What did Theodore Roosevelt Say in the Battle for San Juan Hill?
What did Theodore Roosevelt Say in the Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill?
An overall excellent account of what Theodore Roosevelt called "my crowded hour" can be found in the Boys Life of Theodore Roosevelt below. TR's His autobiography as summarized below as well as Congressional testimony related to the fight for T.R.'s Medal of Honor is also discussed. Put this in your TR important moments folder.
An excellent account of TR's "Crowded Hour" taken from his book, "The Rough Riders can be found on the SPANWAR web site.
This account is summarized in the US Archives site:
In The Rough Riders, written almost a year after the war, Roosevelt describes the scene of the charge:
The General [Sumner] at once ordered the first brigade to advance on the hills, and the second to support it. The instant I received the order I sprang on my horse and then my "crowded hour" began. . . . I started in the rear of the regiment, the position in which the colonel should theoretically stay. . . . I had intended to go into action on foot . . . but the heat was so oppressive that I found I should be quite unable to run up and down the line . . . moreover, when on horseback, I could see the men better and they could see me better.
I soon found that I could get that line, behind which I personally was, faster forward than the one immediately in front of it. . . . This happened with every line in succession, until I found myself at the head of the regiment. . . . The Ninth Regiment was immediately in front of me, and the First on my left, and these went up Kettle Hill with my regiment. The Third, Sixth, and Tenth went partly up Kettle Hill (following the Rough Riders and the Ninth and the First). . . . By the time I came to the head of the regiment we ran into the left wing of the ninth regulars . . . , who were lying down. I spoke to the captain in command. . . . I asked where the Colonel was, and as he was not in sight, said, "Then I am the ranking officer here and I give the order to charge. . . ." Naturally the Captain hesitated to obey this order. . . . So I said, "Then let my men through sir," and rode on through the lines, followed by the grinning Rough Riders. . . .
Wheeling around, I then again galloped toward the hill, passing the shouting, cheering, firing men. . . . Some forty yards from the top I ran into a wire fence and jumped off Little Texas. . . . Almost immediately afterward the hill was covered by the troops, both Rough Riders and the colored troops of the Ninth, and some of the men of the First. There was the usual confusion, and afterward there was much discussion as to exactly who had been on the hill first. The first guidons planted there were those of the three New Mexican troops, G, E, and F, of my regiment . . . , but on the extreme right of the hill, at the opposite end from where we struck it, Captains Taylor and McBain, and their men of the Ninth were first up. Each of the five captains was firm in the belief that his troop was first up.(25)
THE ORDER TO CHARGE:
In official Congressional testimony on whether to award Theodore Roosevelt the Medal of Honor
On page 33 of the hearing, Congessman Buyer says the following:
Mr. BUYER. So he (Roosevelt) commingled Reserves with active forces, and he still couldn't get the active duty to move. He then said, "well, then, follow me, follow." And the Reserves then moved through the regular line and embarrassedthis is my term nowthat would be an embarrassment to some of the professional soldiersthat got up from where they were and followed Colonel Roosevelt. That was very powerful.