The Public Promptly Christened us the “Rough Riders” Analysis

Roosevelt wrote this piece in 1899, recalling his resignation from his position as the assistant secretary of the navy and leadership within the First United States Volunteer Cavalry, or as they were affectionately called, the Rough Riders.

He begins his piece by describing the Rough Riders and the group’s creation. Stating that he was so overwhelmed with applications, within two days they had raised enough men to raise a “brigade, or even a division” (Raising the Regiment, para. 1). However, he discussed that the real problem lay in “arming, equipping, mounting, and disciplining” the men (para. 1). Many of the men did not ask for commissions, and were drawn with the same impulse to serve akin to the “same impulse which once sent the Vikings over sea” (para. 2). This is reminiscent of the drive that has characterized the American military since its inception: a hunger to fight for their country and a burning patriotism.

Roosevelt describes the men who came to serve, the majority of whom were from “Mexico, Arizona… Oklahoma, [and].. Indian Territory” (para. 3). He recalls the resolve of these men, saying that they were “tall and sinewy, with resolute, weather-beaten faces, and the eyes that looked a man straight in the face without flinching” (para. 3). He says they were comprised of “the cow-boy, the hunger, and the mining prospector” (para. 3). These descriptions are also suggestive of the the ideals that captured the typical, hardened American, living as a cowboy and making his own way. These descriptions were extremely favoring the American soldiers, talking of their resolve and willingness to put their lives on the line in the name of freedom.

The section titled “The Cavalry at Santiago” details the assault on Kettle Hill, and Roosevelt spends a decent amount of time discussing the colored men serving in the cavalry. From saying they behaved better than all the others, he then says that this was because they were “peculiarly dependent upon their white officers” (The Cavalry at Santiago, para. 1). He states that while the white soldiers were calm and collected under the rain of “bullets, shells, and shrapnel (para. 2), the colored infantrymen began to worry, and slowly started making their way to the rear, making excuses such as attending to the wounded and wishing to find their own regiments (para. 2). Roosevelt recalled pulling a gun on them, and telling them that he did not wish to harm any of them, owing to their gallant fighting (para. 3). They eventually agreed to stay with him, and he continues to say that the biases and prejudices, on both the white and colored sides, were eventually resolved and they saw each other as equals (para. 4).

This piece, although short, did have development throughout that suggested the prejudice within Roosevelt’s regiment was truly resolved. I saw this through his description of the white Southwesterners and the fact that “there could be no better material for soldiers” (Raising the Regiment, para. 5), to his description that the colored soldiers, saying, “No troops could have behaved better than the colored soldiers had behaved so far” (The Cavalry, para. 1). By the end he said that the prejudice had disappeared and all the soldiers got along, which I see an example of how hardship and strife can bring different groups of people together to fight against one cause.