Now I know you can’t judge a book by its cover. But considering that they were policemen and sheriffs, cowboys come back from ‘The West’ to lend a hand, Ivy Leaguers, and star athletes, and that they had all volunteered to sail to Cuba to ‘defend liberty’ with force and with the their lives, the men seen in this picture must have been a helluva collection of characters.
Just look at some of these guys. Their mustaches, the severity of their stares, a few smiling but most looking like they’re sizing you up with contempt. What a great snapshot. A picture of them and an era.
I don’t ever recall seeing this photograph until today when it appeared in an article in the NYT (link here but it may use up a free view). The piece itself (which, like so much in the Times, is outstanding) relates how US intervention in Cuba during the Spanish-American war helped establish a trend that became a myth: that Americans’ desire for liberty for all - for humanity - can sidestep the inherent contradiction when that goal is achieved with military force.
I don’t see the inherent contradiction in achieving the goal with military force. The contradiction is extrinsic, the military force doesn’t result in liberty for all, and can result in liberty for fewer people than beforehand.
But that’s the contradiction - not only don’t the ends justify the means, but the ends all too often wind up being the opposite of what was desired.
Still, ‘all too often’ doesn’t mean always. Use of the military for idealistic reasons can be a good solution to real world problems (e.g. defeat of the Confederacy). As I first heard on this board “Doing what’s right is easy. It is knowing what’s right that’s hard”.
They also don’t look to me like most of them are sizing you up with contempt. Most of them look to me like they’ve been arranging that pose for a while, and have been trying to hold that pose for a while, and are hoping this will all be over soon.
Wow, what a diverse group! There are faces there that would be at home anywhere between a Civil War documentary and a 1930’s gangster flick. The other day I saw a recently discovered photograph of my grandfather’s company taken in 1942. Of course this is family history and had quite an impact on me, but all the men looked of one era, unlike those rough riders. Thanks for sharing!
I always thought that the Chicago Black Sox were a collection of extraordinarily ugly or tough-looking characters, especially the ringleader, Chick Gandil. I don’t know if you could pick an equivalent bunch from any major league team today.
You will note the second lieutenants. They have the company-grade shoulder strap with no insignia. First lieutenants the same with one silver bar. Captains with two. Majors with the field-grade shoulder strap and no insignia.
I want to know, who is the one guy with a shit eating grin, in the back row, second from the left? Thought they going on spring break in Havana? In charge of the the company weed? Inquiring minds want to know.
Nitpick: Teddy’s policies were quite opposite to the mainstream Republicanism of that era; and Teddy became even more progressive during his Presidency. The approach he developed is linked to Democrats William Jennings Bryan, Woodrow Wilson and Al Smith. (The D’s had Woodrow Wilson to rally around in 1912 so didn’t join Teddy’s Progressive “Bull Moose” Party.)
Dan Carlin does a very interesting “Hardcore History” podcast about this war and the Rough Riders. Not too complimentary to them, for sure. But quite well detailed, and IMHO, rather accurate. Glory-seeking jingoistic patriots who longed to participate in the ‘glory’ of a war and didn’t hesitate to shoot cubans in the back while claiming they were fighting enemy combatants.