Adventures At War

I am reminded by the previous post of the adventures of Theodore Roosevelt and Dr. Leonard Wood down in Santiago, Cuba. The Cubanos wished to gain their independence from Spain and threw an old fashioned revolt to achieve it. Spain took up the invitation and fairly well trashed the place, shooting or starving a whole mess of people in the effort. American sympathies were with the revolutionaries and eventually there was strong pressure to intervene. Once the USS Main was blown up at Havana Harbor, the U.S. was poised to upgrade the Cuban revolt to a Spanish-American War. Roosevelt and Wood determined to play a part in the adventure and maneuvered toward that end. In Mr. Roosevelt’s words:

He was as anxious as I was that if there were war we should both have our part in it. I had always felt that if there were a serious war I wished to be in a position to explain to my children why I did take part in it, and not why I did not take part in it. Moreover, I had very deeply felt that it was our duty to free Cuba, and I had publicly expressed this feeling; and when a man takes such a position, he ought to be willing to make his words good by his deeds unless there is some very strong reason to the contrary. He should pay with his body.

As soon as war was upon us, Wood and I began to try for a chance to go to the front.

Roosevelt, who was Assistant Secretary of the Navy at the time, secured for them command of one of the three National Volunteer Cavalry regiments Congress had authorized. They raised, equipped, organized, and trained the Rough Riders and went down to do their part. Once there they performed as expected, securing honor and glory to themselves and to the United States, and liberty to Cuba.

Following the war, Wood served as Military Governor of Cuba until 1902. He commanded troops in the Philippines in 1904 and was Army Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft. In less than a decade, he had risen from a Captain in the Medical Corps to the highest post in the Army. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. One of my siblings was born at Fort Leonard Wood while my father was there at U.S. Army Engineer School.

Roosevelt, as you all know, resigned his commission after the war, served as President Of The United States for just shy of two terms and was the only man in history to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ed McNamara might have been able to choose better company to keep, but I don’t know who that would be.

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