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Spanish-American War

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During the Spanish-American War, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt led a charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba as one of three major battles during the war. The charge consisted of two African American regiments and Roosevelt’s band of Rough Riders. The forced had to make their way uphill against the downward firing by Spanish troops. As the army was segregated at the time, the black regiments were first put on the front line of the charge and took much of the fire from the opposition. Roosevelt took the lead from behind, after the slaughter of the black regiments, and claimed his charge with the Rough Riders as the reason America won the battle. After the battle Roosevelt wrote to his friend, “I am entitled to the Medal of Honor and I want it.” Despite his wants and perceived right to the honor, Teddy Roosevelt did not in fact deserve the Medal of Honor.

The requisite for receiving the Medal of Honor is defined by the recipient being “distinguished … by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” Teddy Roosevelt was most certainly brave for participating in the fighting at all, however his actions are not considered to be above the call of duty. After the battle was in progress, Roosevelt had called for a second charge, yet none of his men responded and so Roosevelt continued on his own. When no one had followed him into the charge, he doubled back around, furious at his men, yet not willing to go alone. This reliance on his men, rather than taking initiative and sticking to the charge, defied the criteria of gallantry. Recipients of the Medal of Honor have little regard for their own personal safety, whereas Roosevelt came back once he realized he was at risk.

After reading the account, many conclusions can be inferred concerning the Battle of San Juan Hill. One conclusion that can be drawn is that the army was still segregated due to the racist beliefs still clinging to the attitudes of many people nationwide. At the start of the battle up San Juan hill, the blacks were naturally put first to take the biggest impact of enemy fire. Another conclusion that can be deduced is that as the charge was uphill, the fatalities were even higher. Once the hill was in the process of being captured, the Rough Riders swept in with Roosevelt and claimed to be the victors of the battle. The lack of credit given to the black regiments shows how the Battle of San Juan Hill was the epitome of propaganda and a very good story for the use of yellow journalists. The heroic effort of the black soldiers was completely undermined and ignored while the secondary actions of Roosevelt were praised and glorified, eventually being used to promote his political career back home. The fact that the black regiments actually did



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