Artifact of the Month: November 2018

by Alamo Associate Curator Ernesto Rodriguez

A visitors’ register in the Alamo’s artifact collection documents an important episode in U.S. military history.

The United States declared war on Spain in 1898 after one of its battleships, the U.S.S. Maine, exploded and sank while docked in the harbor of Havana, Cuba. Thousands of American men volunteered to fight in the Spanish-American War. The most famous unit formed from these recruits was the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, better known as the “Rough Riders”. The regiment initially was led by Colonel Leonard Wood and Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt.

Mustered into service in San Antonio, the regiment trained in the area near present day Roosevelt Park and Riverside Golf Course. Roosevelt assumed command of the regiment after Wood was promoted to the rank of general. The Rough Riders were sent to Cuba where unit fought in two major engagements, not as cavalry, but as infantry because there had been no space in the transport vessels for their horses.

This visitor register, signed by Wood, Roosevelt, and several other officers serves as a reminder of the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry Regiments time in San Antonio.