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Rough Riders by Theodore Roosevelt

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Produced by Dagny Wilson








During the year preceding the outbreak of the Spanish War I was
Assistant Secretary of the Navy. While my party was in opposition, I
had preached, with all the fervor and zeal I possessed, our duty to
intervene in Cuba, and to take this opportunity of driving the
Spaniard from the Western World. Now that my party had come to power,
I felt it incumbent on me, by word and deed, to do all I could to
secure the carrying out of the policy in which I so heartily believed;
and from the beginning I had determined that, if a war came, somehow
or other, I was going to the front.

Meanwhile, there was any amount of work at hand in getting ready the
navy, and to this I devoted myself.

Naturally, when one is intensely interested in a certain cause, the
tendency is to associate particularly with those who take the same
view. A large number of my friends felt very differently from the way
I felt, and looked upon the possibility of war with sincere horror.
But I found plenty of sympathizers, especially in the navy, the army,
and the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs. Commodore Dewey, Captain
Evans, Captain Brownson, Captain Davis--with these and the various
other naval officers on duty at Washington I used to hold long
consultations, during which we went over and over, not only every
question of naval administration, but specifically everything
necessary to do in order to put the navy in trim to strike quick and
hard if, as we believed would be the case, we went to war with Spain.
Sending an ample quantity of ammunition to the Asiatic squadron and
providing it with coal; getting the battle-ships and the armored
cruisers on the Atlantic into one squadron, both to train them in
manoeuvring together, and to have them ready to sail against either
the Cuban or the Spanish coasts; gathering the torpedo-boats into a
flotilla for practice; securing ample target exercise, so conducted as
to raise the standard of our marksmanship; gathering in the small
ships from European and South American waters; settling on the number
and kind of craft needed as auxiliary cruisers--every one of these
points was threshed over in conversations with officers who were
present in Washington, or in correspondence with officers who, like
Captain Mahan, were absent.

As for the Senators, of course Senator Lodge and I felt precisely
alike; for to fight in such a cause and with such an enemy was merely
to carry out the doctrines we had both of us preached for many years.
Senator Davis, Senator Proctor, Senator Foraker, Senator Chandler,
Senator Morgan, Senator Frye, and a number of others also took just
the right ground; and I saw a great deal of them, as well as of many
members of the House, particularly those from the West, where the
feeling for war was strongest.

Naval officers came and went, and Senators were only in the city while
the Senate was in session; but there was one friend who was steadily
in Washington. This was an army surgeon, Dr. Leonard Wood. I only met
him after I entered the navy department, but we soon found that we had
kindred tastes and kindred principles. He had served in General
Miles's inconceivably harassing campaigns against the Apaches, where
he had displayed such courage that he won that most coveted of
distinctions--the Medal of Honor; such extraordinary physical strength
and endurance that he grew to be recognized as one of the two or three
white men who could stand fatigue and hardship as well as an Apache;
and such judgment that toward the close of the campaigns he was given,
though a surgeon, the actual command of more than one expedition
against the bands of renegade Indians. Like so many of the gallant
fighters with whom it was later my good fortune to serve, he combined,
in a very high degree, the qualities of entire manliness with entire
uprightness and cleanliness of character. It was a pleasure to deal
with a man of high ideals, who scorned everything mean and base, and
who also possessed those robust and hardy qualities of body and mind,
for the lack of which no merely negative virtue can ever atone. He was
by nature a soldier of the highest type, and, like most natural
soldiers, he was, of course, born with a keen longing for adventure;
and, though an excellent doctor, what he really desired was the chance
to lead men in some kind of hazard. To every possibility of such
adventure he paid quick attention. For instance, he had a great desire
to get me to go with him on an expedition into the Klondike in
mid-winter, at the time when it was thought that a relief party would
have to be sent there to help the starving miners.

In the summer he and I took long walks together through the beautiful
broken country surrounding Washington. In winter we sometimes varied
these walks by kicking a foot-ball in an empty lot, or, on the rare
occasions when there was enough snow, by trying a couple of sets of
skis or snow-skates, which had been sent me from Canada.

But always on our way out to and back from these walks and sport,
there was one topic to which, in our talking, we returned, and that
was the possible war with Spain. We both felt very strongly that such
a war would be as righteous as it would be advantageous to the honor
and the interests of the nation; and after the blowing up of the
Maine, we felt that it was inevitable. We then at once began to try to
see that we had our share in it. The President and my own chief,
Secretary Long, were very firm against my going, but they said that if
I was bent upon going they would help me. Wood was the medical adviser
of both the President and the Secretary of War, and could count upon
their friendship. So we started with the odds in our favor.

At first we had great difficulty in knowing exactly what to try for.
We could go on the staff of any one of several Generals, but we much
preferred to go in the line. Wood hoped he might get a commission in
his native State of Massachusetts; but in Massachusetts, as in every
other State, it proved there were ten men who wanted to go to the war
for every chance to go. Then we thought we might get positions as
field-officers under an old friend of mine, Colonel--now General
--Francis V. Greene, of New York, the Colonel of the Seventy-first;
but again there were no vacancies.

Our doubts were resolved when Congress authorized the raising of three
cavalry regiments from among the wild riders and riflemen of the
Rockies and the Great Plains. During Wood's service in the Southwest
he had commanded not only regulars and Indian scouts, but also white
frontiersmen. In the Northwest I had spent much of my time, for many
years, either on my ranch or in long hunting trips, and had lived and
worked for months together with the cowboy and the mountain hunter,
faring in every way precisely as they did.

Secretary Alger offered me the command of one of these regiments. If I
had taken it, being entirely inexperienced in military work, I should
not have known how to get it equipped most rapidly, for I should have
spent valuable weeks in learning its needs, with the result that I
should have missed the Santiago campaign, and might not even have had
the consolation prize of going to Porto Rico. Fortunately, I was wise
enough to tell the Secretary that while I believed I could learn to
command the regiment in a month, that it was just this very month
which I could not afford to spare, and that therefore I would be quite
content to go as Lieutenant-Colonel, if he would make Wood Colonel.

This was entirely satisfactory to both the President and Secretary,
and, accordingly, Wood and I were speedily commissioned as Colonel and
Lieutenant-Colonel of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. This
was the official title of the regiment, but for some reason or other
the public promptly christened us the "Rough Riders." At first we
fought against the use of the term, but to no purpose; and when
finally the Generals of Division and Brigade began to write in formal
communications about our regiment as the "Rough Riders," we adopted
the term ourselves.

The mustering-places for the regiment were appointed in New Mexico,
Arizona, Oklahoma, and Indian Territory. The difficulty in organizing
was not in selecting, but in rejecting men. Within a day or two after
it was announced that we were to raise the regiment, we were literally
deluged with applications from every quarter of the Union. Without the
slightest trouble, so far as men went, we could have raised a brigade
or even a division. The difficulty lay in arming, equipping, mounting,
and disciplining the men we selected. Hundreds of regiments were being
called into existence by the National Government, and each regiment
was sure to have innumerable wants to be satisfied. To a man who knew
the ground as Wood did, and who was entirely aware of our national
unpreparedness, it was evident that the ordnance and quartermaster's
bureaus could not meet, for some time to come, one-tenth of the
demands that would be made upon them; and it was all-important to get
in first with our demands. Thanks to his knowledge of the situation
and promptness, we immediately put in our requisitions for the
articles indispensable for the equipment of the regiment; and then, by
ceaseless worrying of excellent bureaucrats, who had no idea how to do
things quickly or how to meet an emergency, we succeeded in getting
our rifles, cartridges, revolvers, clothing, shelter-tents, and horse
gear just in time to enable us to go on the Santiago expedition. Some
of the State troops, who were already organized as National Guards,
were, of course, ready, after a fashion, when the war broke out; but
no other regiment which had our work to do was able to do it in
anything like as quick time, and therefore no other volunteer regiment
saw anything like the fighting which we did.

Wood thoroughly realized what the Ordnance Department failed to
realize, namely, the inestimable advantage of smokeless powder; and,
moreover, he was bent upon our having the weapons of the regulars, for
this meant that we would be brigaded with them, and it was evident
that they would do the bulk of the fighting if the war were short.
Accordingly, by acting with the utmost vigor and promptness, he
succeeded in getting our regiment armed with the Krag-Jorgensen
carbine used by the regular cavalry.

It was impossible to take any of the numerous companies which were
proffered to us from the various States. The only organized bodies we
were at liberty to accept were those from the four Territories. But
owing to the fact that the number of men originally allotted to us,
780, was speedily raised to 1,000, we were given a chance to accept
quite a number of eager volunteers who did not come from the
Territories, but who possessed precisely the same temper that
distinguished our Southwestern recruits, and whose presence materially
benefited the regiment.

We drew recruits from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and many another
college; from clubs like the Somerset, of Boston, and Knickerbocker,
of New York; and from among the men who belonged neither to club nor
to college, but in whose veins the blood stirred with the same impulse
which once sent the Vikings over sea. Four of the policemen who had
served under me, while I was President of the New York Police Board,
insisted on coming--two of them to die, the other two to return unhurt
after honorable and dangerous service. It seemed to me that almost
every friend I had in every State had some one acquaintance who was
bound to go with the Rough Riders, and for whom I had to make a place.
Thomas Nelson Page, General Fitzhugh Lee, Congressman Odell, of New
York, Senator Morgan; for each of these, and for many others, I
eventually consented to accept some one or two recruits, of course
only after a most rigid examination into their physical capacity, and
after they had shown that they knew how to ride and shoot. I may add
that in no case was I disappointed in the men thus taken.

Harvard being my own college, I had such a swarm of applications from
it that I could not take one in ten. What particularly pleased me, not
only in the Harvard but the Yale and Princeton men, and, indeed, in
these recruits from the older States generally, was that they did not
ask for commissions. With hardly an exception they entered upon their
duties as troopers in the spirit which they held to the end, merely
endeavoring to show that no work could be too hard, too disagreeable,
or too dangerous for them to perform, and neither asking nor receiving
any reward in the way of promotion or consideration. The Harvard
contingent was practically raised by Guy Murchie, of Maine. He saw all
the fighting and did his duty with the utmost gallantry, and then left
the service as he had entered it, a trooper, entirely satisfied to
have done his duty--and no man did it better. So it was with Dudley
Dean, perhaps the best quarterback who ever played on a Harvard
Eleven; and so with Bob Wrenn, a quarterback whose feats rivalled
those of Dean's, and who, in addition, was the champion tennis player
of America, and had, on two different years, saved this championship
from going to an Englishman. So it was with Yale men like Waller, the
high jumper, and Garrison and Girard; and with Princeton men like
Devereux and Channing, the foot-ball players; with Larned, the tennis
player; with Craig Wadsworth, the steeple-chase rider; with Joe
Stevens, the crack polo player; with Hamilton Fish, the ex-captain of
the Columbia crew, and with scores of others whose names are quite as
worthy of mention as any of those I have given. Indeed, they all
sought entry into the ranks of the Rough Riders as eagerly as if it
meant something widely different from hard work, rough fare, and the
possibility of death; and the reason why they turned out to be such
good soldiers lay largely in the fact that they were men who had
thoroughly counted the cost before entering, and who went into the
regiment because they believed that this offered their best chance for
seeing hard and dangerous service. Mason Mitchell, of New York, who
had been a chief of scouts in the Riel Rebellion, travelled all the
way to San Antonio to enlist; and others came there from distances as

Some of them made appeals to me which I could not possibly resist.
Woodbury Kane had been a close friend of mine at Harvard. During the
eighteen years that had passed since my graduation I had seen very
little of him, though, being always interested in sport, I
occasionally met him on the hunting field, had seen him on the deck of
the Defender when she vanquished the Valkyrie, and knew the part he
had played on the Navajoe, when, in her most important race, that
otherwise unlucky yacht vanquished her opponent, the Prince of Wales's
Britannia. When the war was on, Kane felt it his duty to fight for his
country. He did not seek any position of distinction. All he desired
was the chance to do whatever work he was put to do well, and to get
to the front; and he enlisted as a trooper. When I went down to the
camp at San Antonio he was on kitchen duty, and was cooking and
washing dishes for one of the New Mexican troops; and he was doing it
so well that I had no further doubt as to how he would get on.

My friend of many hunts and ranch partner, Robert Munro Ferguson, of
Scotland, who had been on Lord Aberdeen's staff as a Lieutenant but a
year before, likewise could not keep out of the regiment. He, too,
appealed to me in terms which I could not withstand, and came in like
Kane to do his full duty as a trooper, and like Kane to win his
commission by the way he thus did his duty.

I felt many qualms at first in allowing men of this stamp to come in,
for I could not be certain that they had counted the cost, and was
afraid they would find it very hard to serve--not for a few days, but
for months--in the ranks, while I, their former intimate associate,
was a field-officer; but they insisted that they knew their minds, and
the events showed that they did. We enlisted about fifty of them from
Virginia, Maryland, and the Northeastern States, at Washington. Before
allowing them to be sworn in, I gathered them together and explained
that if they went in they must be prepared not merely to fight, but to
perform the weary, monotonous labor incident to the ordinary routine
of a soldier's life; that they must be ready to face fever exactly as
they were to face bullets; that they were to obey unquestioningly, and
to do their duty as readily if called upon to garrison a fort as if
sent to the front. I warned them that work that was merely irksome and
disagreeable must be faced as readily as work that was dangerous, and
that no complaint of any kind must be made; and I told them that they
were entirely at liberty not to go, but that after they had once
signed there could then be no backing out.

Not a man of them backed out; not one of them failed to do his whole

These men formed but a small fraction of the whole. They went down to
San Antonio, where the regiment was to gather and where Wood preceded
me, while I spent a week in Washington hurrying up the different
bureaus and telegraphing my various railroad friends, so as to insure
our getting the carbines, saddles, and uniforms that we needed from
the various armories and storehouses. Then I went down to San Antonio
myself, where I found the men from New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma
already gathered, while those from Indian Territory came in soon after
my arrival.

These were the men who made up the bulk of the regiment, and gave it
its peculiar character. They came from the Four Territories which yet
remained within the boundaries of the United States; that is, from the
lands that have been most recently won over to white civilization, and
in which the conditions of life are nearest those that obtained on the
frontier when there still was a frontier. They were a splendid set of
men, these Southwesterners--tall and sinewy, with resolute,
weather-beaten faces, and eyes that looked a man straight in the face
without flinching. They included in their ranks men of every
occupation; but the three types were those of the cowboy, the hunter,
and the mining prospector--the man who wandered hither and thither,
killing game for a living, and spending his life in the quest for
metal wealth.

In all the world there could be no better material for soldiers than
that afforded by these grim hunters of the mountains, these wild rough
riders of the plains. They were accustomed to handling wild and savage
horses; they were accustomed to following the chase with the rifle,
both for sport and as a means of livelihood. Varied though their
occupations had been, almost all had, at one time or another, herded
cattle and hunted big game. They were hardened to life in the open,
and to shifting for themselves under adverse circumstances. They were
used, for all their lawless freedom, to the rough discipline of the
round-up and the mining company. Some of them came from the small
frontier towns; but most were from the wilderness, having left their
lonely hunters' cabins and shifting cow-camps to seek new and more
stirring adventures beyond the sea.

They had their natural leaders--the men who had shown they could
master other men, and could more than hold their own in the eager
driving life of the new settlements.

The Captains and Lieutenants were sometimes men who had campaigned in
the regular army against Apache, Ute, and Cheyenne, and who, on
completing their term of service, had shown their energy by settling
in the new communities and growing up to be men of mark. In other
cases they were sheriffs, marshals, deputy-sheriffs, and
deputy-marshals--men who had fought Indians, and still more often had
waged relentless war upon the bands of white desperadoes. There was
Bucky O'Neill, of Arizona, Captain of Troop A, the Mayor of Prescott,
a famous sheriff throughout the West for his feats of victorious
warfare against the Apache, no less than against the white road-agents
and man-killers. His father had fought in Meagher's Brigade in the
Civil War; and he was himself a born soldier, a born leader of men. He
was a wild, reckless fellow, soft spoken, and of dauntless courage and
boundless ambition; he was staunchly loyal to his friends, and cared
for his men in every way. There was Captain Llewellen, of New Mexico,
a good citizen, a political leader, and one of the most noted
peace-officers of the country; he had been shot four times in pitched
fights with red marauders and white outlaws. There was Lieutenant
Ballard, who had broken up the Black Jack gang of ill-omened
notoriety, and his Captain, Curry, another New Mexican sheriff of
fame. The officers from the Indian Territory had almost all served as
marshals and deputy-marshals; and in the Indian Territory, service as
a deputy-marshal meant capacity to fight stand-up battles with the
gangs of outlaws.

Three of our higher officers had been in the regular army. One was
Major Alexander Brodie, from Arizona, afterward Lieutenant-Colonel,
who had lived for twenty years in the Territory, and had become a
thorough Westerner without sinking the West Pointer--a soldier by
taste as well as training, whose men worshipped him and would follow
him anywhere, as they would Bucky O'Neill or any other of their
favorites. Brodie was running a big mining business; but when the
Maine was blown up, he abandoned everything and telegraphed right
and left to bid his friends get ready for the fight he saw impending.

Then there was Micah Jenkins, the captain of Troop K, a gentle and
courteous South Carolinian, on whom danger acted like wine. In action
he was a perfect game-cock, and he won his majority for gallantry in

Finally, there was Allyn Capron, who was, on the whole, the best
soldier in the regiment. In fact, I think he was the ideal of what an
American regular army officer should be. He was the fifth in descent
from father to son who had served in the army of the United States,
and in body and mind alike he was fitted to play his part to
perfection. Tall and lithe, a remarkable boxer and walker, a
first-class rider and shot, with yellow hair and piercing blue eyes,
he looked what he was, the archetype of the fighting man. He had under
him one of the two companies from the Indian Territory; and he so soon
impressed himself upon the wild spirit of his followers, that he got
them ahead in discipline faster than any other troop in the regiment,
while at the same time taking care of their bodily wants. His
ceaseless effort was so to train them, care for them, and inspire them
as to bring their fighting efficiency to the highest possible pitch.
He required instant obedience, and tolerated not the slightest evasion
of duty; but his mastery of his art was so thorough and his
performance of his own duty so rigid that he won at once not merely
their admiration, but that soldierly affection so readily given by the
man in the ranks to the superior who cares for his men and leads them
fearlessly in battle.

All--Easterners and Westerners, Northerners and Southerners, officers
and men, cowboys and college graduates, wherever they came from, and
whatever their social position--possessed in common the traits of
hardihood and a thirst for adventure. They were to a man born
adventurers, in the old sense of the word.

The men in the ranks were mostly young; yet some were past their first
youth. These had taken part in the killing of the great buffalo herds,
and had fought Indians when the tribes were still on the war-path. The
younger ones, too, had led rough lives; and the lines in their faces
told of many a hardship endured, and many a danger silently faced with
grim, unconscious philosophy. Some were originally from the East, and
had seen strange adventures in different kinds of life, from sailing
round the Horn to mining in Alaska. Others had been born and bred in
the West, and had never seen a larger town than Santa Fe or a bigger
body of water than the Pecos in flood. Some of them went by their own
name; some had changed their names; and yet others possessed but half
a name, colored by some adjective, like Cherokee Bill, Happy Jack of
Arizona, Smoky Moore, the bronco-buster, so named because cowboys
often call vicious horses "smoky" horses, and Rattlesnake Pete, who
had lived among the Moquis and taken part in the snake-dances. Some
were professional gamblers, and, on the other hand, no less than four
were or had been Baptist or Methodist clergymen--and proved
first-class fighters, too, by the way. Some were men whose lives in
the past had not been free from the taint of those fierce kinds of
crime into which the lawless spirits who dwell on the border-land
between civilization and savagery so readily drift. A far larger
number had served at different times in those bodies of armed men with
which the growing civilization of the border finally puts down its

There was one characteristic and distinctive contingent which could
have appeared only in such a regiment as ours. From the Indian
Territory there came a number of Indians--Cherokees, Chickasaws,
Choctaws, and Creeks. Only a few were of pure blood. The others shaded
off until they were absolutely indistinguishable from their white
comrades; with whom, it may be mentioned, they all lived on terms of
complete equality.

Not all of the Indians were from the Indian Territory. One of the
gamest fighters and best soldiers in the regiment was Pollock, a
full-blooded Pawnee. He had been educated, like most of the other
Indians, at one of those admirable Indian schools which have added so
much to the total of the small credit account with which the White
race balances the very unpleasant debit account of its dealings with
the Red. Pollock was a silent, solitary fellow--an excellent penman,
much given to drawing pictures. When we got down to Santiago he
developed into the regimental clerk. I never suspected him of having a
sense of humor until one day, at the end of our stay in Cuba, as he
was sitting in the Adjutant's tent working over the returns, there
turned up a trooper of the First who had been acting as barber. Eyeing
him with immovable face Pollock asked, in a guttural voice: "Do you
cut hair?" The man answered "Yes"; and Pollock continued, "Then you'd
better cut mine," muttering, in an explanatory soliloquy: "Don't want
to wear my hair long like a wild Indian when I'm in civilized

Another Indian came from Texas. He was a brakeman on the Southern
Pacific, and wrote telling me he was an American Indian, and that he
wanted to enlist. His name was Colbert, which at once attracted my
attention; for I was familiar with the history of the Cherokees and
Chickasaws during the eighteenth century, when they lived east of the
Mississippi. Early in that century various traders, chiefly Scotchmen,
settled among them, and the half-breed descendants of one named
Colbert became the most noted chiefs of the Chickasaws. I summoned the
applicant before me, and found that he was an excellent man, and, as I
had supposed, a descendant of the old Chickasaw chiefs.

He brought into the regiment, by the way, his "partner," a white man.
The two had been inseparable companions for some years, and continued
so in the regiment. Every man who has lived in the West knows that,
vindictive though the hatred between the white man and the Indian is
when they stand against one another in what may be called their tribal
relations, yet that men of Indian blood, when adopted into white
communities, are usually treated precisely like anyone else.

Colbert was not the only Indian whose name I recognized. There was a
Cherokee named Adair, who, upon inquiry, I found to be descended from
the man who, a century and a half ago, wrote a ponderous folio, to
this day of great interest, about the Cherokees, with whom he had
spent the best years of his life as a trader and agent.

I don't know that I ever came across a man with a really sweeter
nature than another Cherokee named Holderman. He was an excellent
soldier, and for a long time acted as cook for the head-quarters mess.
He was a half-breed, and came of a soldier stock on both sides and
through both races. He explained to me once why he had come to the
war; that it was because his people always had fought when there was a
war, and he could not feel happy to stay at home when the flag was
going into battle.

Two of the young Cherokee recruits came to me with a most kindly
letter from one of the ladies who had been teaching in the academy
from which they were about to graduate. She and I had known one
another in connection with Governmental and philanthropic work on the
reservations, and she wrote to commend the two boys to my attention.
One was on the Academy foot-ball team and the other in the glee-club.
Both were fine young fellows. The foot-ball player now lies buried
with the other dead who fell in the fight at San Juan. The singer was
brought to death's door by fever, but recovered and came back to his

There were other Indians of much wilder type, but their wildness was
precisely like that of the cowboys with whom they were associated.
One or two of them needed rough discipline; and they got it, too. Like
the rest of the regiment, they were splendid riders. I remember one
man, whose character left much to be desired in some respects, but
whose horsemanship was unexceptionable. He was mounted on an
exceedingly bad bronco, which would bolt out of the ranks at drill. He
broke it of this habit by the simple expedient of giving it two
tremendous twists, first to one side and then to the other, as it
bolted, with the result that, invariably, at the second bound its legs
crossed and over it went with a smash, the rider taking the somersault
with unmoved equanimity.

The life histories of some of the men who joined our regiment would
make many volumes of thrilling adventure.

We drew a great many recruits from Texas; and from nowhere did we get
a higher average, for many of them had served in that famous body of
frontier fighters, the Texas Rangers. Of course, these rangers needed
no teaching. They were already trained to obey and to take
responsibility. They were splendid shots, horsemen, and trailers. They
were accustomed to living in the open, to enduring great fatigue and
hardship, and to encountering all kinds of danger.

Many of the Arizona and New Mexico men had taken part in warfare with
the Apaches, those terrible Indians of the waterless Southwestern
mountains--the most bloodthirsty and the wildest of all the red men of
America, and the most formidable in their own dreadful style of
warfare. Of course, a man who had kept his nerve and held his own,
year after year, while living where each day and night contained the
threat of hidden death from a foe whose goings and comings were
unseen, was not apt to lose courage when confronted with any other
enemy. An experience in following in the trail of an enemy who might
flee at one stretch through fifty miles of death-like desert was a
good school out of which to come with profound indifference for the
ordinary hardships of campaigning.

As a rule, the men were more apt, however, to have had experience in
warring against white desperadoes and law-breakers than against
Indians. Some of our best recruits came from Colorado. One, a very
large, hawk-eyed man, Benjamin Franklin Daniels, had been Marshal of
Dodge City when that pleasing town was probably the toughest abode of
civilized man to be found anywhere on the continent. In the course of
the exercise of his rather lurid functions as peace-officer he had
lost half of one ear--"bitten off," it was explained to me. Naturally,
he viewed the dangers of battle with philosophic calm. Such a man was,
in reality, a veteran even in his first fight, and was a tower of
strength to the recruits in his part of the line. With him there came
into the regiment a deputy-marshal from Cripple Creek named Sherman
Bell. Bell had a hernia, but he was so excellent a man that we decided
to take him. I do not think I ever saw greater resolution than Bell
displayed throughout the campaign. In Cuba the great exertions which
he was forced to make, again and again opened the hernia, and the
surgeons insisted that he must return to the United States; but he
simply would not go.

Then there was little McGinty, the bronco-buster from Oklahoma, who
never had walked a hundred yards if by any possibility he could ride.
When McGinty was reproved for his absolute inability to keep step on
the drill-ground, he responded that he was pretty sure he could keep
step on horseback. McGinty's short legs caused him much trouble on the
marches, but we had no braver or better man in the fights.

One old friend of mine had come from far northern Idaho to join the
regiment at San Antonio. He was a hunter, named Fred Herrig, an
Alsatian by birth. A dozen years before he and I had hunted mountain
sheep and deer when laying in the winter stock of meat for my ranch on
the Little Missouri, sometimes in the bright fall weather, sometimes
in the Arctic bitterness of the early Northern winter. He was the most
loyal and simple-hearted of men, and he had come to join his old
"boss" and comrade in the bigger hunting which we were to carry on
through the tropic midsummer.

The temptation is great to go on enumerating man after man who stood
pre-eminent, whether as a killer of game, a tamer of horses, or a
queller of disorder among his people, or who, mayhap, stood out with a
more evil prominence as himself a dangerous man--one given to the
taking of life on small provocation, or one who was ready to earn his
living outside the law if the occasion demanded it. There was tall
Proffit, the sharp-shooter, from North Carolina--sinewy, saturnine,
fearless; Smith, the bear-hunter from Wyoming, and McCann, the Arizona
book-keeper, who had begun life as a buffalo-hunter. There was
Crockett, the Georgian, who had been an Internal Revenue officer, and
had waged perilous war on the rifle-bearing "moonshiners." There were
Darnell and Wood, of New Mexico, who could literally ride any horses
alive. There were Goodwin, and Buck Taylor, and Armstrong the ranger,
crack shots with rifle or revolver. There was many a skilled packer
who had led and guarded his trains of laden mules through the
Indian-haunted country surrounding some out-post of civilization.
There were men who had won fame as Rocky Mountain stage-drivers, or
who had spent endless days in guiding the slow wagon-trains across the
grassy plains. There were miners who knew every camp from the Yukon to
Leadville, and cow-punchers in whose memories were stored the brands
carried by the herds from Chihuahua to Assiniboia. There were men who
had roped wild steers in the mesquite brush of the Nueces, and who,
year in and year out, had driven the trail herds northward over
desolate wastes and across the fords of shrunken rivers to the
fattening grounds of the Powder and the Yellowstone. They were
hardened to the scorching heat and bitter cold of the dry plains and
pine-clad mountains. They were accustomed to sleep in the open, while
the picketed horses grazed beside them near some shallow, reedy pool.
They had wandered hither and thither across the vast desolation of the
wilderness, alone or with comrades. They had cowered in the shelter of
cut banks from the icy blast of the norther, and far out on the
midsummer prairies they had known the luxury of lying in the shade of
the wagon during the noonday rest. They had lived in brush lean-tos
for weeks at a time, or with only the wagon-sheet as an occasional
house. They had fared hard when exploring the unknown; they had fared
well on the round-up; and they had known the plenty of the log
ranch-houses, where the tables were spread with smoked venison and
calf-ribs and milk and bread, and vegetables from the garden-patch.

Such were the men we had as recruits: soldiers ready made, as far as
concerned their capacity as individual fighters. What was necessary
was to teach them to act together, and to obey orders. Our special
task was to make them ready for action in the shortest possible time.
We were bound to see fighting, and therefore to be with the first
expedition that left the United States; for we could not tell how long
the war would last.

I had been quite prepared for trouble when it came to enforcing
discipline, but I was agreeably disappointed. There were plenty of
hard characters who might by themselves have given trouble, and with
one or two of whom we did have to take rough measures; but the bulk of
the men thoroughly understood that without discipline they would be
merely a valueless mob, and they set themselves hard at work to learn
the new duties. Of course, such a regiment, in spite of, or indeed I
might almost say because of, the characteristics which made the
individual men so exceptionally formidable as soldiers, could very
readily have been spoiled. Any weakness in the commander would have
ruined it. On the other hand, to treat it from the stand-point of the
martinet and military pedant would have been almost equally fatal.
From the beginning we started out to secure the essentials of
discipline, while laying just as little stress as possible on the
non-essentials. The men were singularly quick to respond to any appeal
to their intelligence and patriotism. The faults they committed were
those of ignorance merely. When Holderman, in announcing dinner to the
Colonel and the three Majors, genially remarked, "If you fellars don't
come soon, everything'll get cold," he had no thought of other than a
kindly and respectful regard for their welfare, and was glad to modify
his form of address on being told that it was not what could be
described as conventionally military. When one of our sentinels, who
had with much labor learned the manual of arms, saluted with great
pride as I passed, and added, with a friendly nod, "Good-evening,
Colonel," this variation in the accepted formula on such occasions was
meant, and was accepted, as mere friendly interest. In both cases the
needed instruction was given and received in the same kindly spirit.

One of the new Indian Territory recruits, after twenty-four hours'
stay in camp, during which he had held himself distinctly aloof from
the general interests, called on the Colonel in his tent, and
remarked, "Well, Colonel, I want to shake hands and say we're with
you. We didn't know how we would like you fellars at first; but you're
all right, and you know your business, and you mean business, and you
can count on us every time!"

That same night, which was hot, mosquitoes were very annoying; and
shortly after midnight both the Colonel and I came to the doors of our
respective tents, which adjoined one another. The sentinel in front
was also fighting mosquitoes. As we came out we saw him pitch his gun
about ten feet off, and sit down to attack some of the pests that had
swarmed up his trousers' legs. Happening to glance in our direction,
he nodded pleasantly and, with unabashed and friendly feeling,
remarked, "Ain't they bad?"

It was astonishing how soon the men got over these little
peculiarities. They speedily grew to recognize the fact that the
observance of certain forms was essential to the maintenance of proper
discipline. They became scrupulously careful in touching their hats,
and always came to attention when spoken to. They saw that we did not
insist upon the observance of these forms to humiliate them; that we
were as anxious to learn our own duties as we were to have them learn
theirs, and as scrupulous in paying respect to our superiors as we
were in exacting the acknowledgment due our rank from those below us;
moreover, what was very important, they saw that we were careful to
look after their interests in every way, and were doing all that was
possible to hurry up the equipment and drill of the regiment, so as to
get into the war.

Rigid guard duty was established at once, and everyone was impressed
with the necessity for vigilance and watchfulness. The policing of the
camp was likewise attended to with the utmost rigor. As always with
new troops, they were at first indifferent to the necessity for
cleanliness in camp arrangements; but on this point Colonel Wood
brooked no laxity, and in a very little while the hygienic conditions
of the camp were as good as those of any regular regiment. Meanwhile
the men were being drilled, on foot at first, with the utmost
assiduity. Every night we had officers' school, the non-commissioned
officers of each troop being given similar schooling by the Captain or
one of the Lieutenants of the troop; and every day we practised hard,
by squad, by troop, by squadron and battalion. The earnestness and
intelligence with which the men went to work rendered the task of
instruction much less difficult than would be supposed. It soon grew
easy to handle the regiment in all the simpler forms of close and open
order. When they had grown so that they could be handled with ease in
marching, and in the ordinary manoeuvres of the drill-ground, we began
to train them in open-order work, skirmishing and firing. Here their
woodcraft and plainscraft, their knowledge of the rifle, helped us
very much. Skirmishing they took to naturally, which was fortunate, as
practically all our fighting was done in open order.

Meanwhile we were purchasing horses. Judging from what I saw I do not
think that we got heavy enough animals, and of those purchased
certainly a half were nearly unbroken. It was no easy matter to handle
them on the picket-lines, and to provide for feeding and watering; and
the efforts to shoe and ride them were at first productive of much
vigorous excitement. Of course, those that were wild from the range
had to be thrown and tied down before they could be shod. Half the
horses of the regiment bucked, or possessed some other of the amiable
weaknesses incident to horse life on the great ranches; but we had
abundance of men who were utterly unmoved by any antic a horse might
commit. Every animal was speedily mastered, though a large number
remained to the end mounts upon which an ordinary rider would have
felt very uncomfortable.

My own horses were purchased for me by a Texas friend, John Moore,
with whom I had once hunted peccaries on the Nueces. I only paid fifty
dollars apiece, and the animals were not showy; but they were tough
and hardy, and answered my purpose well.

Mounted drill with such horses and men bade fair to offer
opportunities for excitement; yet it usually went off smoothly enough.
Before drilling the men on horseback they had all been drilled on
foot, and having gone at their work with hearty zest, they knew well
the simple movements to form any kind of line or column. Wood was busy
from morning till night in hurrying the final details of the
equipment, and he turned the drill of the men over to me. To drill
perfectly needs long practice, but to drill roughly is a thing very
easy to learn indeed. We were not always right about our intervals,
our lines were somewhat irregular, and our more difficult movements
were executed at times in rather a haphazard way; but the essential
commands and the essential movements we learned without any
difficulty, and the men performed them with great dash. When we put
them on horseback, there was, of course, trouble with the horses; but
the horsemanship of the riders was consummate. In fact, the men were
immensely interested in making their horses perform each evolution
with the utmost speed and accuracy, and in forcing each unquiet,
vicious brute to get into line and stay in line, whether he would or
not. The guidon-bearers held their plunging steeds true to the line,
no matter what they tried to do; and each wild rider brought his wild
horse into his proper place with a dash and ease which showed the
natural cavalryman.

In short, from the very beginning the horseback drills were good fun,
and everyone enjoyed them. We marched out through the adjoining
country to drill wherever we found open ground, practising all the
different column formations as we went. On the open ground we threw
out the line to one side or the other, and in one position and the
other, sometimes at the trot, sometimes at the gallop. As the men grew
accustomed to the simple evolutions, we tried them more and more in
skirmish drills, practising them so that they might get accustomed to
advance in open order and to skirmish in any country, while the horses
were held in the rear.

Our arms were the regular cavalry carbine, the "Krag," a splendid
weapon, and the revolver. A few carried their favorite Winchesters,
using, of course, the new model, which took the Government cartridge.
We felt very strongly that it would be worse than a waste of time to
try to train our men to use the sabre--a weapon utterly alien to them;
but with the rifle and revolver they were already thoroughly familiar.
Many of my cavalry friends in the past had insisted to me that the
revolver was a better weapon than the sword--among them Basil Duke, the
noted Confederate cavalry leader, and Captain Frank Edwards, whom I
had met when elk-hunting on the head-waters of the Yellowstone and the
Snake. Personally, I knew too little to decide as to the comparative
merits of the two arms; but I did know that it was a great deal better
to use the arm with which our men were already proficient. They were
therefore armed with what might be called their natural weapon, the

As it turned out, we were not used mounted at all, so that our
preparations on this point came to nothing. In a way, I have always
regretted this. We thought we should at least be employed as cavalry
in the great campaign against Havana in the fall; and from the
beginning I began to train my men in shock tactics for use against
hostile cavalry. My belief was that the horse was really the weapon
with which to strike the first blow. I felt that if my men could be
trained to hit their adversaries with their horses, it was a matter of
small amount whether, at the moment when the onset occurred, sabres,
lances, or revolvers were used; while in the subsequent melee I
believed the revolver would outclass cold steel as a weapon. But this
is all guesswork, for we never had occasion to try the experiment.

It was astonishing what a difference was made by two or three weeks'
training. The mere thorough performance of guard and police duties
helped the men very rapidly to become soldiers. The officers studied
hard, and both officers and men worked hard in the drill-field. It
was, of course, rough and ready drill; but it was very efficient, and
it was suited to the men who made up the regiment. Their uniform also
suited them. In their slouch hats, blue flannel shirts, brown
trousers, leggings and boots, with handkerchiefs knotted loosely
around their necks, they looked exactly as a body of cowboy cavalry
should look. The officers speedily grew to realize that they must not
be over-familiar with their men, and yet that they must care for them
in every way. The men, in return, began to acquire those habits of
attention to soldierly detail which mean so much in making a regiment.
Above all, every man felt, and had constantly instilled into him, a
keen pride of the regiment, and a resolute purpose to do his whole
duty uncomplainingly, and, above all, to win glory by the way he
handled himself in battle.



Up to the last moment we were spending every ounce of energy we had in
getting the regiment into shape. Fortunately, there were a good many
vacancies among the officers, as the original number of 780 men was
increased to 1,000; so that two companies were organized entirely
anew. This gave the chance to promote some first-rate men.

One of the most useful members of the regiment was Dr. Robb Church,
formerly a Princeton foot-ball player. He was appointed as Assistant
Surgeon, but acted throughout almost all the Cuban campaign as the
Regimental Surgeon. It was Dr. Church who first gave me an idea of
Bucky O'Neill's versatility, for I happened to overhear them
discussing Aryan word-roots together, and then sliding off into a
review of the novels of Balzac, and a discussion as to how far Balzac
could be said to be the founder of the modern realistic school of
fiction. Church had led almost as varied a life as Bucky himself, his
career including incidents as far apart as exploring and elk-hunting
in the Olympic Mountains, cooking in a lumber-camp, and serving as
doctor on an emigrant ship.

Woodbury Kane was given a commission, and also Horace Devereux, of
Princeton. Kane was older than the other college men who entered in
the ranks; and as he had the same good qualities to start with, this
resulted in his ultimately becoming perhaps the most useful soldier in
the regiment. He escaped wounds and serious sickness, and was able to
serve through every day of the regiment's existence.

Two of the men made Second Lieutenants by promotion from the ranks
while in San Antonio were John Greenway, a noted Yale foot-ball player
and catcher on her base-ball nine, and David Goodrich, for two years
captain of the Harvard crew. They were young men, Goodrich having only
just graduated; while Greenway, whose father had served with honor in
the Confederate Army, had been out of Yale three or four years. They
were natural soldiers, and it would be well-nigh impossible to
overestimate the amount of good they did the regiment. They were
strapping fellows, entirely fearless, modest, and quiet. Their only
thought was how to perfect themselves in their own duties, and how to
take care of the men under them, so as to bring them to the highest
point of soldierly perfection. I grew steadily to rely upon them, as
men who could be counted upon with absolute certainty, not only in
every emergency, but in all routine work. They were never so tired as
not to respond with eagerness to the slightest suggestion of doing
something new, whether it was dangerous or merely difficult and
laborious. They not merely did their duty, but were always on the
watch to find out some new duty which they could construe to be
theirs. Whether it was policing camp, or keeping guard, or preventing
straggling on the march, or procuring food for the men, or seeing that
they took care of themselves in camp, or performing some feat of
unusual hazard in the fight--no call was ever made upon them to which
they did not respond with eager thankfulness for being given the
chance to answer it. Later on I worked them as hard as I knew how, and
the regiment will always be their debtor.

Greenway was from Arkansas. We could have filled up the whole regiment
many times over from the South Atlantic and Gulf States alone, but
were only able to accept a very few applicants. One of them was John
McIlhenny, of Louisiana; a planter and manufacturer, a big-game
hunter and book-lover, who could have had a commission in the
Louisiana troops, but who preferred to go as a trooper in the Rough
Riders because he believed we would surely see fighting. He could have
commanded any influence, social or political, he wished; but he never
asked a favor of any kind. He went into one of the New Mexican troops,
and by his high qualities and zealous attention to duty speedily rose
to a sergeantcy, and finally won his lieutenancy for gallantry in

The tone of the officers' mess was very high. Everyone seemed to
realize that he had undertaken most serious work. They all earnestly
wished for a chance to distinguish themselves, and fully appreciated
that they ran the risk not merely of death, but of what was infinitely
worse--namely, failure at the crisis to perform duty well; and they
strove earnestly so to train themselves, and the men under them, as to
minimize the possibility of such disgrace. Every officer and every man
was taught continually to look forward to the day of battle eagerly,
but with an entire sense of the drain that would then be made upon his
endurance and resolution. They were also taught that, before the
battle came, the rigorous performance of the countless irksome duties
of the camp and the march was demanded from all alike, and that no
excuse would be tolerated for failure to perform duty. Very few of the
men had gone into the regiment lightly, and the fact that they did
their duty so well may be largely attributed to the seriousness with
which these eager, adventurous young fellows approached their work.
This seriousness, and a certain simple manliness which accompanied it,
had one very pleasant side. During our entire time of service, I never
heard in the officers' mess a foul story or a foul word; and though
there was occasional hard swearing in moments of emergency, yet even
this was the exception.

The regiment attracted adventurous spirits from everywhere. Our chief
trumpeter was a native American, our second trumpeter was from the
Mediterranean--I think an Italian--who had been a soldier of fortune
not only in Egypt, but in the French Army in Southern China. Two
excellent men were Osborne, a tall Australian, who had been an officer
in the New South Wales Mounted Rifles; and Cook, an Englishman, who
had served in South Africa. Both, when the regiment disbanded, were
plaintive in expressing their fond regret that it could not be used
against the Transvaal Boers!

One of our best soldiers was a man whose real and assumed names I, for
obvious reasons conceal. He usually went by a nickname which I will
call Tennessee. He was a tall, gaunt fellow, with a quiet and
distinctly sinister eye, who did his duty excellently, especially when
a fight was on, and who, being an expert gambler, always contrived to
reap a rich harvest after pay-day. When the regiment was mustered out,
he asked me to put a brief memorandum of his services on his discharge
certificate, which I gladly did. He much appreciated this, and added,
in explanation, "You see, Colonel, my real name isn't Smith, it's
Yancy. I had to change it, because three or four years ago I had a
little trouble with a gentleman, and--er--well, in fact, I had to kill
him; and the District Attorney, he had it in for me, and so I just
skipped the country; and now, if it ever should be brought up against
me, I should like to show your certificate as to my character!" The
course of frontier justice sometimes moves in unexpected zigzags; so I
did not express the doubt I felt as to whether my certificate that he
had been a good soldier would help him much if he was tried for a
murder committed three or four years previously.

The men worked hard and faithfully. As a rule, in spite of the number
of rough characters among them, they behaved very well. One night a
few of them went on a spree, and proceeded "to paint San Antonio red."
One was captured by the city authorities, and we had to leave him
behind us in jail. The others we dealt with ourselves, in a way that
prevented a repetition of the occurrence.

The men speedily gave one another nicknames, largely conferred in a
spirit of derision, their basis lying in contrast. A brave but
fastidious member of a well-known Eastern club, who was serving in the
ranks, was christened "Tough Ike"; and his bunkie, the man who shared
his shelter-tent, who was a decidedly rough cow-puncher, gradually
acquired the name of "The Dude." One unlucky and simple-minded
cow-puncher, who had never been east of the great plains in his life,
unwarily boasted that he had an aunt in New York, and ever afterward
went by the name of "Metropolitan Bill." A huge red-headed Irishman
was named "Sheeny Solomon." A young Jew who developed into one of the
best fighters in the regiment accepted, with entire equanimity, the
name of "Pork-chop." We had quite a number of professional gamblers,
who, I am bound to say, usually made good soldiers. One, who was
almost abnormally quiet and gentle, was called "Hell Roarer"; while
another, who in point of language and deportment was his exact
antithesis, was christened "Prayerful James."

While the officers and men were learning their duties, and learning
to know one another, Colonel Wood was straining every nerve to get our
equipments--an effort which was complicated by the tendency of the
Ordnance Bureau to send whatever we really needed by freight instead
of express. Finally, just as the last rifles, revolvers, and saddles
came, we were ordered by wire at once to proceed by train to Tampa.

Instantly, all was joyful excitement. We had enjoyed San Antonio, and
were glad that our regiment had been organized in the city where the
Alamo commemorates the death fight of Crockett, Bowie, and their
famous band of frontier heroes. All of us had worked hard, so that we
had had no time to be homesick or downcast; but we were glad to leave
the hot camp, where every day the strong wind sifted the dust through
everything, and to start for the gathering-place of the army which was
to invade Cuba. Our horses and men were getting into good shape. We
were well enough equipped to warrant our starting on the campaign, and
every man was filled with dread of being out of the fighting. We had a
pack-train of 150 mules, so we had close on to 1,200 animals to carry.

Of course, our train was split up into sections, seven, all told;
Colonel Wood commanding the first three, and I the last four. The
journey by rail from San Antonio to Tampa took just four days, and I
doubt if anybody who was on the trip will soon forget it. To occupy my
few spare moments, I was reading M. Demolins's "Superiorite des
Anglo-Saxons." M. Demolins, in giving the reasons why the
English-speaking peoples are superior to those of Continental Europe,
lays much stress upon the way in which "militarism" deadens the power
of individual initiative, the soldier being trained to complete
suppression of individual will, while his faculties become atrophied
in consequence of his being merely a cog in a vast and perfectly
ordered machine. I can assure the excellent French publicist that
American "militarism," at least of the volunteer sort, has points of
difference from the militarism of Continental Europe. The battalion
chief of a newly raised American regiment, when striving to get into a
war which the American people have undertaken with buoyant and
light-hearted indifference to detail, has positively unlimited
opportunity for the display of "individual initiative," and is in no
danger whatever either of suffering from unhealthy suppression of
personal will, or of finding his faculties of self-help numbed by
becoming a cog in a gigantic and smooth-running machine. If such a
battalion chief wants to get anything or go anywhere he must do it by
exercising every pound of resource, inventiveness, and audacity he
possesses. The help, advice, and superintendence he gets from outside
will be of the most general, not to say superficial, character. If he
is a cavalry officer, he has got to hurry and push the purchase of his
horses, plunging into and out of the meshes of red-tape as best he
can. He will have to fight for his rifles and his tents and his
clothes. He will have to keep his men healthy largely by the light
that nature has given him. When he wishes to embark his regiment, he
will have to fight for his railway-cars exactly as he fights for his
transport when it comes to going across the sea; and on his journey
his men will or will not have food, and his horses will or will not
have water and hay, and the trains will or will not make connections,
in exact correspondence to the energy and success of his own efforts
to keep things moving straight.

It was on Sunday, May 29th, that we marched out of our hot, windy,
dusty camp to take the cars for Tampa. Colonel Wood went first, with
the three sections under his special care. I followed with the other
four. The railway had promised us a forty-eight hours' trip, but our
experience in loading was enough to show that the promise would not be
made good. There were no proper facilities for getting the horses on
or off the cars, or for feeding or watering them; and there was
endless confusion and delay among the railway officials. I marched my
four sections over in the afternoon, the first three having taken the
entire day to get off. We occupied the night. As far as the regiment
itself was concerned, we worked an excellent system, Wood instructing
me exactly how to proceed so as to avoid confusion. Being a veteran
campaigner, he had all along insisted that for such work as we had
before us we must travel with the minimum possible luggage. The men
had merely what they could carry on their own backs, and the officers
very little more. My own roll of clothes and bedding could be put on
my spare horse. The mule-train was to be used simply for food, forage,
and spare ammunition. As it turned out, we were not allowed to take
either it or the horses.

It was dusk when I marched my long files of dusty troopers into the
station-yard. I then made all dismount, excepting the troop which I
first intended to load. This was brought up to the first freight-car.
Here every man unsaddled, and left his saddle, bridle, and all that he
did not himself need in the car, each individual's property being
corded together. A guard was left in the car, and the rest of the men
took the naked horses into the pens to be fed and watered. The other
troops were loaded in the same way in succession. With each section
there were thus a couple of baggage-cars in which the horse-gear, the
superfluous baggage, and the travel rations were carried; and I also
put aboard, not only at starting, but at every other opportunity, what
oats and hay I could get, so as to provide against accidents for the
horses. By the time the baggage-cars were loaded the horses of the
first section had eaten and drunk their fill, and we loaded them on
cattle-cars. The officers of each troop saw to the loading, taking a
dozen picked men to help them; for some of the wild creatures, half
broken and fresh from the ranges, were with difficulty driven up the
chutes. Meanwhile I superintended not merely my own men, but the
railroad men; and when the delays of the latter, and their inability
to understand what was necessary, grew past bearing, I took charge of
the trains myself, so as to insure the horse-cars of each section
being coupled with the baggage-cars of that section.

We worked until long past midnight before we got the horses and
baggage aboard, and then found that for some reason the passenger-cars
were delayed and would not be out for some hours. In the confusion and
darkness men of the different troops had become scattered, and some
had drifted off to the vile drinking-booths around the stock-yards; so
I sent details to search the latter, while the trumpeters blew the
assembly until the First Sergeants could account for all the men. Then
the troops were arranged in order, and the men of each lay down where
they were, by the tracks and in the brush, to sleep until morning.

At dawn the passenger-trains arrived. The senior Captain of each
section saw to it that his own horses, troopers, and baggage were
together; and one by one they started off, I taking the last in
person. Captain Capron had at the very beginning shown himself to be
simply invaluable, from his extraordinary energy, executive capacity,
and mastery over men; and I kept his section next mine, so that we
generally came together at the different yards.

The next four days were very hot and very dusty. I tried to arrange so
the sections would be far enough apart to allow each ample time to
unload, feed, water, and load the horses at any stopping-place before
the next section could arrive. There was enough delay and failure to
make connections on the part of the railroad people to keep me
entirely busy, not to speak of seeing at the stopping-places that the
inexperienced officers got enough hay for their horses, and that the
water given to them was both ample in quantity and drinkable. It
happened that we usually made our longest stops at night, and this
meant that we were up all night long.

Two or three times a day I got the men buckets of hot coffee, and
when we made a long enough stop they were allowed liberty under the
supervision of the non-commissioned officers. Some of them abused the
privilege, and started to get drunk. These were promptly handled with
the necessary severity, in the interest of the others; for it was only
by putting an immediate check to every form of lawlessness or
disobedience among the few men who were inclined to be bad that we
were enabled to give full liberty to those who would not abuse it.

Everywhere the people came out to greet us and cheer us. They
brought us flowers; they brought us watermelons and other fruits, and
sometimes jugs and pails of milk--all of which we greatly appreciated.
We were travelling through a region where practically all the older
men had served in the Confederate Army, and where the younger men had
all their lives long drunk in the endless tales told by their elders,
at home, and at the cross-roads taverns, and in the court-house
squares, about the cavalry of Forrest and Morgan and the infantry of
Jackson and Hood. The blood of the old men stirred to the distant
breath of battle; the blood of the young men leaped hot with eager
desire to accompany us. The older women, who remembered the dreadful
misery of war--the misery that presses its iron weight most heavily on
the wives and the little ones--looked sadly at us; but the young girls
drove down in bevies, arrayed in their finery, to wave flags in
farewell to the troopers and to beg cartridges and buttons as
mementos. Everywhere we saw the Stars and Stripes, and everywhere we
were told, half-laughing, by grizzled ex-Confederates that they had
never dreamed in the bygone days of bitterness to greet the old flag
as they now were greeting it, and to send their sons, as now they were
sending them, to fight and die under it.

It was four days later that we disembarked, in a perfect welter of
confusion. Tampa lay in the pine-covered sand-flats at the end of a
one-track railroad, and everything connected with both military and
railroad matters was in an almost inextricable tangle. There was no
one to meet us or to tell us where we were to camp, and no one to
issue us food for the first twenty-four hours; while the railroad
people unloaded us wherever they pleased, or rather wherever the jam
of all kinds of trains rendered it possible. We had to buy the men
food out of our own pockets, and to seize wagons in order to get our
spare baggage taken to the camping ground which we at last found had
been allotted to us.

Once on the ground, we speedily got order out of confusion. Under
Wood's eye the tents were put up in long streets, the picket-line of
each troop stretching down its side of each street. The officers'
quarters were at the upper ends of the streets, the company kitchens
and sinks at the opposite ends. The camp was strictly policed, and
drill promptly begun. For thirty-six hours we let the horses rest,
drilling on foot, and then began the mounted drill again. The
regiments with which we were afterward to serve were camped near us,
and the sandy streets of the little town were thronged with soldiers,
almost all of them regulars; for there were but one or two volunteer
organizations besides ourselves. The regulars wore the canonical dark
blue of Uncle Sam. Our own men were clad in dusty brown blouses,
trousers and leggings being of the same hue, while the broad-brimmed
soft hat was of dark gray; and very workmanlike they looked as, in
column of fours, each troop trotted down its company street to form by
squadron or battalion, the troopers sitting steadily in the saddles as
they made their half-trained horses conform to the movement of the

Over in Tampa town the huge winter hotel was gay with general officers
and their staffs, with women in pretty dresses, with newspaper
correspondents by the score, with military attaches of foreign powers,
and with onlookers of all sorts; but we spent very little time there.

We worked with the utmost industry, special attention being given by
each troop-commander to skirmish-drill in the woods. Once or twice we
had mounted drill of the regiment as a whole. The military attaches
came out to look on--English, German, Russian, French, and Japanese.
With the Englishman, Captain Arthur Lee, a capital fellow, we soon
struck up an especially close friendship; and we saw much of him
throughout the campaign. So we did of several of the newspaper
correspondents--Richard Harding Davis, John Fox, Jr., Caspar Whitney,
and Frederic Remington. On Sunday Chaplain Brown, of Arizona, held
service, as he did almost every Sunday during the campaign.

There were but four or five days at Tampa, however. We were notified
that the expedition would start for destination unknown at once, and
that we were to go with it; but that our horses were to be left
behind, and only eight troops of seventy men each taken. Our sorrow at
leaving the horses was entirely outweighed by our joy at going; but it
was very hard indeed to select the four troops that were to stay, and
the men who had to be left behind from each of the troops that went.
Colonel Wood took Major Brodie and myself to command the two
squadrons, being allowed only two squadron commanders. The men who
were left behind felt the most bitter heartburn. To the great bulk of
them I think it will be a life-long sorrow. I saw more than one, both
among the officers and privates, burst into tears when he found he
could not go. No outsider can appreciate the bitterness of the
disappointment. Of course, really, those that stayed were entitled to
precisely as much honor as those that went. Each man was doing his
duty, and much the hardest and most disagreeable duty was to stay.
Credit should go with the performance of duty, and not with what is
very often the accident of glory. All this and much more we explained,
but our explanations could not alter the fact that some had to be
chosen and some had to be left. One of the Captains chosen was Captain
Maximilian Luna, who commanded Troop F, from New Mexico. The Captain's
people had been on the banks of the Rio Grande before my forefathers
came to the mouth of the Hudson or Wood's landed at Plymouth; and he
made the plea that it was his right to go as a representative of his
race, for he was the only man of pure Spanish blood who bore a
commission in the army, and he demanded the privilege of proving that
his people were precisely as loyal Americans as any others. I was glad
when it was decided to take him.

It was the evening of June 7th when we suddenly received orders that
the expedition was to start from Port Tampa, nine miles distant by
rail, at daybreak the following morning; and that if we were not
aboard our transport by that time we could not go. We had no intention
of getting left, and prepared at once for the scramble which was
evidently about to take place. As the number and capacity of the
transports were known, or ought to have been known, and as the number
and size of the regiments to go were also known, the task of allotting
each regiment or fraction of a regiment to its proper transport, and
arranging that the regiments and the transports should meet in due
order on the dock, ought not to have been difficult. However, no
arrangements were made in advance; and we were allowed to shove and
hustle for ourselves as best we could, on much the same principles
that had governed our preparations hitherto.

We were ordered to be at a certain track with all our baggage at
midnight, there to take a train for Port Tampa. At the appointed time
we turned up, but the train did not. The men slept heavily, while Wood
and I and various other officers wandered about in search of
information which no one could give. We now and then came across a
Brigadier-General, or even a Major-General; but nobody knew anything.
Some regiments got aboard the trains and some did not, but as none of
the trains started this made little difference. At three o'clock we
received orders to march over to an entirely different track, and away
we went. No train appeared on this track either; but at six o'clock
some coal-cars came by, and these we seized. By various arguments we
persuaded the engineer in charge of the train to back us down the nine
miles to Port Tampa, where we arrived covered with coal-dust, but with
all our belongings.

The railway tracks ran out on the quay, and the transports, which had
been anchored in midstream, were gradually being brought up alongside
the quay and loaded. The trains were unloading wherever they happened
to be, no attention whatever being paid to the possible position of
the transport on which the soldiers were to go. Colonel Wood and I
jumped off and started on a hunt, which soon convinced us that we had
our work cut out if we were to get a transport at all. From the
highest General down, nobody could tell us where to go to find out
what transport we were to have. At last we were informed that we were
to hunt up the depot quartermaster, Colonel Humphrey. We found his
office, where his assistant informed us that he didn't know where the
Colonel was, but believed him to be asleep upon one of the transports.
This seemed odd at such a time; but so many of the methods in vogue
were odd, that we were quite prepared to accept it as a fact. However,
it proved not to be such; but for an hour Colonel Humphrey might just
as well have been asleep, as nobody knew where he was and nobody could
find him, and the quay was crammed with some ten thousand men, most of
whom were working at cross purposes.

At last, however, after over an hour's industrious and rapid search
through this swarming ant-heap of humanity, Wood and I, who had
separated, found Colonel Humphrey at nearly the same time and were
allotted a transport--the Yucatan. She was out in midstream, so Wood
seized a stray launch and boarded her. At the same time I happened to
find out that she had previously been allotted to two other regiments
--the Second Regular Infantry and the Seventy-first New York
Volunteers, which latter regiment alone contained more men than could
be put aboard her. Accordingly, I ran at full speed to our train; and
leaving a strong guard with the baggage, I double-quicked the rest of
the regiment up to the boat, just in time to board her as she came
into the quay, and then to hold her against the Second Regulars and
the Seventy-first, who had arrived a little too late, being a shade
less ready than we were in the matter of individual initiative. There
was a good deal of expostulation, but we had possession; and as the
ship could not contain half of the men who had been told to go aboard
her, the Seventy-first went away, as did all but four companies of the
Second. These latter we took aboard. Meanwhile a General had caused
our train to be unloaded at the end of the quay farthest from where
the ship was; and the hungry, tired men spent most of the day in the
labor of bringing down their baggage and the food and ammunition.

The officers' horses were on another boat, my own being accompanied
by my colored body-servant, Marshall, the most faithful and loyal
of men, himself an old soldier of the Ninth Cavalry. Marshall had
been in Indian campaigns, and he christened my larger horse
"Rain-in-the-Face," while the other, a pony, went by the name of

By the time that night fell, and our transport pulled off and
anchored in midstream, we felt we had spent thirty-six tolerably
active hours. The transport was overloaded, the men being packed like
sardines, not only below but upon the decks; so that at night it was
only possible to walk about by continually stepping over the bodies of
the sleepers. The travel rations which had been issued to the men for
the voyage were not sufficient, because the meat was very bad indeed;
and when a ration consists of only four or five items, which taken
together just meet the requirements of a strong and healthy man, the
loss of one item is a serious thing. If we had been given canned
corned beef we would have been all right, but instead of this the
soldiers were issued horrible stuff called "canned fresh beef." There
was no salt in it. At the best it was stringy and tasteless; at the
worst it was nauseating. Not one-fourth of it was ever eaten at all,
even when the men became very hungry. There were no facilities for the
men to cook anything. There was no ice for them; the water was not
good; and they had no fresh meat or fresh vegetables.

However, all these things seemed of small importance compared with
the fact that we were really embarked, and were with the first
expedition to leave our shores. But by next morning came the news that
the order to sail had been countermanded, and that we were to stay
where we were for the time being. What this meant none of us could
understand. It turned out later to be due to the blunder of a naval
officer who mistook some of our vessels for Spaniards, and by his
report caused consternation in Washington, until by vigorous scouting
on the part of our other ships the illusion was dispelled.

Meanwhile the troop-ships, packed tight with their living freight,
sweltered in the burning heat of Tampa Harbor. There was nothing
whatever for the men to do, space being too cramped for amusement or
for more drill than was implied in the manual of arms. In this we
drilled them assiduously, and we also continued to hold school for
both the officers and the non-commissioned officers. Each troop
commander was regarded as responsible for his own non-commissioned
officers, and Wood or myself simply dropped in to superintend, just as
we did with the manual of arms. In the officers' school Captain Capron
was the special instructor, and a most admirable one he was.

The heat, the steaming discomfort, and the confinement, together
with the forced inaction, were very irksome; but everyone made the
best of it, and there was little or no grumbling even among the men.
All, from the highest to the lowest, were bent upon perfecting
themselves according to their slender opportunities. Every book of
tactics in the regiment was in use from morning until night, and the
officers and non-commissioned officers were always studying the
problems presented at the schools. About the only amusement was
bathing over the side, in which we indulged both in the morning and
evening. Many of the men from the Far West had never seen the ocean.
One of them who knew how to swim was much interested in finding that
the ocean water was not drinkable. Another, who had never in his life
before seen any water more extensive than the headstream of the Rio
Grande, met with an accident later in the voyage; that is, his hat
blew away while we were in mid-ocean, and I heard him explaining the
accident to a friend in the following words: "Oh-o-h, Jim! Ma hat blew
into the creek!" So we lay for nearly a week, the vessels swinging
around on their anchor chains, while the hot water of the bay flowed
to and fro around them and the sun burned overhead.

At last, on the evening of June 13th, we received the welcome order
to start. Ship after ship weighed anchor and went slowly ahead under
half-steam for the distant mouth of the harbor, the bands playing, the
flags flying, the rigging black with the clustered soldiers, cheering
and shouting to those left behind on the quay and to their fellows on
the other ships. The channel was very tortuous; and we anchored before
we had gone far down it, after coming within an ace of a bad collision
with another transport. The next morning we were all again under way,
and in the afternoon the great fleet steamed southeast until Tampa
Light sank in the distance.

For the next six days we sailed steadily southward and eastward
through the wonderful sapphire seas of the West Indies. The thirty odd
transports moved in long parallel lines, while ahead and behind and on
their flanks the gray hulls of the war-ships surged through the blue
water. We had every variety of craft to guard us, from the mighty
battle-ship and swift cruiser to the converted yachts and the frail,
venomous-looking torpedo-boats. The war-ships watched with ceaseless
vigilance by day and night. When a sail of any kind appeared,
instantly one of our guardians steamed toward it. Ordinarily, the
torpedo-boats were towed. Once a strange ship steamed up too close,
and instantly the nearest torpedo-boat was slipped like a greyhound
from the leash, and sped across the water toward it; but the stranger
proved harmless, and the swift, delicate, death-fraught craft returned

It was very pleasant, sailing southward through the tropic seas
toward the unknown. We knew not whither we were bound, nor what we
were to do; but we believed that the nearing future held for us many
chances of death and hardship, of honor and renown. If we failed, we
would share the fate of all who fail; but we were sure that we would
win, that we should score the first great triumph in a mighty
world movement. At night we looked at the new stars, and hailed the
Southern Cross when at last we raised it above the horizon. In the
daytime we drilled, and in the evening we held officers' school; but
there was much time when we had little to do, save to scan the
wonderful blue sea and watch the flying-fish. Toward evening, when the
officers clustered together on the forward bridge, the band of the
Second Infantry played tune after tune, until on our quarter the
glorious sun sunk in the red west, and, one by one, the lights blazed
out on troop-ship and war-ship for miles ahead and astern, as they
steamed onward through the brilliant tropic night.

The men on the ship were young and strong, eager to face what lay
hidden before them, eager for adventure where risk was the price of
gain. Sometimes they talked of what they might do in the future, and
wondered whether we were to attack Santiago or Porto Rico. At other
times, as they lounged in groups, they told stories of their past
--stories of the mining camps and the cattle ranges, of hunting bear
and deer, of war-trails against the Indians, of lawless deeds of
violence and the lawful violence by which they were avenged, of brawls
in saloons, of shrewd deals in cattle and sheep, of successful quests
for the precious metals; stories of brutal wrong and brutal appetite,
melancholy love-tales, and memories of nameless heroes--masters of men
and tamers of horses.

The officers, too, had many strange experiences to relate; none, not
even Llewellen or O'Neill, had been through what was better worth
telling, or could tell it better, than Capron. He had spent years
among the Apaches, the wildest and fiercest of tribes, and again and
again had owed his life to his own cool judgment and extraordinary
personal prowess. He knew the sign language, familiar to all the
Indians of the mountains and the plains; and it was curious to find
that the signs for different animals, for water, for sleep and death,
which he knew from holding intercourse with the tribes of the
Southeast, were exactly like those which I had picked up on my
occasional hunting or trading trips among the Sioux and Mandans of the
North. He was a great rifle shot and wolf hunter, and had many tales
to tell of the deeds of gallant hounds and the feats of famous horses.
He had handled his Indian scouts and dealt with the "bronco" Indians,
the renegades from the tribes, in circumstances of extreme peril; for
he had seen the sullen, moody Apaches when they suddenly went crazy
with wolfish blood-lust, and in their madness wished to kill whomever
was nearest. He knew, so far as white man could know, their ways of
thought, and how to humor and divert them when on the brink of some
dangerous outbreak. Capron's training and temper fitted him to do
great work in war; and he looked forward with eager confidence to what
the future held, for he was sure that for him it held either triumph
or death. Death was the prize he drew.

Most of the men had simple souls. They could relate facts, but they
said very little about what they dimly felt. Bucky O'Neill, however,
the iron-nerved, iron-willed fighter from Arizona, the Sheriff whose
name was a by-word of terror to every wrong-doer, white or red, the
gambler who with unmoved face would stake and lose every dollar he had
in the world--he, alone among his comrades, was a visionary, an
articulate emotionalist. He was very quiet about it, never talking
unless he was sure of his listener; but at night, when we leaned on
the railing to look at the Southern Cross, he was less apt to tell
tales of his hard and stormy past than he was to speak of the
mysteries which lie behind courage, and fear, and love, behind animal
hatred, and animal lust for the pleasures that have tangible shape. He
had keenly enjoyed life, and he could breast its turbulent torrent as
few men could; he was a practical man, who knew how to wrest personal
success from adverse forces, among money-makers, politicians, and
desperadoes alike; yet, down at bottom, what seemed to interest him
most was the philosophy of life itself, of our understanding of it,
and of the limitations set to that understanding. But he was as far as
possible from being a mere dreamer of dreams. A staunchly loyal and
generous friend, he was also exceedingly ambitious on his own account.
If, by risking his life, no matter how great the risk, he could gain
high military distinction, he was bent on gaining it. He had taken so
many chances when death lay on the hazard, that he felt the odds were
now against him; but, said he, "Who would not risk his life for a
star?" Had he lived, and had the war lasted, he would surely have won
the eagle, if not the star.

We had a good deal of trouble with the transports, chiefly because
they were not under the control of the navy. One of them was towing a
schooner, and another a scow; both, of course, kept lagging behind.
Finally, when we had gone nearly the length of Cuba, the transport
with the schooner sagged very far behind, and then our wretched
transport was directed by General Shafter to fall out of line and keep
her company. Of course, we executed the order, greatly to the wrath of
Captain Clover, who, in the gunboat Bancroft, had charge of the rear
of the column--for we could be of no earthly use to the other
transport, and by our presence simply added just so much to Captain
Clover's anxiety, as he had two transports to protect instead of one.
Next morning the rest of the convoy were out of sight, but we reached
them just as they finally turned.

Until this we had steamed with the trade-wind blowing steadily in
our faces; but once we were well to eastward of Cuba, we ran southwest
with the wind behind on our quarter, and we all knew that our
destination was Santiago. On the morning of the 20th we were close to
the Cuban coast. High mountains rose almost from the water's edge,
looking huge and barren across the sea. We sped onward past Guantanamo
Bay, where we saw the little picket-ships of the fleet; and in the
afternoon we sighted Santiago Harbor, with the great war-ships
standing off and on in front of it, gray and sullen in their

All next day we rolled and wallowed in the seaway, waiting until a
decision was reached as to where we should land. On the morning of
June 22nd the welcome order for landing came.

We did the landing as we had done everything else--that is, in a
scramble, each commander shifting for himself. The port at which we
landed was called Daiquiri, a squalid little village where there had
been a railway and iron-works. There were no facilities for landing,
and the fleet did not have a quarter the number of boats it should
have had for the purpose. All we could do was to stand in with the
transports as close as possible, and then row ashore in our own few
boats and the boats of the war-ships. Luck favored our regiment. My
former naval aide, while I was Assistant Secretary of the Navy,
Lieutenant Sharp, was in command of the Vixen, a converted yacht; and
everything being managed on the go-as-you-please principle, he steamed
by us and offered to help put us ashore. Of course, we jumped at the
chance. Wood and I boarded the Vixen, and there we got Lieutenant
Sharp's black Cuban pilot, who told us he could take our transport
right in to within a few hundred yards of the land. Accordingly, we
put him aboard; and in he brought her, gaining at least a mile and a
half by the manoeuvre. The other transports followed; but we had our
berth, and were all right.

There was plenty of excitement to the landing. In the first place,
the smaller war-vessels shelled Daiquiri, so as to dislodge any
Spaniards who might be lurking in the neighborhood, and also shelled
other places along the coast, to keep the enemy puzzled as to our
intentions. Then the surf was high, and the landing difficult; so that
the task of getting the men, the ammunition, and provisions ashore was
not easy. Each man carried three days' field rations and a hundred
rounds of ammunition. Our regiment had accumulated two rapid-fire Colt
automatic guns, the gift of Stevens, Kane, Tiffany, and one or two
others of the New York men, and also a dynamite gun, under the
immediate charge of Sergeant Borrowe. To get these, and especially the
last, ashore, involved no little work and hazard. Meanwhile, from
another transport, our horses were being landed, together with the
mules, by the simple process of throwing them overboard and letting
them swim ashore, if they could. Both of Wood's got safely through.
One of mine was drowned. The other, little Texas, got ashore all
right. While I was superintending the landing at the ruined dock, with
Bucky O'Neill, a boatful of colored infantry soldiers capsized, and
two of the men went to the bottom; Bucky O'Neill plunging in, in full
uniform, to save them, but in vain.

However, by the late afternoon we had all our men, with what
ammunition and provisions they could themselves carry, landed, and
were ready for anything that might turn up.



Just before leaving Tampa we had been brigaded with the First (white)
and Tenth (colored) Regular Cavalry under Brigadier-General S. B. M.
Young. We were the Second Brigade, the First Brigade consisting of the
Third and Sixth (white), and the Ninth (colored) Regular Cavalry under
Brigadier-General Sumner. The two brigades of the cavalry division
were under Major-General Joseph Wheeler, the gallant old Confederate
cavalry commander.

General Young was--and is--as fine a type of the American fighting
soldier as a man can hope to see. He had been in command, as Colonel,
of the Yellowstone National Park, and I had seen a good deal of him in
connection therewith, as I was President of the Boone and Crockett
Club, an organization devoted to hunting big game, to its
preservation, and to forest preservation. During the preceding winter,
while he was in Washington, he had lunched with me at the Metropolitan
Club, Wood being one of the other guests. Of course, we talked of the
war, which all of us present believed to be impending, and Wood and I
told him we were going to make every effort to get in, somehow; and he
answered that we must be sure to get into his brigade, if he had one,
and he would guarantee to show us fighting. None of us forgot the
conversation. As soon as our regiment was raised General Young applied
for it to be put in his brigade. We were put in; and he made his word
good; for he fought and won the first fight on Cuban soil.

Yet, even though under him, we should not have been in this fight at
all if we had not taken advantage of the chance to disembark among the
first troops, and if it had not been for Wood's energy in pushing our
regiment to the front.

On landing we spent some active hours in marching our men a quarter
of a mile or so inland, as boat-load by boat-load they disembarked.
Meanwhile one of the men, Knoblauch, a New Yorker, who was a great
athlete and a champion swimmer, by diving in the surf off the dock,
recovered most of the rifles which had been lost when the boat-load of
colored cavalry capsized. The country would have offered very great
difficulties to an attacking force had there been resistance. It was
little but a mass of rugged and precipitous hills, covered for the
most part by dense jungle. Five hundred resolute men could have
prevented the disembarkation at very little cost to themselves. There
had been about that number of Spaniards at Daiquiri that morning, but
they had fled even before the ships began shelling. In their place we
found hundreds of Cuban insurgents, a crew of as utter tatterdemalions
as human eyes ever looked on, armed with every kind of rifle in all
stages of dilapidation. It was evident, at a glance, that they would
be no use in serious fighting, but it was hoped that they might be of
service in scouting. From a variety of causes, however, they turned
out to be nearly useless, even for this purpose, so far as the
Santiago campaign was concerned.

We were camped on a dusty, brush-covered flat, with jungle on one
side, and on the other a shallow, fetid pool fringed with palm-trees.
Huge land-crabs scuttled noisily through the underbrush, exciting much
interest among the men. Camping was a simple matter, as each man
carried all he had, and the officers had nothing. I took a light
mackintosh and a tooth-brush. Fortunately, that night it did not rain;
and from the palm-leaves we built shelters from the sun.

General Lawton, a tall, fine-looking man, had taken the advance. A
thorough soldier, he at once established outposts and pushed
reconnoitring parties ahead on the trails. He had as little baggage as
the rest of us. Our own Brigade-Commander, General Young, had exactly
the same impedimenta that I had, namely, a mackintosh and a

Next morning we were hard at work trying to get the stuff unloaded
from the ship, and succeeded in getting most of it ashore, but were
utterly unable to get transportation for anything but a very small
quantity. The great shortcoming throughout the campaign was the
utterly inadequate transportation. If we had been allowed to take our
mule-train, we could have kept the whole cavalry division supplied.

In the afternoon word came to us to march. General Wheeler, a regular
game-cock, was as anxious as Lawton to get first blood, and he was
bent upon putting the cavalry division to the front as quickly as
possible. Lawton's advance-guard was in touch with the Spaniards, and
there had been a skirmish between the latter and some Cubans, who were
repulsed. General Wheeler made a reconnaissance in person, found out
where the enemy was, and directed General Young to take our brigade
and move forward so as to strike him next morning. He had the power to
do this, as when General Shafter was afloat he had command ashore.

I had succeeded in finding Texas, my surviving horse, much the worse
for his fortnight on the transport and his experience in getting off,
but still able to carry me.

It was mid-afternoon and the tropic sun was beating fiercely down when
Colonel Wood started our regiment--the First and Tenth Cavalry and
some of the infantry regiments having already marched. Colonel Wood
himself rode in advance, while I led my squadron, and Major Brodie
followed with his. It was a hard march, the hilly jungle trail being
so narrow that often we had to go in single file. We marched fast, for
Wood was bound to get us ahead of the other regiments, so as to be
sure of our place in the body that struck the enemy next morning. If
it had not been for his energy in pushing forward, we should certainly
have missed the fight. As it was, we did not halt until we were at the
extreme front.

The men were not in very good shape for marching, and moreover they
were really horsemen, the majority being cowboys who had never done
much walking. The heat was intense and their burdens very heavy. Yet
there was very little straggling. Whenever we halted they instantly
took off their packs and threw themselves on their backs. Then at the
word to start they would spring into place again. The captains and
lieutenants tramped along, encouraging the men by example and word. A
good part of the time I was by Captain Llewellen, and was greatly
pleased to see the way in which he kept his men up to their work. He
never pitied or coddled his troopers, but he always looked after them.
He helped them whenever he could, and took rather more than his full
share of hardship and danger, so that his men naturally followed him
with entire devotion. Jack Greenway was under him as lieutenant, and
to him the entire march was nothing but an enjoyable outing, the
chance of fight on the morrow simply adding the needed spice of

It was long after nightfall when we tramped through the darkness
into the squalid coast hamlet of Siboney. As usual when we made a
night camp, we simply drew the men up in column of troops, and then
let each man lie down where he was. Black thunder-clouds were
gathering. Before they broke the fires were made and the men cooked
their coffee and pork, some frying the hard-tack with the pork. The
officers, of course, fared just as the men did. Hardly had we finished
eating when the rain came, a regular tropic downpour. We sat about,
sheltering ourselves as best we could, for the hour or two it lasted;
then the fires were relighted and we closed around them, the men
taking off their wet things to dry them, so far as possible, by the

Wood had gone off to see General Young, as General Wheeler had
instructed General Young to hit the Spaniards, who were about four
miles away, as soon after daybreak as possible. Meanwhile I strolled
over to Captain Capron's troop. He and I, with his two lieutenants,
Day and Thomas, stood around the fire, together with two or three
non-commissioned officers and privates; among the latter were Sergeant
Hamilton Fish and Trooper Elliot Cowdin, both of New York. Cowdin,
together with two other troopers, Harry Thorpe and Munro Ferguson, had
been on my Oyster Bay Polo Team some years before. Hamilton Fish had
already shown himself one of the best non-commissioned officers we
had. A huge fellow, of enormous strength and endurance and dauntless
courage, he took naturally to a soldier's life. He never complained
and never shirked any duty of any kind, while his power over his men
was great. So good a sergeant had he made that Captain Capron, keen to
get the best men under him, took him when he left Tampa--for Fish's
troop remained behind. As we stood around the flickering blaze that
night I caught myself admiring the splendid bodily vigor of Capron and
Fish--the captain and the sergeant. Their frames seemed of steel, to
withstand all fatigue; they were flushed with health; in their eyes
shone high resolve and fiery desire. Two finer types of the fighting
man, two better representatives of the American soldier, there were
not in the whole army. Capron was going over his plans for the fight
when we should meet the Spaniards on the morrow, Fish occasionally
asking a question. They were both filled with eager longing to show
their mettle, and both were rightly confident that if they lived they
would win honorable renown and would rise high in their chosen
profession. Within twelve hours they both were dead.

I had lain down when toward midnight Wood returned. He had gone over
the whole plan with General Young. We were to start by sunrise toward
Santiago, General Young taking four troops of the Tenth and four
troops of the First up the road which led through the valley; while
Colonel Wood was to lead our eight troops along a hill-trail to the
left, which joined the valley road about four miles on, at a point
where the road went over a spur of the mountain chain and from thence
went down hill toward Santiago. The Spaniards had their lines at the
junction of the road and the trail.

Before describing our part in the fight, it is necessary to say a
word about General Young's share, for, of course, the whole fight was
under his direction, and the fight on the right wing under his
immediate supervision. General Young had obtained from General
Castillo, the commander of the Cuban forces, a full description of the
country in front. General Castillo promised Young the aid of eight
hundred Cubans, if he made a reconnaissance in force to find out
exactly what the Spanish strength was. This promised Cuban aid did
not, however, materialize, the Cubans, who had been beaten back by the
Spaniards the day before, not appearing on the firing-line until the
fight was over.

General Young had in his immediate command a squadron of the First
Regular Cavalry, two hundred and forty-four strong, under the command
of Major Bell, and a squadron of the Tenth Regular Cavalry, two
hundred and twenty strong, under the command of Major Norvell. He also
had two Hotchkiss mountain guns, under Captain Watson of the Tenth. He
started at a quarter before six in the morning, accompanied by Captain
A. L. Mills, as aide. It was at half-past seven that Captain Mills,
with a patrol of two men in advance, discovered the Spaniards as they
lay across where the two roads came together, some of them in pits,
others simply lying in the heavy jungle, while on their extreme right
they occupied a big ranch. Where General Young struck them they held a
high ridge a little to the left of his front, this ridge being
separated by a deep ravine from the hill-trail still farther to the
left, down which the Rough Riders were advancing. That is, their
forces occupied a range of high hills in the form of an obtuse angle,
the salient being toward the space between the American forces, while
there were advance parties along both roads. There were stone
breastworks flanked by block-houses on that part of the ridge where
the two trails came together. The place was called Las Guasimas, from
trees of that name in the neighborhood.

General Young, who was riding a mule, carefully examined the Spanish
position in person. He ordered the canteens of the troops to be
filled, placed the Hotchkiss battery in concealment about nine hundred
yards from the Spanish lines, and then deployed the white regulars,
with the colored regulars in support, having sent a Cuban guide to try
to find Colonel Wood and warn him. He did not attack immediately,
because he knew that Colonel Wood, having a more difficult route,
would require a longer time to reach the position. During the delay
General Wheeler arrived; he had been up since long before dawn, to see
that everything went well. Young informed him of the dispositions and
plan of attack he made. General Wheeler approved of them, and with
excellent judgment left General Young a free hand to fight his battle.

So, about eight o'clock Young began the fight with his Hotchkiss
guns, he himself being up on the firing-line. No sooner had the
Hotchkiss one-pounders opened than the Spaniards opened fire in
return, most of the time firing by volleys executed in perfect time,
almost as on parade. They had a couple of light guns, which our people
thought were quick firers. The denseness of the jungle and the fact
that they used absolutely smokeless powder, made it exceedingly
difficult to place exactly where they were, and almost immediately
Young, who always liked to get as close as possible to his enemy,
began to push his troops forward. They were deployed on both sides of
the road in such thick jungle that it was only here and there that
they could possibly see ahead, and some confusion, of course, ensued,
the support gradually getting mixed with the advance. Captain Beck
took A Troop of the Tenth in on the left, next Captain Galbraith's
troop of the First; two other troops of the Tenth were on the extreme
right. Through the jungle ran wire fences here and there, and as the
troops got to the ridge they encountered precipitous heights. They
were led most gallantly, as American regular officers always lead
their men; and the men followed their leaders with the splendid
courage always shown by the American regular soldier. There was not a
single straggler among them, and in not one instance was an attempt
made by any trooper to fall out in order to assist the wounded or
carry back the dead, while so cool were they and so perfect their fire
discipline, that in the entire engagement the expenditure of
ammunition was not over ten rounds per man. Major Bell, who commanded
the squadron, had his leg broken by a shot as he was leading his men.
Captain Wainwright succeeded to the command of the squadron. Captain
Knox was shot in the abdomen. He continued for some time giving orders
to his troops, and refused to allow a man in the firing-line to assist
him to the rear. His First Lieutenant, Byram, was himself shot, but
continued to lead his men until the wound and the heat overcame him
and he fell in a faint. The advance was pushed forward under General
Young's eye with the utmost energy, until the enemy's voices could be
heard in the entrenchments. The Spaniards kept up a very heavy firing,
but the regulars would not be denied, and as they climbed the ridges
the Spaniards broke and fled.

Meanwhile, at six o'clock, the Rough Riders began their advance. We
first had to climb a very steep hill. Many of the men, foot-sore and
weary from their march of the preceding day, found the pace up this
hill too hard, and either dropped their bundles or fell out of line,
with the result that we went into action with less than five hundred
men--as, in addition to the stragglers, a detachment had been left to
guard the baggage on shore. At the time I was rather inclined to
grumble to myself about Wood setting so fast a pace, but when the
fight began I realized that it had been absolutely necessary, as
otherwise we should have arrived late and the regulars would have had
very hard work indeed.

Tiffany, by great exertions, had corralled a couple of mules and was
using them to transport the Colt automatic guns in the rear of the
regiment. The dynamite gun was not with us, as mules for it could not
be obtained in time.

Captain Capron's troop was in the lead, it being chosen for the most
responsible and dangerous position because of Capron's capacity. Four
men, headed by Sergeant Hamilton Fish, went first; a support of twenty
men followed some distance behind; and then came Capron and the rest
of his troop, followed by Wood, with whom General Young had sent
Lieutenants Smedburg and Rivers as aides. I rode close behind, at the
head of the other three troops of my squadron, and then came Brodie at
the head of his squadron. The trail was so narrow that for the most
part the men marched in single file, and it was bordered by dense,
tangled jungle, through which a man could with difficulty force his
way; so that to put out flankers was impossible, for they could not
possibly have kept up with the march of the column. Every man had his
canteen full. There was a Cuban guide at the head of the column, but
he ran away as soon as the fighting began. There were also with us, at
the head of the column, two men who did not run away, who, though
non-combatants--newspaper correspondents--showed as much gallantry as
any soldier in the field. They were Edward Marshall and Richard
Harding Davis.

After reaching the top of the hill the walk was very pleasant. Now
and then we came to glades or rounded hill-shoulders, whence we could
look off for some distance. The tropical forest was very beautiful,
and it was a delight to see the strange trees, the splendid royal
palms and a tree which looked like a flat-topped acacia, and which was
covered with a mass of brilliant scarlet flowers. We heard many
bird-notes, too, the cooing of doves and the call of a great brush
cuckoo. Afterward we found that the Spanish guerillas imitated these
bird-calls, but the sounds we heard that morning, as we advanced
through the tropic forest, were from birds, not guerillas, until we
came right up to the Spanish lines. It was very beautiful and very
peaceful, and it seemed more as if we were off on some hunting
excursion than as if were about to go into a sharp and bloody little

Of course, we accommodated our movements to those of the men in
front. After marching for somewhat over an hour, we suddenly came to a
halt, and immediately afterward Colonel Wood sent word down the line
that the advance guard had come upon a Spanish outpost. Then the order
was passed to fill the magazines, which was done.

The men were totally unconcerned, and I do not think they realized
that any fighting was at hand; at any rate, I could hear the group
nearest me discussing in low murmurs, not the Spaniards, but the
conduct of a certain cow-puncher in quitting work on a ranch and
starting a saloon in some New Mexican town. In another minute,
however, Wood sent me orders to deploy three troops to the right of
the trail, and to advance when we became engaged; while, at the same
time, the other troops, under Major Brodie, were deployed to the left
of the trail where the ground was more open than elsewhere--one troop
being held in reserve in the centre, besides the reserves on each
wing. Later all the reserves were put into the firing-line.

To the right the jungle was quite thick, and we had barely begun to
deploy when a crash in front announced that the fight was on. It was
evidently very hot, and L Troop had its hands full; so I hurried my
men up abreast of them. So thick was the jungle that it was very
difficult to keep together, especially when there was no time for
delay, and while I got up Llewellen's troops and Kane's platoon of K
Troop, the rest of K Troop under Captain Jenkins which, with Bucky
O'Neill's troop, made up the right wing, were behind, and it was some
time before they got into the fight at all.

Meanwhile I had gone forward with Llewellen, Greenway, Kane and
their troopers until we came out on a kind of shoulder, jutting over a
ravine, which separated us from a great ridge on our right. It was on
this ridge that the Spaniards had some of their intrenchments, and it
was just beyond this ridge that the Valley Road led, up which the
regulars were at that very time pushing their attack; but, of course,
at the moment we knew nothing of this. The effect of the smokeless
powder was remarkable. The air seemed full of the rustling sound of
the Mauser bullets, for the Spaniards knew the trails by which we were
advancing, and opened heavily on our position. Moreover, as we
advanced we were, of course, exposed, and they could see us and fire.
But they themselves were entirely invisible. The jungle covered
everything, and not the faintest trace of smoke was to be seen in any
direction to indicate from whence the bullets came. It was some time
before the men fired; Llewellen, Kane, and I anxiously studying the
ground to see where our opponents were, and utterly unable to find

We could hear the faint reports of the Hotchkiss guns and the reply
of two Spanish guns, and the Mauser bullets were singing through the
trees over our heads, making a noise like the humming of telephone
wires; but exactly where they came from we could not tell. The
Spaniards were firing high and for the most part by volleys, and their
shooting was not very good, which perhaps was not to be wondered at,
as they were a long way off. Gradually, however, they began to get the
range and occasionally one of our men would crumple up. In no case did
the man make any outcry when hit, seeming to take it as a matter of
course; at the outside, making only such a remark as: "Well, I got it
that time." With hardly an exception, there was no sign of flinching.
I say with hardly an exception, for though I personally did not see an
instance, and though all the men at the front behaved excellently, yet
there were a very few men who lagged behind and drifted back to the
trail over which we had come. The character of the fight put a premium
upon such conduct, and afforded a very severe test for raw troops;
because the jungle was so dense that as we advanced in open order,
every man was, from time to time, left almost alone and away from the
eyes of his officers. There was unlimited opportunity for dropping out
without attracting notice, while it was peculiarly hard to be exposed
to the fire of an unseen foe, and to see men dropping under it, and
yet to be, for some time, unable to return it, and also to be entirely
ignorant of what was going on in any other part of the field.

It was Richard Harding Davis who gave us our first opportunity to
shoot back with effect. He was behaving precisely like my officers,
being on the extreme front of the line, and taking every opportunity
to study with his glasses the ground where we thought the Spaniards
were. I had tried some volley firing at points where I rather
doubtfully believed the Spaniards to be, but had stopped firing and
was myself studying the jungle-covered mountain ahead with my glasses,
when Davis suddenly said: "There they are, Colonel; look over there; I
can see their hats near that glade," pointing across the valley to our
right. In a minute I, too, made out the hats, and then pointed them
out to three or four of our best shots, giving them my estimate of the
range. For a minute or two no result followed, and I kept raising the
range, at the same time getting more men on the firing-line. Then,
evidently, the shots told, for the Spaniards suddenly sprang out of
the cover through which we had seen their hats, and ran to another
spot; and we could now make out a large number of them.

I accordingly got all of my men up in line and began quick firing.
In a very few minutes our bullets began to do damage, for the
Spaniards retreated to the left into the jungle, and we lost sight of
them. At the same moment a big body of men who, it afterward turned
out, were Spaniards, came in sight along the glade, following the
retreat of those whom we had just driven from the trenches. We
supposed that there was a large force of Cubans with General Young,
not being aware that these Cubans had failed to make their appearance,
and as it was impossible to tell the Cubans from the Spaniards, and as
we could not decide whether these were Cubans following the Spaniards
we had put to flight, or merely another troop of Spaniards retreating
after the first (which was really the case) we dared not fire, and in
a minute they had passed the glade and were out of sight.

At every halt we took advantage of the cover, sinking down behind
any mound, bush, or tree trunk in the neighborhood. The trees, of
course, furnished no protection from the Mauser bullets. Once I was
standing behind a large palm with my head out to one side, very
fortunately; for a bullet passed through the palm, filling my left eye
and ear with the dust and splinters.

No man was allowed to drop out to help the wounded. It was hard to
leave them there in the jungle, where they might not be found again
until the vultures and the land-crabs came, but war is a grim game and
there was no choice. One of the men shot was Harry Heffner of G Troop,
who was mortally wounded through the hips. He fell without uttering a
sound, and two of his companions dragged him behind a tree. Here he
propped himself up and asked to be given his canteen and his rifle,
which I handed to him. He then again began shooting, and continued
loading and firing until the line moved forward and we left him alone,
dying in the gloomy shade. When we found him again, after the fight,
he was dead.

At one time, as I was out of touch with that part of my wing
commanded by Jenkins and O'Neill, I sent Greenway, with Sergeant
Russell, a New Yorker, and trooper Rowland, a New Mexican cow-puncher,
down in the valley to find out where they were. To do this the three
had to expose themselves to a very severe fire, but they were not men
to whom this mattered. Russell was killed; the other two returned and
reported to me the position of Jenkins and O'Neill. They then resumed
their places on the firing-line. After awhile I noticed blood coming
out of Rowland's side and discovered that he had been shot, although
he did not seem to be taking any notice of it. He said the wound was
only slight, but as I saw he had broken a rib, I told him to go to the
rear to the hospital. After some grumbling he went, but fifteen
minutes later he was back on the firing-line again and said he could
not find the hospital--which I doubted. However, I then let him stay
until the end of the fight.

After we had driven the Spaniards off from their position to our
right, the firing seemed to die away so far as we were concerned, for
the bullets no longer struck around us in such a storm as before,
though along the rest of the line the battle was as brisk as ever.
Soon we saw troops appearing across the ravine, not very far from
where we had seen the Spaniards whom we had thought might be Cubans.
Again we dared not fire, and carefully studied the new-comers with our
glasses; and this time we were right, for we recognized our own
cavalry-men. We were by no means sure that they recognized us,
however, and were anxious that they should, but it was very difficult
to find a clear spot in the jungle from which to signal; so Sergeant
Lee of Troop K climbed a tree and from its summit waved the troop
guidon. They waved their guidon back, and as our right wing was now in
touch with the regulars, I left Jenkins and O'Neill to keep the
connection, and led Llewellen's troop back to the path to join the
rest of the regiment, which was evidently still in the thick of the
fight. I was still very much in the dark as to where the main body of
the Spanish forces were, or exactly what lines the battle was
following, and was very uncertain what I ought to do; but I knew it
could not be wrong to go forward, and I thought I would find Wood and
then see what he wished me to do. I was in a mood to cordially welcome
guidance, for it was most bewildering to fight an enemy whom one so
rarely saw.

I had not seen Wood since the beginning of the skirmish, when he
hurried forward. When the firing opened some of the men began to
curse. "Don't swear--shoot!" growled Wood, as he strode along the path
leading his horse, and everyone laughed and became cool again. The
Spanish outposts were very near our advance guard, and some minutes of
the hottest kind of firing followed before they were driven back and
slipped off through the jungle to their main lines in the rear.

Here, at the very outset of our active service, we suffered the loss
of two as gallant men as ever wore uniform. Sergeant Hamilton Fish at
the extreme front, while holding the point up to its work and firing
back where the Spanish advance guards lay, was shot and instantly
killed; three of the men with him were likewise hit. Captain Capron,
leading the advance guard in person, and displaying equal courage and
coolness in the way that he handled them, was also struck, and died a
few minutes afterward. The command of the troop then devolved upon the
First Lieutenant, young Thomas. Like Capron, Thomas was the fifth in
line from father to son who had served in the American army, though in
his case it was in the volunteer and not the regular service; the four
preceding generations had furnished soldiers respectively to the
Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil
War. In a few minutes Thomas was shot through the leg, and the command
devolved upon the Second Lieutenant, Day (a nephew of "Albemarle"
Cushing, he who sunk the great Confederate ram). Day, who proved
himself to be one of our most efficient officers, continued to handle
the men to the best possible advantage, and brought them steadily

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