The image of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders charging up San Juan Hill is ingrained in the minds of most Americans. Those men of the 9th and 10th Cavalry alongside Roosevelt are not so prominent. They not only were with him, but they played an important role in the battle. There are official and unofficial reports of the battle in Record Group 391, US Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821-1942. Among the Letters and Endorsements Sent, 1896-99, is a handwritten account of the 9th Cavalry in battle. The 10th Cavalry’s Regimental History, 1866-98, also covers the participation of that unit in the battle and other engagements during the war. The Medal of Honor winners from the 10th Cavalry are cited, and there are fading newspaper clippings describing the San Juan Hill action and the heroism of the “Buffalo Soldiers.”
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The recruitment of men for the 9th and 10th Cavalry immediately following the Civil War coincided with the mustering out of thousands of USCT troops. Record Group 94, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, is fundamental for military history research because the Adjutant General handled the record- keeping of the Army. Recruitment and enlistment files, muster rolls and returns of military divisions, departments, and posts, and correspondence and orders were routinely sent to this office. These records exist as the major source for personnel information on the 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments prior to 1917.
The men of the 9th and 10th Cavalry came from various social and economic backgrounds. Many were veterans of the Civil War. The ranks of the new cavalry units were filled with ex-slaves but they now had a new perspective – freedom. For a composite of who these men were, their former lives, their military experiences, and what happened to them, the enlistment papers in the Adjutant General’s records are especially important. In many cases, detailed sketches and outlines of the men’s lives can be gleaned from these records.
The organization of the 9th Cavalry took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, under the auspices of the Division of the Gulf (covering Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, August 1866). The unit was immediately sent to San Antonio, Texas, for station duty.
- Additional Rough Rider Resources
- Rough Riders – Compiled Records
- How to Search the National Archives for Rough Riders
Sample Record for George H Seaver
Records for each individual can contain 5 or more pages.