Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders
Theodore Roosevelt was not much of a military man but the United States did everything with him that they could. After volunteering for duty, he was sent to help command the First United States Volunteer Calvary. Theodore was then under the command of the regimental commander Colonel Leonard Wood. The rest of the men of the First U.S. Volunteer Calvary were an assortment of all kinds of men. There were cowboys, Indians, prospectors, gamblers, lawmen, and a small enthusiastic group from the east. Most of these men were never in real combat but all of them were very good horsemen. Although not many of the Rough Riders had ever been in real combat, they were blessed with the Krag-Jorgenson .308 caliber carbine rifle. These men were the first to ever use equipment like this in battle. The .308 used smokeless cartridges so that it was harder to be spotted in the thick jungle. This did not give the Rough Riders any advantage though because the Spanish were using smokeless cartridges also.
The Rough Riders were not trained greatly before being sent to Cuba to fight. They had a mere three weeks of training before they were sent to Camp Wilcox, Florida for the journey to Cuba. Once the Rough Riders were in battle the lack of training did not show. They fought like true soldiers and were some of the most courageous men that fought in that “splendid little war.”
After Colonel Wood was promoted because of a death to a superior officer, Theodore Roosevelt was put in command of the Rough Riders. He was the one man who started the charge up Kettle and San Juan Hills. Because of these two key positions the Rough Riders had, in a sense, won the war for the United States. That is why they were so significant during “this splendid little war.”