ROOSEVELT, Theodore (1858-1919), President. Typed letter signed ("Theodore Roosevelt") to William Tudor, WITH THREE-LINE AUTOGRAPH POSTSCRIPT and several corrections, "Camp near Santiago de Cuba," 19 July 1898. 2 pages, 4to, on rectos only of two sheets, attractively matted and framed with photo of Roosevelt in uniform. Fine.
ROOSEVELT AND THE ROUGH RIDERS IN CUBA
A very rare letter written only a few days after the Rough Riders' famous charge at San Juan Hill. Teddy apologizes to Tudor that his son couldn't join the fight, due to sickness. In fact, "The strain has been so intense that of the six hundred with which we landed less than 300 remain; the others have been killed, wounded or sent ot the hospital from fever and dysentry." Speaking of the action at Las Guasimas, Cuba on 24 June, he writes: "In the first fight we were neither surprised nor ambused. We simply drove the enemy from thick cover in a pass, with the loss to be expected in such an operation." Following San Juan Hill, the Rough Riders are in poor state: "In camp there are now over 100 men down with fever and they have to eat hard-tack, bacon, and coffee often without sugar. The government should give us at once adequate transportation...My men are bare-footed and in tatters...We find that the men cannot as a rule swing their hammocks. Four or five men...could swing but not four or five thousand." They need "rice and oatmeal or potted meats and canned fruit" but "I have not the slightest idea how you could send them, for I have no idea of our movements..." In a post script he writes: "Under the actual condition of fighting and marching, a third of the time we sleep on the bare ground without so much as a blanket and drenched through by the tropic rains...As for drinking oatmeal in water - you might as well advise me to drink nectar."
Roosevelt commanded the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the Rough Riders, from May to September 1898. The unit first saw action at Las Guasimas on 24 June, and on 1 July won glory in a charge against the heavily defended San Juan Hill. According to his commanding officer, Roosevelt "led a very desperate and extremely gallant charge...setting a splendid example to the troops and encouraging them to pass over the open country intervening between their position and the trenches of the enemy...Colonel Roosevelt was the first to reach the tenches..." Due to disease, Roosevelt's troops were recalled to the United States in August.