Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Appoints a Corporal of the Rough Riders, Who Was Wounded at the Charge Up San Juan Hill

This document has never before been offered for sale and was acquired directly from the Rough Rider's descendants

The Rough Riders are one of the most famous fighting units in American history, and his leadership of them made Theodore Roosevelt’s career. In April of 1897 TR was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy as a reward for his tireless campaigning for the newly elected President, William McKinley. When the U.S.S....

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Colonel Theodore Roosevelt Appoints a Corporal of the Rough Riders, Who Was Wounded at the Charge Up San Juan Hill

This document has never before been offered for sale and was acquired directly from the Rough Rider's descendants

The Rough Riders are one of the most famous fighting units in American history, and his leadership of them made Theodore Roosevelt’s career. In April of 1897 TR was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy as a reward for his tireless campaigning for the newly elected President, William McKinley. When the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, the Spanish were blamed and an outcry for war arose. From that moment, Roosevelt believed that trying to prevent the war would be impossible. He sprang into action, moving ammunition, readying ships for action, and moving to have Congress allow for enlisting unlimited sailors. TR also made it known to the President and others that if war came, he wanted to leave his post behind a desk in Washington and head for the front.

Congress declared war on Spain on April 25, 1898, and that same day Roosevelt was officially offered (and accepted) second in command of the Rough Riders; he would soon take over full command of the unit. He immediately set about assembling and training the regiment, which was made up of an effective assemblage of Western cowboys and frontiersmen, and Eastern athletes and sons of prominent citizens. This composition reflected TR’s own interests. The unit was mustered into service between May 1 and May 21, 1898 in various locations in Texas, New Mexico and what was then termed “Indian Territory” (Arizona and Oklahoma). At the time of muster in, the unit consisted of 47 officers and 994 enlisted men. It was trained quickly in San Antonio, Texas, and on May 27 it was ordered to Port Tampa, Florida, to prepare for the invasion of Cuba. It left for the front in Cuba on June 13. One of these Rough Riders was John McSparron, who was assigned to G Troop.

The Battle of San Juan Hill took place on July 1, 1898, and it proved to be a decisive battle in the Spanish-American War. The San Juan heights was a north-south running elevation about two kilometers east of Santiago de Cuba, the Americans’ main objective. This fight for the heights was the bloodiest battle of the war, and it was also the site of the greatest victory for the Rough Riders. General Lawton considered it strategically necessary to cover his flank by taking the nearby town of El Caney preparatory to assaulting Santiago. The Spanish had turned the town into a virtual fort, houses along each small street serving as well defended barricades to any opposing force. They were well entrenched inside six heavy timber blockhouses and held a fortified stone church at the highest point of the town, called El Viso. The Rough Riders and other U.S. troops attacked the town, and the battle there continued through the morning until successful. Then, astride his pony Texas, Colonel Roosevelt hurried his regiment across the knee-deep ford of the San Juan River and into position below San Juan Hill. What followed was the charge up San Juan and Kettle Hills that made the regiment and its commander Theodore Roosevelt famous, and led to his becoming President of the United States just three years later.

John McSparron was a westerner, living at New Mexico at the outbreak of the war. On July 1, 1898, in the assault on San Juan Hill by the Rough Riders, McSparron was wounded.

On August 2, Spain accepted the U.S. proposals for peace. The Rough Riders left Cuba soon after, and they arrived back in the U.S. at Montauk Point on Long Island in late Summer.

This is McSparron’s appointment to the unit, acquired directly from his descendants. Document signed, “Camp Wycoff”, September 7, 1898, appointing him “Corporal in Troop G the 1st Regiment of US Corps of Volunteers in the service of the United States, to rank as such from the 7th of May, 1898.” All such appointments were post-dated because, as was noted, “the Regt from May till Aug was without these blanks being in the field.”

This document has never before been offered for sale.

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