The Battle Of San Juan Hill was a decisive point in The Spanish American War, which was a war fought to assist the Cuban people in gaining their independence from the Spanish Empire, and therefore securing the uninterrupted flow of high quality cigars and cheap labor into the United States. In order to more quickly end the war, the American’s knew they must take the city of Santiago De Cuba, but to do that, they must first take the fortified hill tops of San Juan Hill and Kettle Hill. In the bloodiest battle of the war, units of American Cavalry and Infantry charged against the heavily fortified positions, eventually overpowering them. Rumors abound that the charge may not have been as successful, had the Spanish troops not been so tired from missing their afternoon siestas. After San Juan Hill was taken, the siege of Santiago De Cuba began, ending the war only a few days later.
Perhaps, the most famous of the stories of the Battle of San Juan Hill are those surrounding Col. Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, also known as the 1st Volunteer Cavalry. A rag-tag band of western cowboys, east coast blue-bloods, and professional Yosemite Sam impersonators, Teddy and The Rough Riders were given much of the credit for the victory that day by the news publications of the time, which is the reason it is illegal to this day to own or transport a teddy bear in Spain. On the flip side, it is traditional in Cuba to leave a teddy bear at the crest of San Juan Hill when visiting the memorial there. Leaving a hand drawn likeness of Yosemite Sam is also acceptable.
Few people know that most of the fiercest fighting on San Juan Hill was done by some of the U.S. Army’s African American units or Buffalo Units (most notably the 10th Cavalry). The Buffalo Soldiers earned their name when U.S. Army budget cuts forced the African-American Cavalry units to give up their horses. As a substitute, these soldiers began riding buffalo’s into battle. Yeah, thats right… buffalo! How hardcore is that!?! SCOUTS OUT!!!
*For more on Theodore Roosevelt, please see this week’s Fake Quote Of The Week.