Friday, 25 November 2016

Roosevelt and the Black Troopers

I promised to post again about the information on the regiments of Black Troopers which I was able to bring to the revision of my book The Spanish-American War.

Now available in hardcover or e-book formats, through Amazon!
Stories of Theodore Roosevelt and his hastily created cavalry regiment of Rough Riders tend to dominate most commentaries on the Spanish-American War. But they were out-performed time and again by the experienced regiments of African-American soldiers, the 9th and 10th cavalry and the 24th and 25th infantry, who were known as Black Troopers. A sergeant from the 25th infantry, Mingo Sanders, even shared B Company's hardtack rations with the unprepared new regiment, when Roosevelt came to him and admitted he'd set out for Cuba without checking if there were any food supplies packed for his Rough Riders.

Sergeant Mingo Sanders was partially blinded when the 25th Infantry came under heavy fire at El Caney. Because of his record later in the Philippines, Colonel A. S. Burt, the regiment’s commanding officer said, “Mingo Sanders is the best non-commissioned officer I have ever known.”

And eight years later, when Roosevelt was president, his life crossed paths with Mingo Sanders once again. In Brownsville, Texas, the 25th Infantry was accused of a shooting incident. President Roosevelt sent officers to conduct an inquiry, who could find no witnesses. Roosevelt ordered the men to be given dishonorable discharges without any kind of trial, including Sergeant Sanders, the man who had shared food and a daring battle with him. He waited to order the discharges until November 7, 1906, one day after Congressional elections, so that black voters would not abandon the party. The discharges were not forgotten in later years. President Taft appointed Sanders to federal positions as an anti-Roosevelt reminder.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Yippie ki yay, a history book

Ever hear much about the Spanish-American War? Most of the little that's taught about it these days focuses on Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. But there's a helluva lot more going on in that story than one battle on Kettle Hill. Even that battle got that name only because nobody wants to brag about fighting on "Washtub Hill." The other option for naming the battle was "I thought this was San Juan hill -- damn this lousy map" which didn't really work either.
I was assigned a book to revise for a series on The United States at War, from Enslow Publishing. This assignment was a revision of an existing book by Robert Somerlott, so I wasn't starting from scratch. I was able to bring to the book some particularly interesting material about the Black Troopers, who were an important part of the American troops. The American army was not integrated in 1900, but there were regiments for men of colour, who were known as the Black Troopers. Two regiments of infantry and two of cavalry served during the Spanish-American War, as well as several men in the American navy, which was integrated.

The war was part of what brought Teddy Roosevelt to the American presidency, and there are many connections between him and the Black Troopers. From the mustering in Florida, the landing in Cuba, and the battles on Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill, Roosevelt and his hastily created regiment of Rough Riders were out-performed time and again by the Black Troopers, who even shared their own rations with the unprepared new regiment. And in years to come, when Roosevelt was president, there was an incident that really takes more time to tell than I can today. I'll post about it in the future.
For now, ask your library to order in a copy of The Spanish-American War from Enslow.