Teddy Roosevelt was a formidable figure throughout history. He truly was a man of many hats throughout his life. Of course, he was known most of all for being the 26th president of the United States, but he was also known for his Rough Riders.
In 1898, Cuba was occupied by Spain. In February of 1898, the USS Maine was docked in the waters just outside of Cuba. It exploded, and 262 sailors were killed. The ship was there protecting American assets on the small island.
The public and the media blamed Spain for the explosion. Teddy Roosevelt was the assistant secretary of the Navy at the time. He immediately quit his position, and the secretary of war allowed him to create his own regiment, made entirely of volunteers.
He believed in the cause but knew he did not have all the necessary skills. He served as a lieutenant colonel in his own regiment and asked Leonard Wood to be colonel,
Growth of the Regiment
The regiment grew exponentially as word of mouth spread, and Roosevelt and Wood went through 23,000 applications. They wanted outdoorsy people and frontiersmen, primarily from New Mexico and Arizona.
But applicant’s heard of Roosevelt’s involvement and came from all around. They made a very diverse crew.
Members came from all backgrounds. They had businessmen, Native Americans, ranchers, college students, and more. The diverse background earned them the name, Rough Riders.
Rough Riders vs. Spain
The Rough Riders proved to be talented soldiers in training and were sent from Texas to Tampa. The ship to Cuba had limited capacity, and 75 percent of the regiment made it. The Rough Riders immediately went up against the Spanish, making the Spanish-American War the first combat the group saw.
In the Battle of Las Guasimas, the Rough Riders won, though lost 7 soldiers and sustained 43 injuries. After some time, Col. Wood was promoted and Roosevelt took over the Rough Riders.
San Juan Heights was where the Rough Riders established themselves. They were having a hard time holding back Spanish forces, and Roosevelt felt like they were sitting ducks.
He energized his troops and they stormed the hill. In the fight, they drove back the Spanish and took over the position on the hill. The final battle for the rough Riders was the Seige of Santiago. They were able to secure the border around the city.