Today in History: ‘Rough Riders’ Ordered from San Antonio to Florida

 

SAN ANTONIO, TX — On May 30, 1898, Gen. Nelson A. Miles ordered the First United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the "Rough Riders," to Tampa, Florida, to participate in the invasion of Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

The Rough Riders, led by Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, were one of three volunteer cavalry regiments raised in the western states and territories to support the regular defense establishment. Of the three, they were the only regiment to see combat. Although nominally commanded by Col. Leonard Wood, Roosevelt played a significant role in their leadership.

After assembling in San Antonio, the Rough Riders, including many Texas Rangers, encamped in what is now Roosevelt Park. There, they learned drill and discipline. Due to a lack of available transports to move the division's horses to Cuba, they fought as infantry.

The Rough Riders were the first U.S. troops to land in Cuba. On July 1, alongside elements of the Ninth and Tenth United States Cavalry regiments, they made the famous charge on San Juan Hill, seizing Spanish fortifications and pushing the defenders back into Santiago de Cuba.

The exploits of the Rough Riders propelled Roosevelt into the national spotlight, eventually leading to his election as vice president and later president of the United States.

In San Antonio, several landmarks, including Roosevelt Park, Roosevelt Street, and the Roosevelt Bar at the Menger Hotel, commemorate the Rough Riders' time in Texas.

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