Rough Riders

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The "Rough Riders" was the name bestowed on the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and the only one of the three to see action. The United States army was weakened and left with little manpower after the Civil War roughly 30 years prior. As a result, President William McKinley called upon 1,250 volunteers to assist in the war efforts.[1] It was also called "Wood's Weary Walkers" after its first commander, Colonel Leonard Wood, as an acknowledgment of the fact that despite being a cavalry unit they ended up fighting on foot as infantry. Wood's second in command was former assistant secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, a man who had pushed for US involvement in Cuban independence. When Colonel Wood became commander of the 1st Cavalry Brigade (1st U.S. Cavalry, 106th U.S. Cavalry, and 1st U.S.V. Cavalry) the Rough Riders then became "Roosevelt's Rough Riders". That term was familiar in 1898, from Buffalo Bill who called his famous western show "Buffalo Bill's Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World".


Formation and early history

The volunteers were gathered in four areas: Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Indian Territory. They were gathered mainly from the southwest because it was a hot climate region that the men were used to similar to that of Cuba where they would be fighting. "The difficulty in organizing was not in selecting, but in rejecting men."[2] The allowed limit set for the volunteer cavalry men was promptly met. They gathered a diverse bunch of men consisting of cowboys, gold or mining prospectors, hunters, gamblers, Buffalo soldiers, Native Americans and college boys; all of whom were able-bodied and capable on horseback and in shooting. Among these men were also police officers and military veterans who wished to see action again. Men who had served in the normal army during campaigns against Indians or served in the Civil War had been gathered to serve as higher ranking officers in the cavalry.[3] In this regard they possessed the military knowledge and expertise to lead the men strongly and train them to perform their duty as any other military unit would. As a whole, the unit would not be entirely inexperienced. Leonard Wood, a doctor who served as the medical advisor for both the President and secretary of war, was appointed the position of Colonel of The Rough Riders with Roosevelt serving as Lieutenant-Colonel.[4] Volunteers were also gathered in San Antonio, TX at the Menger Hotel Bar.

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