15 março 2018

Theodore Roosevelt's Heroism In The Spanish-American War Was Mostly Bunk

Do you remember the Attack of the Rough Riders, when the Rough Riders and Lieutenant Colonel (and future president) Theodore Roosevelt took the important Kettle Hill in Cuba? Turns out the whole thing was a bit of a propaganda mess. It is July of 1898, the Spanish-American War has just gotten underway, and war fever is raging in the United States. American troops have been brought to Cuba, to get control of the large, agriculturally productive island. The city the Rough Riders were attacking was Santiago de Cuba, whose defenders were arrayed on San Juan Ridge and El Caney Hill in front of the city.

Roosevelt was supposed to simultaneously attack San Juan ridge while Major General William Shafter attacked the nearby El Caney. But Shafter’s men took a long time to get into position, and Roosevelt was not known for his patience. He led his “Rough Riders” up and over a small, round rise to attack the enemy at San Juan ridge. Going against direct orders to do so. In the fight that ensued, the Spaniards were defeated and the fate of Santiago de Cuba was sealed. The press turned Roosevelt into a hero for his actions. The public adored him, and his Rough Riders, so the army awarded Roosevelt the Medal of Honor. Oh, and one last little detail. Kettle Hill? A completely made-up name for the small, round rise that the Rough Riders fought their way across to get to San Juan ridge. But the press printed it, so it must exist!

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