The Roughest Riders: The Untold Story of the Black Soldiers in the Spanish-American War
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.
Texas, pointed his men in the direction of Kettle Hill, past the body of Buckey O’Neill, and led the charge in the midst of a blizzard of enemy gunfire. As Roosevelt rode up from the riverbank, he saw one of his men lying in a bush off to the side. Roosevelt ordered him to get up and join the charge. The trooper staggered to his feet and tried to move forward, and it was then Roosevelt noticed that he had already been raked across the length of his body by Spanish gunfire. The man fell over
1:00 PM, the naval battle for Santiago was over. When the American sailors on the Texas filled the air with cheers, the captain said, “Don’t cheer, boys! Those poor devils are dying.” The Spanish sailors under Cervera had fought bravely, giving back as much as they could with their inferior ships and firepower. The crew of the Iowa rescued the Spanish admiral and gave him a standing ovation when they took him on board. Of the 2,200 men in the Spanish fleet, 328 had been killed and 151 were
wounded. The rest were rescued that afternoon by American sailors who pulled them out of the water, away from the sharks and the Cuban rebels, who surely would have treated them cruelly had they captured them on land. Indeed, the rebels had already shot several of them as they tried to swim ashore. Unlike the land battles for the hills north of Santiago, the American casualties in the naval engagement were minimal: one man dead, and one badly wounded. As was the case after many hard-fought
“cooked by barbarians.” As they wound their way down into the valley, they learned that Aquino was approaching with a force of his own from the north. Lawton directed Captain Batchelor to take the 350 black troops in his command and block Aquino’s path by following the river all the way to the coast on the northern rim of Luzon. By commanding the valley floor from south to north across the region, Lawton and Batchelor would protect their men from being enveloped by the insurrectos. They
Spanish-American War. London: Forgotten Books, 2012. Norris, Frank. The Surrender of Santiago. San Francisco: Paul Elder and Company, 1917. O’Toole, G. J. A. The Spanish War: An American Epic 1898. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1984. Quesada, Alejandro. The Hunt for Pancho Villa: The Columbus Raid and Pershing’s Punitive Expedition 1916–17. Chapel Way, Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2012. Rickover, H. G. How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. Washington, DC: US