"Blessed Bunnies"

Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt Writes Home to his Children

By Theodore Roosevelt


General:

Theodore Roosevelt is well-known as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, colonel of the Rough Riders (1st United States Volunteer Infantry), governor of New York, award-winning author, recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize. It is sometimes overlooked that he was also a loving father. Roosevelt was married twice. His first wife, Alice, died days after the birth of their first child, also named Alice. Roosevelt eventually remarried, this time to Edith Carow. The couple had five more children -  Theodore Jr. (interestingly, Theodore's father was Theodore Sr., and his son Theodore Jr., ...Theodore himself was just Theodore), Kermit, Archibald, Ethel and Quentin.  Roosevelt was close to all of his children all of his life, though his relationship with Alice was somewhat strained at times.

The following is one of the letters to his young children, written while the Rough Riders were in Florida awaiting orders for movement to Florida. The letter concerns a visit of Edith to the Rough Rider camp.
 

The letter:

"Camp at Tampa, May 6th, ‘98

BLESSED BUNNIES

It has been a real holiday to have darling mother here. Yesterday I brought her out to the camp, and she saw it all – the men drilling, the tents in long company streets, the horses being taken to water, my little horse Texas, the colonel and the majors, and finally the mountain lion and the jolly little dog Cuba, who had several fights while she looked on. The mountain lion is not much more than a kitten as yet, but it is not much more than a kitten as yet, but it is very cross and treacherous.

I was very much impressed in Kermit’s and Ethel’s letters to-day.

We were all, horses and men, four days and four nights on the cars coming from San Antonio, and were very tired and very dirty when we arrived. I was up almost all of each night, for it happened always to be at night when we took the horses out of the cars to feed and water them.

Mother stays at a big hotel about a mile from camp. There are nearly thirty thousand troops here now, besides the sailors from the war-ships in the bay. At night the corridors and piazzas are thronged with officers of the army and navy; the older ones fought in the Civil War, a third of a century ago, and they are all going to Cuba to war against the Spaniards. Most of them are in blue, but our rough-riders are in brown. Our camp is on a green flat, on sandy soil without a tree, though round about are pines an palmettos. It is very hot, indeed, but there are no mosquitoes. Marshall is very well, and he takes care of my things and of the two horses. A general was to inspect us when we were drilling to-day"

The Tampa Bay Hotel, where Edith Carow Roosevelt stayed during her visit.


Bibliography:

Bishop, Joseph Bucklin, ed., Theodore Roosevelt’s Letters to his Children. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1919) 14-15.


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