This letter was written by Amaziah B. Morrison while the 1st U. S. Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the "Rough Riders," was preparing to depart for the front. Morrison, who had been living in Las Vegas, New Mexico was a private in Troop E of the Rough Riders. He was forty years old and married when he enlisted at Sante Fe on May 5, 1898. The 5 foot 9 1/2 inch man was described as having a dark complexion, gray eyes, brown hair. Interestingly, this native of Coffeeleo, Tennessee was a Baptist minister by profession. It had been claimed in his local newspaper that he had joined hoping to serve as the regiment's chaplain, to which the minister replied that he had joined to serve his country, not to be a "place hunter," but that he would accept the position if the officers saw it proper to choose him.
Morrison once attracted the attention of Theodore
Roosevelt in the days after the action at the San Juan Heights.
Roosevelt watched him prepare his meal behind a traverse in the
trenches, avoiding enemy fire. Roosevelt wrote:
"I watched him solemnly pounding the coffee with the butt end of his revolver, and then boiling the water and frying his bacon, just as if he had been in the lee of a roundup wagon somewhere out on the plains."The following letter was apparently sent to the editor of the Las Vegas, New Mexico newspaper called The Optic. It was reprinted in The Raton Range, from which this transcription was made.
FIRST FROM OUR BOYS
To The Editor of The Optic:
San Antonio, Texas, May 11th, 1898.
The boys are all in good health and spirits.
We have more “hard bread,” corned beef, etc, than we can consume. Of course we miss home comforts, but a soldier’s life is rough at best. Our officers are all excellent men and do all in their power for the men. We enjoyed the trip hugely, being given a perfect ovation from Las Vegas, to San Antonio.
Col. Wood, on inspecting the New Mexico boys, said he didn’t wish to be shown a more desirable troop in apperance. It is possible that Galveston or even Havana or Mananzas, will be our post office within a week or ten days, as we were informed this morning that if we wished any letters, at this post, that we should write at once, as we would go to the front forthwith. For a week our post office will be at San Antonio.
There were nine troops of First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry now on the ground, and more en route.
I will correspond with The Optic at every point, so that the Las Vegas people will hear of our movements, actions, casualties, etc, so far as possible and proper.
God bless The Optic, all the people of Las Vegas, New Mexico and our country.
Yours in the service,
A. B. Morrison.
For the convenience of our readers, click on a title in red with take you to that book on Amazon.com
Jones, Virgil Carrington, Roosevelt's Rough Riders. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1971) 230, 231, 318.
The Raton Range, May 19, 1898.