In The Boys of '98, Spur Award winning author Dale L. Walker tells the colorful story of Americas most memorable fighting force, the volunteer cavalry known as the Rough Riders.
From its members, and their slapdash training in Texas and Florida, to its battles at Las Gusimas and San Juan Hill under the command of Theodore Roosevelt, who kept riding, some say, into the White House.
"This lively and carefully detailed narrative of one of the more unlikely military units and of a short, savage war, celebrates some gallant men and catches their nation at the moment it emerged as a world power. " - Kirkus Reviews
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Officially known as the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the Rough Riders are synonymous with the Spanish-American War. Their flamboyant colonel, Theodore Roosevelt, was larger than life and generated substantial publicity for his men. Walker (Legends and Lies: Great Mysteries of the American West) has written a lucid account of the history of this volunteer cavalry regiment. He sets the stage by chronicling the troubled history of Cuba and its Spanish rulers, and of U.S. involvement in the island's affairs. After the destruction of the U.S. battleship Maine in February 1898, war was inevitable, given America's outrage over the affair. Roosevelt left his post in the Navy Department and, with Leonard Wood, put together a unique assemblage of men to form the only volunteer cavalry to see action in the subsequent brief war. The regiment's soldiers came from all walks of life--cowboys, ranchers, men from Harvard and Yale, athletes, soldiers of fortune, policemen and many more. The regiment fought in the skirmish at Las Guasimas and took a much-publicized role in the successful assault on San Juan Heights. Battle casualties totaled over a hundred men. Using a combination of memoirs and secondary studies, Walker has produced a human-oriented picture of the regiment, its camp life, battles and struggle with disease in Cuba's tropical climate. Thumbnail biographical sketches provide useful information about the key players in the drama (which incorporates information that Walker garnered nearly 30 years ago while interviewing the then last three surviving Rough Riders). For those interested in the stirring events of a hundred years ago, his study is sure to please.