TR, leader of the legendary Rough Riders, addresses the recipient, of the famed Astor Battery, as his "Comrade" in the war that brought fame to both regiments.
As President William McKinley's Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt foresaw that war could develop with Spain, as Spain's holdings in the Caribbean and its simmering war with Cuban nationalists just 90 miles off U.S. shores became ever more thorns in the side of American goals for the hemisphere. Then the U.S.S....
As President William McKinley's Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Roosevelt foresaw that war could develop with Spain, as Spain's holdings in the Caribbean and its simmering war with Cuban nationalists just 90 miles off U.S. shores became ever more thorns in the side of American goals for the hemisphere. Then the U.S.S. Maine blew up in Havana harbor, 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. He even cabled Admiral Dewey to be ready if war were to break out and gave him his objectives. 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.
On April 20, 1898, President McKinley gave an ultimatum requiring that the Spanish Government free Cuba in three days. On April 23, that ultimatum expired and the machinery was set in motion for an official declaration of war. Also on the 23rd, Secretary of War Russell Alger told then Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt of a proposed special regiment to be formed for the war; it would he known as the Rough Riders. When the war was commenced, he said, TR would be given the opportunity to command that regiment. Roosevelt expressed great interest. Congress declared war on the 25th, and that same day Roosevelt was officially offered the command of the 1st US Cavalry, known as Rough Riders, which he accepted. On the 26th, TR set about planning to assemble, train and lead the regiment, which would be made up of an odd but effective assemblage of Western cowboys and frontiersmen, and Eastern athletes and sons of prominent citizens. The exploits of the regiment and its commander in action in Cuba traveled far and wide and catapulted Roosevelt to national fame and ultimately the White House. It remains perhaps the most famous US military unit in history.
The Astor Battery was a volunteer regiment formed and equipped by John Jacob Astor IV. Like the Rough Riders, the men of the Astor Battery, which included many college graduates, had been specially selected. And like the Rough Riders, it saw battle and its exploits were extolled. It took heavy casualties on the front lines at the fall of Manilla and played an important role there. William Hills was a corporal in the Astor Battery.
Photograph signed, as President, 12.25 x 14.75 inches, a crisp, oversized, sepia image of the President in his full Rough Riders uniform. "To Corporal William E. Hills with the hearty regard of his comrade Theodore Roosevelt, late Col. 1st USV Cavalry, Dec 10th 1905."
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