Saturday, February 25, 2017

The 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry—A.K.A. “The Rough Riders”

Last month, I told you about Buckey O’Neill, who served in many capacities of law enforcement and political positions in his brief thirty-eight years. One of the ways he served his country was as a captain in Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. The Rough Riders have always been of some interest to me because they stayed in the Old Tampa Bay Hotel, a beautiful historic building in downtown Tampa, Florida, which is now the main building of my alma mater, University of Tampa. (Read more about the school's historic roots here). So, I thought it would be interesting to learn more about the Rough Riders. Here’s what I learned.
25th President of the United States,
William McKinley
The 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry was formed in 1898 by President William McKinley as the Spanish-American War broke out. McKinley knew that the American military was much smaller than it had been during the Civil War just thirty years prior, so he asked for 1250 volunteers to form this cavalry regiment. They sought men mainly from the Southwestern states, as the hot climate was similar to Cuba’s, where they would be fighting. Men from Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico applied for the 1250 positions. In fact, so many men asked to be a part that they had to turn many away. It became a joke that the difficulty wasn’t in selecting the men, but rather rejecting them from the huge pool of very qualified choices. The men who were chosen were cowboys, prospectors, law enforcement officers, gamblers, Native Americans, and even some college students. All were good with a gun and had excellent horsemanship skills. Those men who had served in either the Civil War or Western Indian Wars were typically made the ranking officers within the unit.

 The regiment’s original commander was Colonel Leonard Wood, and his second in command was the former Assistant Secretary of the Navy (none other than one Theodore Roosevelt). Under Woods’ leaders, the troops of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry were nicknamed “Wood’s Weary Walkers.” That’s a bit of a strange name—walkers—for a cavalry (mounted) regiment, right? Well, yes, but the crazy thing was—this cavalry unit didn’t have horses. They fought as an infantry unit under Colonel Woods. Read on to find out why!

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt,
leader of the "Rough Riders"
The men trained every moment they could on horseback, and when they were unable to practice their formations due to traveling via train or ship, or due to other constraints, they read books with detailing their many tactics. They were quite prepared to see action, both in their fighting formations and with the weapons they used. The weapons ranged from Springfield bolt-action rifles for the soldiers and non-commissioned officers to Winchester rifles for the commissioned officers. They also all carried Colt .45 pistols and Bowie knives. A last-minute donation of a Colt-Browning machine gun completed their firepower.

By late May 1898, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry and their horses and mules traveled by rail to Tampa, Florida. There, they stayed in the Old Tampa Bay Hotel while they awaited their orders to leave for Cuba. Due to a desire to deploy the men quickly, the orders came through, but only eight of the twelve companies and a fraction of their horses and mules were green-lighted to head to Cuba. This shocking oversight caused a huge loss of morale among the remaining volunteer cavalry soldiers. Not a great way to start the fighting.

They traveled to Cuba on the steamship Yucatan and arrived on June 23, 1898. There, they offloaded the supplies they’d been allowed to bring, but had to quickly adapt to being an infantry unit, carrying a few days’ supplies on their backs rather than packing everything on a mule train, or marching long days through hot, humid, jungle landscapes when they’d trained themselves to ride under such conditions.

Their first battle—the Battle of Guasimas—came just a few days after their arrival. The on-foot cavalry soldiers set out to look around the jungle and soon discovered a Spanish outpost, Las Guasimas. By that afternoon, they were told to go in and take the outpost. The Americans slept overnight and prepared to secure the area early the next morning. However, because the men were without their livestock, the physical exertion proved to be far more taxing on the soldiers than expected. Many either dropped their packs or fell out of the ranks while marching up a steep hill, leaving fewer than 500 men to fight. To make matters worse, the Spaniards had the advantage because they knew the dense jungle terrain and had hidden quite well. However, the 1st Volunteer Cavalry marched up to the outpost alongside the regular cavalry, found their opposition, and took them out. The Volunteers lost eight men, with another thirty-one wounded. For six days after the battle, they held their position at the Spanish outpost. During that time, the commander of the regulars died of illness, and Colonel Wood was moved into his position, leaving Teddy Roosevelt to command the Volunteer force. He changed the nickname from Woods’ Weary Walkers to Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

On the sixth day, the cavalry (volunteer and regular) was told to march eight miles along the road to Santiago. The movement was a distraction technique while the Spaniards were barraged with artillery and battery strikes from afar. The Rough Riders made it to the base of San Juan Hill but quickly found themselves in the line of fire, both from snipers on the Spanish side and the artillery strikes from their own. They moved out of the way to await orders, which finally came—accompany the regulars as they took San Juan Hill. Even with the orders, things were rather unorganized until Roosevelt took charge, rallied the men, and barged up the hill in a series of short runs. With the help of several men firing thousands of rounds from Gatling guns, they captured the hill in twenty minutes. Unfortunately, casualties were heavy during this battle.

Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders atop San Juan Hill

From the victory on San Juan Hill, Roosevelt’s Rough Riders helped capture the town of Santiago, which was important because of a fleet of Spanish cruisers that waited in the nearby port. The U.S. forces were able to drive the cruisers out of the port within two days, and within a few months, they put enough pressure on the Spaniards that on August 12, 1898, Spain surrendered. As terms of the armistice between the two countries, Spain left Cuba, and the United States gained the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines.

The Rough Riders returned to America, heading to Long Island, New York, where they spent a month convalescing from injuries and illness such as malaria, yellow fever, and dysentery. After most had recuperated enough to enjoy it, they held a celebration of their victories in Cuba. The Rough Riders were officially disbanded in September 1898.

It’s your turn. Have you heard of the Rough Riders before today? What do you find most impressive about them?

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won five writing competitions and finaled in two other competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenaged son, and four fur children.


The Secret Admirers Romance Collection

Shy Expressions of Love Lead to Nine Historical Romances

Declaring one's love can be hard--even risky--especially when faced with some of life's greatest challenges. Separated by class, time, distance, and more, some loves must remain secret until the time is right. Instead, notes of affection, acts of kindness, gifts of admiration, and lots of prayer are circulated. From New England mansions to homestead hovels, love is quietly being nourished and waiting for the right time to be revealed. But when love can finally be boldly expressed, will it be received with love in return?

About The Outcast's Redemption by Jennifer Uhlarik
When a reformed rustler is framed for stealing cattle, his secret crush--the daughter of the disgraced lawman who arrested him--come to his aid. But who really saves who?

Friday, February 24, 2017

For the Love of Candy

Save the Earth; it's the only planet 
with chocolate

I’ve got candy on my mind this month and it has nothing to do with the empty box of chocolates on my desk. The real reason I’m thinking of all things sweet is that I’m working on a heroine who owns a candy shop.

While doing the research for my book, I turned up some fun and interesting facts. For example, we can blame our sweet tooth on our cavemen ancestors and their fondness for honey. But the most surprising thing I discovered was that marshmallows grow on trees—or at least used to. That was before the French came up with a way to replace the sweet sap from the mallow tree with gelatin.
I also learned that during the middle ages, the price of sugar was so high that only the rich could afford a sweet treat. In fact, candy was such a rarity that the most children could expect was an occasional sugar plum at Christmas. (BTW: there are no plums in sugar plums. Plum is another word for good).

This changed during the early nineteenth century with the discovery of sugar-beet juice and mechanical candy-making machines.

Soon jars of colorful penny candy could be found in every trading post and general store in the country. It took almost four hundred candy manufacturing companies to keep up with the demand.

This changed the market considerably. Children as young as four or five were now able to make purchases independent of their parents. (Had youngsters known that vegetables including spinach were used to color candy, they might not have wasted their money.)

Children weren’t the only ones enjoying the availability of cheap candy. Civil War soldiers favored gumdrops, jelly beans, hard candy and, hub wafers (now known as Necco wafers). 

Never one to miss a trend, John Arbuckle, noted the sugar craze that had swept the country and decided to use it as marketing tool. He included a peppermint stick in each pound bag of Arbuckle’s coffee to encourage sales.

“Who wants the peppermint?” was a familiar cry around chuck wagons.

This call to grind the coffee beans got a rash of volunteers. No rough and tumble cowboy worth his salt would turn down a stick of peppermint candy, especially when out on the trail.

Arbuckle wasn’t the only one to see gold in candy. Outlaw Doc Scurlock, friend of Billy the Kid and a Bloody Lincoln County War participant, retired from crime in 1880. Though he was still a wanted man, he moved to Texas and opened up a candy store.

Cadbury, Mars and Hershey rode herd on the chocolate boom of the late 1800s, early 1900s. Penny candy still made up eighteen percent of candy sales but, by this time, some merchants had refused to sell it. Profits were thin and selling such small amounts to children was time-consuming. Chocolate was more profitable.

The penny candy market vanished altogether during World War II when sugar was rationed. Fortunately, no war could do away with chocolate.

Okay, now that your sweet tooth has gone into overdrive, tell us the name of your favorite candy? Anyone have a candy memory to share?

Welcome to Two-Time Texas

There's a new sheriff in town, and she almost always gets her man!

A Match Made in Texas
Available for preorder 



Thursday, February 23, 2017

February--Things Happen in the Shortest Month

The month of February may be short, but many significant events have happened in it, at the dead of winter in the United States. Here are twenty-six, just for thought.

February 1, 2003 - Sixteen minutes before it was scheduled to land, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart in flight over west Texas, killing all seven crew members.

February 2, 1848 - The war between the U.S. and Mexico ended with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In exchange for $15 million, the U.S. acquired the areas encompassing parts or all of present day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Texas.

February 3, 1870 - The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, guaranteeing the right of citizens to vote, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude—and the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.

February 4, 1861 - Apache Chief Cochise was arrested in Arizona by the U.S.Army for raiding a ranch. Cochise then escaped and declared war, beginning the period known as the Apache Wars, which lasted 25 years.

February 6, 1952 - King George VI of England died. Upon his death, his daughter Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her actual coronation took place on June 2, 1953.

February 8, 1587 - Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, was beheaded at Fotheringhay, England, after 19 years as a prisoner of Queen Elizabeth I. She became entangled in the complex political events surrounding the Protestant Reformation in England and was charged with complicity in a plot to assassinate Elizabeth.

February 9, 1943 - During World War II in the Pacific, U.S. troops captured Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands after six months of battle, with 9,000 Japanese and 2,000 Americans killed.

February 10, 1763 - Britain, Spain and France signed the Treaty of Paris, ending the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War in North America).

February 10, 1840, Britain's Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

February 12, 1809 - Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) the 16th U.S. President was born in Hardin County, Kentucky.

February 13, 1635 - Boston Latin School, the first tax-payer supported (public) school in America was established in Boston, Massachusetts.

Matthew Brady
February 14, 1849 - Photographer Mathew Brady took the first photograph of a U.S. President in office, James Polk.

February 14, 1929 - The St. Valentine's Day massacre occurred in Chicago as seven members of the Bugs Moran gang were gunned down by five of Al Capone's mobsters posing as police.

February 15, 1898 - In Havana, the U.S. Battleship Maine was blown up while at anchor and quickly sank with 260 crew members lost. The incident inflamed public opinion in the U.S., resulting in a declaration of war against Spain on April 25, 1898.

February 15, 1933 - An assassination attempt on newly elected U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt occurred in Miami, Florida. A spectator deflected the gunman's aim. As a result, Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak was shot and killed instead. The gunman, an Italian immigrant, was captured and later sentenced to death.

Feb. 15, 1642 - Astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. He was the first astronomer to use a telescope and advanced the theory that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system.

February 19, 1942 - Internment of Japanese Americans began after President Franklin Roosevelt issued an Executive Order requiring those living on the Pacific coast to report for relocation. Over 110,000 persons therefore shut down their businesses, sold off their property, quit school and moved inland to the relocation centers.

February 20, 1962 - Astronaut John Glenn became the first American launched into orbit. Traveling aboard the "Friendship 7" spacecraft, Glenn reached an altitude of 162 miles (260 kilometers) and completed three orbits in a flight lasting just under five hours.

George Washington
February 22, 1956 - In Montgomery, Alabama, 80 participants in the three-month-old bus boycott voluntarily gave themselves up for arrest after an ultimatum from white city leaders. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks were among those arrested. Later in 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court mandated desegregation of the buses.

February 22, 1732 - George Washington was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He served as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and became the first U.S. President.

February 23, 1942 - During World War II, the first attack on the U.S. mainland occurred as a Japanese submarine shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara, California, causing minor damage.

February 24, 1582 - Pope Gregory XIII corrected mistakes on the Julian calendar by dropping 10 days and directing that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15th. The Gregorian, or New Style calendar, was then adopted by Catholic countries, followed gradually by Protestant and other nations.

February 24, 1867 - The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The vote followed bitter opposition by the Radical Republicans in Congress toward Johnson's reconstruction policies in the South. However, the effort to remove him failed in the Senate by just one vote.

February 26, 1848 - The Communist Manifesto pamphlet was published by two young socialists, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It advocated the abolition of all private property and a system in which workers own all means of production, land, factories and machinery.

February 27, 1950 - The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, limiting the president to two terms or a maximum of ten years in office.
Lithograph depicting the explosion on the USS Princeton

February 28, 1844 - During a demonstration of naval fire power, one of the guns aboard the USS Princeton exploded, killing several top U.S. government officials on the steamer ship, and narrowly missed killing President John Tyler.

Also in February, 2017, I launched my new series, Maine Justice. To enter for a copy of the first book, The Priority Unit, leave a comment and your contact info.

Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy published novels. She’s always interested in the unusual happenings of the past. Her newest books include The Priority Unit, Echo Canyon, The Saboteur, and My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and also a winner of the Carol Award and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards and the More Than Magic Contest. Visit her website at: .