The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War

The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 1613730462

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Americans have long heard the story of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders charging up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. But often forgotten in the great swamp of history is that Roosevelt’s success was ensured by a dedicated corps of black soldiers—the so-called Buffalo Soldiers—who fought by Roosevelt’s side during his legendary campaign. Roosevelt admitted that the black troops actually spearheaded the charge, beating him to the top of Kettle Hill ahead of San Juan Hill, but later changed his story, claiming their perfor­mance was due to the superior white officers under whom the black troops served.
The Roughest Riders takes a closer look at common historical legend and balances the record. It is the inspiring story of the first African American soldiers to serve during the post-slavery era, first in the West and later in Cuba, when full equality, legally at least, was still a distant dream. They fought heroically and courageously, making Roosevelt’s campaign a great success that added to the future president’s legend as a great man of words and action. But most of all, they demonstrated their own military prowess, often in the face of incredible discrimination from their fellow soldiers and commanders, and rightfully deserve their own place in American history.

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Roosevelt wrote, “there to take a train for Port Tampa.” The Rough Riders were there at midnight, but the train never showed up. The men crashed along the sides of the tracks, trying to get some sleep, while Wood, Roosevelt, and a few other officers looked for someone—anyone—with information about what they should do. Every so often they came across a general or two, none of whom knew any more than they did. Other regiments had already boarded trains, only to remain stationary on the tracks when

body. Captain Capron and Sergeant Fish were not nearly as fortunate. Fish was the first to be mortally wounded, looking almost robust in death. He had been shot through the chest, and he sank to the ground with his back against a tree. Young Capron stood over him firing round after round, but he too was killed, just a few yards from Fish. The earth around him was covered with his empty shells. Capron’s final words were “Don’t mind me, boys. Go on with the fight!” Roosevelt nearly became a

Sumner, nearly seven thousand men attempted to get a little sleep before the next battle. Most stared up from their blanket rolls at the pitch-black, star-strewn sky, as the rains had mercifully departed for a while. Off to their right, General Chaffee, who had reinforced Wheeler’s brigade with the black Ninth and some white divisions, camped among the bushes with his own men alongside the path to El Caney. The major surprise of the night occurred when Shafter’s adjutant, Lieutenant Colonel

forward from the peak of El Pozo toward the Spanish positions around the San Juan Heights. 19 The action heated up farther north near El Caney. The Spanish returned Capron’s artillery fire with a relentless assault of their own directed at Chaffee’s troops on the right of the hill. These included the black Twenty-Fifth and some Cuban rebels, both of whom suffered heavy losses in the early stages of combat. Ludlow and his troops veered farther to their left, within about one hundred yards of the

until all Americans have an equal seat at our national table, until all Americans enjoy every opportunity to excel, every chance to achieve their dream. —General Colin L. Powell, July 25, 1992, dedicating the Buffalo Soldier Monument at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Contents Cast of Main Characters Prologue Part One: The Landing Part Two: The Hills Part Three: The Collapse Part Four: The Aftermath Acknowledgments Bibliography Cast of Main Characters Emilio Aguinaldo, also known as Aquino,

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