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From Kettle Hill to the White House

October 19, 2016

When Leonard Wood and Theodore Roosevelt began to recruit men for the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, they were Colonel and Lt. Colonel respectively.  At the end of the Santiago campaign General Wood was Military Governor of Cuba and Colonel Roosevelt was the most famous man in America.  In the time between the recruiting and the fame Roosevelt experienced what he called “the great day of my life.”   That day was July 1, 1898.

Roosevelt and his men charged up Kettle Hill during the Battle of San Juan Hill.  He demonstrated great initiative, creativity, and leadership during this “crowded hour.”  Some good men were lost, and Roosevelt preserved their memory in The Rough Riders.

Even in the 21st century there is some controversy as to which men from which regiment reached the top of the hill first.  Entire books have been written which purport to show that the “colored” troops really carried the day.  We should not be surprised to discover that non-white soldiers may not have received all the credit they deserved, but that does not detract from the bravery displayed that day by Theodore Roosevelt and his men.  We should also not be surprised to discover that Theodore Roosevelt courted the press and had favorable things written about him.  However, he did not need the press to tell the world about his exploits.  As previously stated, Roosevelt published his own version of the Santiago campaign the following year.  The year after that he was elected Vice President, and the year after that he was suddenly President.

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