A Newspaper Chronicle

Reprinted from: Bully! Colonel Theodore Roosevelt

The Rough Riders & Camp Wikoff Montuak, N.Y. (1898)

Roosevelt’s Farewell


Wednesday, September 14 (The Sun)

Camp Wikoff, Sept. 13 – Col. Roosevelt was asked by a committee of his officers, including Lieut. Col. Brodie and Capt. Kane, to step out into the flat beside his camp this afternoon. He found a table there with a horse-blanket-covered heap on it. In a moment he was surrounded by a hollow a square three deep containing 500 Rough Riders, 200 men from the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and a large number of visitors, many of them women. The situation was a surprise to the Colonel and he showed it as Trooper Murphy stepped out and made his speech.

Private Murphy said: "A few moments since I was informed that I had been selected to present to you as a very slight token of the admiration, love and esteem in which you are held by the officers and men of your regiment, a bronco buster in bronze, which has been prepared to especially typify the idea which must have been in your mind when you felt called upon to raise a regiment of your own men to assist your country in the recent struggle so gloriously ended. At this time it is not possible or appropriate that I should go into the details of the organization of the regiment or mention the many glorious deeds accomplished and harships endured by you, and the world itself knows what those hardships were. History will record them and honor will be given where honor is due.

"It is fitting, however, that I, one of the troopers from the ranks of your regiment, should say that the honor given to me in making this presentation is due to the fact that it is well known that while you held your officers in the highest esteem, on account of their gallantry, bravery and ability, your heart of hearts was ever with your men, whether in tented field or in the trenches before the enemy’s lines, or, better still, in the trenches taken from the enemy. In conclusion, allow me to say that one and all, from the highest to the lowest, hailing from this great and united

country, will carry back to our homes a pleasant remembrance of your every act, for they have always been of the kindest as Colonel of the Rough Riders, and we hope that the bronco buster will continue through life to remind you of that fact."

As Private Murphy finished he uncovered the statuette of the bronze buster, which had been purchased with a fund collected in the regiment. Col. Roosevelt was visibly affected, and his speech of acceptance was delivered with frequent pauses, as he was overcome momentarily by emotion.

Col. Roosevelt said:

"Officers and men, I really do not know what to say to you. Nothing could possible happen that would touch and please me as this has touched and pleased me. Trooper Murphy said quite rightly that my men were nearest my heart, for while I know I need not say to my officers in what a deep regard I hold them, they will not mind me saying that just a little bit closer come the men. I have never tried to coddle you, and have never hesitated to call upon you to spend your best blood like water. Of course, I tried to do all I could for you, and you are the best judges as to whether I have succeeded or not. I am proud of this regiment beyond measure. I am proud of it because it is a typical American regiment. The foundation of the regiment was the cowpuncher, and we have got him here in bronze.

"No gift could have been so appropriate as this bronze of Frederic Remington. The men of the West and Southwest, horsemen, riflemen and herders of cattle, have been the backbone of this regiment, which demonstrates that Uncle Sam has another reserve of fighting men to call upon if the necessity arises. The West stands ready to give tens of thousands of men like you, and we are only samples of the fighters the West can put forth. Besides the cowpuncher, this regiment contained men from every section of the country, every State of the Union, and because of that we feel proud of it. It is primarily an American regiment, and it is American because it is composed of all the races which have made America their country by adoption and those who have claimed it as their country by inheritance. It gives me extreme pleasure to look around among you and see men of every occupation, men of means and men who work with their hands for a livelihood, and at the same time know that I have you for friends. You are men of widely different pursuits, yet you stand here side-by-side, you fought shoulder-to-shoulder. No man asked quarter for himself, and each one went in to show that he was as good as his neighbor. That is the American spirit. You cannot imagine how proud I am of your friendship and regard.

"I have also a profound respect for you because you have fighting qualities, and because you had the qualities which enabled us to get you into the fight. Outside of my own immediate family, as I said before, I shall never show as strong ties as I do toward you. I am more than pleased that you feel the same way toward me. I realized when I took charge of you that I was taking upon myself a great responsibility. I cared for you as individuals, but did not forget that at any moment it might be necessary to sacrifice the individual for the whole. You should have scorned a commander who would have hesitated to expose you to any risk. I was bound that no other regiment should get any nearer to the Spanish lines than you got, I do not think any did. (Cheers.)

"We parted with many in the fight who could ill be spared, and I think that the most vivid memories that we will take away with us will be those whom we left under Cuban sod, and those who died in the hospitals here in the United States: the men who died from wounds and the men who, with the same devotion to country, died from disease. I cannot mention all the names now, but those of Capron, O’Neill and Fish will serve. They were men who died in the pride of their youthful strength.

"Now I want to say just a word more to some of the men I see standing around not of your number. I refer to the regiments, cavalry regiments, who occupied the right and left flanks of us at Las Guasimas, the Ninth and Tenth Cavalry regiments. (Prolonged applause for the colored regiments referred to.) The Spaniards called them ‘Smoked Yankees,’ but we found them to be an excellent breed of Yankee. I am sure that I speak the sentiments of men and officials in the assemblage when I say that between you and the other cavalry regiments there is a tie which we trust will never be broken. (Cheers.)

"I would have been most deeply touched if the officers had given me this testimonial, but, coming from you, my men, I appreciate it tenfold. It comes to me from you who shared the hardships of the campaign with me, who gave me a piece of your hardtack when I had none and who gave me your blanket when I had none to lie upon. To have such a gift from this peculiarly American regiment touches me more than I can say. This is something I shall hand down to my children and I shall value it even more than I do the weapons I carried through the campaign."

As the Colonel finished some one suggested "Three Cheers for Colonel Roosevelt," which were given in true cowboy style with an extra "tiger." Then Capt. Curry of H troop shouted: "Three cheers for the next Governor of New York!" and the response was even more hearty. The Colonel then said that he wanted every man present of his command to file by him and allow him the privilege of shaking his hand. He seemed to know nearly all by their first names, and his brief remark to each generally recalled some incident of the war. To one he said, "I hope the bullets won’t be as thick when we meet next as they were last time." After it was over he said his proudest triumph was to have made Pollock, the Pawnee, smile, a thing the Indian was never seen to do before.

Immediately after the presentation, K, H, M, and B troops fell in and marched by companies to the Paymaster’s office, where they received their last pay and were mustered out of service. The men received on an average $120 each, and the non-commissioned officers about $160. About 350 of the men of these four troops started for New York, with the firm intention of insuring a warm time in the old town to-night.

An Illustrious New York Name

Editorial – It is remarkable that the question should now be raised whether a Roosevelt is a citizen of New York, and therefore eligible to office in this State, for the Roosevelt family from the earliest days of New York has been associated with its noblest undertakings, and, as far as we know, no member has separated himself from New York in all that time.

The Roosevelts were among the early inhabitants of New York, and sine then, from generation to generation, without a break, they have been citizens who have rendered distinguished service to the city and State, to philanthropy, and whatever else contributed best to the advancement of the people.

Isaac Roosevelt was a member of the New York Provincial Congress, the Legislature, and the City Council, and was also long the President of the Bank of New York. His son, Nicholas J. Roosevelt, born in the city of New York in 1767, was associated with Robert Fulton in the invention and introduction of the steamboat, the priority of the invention being a matter of dispute. Fulton said of him in a published statement: "As to Mr. Roosevelt, I regard him as a noble-minded, intellectual man, and would do anything to serve him that I could." Nicholas J. Roosevelt lived until 1854, dying at the great age of 87. It is a long-lived family.

 

His nephew, Cornelius Van Schaik Roosevelt, was born in this city in 1794, and died at Oyster Bay, on Long Island, in 1871, or in his seventy-eighth year. He was a successful merchant, and was noted for his large, regular and systematic contributions to charity.

His son, Robert Barnwell Roosevelt, born in the city of New York in 1829, is still living, and as a Democrat. He has been in Congress, has rendered much service in the organization of associations for the protection of game, was a State Fish Commissioner, was active in the Committee of Seventy after the exposure of the Tweed ring, against which he had been arrayed in the Citizen’s Association, and in 1888 was appointed Minister to the Netherlands. He has been an extraordinarily active man in many public directions, and also has been a fertile writer on sporting and other subjects.

Theodore Roosevelt, his brother, born in the city of New York, was of shorter life than his family generally. He lived from 1831 to 1878. He was a merchant and afterward a banker. He was appointed Collector of the Port, but was not confirmed by the Senate. He was noted for his extensive and systematic charities and earnest and active public support.

His son, the present Col. Theodore Roosevelt, was born in 1858 in the city of New York, was graduated at Harvard college in 1880, and at once entered into politics, being elected the very next year by the Republicans to the Assembly, where he was one of the most active members. In 1884 he was Chairman of the New York delegation to the National Republic Convention. In 1886 he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York on the Republican ticket. His subsequent political and military career is known to everybody.

His great-uncle, James John Roosevelt, born in New York in 1795, lived to be 80 years old. He was a lawyer and a Democrat, was twice a member of the State Legislature between 1835 and 1840, was a Justice of the Supreme Court, and afterward was United States District Attorney in New York.

Another relative of Theodore Roosevelt, a cousin of the Cornelius before spoken of, was James Henry Roosevelt, born in New York in 1800, and dying there in 1863. He accumulated a large fortune by living economically and unostentatiously and why he had been thus self-sacrificing was explained when his will was read. It left the great bulk of his estate to found the noble Roosevelt Hospital, in which a tablet justly describes him as "a true son of New York, a man upright in his aims, simple in his life, and sublime in his benefaction."

Another Roosevelt, Hilborne Lewis, also born in New York, was a noted organ builder and an inventor.

What other New York family can boast a record of more constant service to the city and State during more than a century and a half? All have been New Yorkers of New Yorkers; all have made the State better for their living. All have been stout Americans, democrats in the best and highest sense, and that, we do not need to say, is not the partisan sense; able men, good men, public-spirited and industrious in their day and generation. They have not chased after the frivolities of life, but have accepted seriously their duties as citizens and performed them faithfully and courageously.... .

Roosevelt is a name for all New Yorkers to be proud of, a name honorably and usefully associated with the history of the city and the State from the earliest Colonial days. It has never sought the cheap glare of social pretension and display. Yet, now political sophistry has sought to delude the people into the belief that Theodore Roosevelt, one of the brightest examples of public devotion in that family and in any family of America, is not now a New Yorker. The idea is absurd.

(The Sun)

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