right. We were subjected to a
heavy fire from the forces on San Juan Ridge and Kettle Hill; our
position was untenable, and it became necessary to assault the
enemy or fall back. Kettle Hill was immediately in front of the
Cavalry, and it was determined to assault that hill. The First
Brigade was ordered forward, and the Second Brigade was ordered to
support the attack; personally, I accompanied a portion of the
Tenth Cavalry, Second Brigade, and the Rough Riders were to the
right. This brought your regiment to the right of the house which
was at the summit of the hill. Shortly after I reached the crest
of the hill you came to me, accompanied, I think, by Captain C. J.
Stevens, of the Ninth Cavalry. We were then in a position to see
the line of intrenchments along San Juan Ridge, and could see
Kent's Infantry Division engaged on our left, and Hawkins' assault
against Fort San Juan. You asked me for permission to move forward
and assault San Juan Ridge. I gave you the order in person to move
forward, and I saw you move forward and assault San Juan Ridge
with your regiment and portions of the First and Tenth Cavalry
belonging to your Brigade. I held a portion of the Second Brigade
as a reserve on Kettle Hill, not knowing what force the enemy
might have in reserve behind the ridge. The First Brigade also
moved forward and assaulted the ridge to the right of Fort San
Juan. There was a small lake between Kettle Hill and San Juan
Ridge, and in moving forward your command passed to the right of
this lake. This brought you opposite a house on San Juan Ridge--
not Fort San Juan proper, but a frame house surrounded by an
earthwork. The enemy lost a number of men at this point, whose
bodies lay in the trenches. Later in the day I rode along the
line, and, as I recall it, a portion of the Tenth Cavalry was
immediately about this house, and your regiment occupied an
irregular semi-circular position along the ridge and immediately
to the right of the house. You had pickets out to your front; and
several hundred yards to your front the Spaniards had a heavy
outpost occupying a house, with rifle pits surrounding it. Later
in the day, and during the following day, the various regiments
forming the Division were rearranged and brought into tactical
formation, the First Brigade on the left and immediately to the
right of Fort San Juan, and the Second Brigade on the right of the

This was the position occupied by the Cavalry Division until the
final surrender of the Spanish forces, on July 17, 1898.

In conclusion allow me to say, that I saw you, personally, at
about 8 A.M., at El Poso; later, on the road to San Juan River;
later, on the summit of Kettle Hill, immediately after its capture
by the Cavalry Division. I saw you move forward with your command
to assault San Juan Ridge, and I saw you on San Juan Ridge, where
we visited your line together, and you explained to me the
disposition of your command.

I am, sir, with much respect,
Your obedient servant,
Major-General United States Army.



In September, 1898, the First Volunteer Cavalry, in company with most
of the rest of the Fifth Army Corps, was disembarked at Montauk Point.
Shortly after it was disbanded, and a few days later, I was nominated
for Governor of New York by the Republican party. Timothy L. Woodruff
was nominated for Lieutenant-Governor. He was my stanch friend
throughout the term of our joint service.

The previous year, the machine or standpat Republicans, who were under
the domination of Senator Platt, had come to a complete break with the
anti-machine element over the New York mayoralty. This had brought the
Republican party to a smash, not only in New York City, but in the
State, where the Democratic candidate for Chief Judge of the Court of
Appeals, Alton B. Parker, was elected by sixty or eighty thousand
majority. Mr. Parker was an able man, a lieutenant of Mr. Hill's,
standing close to the conservative Democrats of the Wall Street type.
These conservative Democrats were planning how to wrest the Democratic
party from the control of Mr. Bryan. They hailed Judge Parker's
victory as a godsend. The Judge at once loomed up as a Presidential
possibility, and was carefully groomed for the position by the New
York Democratic machine, and its financial allies in the New York
business world.

The Republicans realized that the chances were very much against them.
Accordingly the leaders were in a chastened mood and ready to nominate
any candidate with whom they thought there was a chance of winning. I
was the only possibility, and, accordingly, under pressure from
certain of the leaders who recognized this fact, and who responded to
popular pressure, Senator Platt picked me for the nomination. He was
entirely frank in the matter. He made no pretense that he liked me
personally; but he deferred to the judgment of those who insisted that
I was the only man who could be elected, and that therefore I had to
be nominated.

Foremost among the leaders who pressed me on Mr. Platt (who "pestered"
him about me, to use his own words) were Mr. Quigg, Mr. Odell--then
State Chairman of the Republican organization, and afterwards Governor
--and Mr. Hazel, now United States Judge. Judge Hazel did not know me
personally, but felt that the sentiment in his city, Buffalo, demanded
my nomination, and that the then Republican Governor, Mr. Black, could
not be reelected. Mr. Odell, who hardly knew me personally, felt the
same way about Mr. Black's chances, and, as he had just taken the
State Chairmanship, he was very anxious to win a victory. Mr. Quigg
knew me quite well personally; he had been in touch with me for years,
while he was a reporter on the /Tribune/, and also when he edited a
paper in Montana; he had been on good terms with me while he was in
Congress and I was Civil Service Commissioner, meeting me often in
company with my especial cronies in Congress--men like Lodge, Speaker
Tom Reed, Greenhalge, Butterworth, and Dolliver--and he had urged my
appointment as Police Commissioner on Mayor Strong.

It was Mr. Quigg who called on me at Montauk Point to sound me about
the Governorship; Mr. Platt being by no means enthusiastic over Mr.
Quigg's mission, largely because he disapproved of the Spanish War and
of my part in bringing it about. Mr. Quigg saw me in my tent, in which
he spent a couple of hours with me, my brother-in-law, Douglas
Robinson, being also present. Quigg spoke very frankly to me, stating
that he earnestly desired to see me nominated and believed that the
great body of Republican voters in the State so desired, but that the
organization and the State Convention would finally do what Senator
Platt desired. He said that county leaders were already coming to
Senator Platt, hinting at a close election, expressing doubt of
Governor Black's availability for reelection, and asking why it would
not be a good thing to nominate me; that now that I had returned to
the United States this would go on more and more all the time, and
that he (Quigg) did not wish that these men should be discouraged and
be sent back to their localities to suppress a rising sentiment in my
favor. For this reason he said that he wanted from me a plain
statement as to whether or not I wanted the nomination, and as to what
would be my attitude toward the organization in the event of my
nomination and election, whether or not I would "make war" on Mr.
Platt and his friends, or whether I would confer with them and with
the organization leaders generally, and give fair consideration to
their point of view as to party policy and public interest. He said he
had not come to make me any offer of the nomination, and had no
authority to do so, nor to get any pledges or promises. He simply
wanted a frank definition of my attitude towards existing party

To this I replied that I should like to be nominated, and if nominated
would promise to throw myself into the campaign with all possible
energy. I said that I should not make war on Mr. Platt or anybody else
if war could be avoided; that what I wanted was to be Governor and not
a faction leader; that I certainly would confer with the organization
men, as with everybody else who seemed to me to have knowledge of and
interest in public affairs, and that as to Mr. Platt and the
organization leaders, I would do so in the sincere hope that there
might always result harmony of opinion and purpose; but that while I
would try to get on well with the organization, the organization must
with equal sincerity strive to do what I regarded as essential for the
public good; and that in every case, after full consideration of what
everybody had to say who might possess real knowledge of the matter, I
should have to act finally as my own judgment and conscience dictated
and administer the State government as I thought it ought to be
administered. Quigg said that this was precisely what he supposed I
would say, that it was all anybody could expect, and that he would
state it to Senator Platt precisely as I had put it to him, which he
accordingly did; and, throughout my term as Governor, Quigg lived
loyally up to our understanding.[*]

[*] In a letter to me Mr. Quigg states, what I had forgotten, that I
told him to tell the Senator that I would talk freely with him,
and had no intention of becoming a factional leader with a
personal organization, yet that I must have direct personal
relations with everybody, and get their views at first hand
whenever I so desired, because I could not have one man speaking
for all.

After being nominated, I made a hard and aggressive campaign through
the State. My opponent was a respectable man, a judge, behind whom
stood Mr. Croker, the boss of Tammany Hall. My object was to make the
people understand that it was Croker, and not the nominal candidate,
who was my real opponent; that the choice lay between Crokerism and
myself. Croker was a powerful and truculent man, the autocrat of his
organization, and of a domineering nature. For his own reasons he
insisted upon Tammany's turning down an excellent Democratic judge who
was a candidate for reelection. This gave me my chance. Under my
attack, Croker, who was a stalwart fighting man and who would not take
an attack tamely, himself came to the front. I was able to fix the
contest in the public mind as one between himself and myself; and,
against all probabilities, I won by the rather narrow margin of
eighteen thousand plurality.

As I have already said, there is a lunatic fringe to every reform
movement. At least nine-tenths of all the sincere reformers supported
me; but the ultra-pacifists, the so-called anti-imperialists, or anti-
militarists, or peace-at-any-price men, preferred Croker to me; and
another knot of extremists who had at first ardently insisted that I
must be "forced" on Platt, as soon as Platt supported me themselves
opposed me /because/ he supported me. After election John Hay wrote me
as follows: "While you are Governor, I believe the party can be made
solid as never before. You have already shown that a man may be
absolutely honest and yet practical; a reformer by instinct and a wise
politician; brave, bold, and uncompromising, and yet not a wild ass of
the desert. The exhibition made by the professional independents in
voting against you for no reason on earth except that somebody else
was voting for you, is a lesson that is worth its cost."

At that time boss rule was at its very zenith. Mr. Bryan's candidacy
in 1896 on a free silver platform had threatened such frightful
business disaster as to make the business men, the wage-workers, and
the professional classes generally, turn eagerly to the Republican
party. East of the Mississippi the Republican vote for Mr. McKinley
was larger by far than it had been for Abraham Lincoln in the days
when the life of the Nation was at stake. Mr. Bryan championed many
sorely needed reforms in the interest of the plain people; but many of
his platform proposals, economic and otherwise, were of such a
character that to have put them into practice would have meant to
plunge all our people into conditions far worse than any of those for
which he sought a remedy. The free silver advocates included sincere
and upright men who were able to make a strong case for their
position; but with them and dominating them were all the believers in
the complete or partial repudiation of National, State, and private
debts; and not only the business men but the workingmen grew to feel
that under these circumstances too heavy a price could not be paid to
avert the Democratic triumph. The fear of Mr. Bryan threw almost all
the leading men of all classes into the arms of whoever opposed him.

The Republican bosses, who were already very powerful, and who were
already in fairly close alliance with the privileged interests, now
found everything working to their advantage. Good and high-minded men
of conservative temperament in their panic played into the hands of
the ultra-reactionaries of business and politics. The alliance between
the two kinds of privilege, political and financial, was closely
cemented; and wherever there was any attempt to break it up, the cry
was at once raised that this merely represented another phase of the
assault on National honesty and individual and mercantile integrity.
As so often happens, the excesses and threats of an unwise and extreme
radicalism had resulted in immensely strengthening the position of the
beneficiaries of reaction. This was the era when the Standard Oil
Company achieved a mastery of Pennsylvania politics so far-reaching
and so corrupt that it is difficult to describe it without seeming to

In New York State, United States Senator Platt was the absolute boss
of the Republican party. "Big business" was back of him; yet at the
time this, the most important element in his strength, was only
imperfectly understood. It was not until I was elected Governor that I
myself came to understand it. We were still accustomed to talking of
the "machine" as if it were something merely political, with which
business had nothing to do. Senator Platt did not use his political
position to advance his private fortunes--therein differing absolutely
from many other political bosses. He lived in hotels and had few
extravagant tastes. Indeed, I could not find that he had any tastes at
all except for politics, and on rare occasions for a very dry theology
wholly divorced from moral implications. But big business men
contributed to him large sums of money, which enabled him to keep his
grip on the machine and secured for them the help of the machine if
they were threatened with adverse legislation. The contributions were
given in the guise of contributions for campaign purposes, of money
for the good of the party; when the money was contributed there was
rarely talk of specific favors in return.[*] It was simply put into
Mr. Platt's hands and treated by him as in the campaign chest. Then he
distributed it in the districts where it was most needed by the
candidates and organization leaders. Ordinarily no pledge was required
from the latter to the bosses, any more than it was required by the
business men from Mr. Platt or his lieutenants. No pledge was needed.
It was all a "gentlemen's understanding." As the Senator once said to
me, if a man's character was such that it was necessary to get a
promise from him, it was clear proof that his character was such that
the promise would not be worth anything after it was made.

[*] Each nation has its own pet sins to which it is merciful and also
sins which it treats as most abhorrent. In America we are
peculiarly sensitive about big money contributions for which the
donors expect any reward. In England, where in some ways the
standard is higher than here, such contributions are accepted as a
matter of course, nay, as one of the methods by which wealthy men
obtain peerages. It would be well-nigh an impossibility for a man
to secure a seat in the United States Senate by mere campaign
contributions, in the way that seats in the British House of Lords
have often been secured without any scandal being caused thereby.

It must not be forgotten that some of the worst practices of the
machine in dealings of this kind represented merely virtues in the
wrong place, virtues wrenched out of proper relation to their
surroundings. A man in a doubtful district might win only because of
the help Mr. Platt gave him; he might be a decent young fellow without
money enough to finance his own campaign, who was able to finance it
only because Platt of his own accord found out or was apprised of his
need and advanced the money. Such a man felt grateful, and, because of
his good qualities, joined with the purely sordid and corrupt heelers
and crooked politicians to become part of the Platt machine. In his
turn Mr. Platt was recognized by the business men, the big
contributors, as an honorable man; not only a man of his word, but a
man who, whenever he received a favor, could be trusted to do his best
to repay it on any occasion that arose. I believe that usually the
contributors, and the recipient, sincerely felt that the transaction
was proper and subserved the cause of good politics and good business;
and, indeed, as regards the major part of the contributions, it is
probable that this was the fact, and that the only criticism that
could properly be made about the contributions was that they were not
made with publicity--and at that time neither the parties nor the
public had any realization that publicity was necessary, or any
adequate understanding of the dangers of the "invisible empire" which
throve by what was done in secrecy. Many, probably most, of the
contributors of this type never wished anything personal in exchange
for their contributions, and made them with sincere patriotism,
desiring in return only that the Government should be conducted on a
proper basis. Unfortunately, it was, in practice, exceedingly
difficult to distinguish these men from the others who contributed big
sums to the various party bosses with the expectation of gaining
concrete and personal advantages (in which the bosses shared) at the
expense of the general public. It was very hard to draw the line
between these two types of contributions.

There was but one kind of money contributions as to which it seemed to
me absolutely impossible for either the contributor or the recipient
to disguise to themselves the evil meaning of the contribution. This
was where a big corporation contributed to both political parties. I
knew of one such case where in a State campaign a big corporation
which had many dealings with public officials frankly contributed in
the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars to one campaign fund
and fifty thousand dollars to the campaign fund of the other side--
and, I believe, made some further substantial contributions in the
same ratio of two dollars to one side for every one dollar given to
the other. The contributors were Democrats, and the big contributions
went to the Democratic managers. The Republican was elected, and after
his election, when a matter came up affecting the company, in which
its interests were hostile to those of the general public, the
successful candidate, then holding a high State office, was approached
by his campaign managers and the situation put frankly before him. He
was less disturbed than astonished, and remarked, "Why, I thought So-
and-so and his associates were Democrats and subscribed to the
Democratic campaign fund." "So they did," was the answer; "they
subscribed to them twice as much as they subscribed to us, but if they
had had any idea that you intended doing what you now say you will do,
they would have subscribed it all to the other side, and more too."
The State official in his turn answered that he was very sorry if any
one had subscribed under a misapprehension, that it was no fault of
his, for he had stated definitely and clearly his position, that he of
course had no money wherewith himself to return what without his
knowledge had been contributed, and that all he could say was that any
man who had subscribed to his campaign fund under the impression that
the receipt of the subscription would be a bar to the performance of
public duty was sadly mistaken.

The control by Mr. Platt and his lieutenants over the organization was
well-nigh complete. There were splits among the bosses, and insurgent
movements now and then, but the ordinary citizens had no control over
the political machinery except in a very few districts. There were,
however, plenty of good men in politics, men who either came from
districts where there was popular control, or who represented a
genuine aspiration towards good citizenship on the part of some boss
or group of bosses, or else who had been nominated frankly for reasons
of expediency by bosses whose attitude towards good citizenship was at
best one of Gallio-like indifference. At the time when I was nominated
for Governor, as later when Mr. Hughes was nominated and renominated
for Governor, there was no possibility of securing the nomination
unless the bosses permitted it. In each case the bosses, the machine
leaders, took a man for whom they did not care, because he was the
only man with whom they could win. In the case of Mr. Hughes there was
of course also the fact of pressure from the National Administration.
But the bosses were never overcome in a fair fight, when they had made
up their minds to fight, until the Saratoga Convention in 1910, when
Mr. Stimson was nominated for Governor.

Senator Platt had the same inborn capacity for the kind of politics
which he liked that many big Wall Street men have shown for not wholly
dissimilar types of finance. It was his chief interest, and he applied
himself to it unremittingly. He handled his private business
successfully; but it was politics in which he was absorbed, and he
concerned himself therewith every day in the year. He had built up an
excellent system of organization, and the necessary funds came from
corporations and men of wealth who contributed as I have described
above. The majority of the men with a natural capacity for
organization leadership of the type which has generally been prevalent
in New York politics turned to Senator Platt as their natural chief
and helped build up the organization, until under his leadership it
became more powerful and in a position of greater control than any
other Republican machine in the country, excepting in Pennsylvania.
The Democratic machines in some of the big cities, as in New York and
Boston, and the country Democratic machine of New York under David B.
Hill, were probably even more efficient, representing an even more
complete mastery by the bosses, and an even greater degree of drilled
obedience among the henchmen. It would be an entire mistake to suppose
that Mr. Platt's lieutenants were either all bad men or all influenced
by unworthy motives. He was constantly doing favors for men. He had
won the gratitude of many good men. In the country districts
especially, there were many places where his machine included the
majority of the best citizens, the leading and substantial citizens,
among the inhabitants. Some of his strongest and most efficient
lieutenants were disinterested men of high character.

There had always been a good deal of opposition to Mr. Platt and the
machine, but the leadership of this opposition was apt to be found
only among those whom Abraham Lincoln called the "silk stockings," and
much of it excited almost as much derision among the plain people as
the machine itself excited anger or dislike. Very many of Mr. Platt's
opponents really disliked him and his methods, for aesthetic rather
than for moral reasons, and the bulk of the people half-consciously
felt this and refused to submit to their leadership. The men who
opposed him in this manner were good citizens according to their
lights, prominent in the social clubs and in philanthropic circles,
men of means and often men of business standing. They disliked coarse
and vulgar politicians, and they sincerely reprobated all the
shortcomings that were recognized by, and were offensive to, people of
their own caste. They had not the slightest understanding of the
needs, interests, ways of thought, and convictions of the average
small man; and the small man felt this, although he could not express
it, and sensed that they were really not concerned with his welfare,
and that they did not offer him anything materially better from his
point of view than the machine.

When reformers of this type attempted to oppose Mr. Platt, they
usually put up either some rather inefficient, well-meaning person,
who bathed every day, and didn't steal, but whose only good point was
"respectability," and who knew nothing of the great fundamental
questions looming before us; or else they put up some big business man
or corporation lawyer who was wedded to the gross wrong and injustice
of our economic system, and who neither by personality nor by
programme gave the ordinary plain people any belief that there was
promise of vital good to them in the change. The correctness of their
view was proved by the fact that as soon as fundamental economic and
social reforms were at stake the aesthetic, as distinguished from the
genuinely moral, reformers, for the most part sided with the bosses
against the people.

When I became Governor, the conscience of the people was in no way or
shape aroused, as it has since become roused. The people accepted and
practiced in a matter-of-course way as quite proper things which they
would not now tolerate. They had no definite and clearly outlined
conception of what they wished in the way of reform. They on the whole
tolerated, and indeed approved of, the machine; and there had been no
development on any considerable scale of reformers with the vision to
see what the needs of the people were, and the high purpose sanely to
achieve what was necessary in order to meet these needs. I knew both
the machine and the silk-stocking reformers fairly well, from many
years' close association with them. The machine as such had no ideals
at all, although many of the men composing it did have. On the other
hand, the ideals of very many of the silk-stocking reformers did not
relate to the questions of real and vital interest to our people; and,
singularly enough, in international matters, these same silk-stockings
were no more to be trusted than the average ignorant demagogue or
shortsighted spoils politicians. I felt that these men would be broken
reeds to which to trust in any vital contest for betterment of social
and industrial conditions.

I had neither the training nor the capacity that would have enabled me
to match Mr. Platt and his machine people on their own ground. Nor did
I believe that the effort to build up a machine of my own under the
then existing conditions would meet the needs of the situation so far
as the people were concerned. I therefore made no effort to create a
machine of my own, and consistently adopted the plan of going over the
heads of the men holding public office and of the men in control of
the organization, and appealing directly to the people behind them.
The machine, for instance, had a more or less strong control over the
great bulk of the members of the State Legislature; but in the last
resort the people behind these legislators had a still greater control
over them. I made up my mind that the only way I could beat the bosses
whenever the need to do so arose (and unless there was such need I did
not wish to try) was, not by attempting to manipulate the machinery,
and not by trusting merely to the professional reformers, but by
making my appeal as directly and as emphatically as I knew how to the
mass of voters themselves, to the people, to the men who if waked up
would be able to impose their will on their representatives. My
success depended upon getting the people in the different districts to
look at matters in my way, and getting them to take such an active
interest in affairs as to enable them to exercise control over their

There were a few of the Senators and Assemblymen whom I could reach by
seeing them personally and putting before them my arguments; but most
of them were too much under the control of the machine for me to shake
them loose unless they knew that the people were actively behind me.
In making my appeal to the people as a whole I was dealing with an
entirely different constituency from that which, especially in the big
cities, liked to think of itself as the "better element," the
particular exponent of reform and good citizenship. I was dealing with
shrewd, hard-headed, kindly men and women, chiefly concerned with the
absorbing work of earning their own living, and impatient of fads, who
had grown to feel that the associations with the word "reformer" were
not much better than the associations with the word "politician." I
had to convince these men and women of my good faith, and, moreover,
of my common sense and efficiency. They were most of them strong
partisans, and an outrage had to be very real and very great to shake
them even partially loose from their party affiliations. Moreover,
they took little interest in any fight of mere personalities. They
were not influenced in the least by the silk-stocking reform view of
Mr. Platt. I knew that if they were persuaded that I was engaged in a
mere faction fight against him, that it was a mere issue between his
ambition and mine, they would at once become indifferent, and my fight
would be lost.

But I felt that I could count on their support wherever I could show
them that the fight was not made just for the sake of the row, that it
was not made merely as a factional contest against Senator Platt and
the organization, but was waged from a sense of duty for real and
tangible causes such as the promotion of governmental efficiency and
honesty, and forcing powerful moneyed men to take the proper attitude
toward the community at large. They stood by me when I insisted upon
having the canal department, the insurance department, and the various
departments of the State Government run with efficiency and honesty;
they stood by me when I insisted upon making wealthy men who owned
franchises pay the State what they properly ought to pay; they stood
by me when, in connection with the strikes on the Croton Aqueduct and
in Buffalo, I promptly used the military power of the State to put a
stop to rioting and violence.

In the latter case my chief opponents and critics were local
politicians who were truckling to the labor vote; but in all cases
coming under the first two categories I had serious trouble with the
State leaders of the machine. I always did my best, in good faith, to
get Mr. Platt and the other heads of the machine to accept my views,
and to convince them, by repeated private conversations, that I was
right. I never wantonly antagonized or humiliated them. I did not wish
to humiliate them or to seem victorious over them; what I wished was
to secure the things that I thought it essential to the men and women
of the State to secure. If I could finally persuade them to support
me, well and good; in such case I continued to work with them in the
friendliest manner.

If after repeated and persistent effort I failed to get them to
support me, then I made a fair fight in the open, and in a majority of
cases I carried my point and succeeded in getting through the
legislation which I wished. In theory the Executive has nothing to do
with legislation. In practice, as things now are, the Executive is or
ought to be peculiarly representative of the people as a whole. As
often as not the action of the Executive offers the only means by
which the people can get the legislation they demand and ought to
have. Therefore a good executive under the present conditions of
American political life must take a very active interest in getting
the right kind of legislation, in addition to performing his executive
duties with an eye single to the public welfare. More than half of my
work as Governor was in the direction of getting needed and important
legislation. I accomplished this only by arousing the people, and
riveting their attention on what was done.

Gradually the people began to wake up more and more to the fact that
the machine politicians were not giving them the kind of government
which they wished. As this waking up grew more general, not merely in
New York or any other one State, but throughout most of the Nation,
the power of the bosses waned. Then a curious thing happened. The
professional reformers who had most loudly criticized these bosses
began to change toward them. Newspaper editors, college presidents,
corporation lawyers, and big business men, all alike, had denounced
the bosses and had taken part in reform movements against them so long
as these reforms dealt only with things that were superficial, or with
fundamental things that did not affect themselves and their
associates. But the majority of these men turned to the support of the
bosses when the great new movement began clearly to make itself
evident as one against privilege in business no less than against
privilege in politics, as one for social and industrial no less than
for political righteousness and fair dealing. The big corporation
lawyer who had antagonized the boss in matters which he regarded as
purely political stood shoulder to shoulder with the boss when the
movement for betterment took shape in direct attack on the combination
of business with politics and with the judiciary which has done so
much to enthrone privilege in the economic world.

The reformers who denounced political corruption and fraud when shown
at the expense of their own candidates by machine ward heelers of a
low type hysterically applauded similar corrupt trickery when
practiced by these same politicians against men with whose political
and industrial programme the reformers were not in sympathy. I had
always been instinctively and by nature a democrat, but if I had
needed conversion to the democratic ideal here in America the stimulus
would have been supplied by what I saw of the attitude, not merely of
the bulk of the men of greatest wealth, but of the bulk of the men who
most prided themselves upon their education and culture, when we began
in good faith to grapple with the wrong and injustice of our social
and industrial system, and to hit at the men responsible for the
wrong, no matter how high they stood in business or in politics, at
the bar or on the bench. It was while I was Governor, and especially
in connection with the franchise tax legislation, that I first became
thoroughly aware of the real causes of this attitude among the men of
great wealth and among the men who took their tone from the men of
great wealth.

Very soon after my victory in the race for Governor I had one or two
experiences with Senator Platt which showed in amusing fashion how
absolute the rule of the boss was in the politics of that day. Senator
Platt, who was always most kind and friendly in his personal relations
with me, asked me in one day to talk over what was to be done at
Albany. He had the two or three nominal heads of the organization with
him. They were his lieutenants, who counseled and influenced him,
whose advice he often followed, but who, when he had finally made up
his mind, merely registered and carried out his decrees. After a
little conversation the Senator asked if I had any member of the
Assembly whom I wished to have put on any committee, explaining that
the committees were being arranged. I answered no, and expressed my
surprise at what he had said, because I had not understood the Speaker
who appointed the committees had himself been agreed upon by the
members-elect. "Oh!" responded the Senator, with a tolerant smile, "He
has not been chosen yet, but of course whoever we choose as Speaker
will agree beforehand to make the appointments we wish." I made a
mental note to the effect that if they attempted the same process with
the Governor-elect they would find themselves mistaken.

In a few days the opportunity to prove this arrived. Under the
preceding Administration there had been grave scandals about the Erie
Canal, the trans-State Canal, and these scandals had been one of the
chief issues in the campaign for the Governorship. The construction of
this work was under the control of the Superintendent of Public Works.
In the actual state of affairs his office was by far the most
important office under me, and I intended to appoint to it some man of
high character and capacity who could be trusted to do the work not
merely honestly and efficiently, but without regard to politics. A
week or so after the Speakership incident Senator Platt asked me to
come and see him (he was an old and physically feeble man, able to
move about only with extreme difficulty).

On arrival I found the Lieutenant-Governor elect, Mr. Woodruff, who
had also been asked to come. The Senator informed me that he was glad
to say that I would have a most admirable man as Superintendent of
Public Works, as he had just received a telegram from a certain
gentleman, whom he named, saying that he would accept the position! He
handed me the telegram. The man in question was a man I liked; later I
appointed him to an important office in which he did well. But he came
from a city along the line of the canal, so that I did not think it
best that he should be appointed anyhow; and, moreover, what was far
more important, it was necessary to have it understood at the very
outset that the Administration was my Administration and was no one
else's but mine. So I told the Senator very politely that I was sorry,
but that I could not appoint his man. This produced an explosion, but
I declined to lose my temper, merely repeating that I must decline to
accept any man chosen for me, and that I must choose the man myself.
Although I was very polite, I was also very firm, and Mr. Platt and
his friends finally abandoned their position.

I appointed an engineer from Brooklyn, a veteran of the Civil War,
Colonel Partridge, who had served in Mayor Low's administration. He
was an excellent man in every way. He chose as his assistant, actively
to superintend the work, a Cornell graduate named Elon Hooker, a man
with no political backing at all, picked simply because he was the
best equipped man for the place. The office, the most important office
under me, was run in admirable fashion throughout my Administration; I
doubt if there ever was an important department of the New York State
Government run with a higher standard of efficiency and integrity.

But this was not all that had to be done about the canals. Evidently
the whole policy hitherto pursued had been foolish and inadequate. I
appointed a first-class non-partisan commission of business men and
expert engineers who went into the matter exhaustively, and their
report served as the basis upon which our entire present canal system
is based. There remained the question of determining whether the canal
officials who were in office before I became Governor, and whom I had
declined to reappoint, had been guilty of any action because of which
it would be possible to proceed against them criminally or otherwise
under the law. Such criminal action had been freely charged against
them during the campaign by the Democratic (including the so-called
mugwump) press. To determine this matter I appointed two Democratic
lawyers, Messrs. Fox and MacFarlane (the latter Federal District
Attorney for New York under President Cleveland), and put the whole
investigation in their hands. These gentlemen made an exhaustive
investigation lasting several months. They reported that there had
been grave delinquency in the prosecution of the work, delinquency
which justified public condemnation of those responsible for it (who
were out of office), but that there was no ground for criminal
prosecution. I laid their report before the Legislature with a message
in which I said: "There is probably no lawyer of high standing in the
State who, after studying the report of counsel in this case and the
testimony taken by the investigating commission, would disagree with
them as to the impracticability of a successful prosecution. Under
such circumstances the one remedy was a thorough change in the methods

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