Arizona Rough Riders

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Welcome To The Arizona Rough Riders


When Congress declared war on Spain in late April of 1898, President McKinley authorized the raising of a volunteer regiment of cowboy cavalry from the western territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Indian Territory.

This regiment was designated "The First United States Volunteer Cavalry" and was to go down in history as "Roosevelt's Rough Riders." The idea of a volunteer cowboy regiment from Arizona originated in Prescott, and was inspired by Alexander Brodie and Mayor "Buckey" O'Neill. They had been recruiting for a volunteer Arizona regiment long before a war was declared. Because the Prescott or Northern Arizona Cavalry was the first to fill its quota, and was also, along with the southern Arizona unit, the first to arrive at the training base at San Antonio, Texas, it was designated "A" Troop. The southern unit was formed as "B" Troop. As Herner states, "thus the Arizonans assumed all seniority rights and corresponding troop designations." They were the first troop of the first squadron (known as the Arizona Squadron) of the First United States Volunteer Cavalry. As Captain of "A" Troop, "Buckey" O'Neill also became the senior Captain of the regiment. Alexander Brodie commanded the First Squadron (consisting of four troops) and was, therefore, the ranking Major of the regiment. "A" Troop went on to serve with distinction in the war to liberate Cuba from Spain. The troop figured prominently in the two main battles of the Cuban campaign involving the 5th Army Corp.

At Las Guasimas the troop, led by "Buckey" O'Neill, formed the extreme right wing of an extended skirmish line that pressed forward, through thick jungle, to help dislodge the Spanish from their positions. At San Juan Hill, the troop recovered from the devastating loss of its commander, Captain "Buckey" O'Neill, and participated in the famous charge of the "Rough Riders" led by Theodore Roosevelt. Several members of "A" troop were with Col. Roosevelt at the front of the regiment when the Spanish positions were taken. Fifteen members of "A" troop were either killed or wounded during these engagements. Several more died of dysentery. After returning to the United States with the regiment, they were disbanded, on September 15, 1898, only four months after leaving Prescott. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, "it marked the close of the four months life of a regiment of as gallant fighters as ever wore the United States uniform."

Today, Prescott's own "A" Troop is a ceremonial and re-enactment unit whose purpose is to honor all American War Veterans and to portray, in an historically accurate way, the life and times of the Arizona Rough Riders. With a special commission from the Governor of Arizona, "A" troop stands ready to serve their community.