Monday, 2 November 2020

Rough Riders

Finished October 27 
Rough Riders: Theodore Roosevelt, His Cowboy Regiment and the Immortal Charge Up San Juan Hill by Mark Lee Gardner


This was a part of history that I didn't know much about before I read this book. The events in this book mostly took place in 1898, but there is also followup on some of the players lives following the events in Cuba. 
Congress authorized the President to recruit a volunteer army to go to Cuba to drive out the Spaniards, and assist the Cuban rebels in their fight for independence. Roosevelt had many contacts, from the president himself to newspapermen to businessmen that helped him get the impetus to put together a mounted regiment. He drew mainly from his colleagues in the West for men, but his regiment also included men of the Ivy leagues and the men's clubs. Many were friends, or friends of friends. 
The attacks on the Spanish in Cuba were very disorganized, with most of the career military lacking good plans and logistics.
There are many instances here of supplies not reaching the men at the front, and of the lack of medical support and good communication lines. This was a war where many of the leaders, such as Roosevelt, were with their men in battle, often very visible to the enemy, and many were killed, similar to what happened in the U.S. Civil War. Roosevelt himself definitely took chances, but his luck held. 
The author here is a respected historian that drew on many first-hand accounts in addition to articles of the time, letters, and diaries. We get a glimpse of many of the individual men and their motivation and character. 
There is also an interesting relationship that the Rough Riders and Roosevelt had with another contingent of men involved in the Cuban battles, the Buffalo Soldiers, and they fought side by side with them more than once. 
I also enjoying learning more history and this book tells of this episode in a very approachable narrative. 

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