A Brief History and Roster
"Chanler's Rough Riders"
By Patrick McSherry
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Skirmish at Tayabacoa
Chanler’s “Rough Riders” was a small group of Americans who served
under the command of the Cuban revolutionary forces in Cuba
during the Spanish American War.
Not much is known about “Chanler’s Rough Riders”. The unit was
conceived by William Astor Chanler, a cousin of John Jacob Astor, and a
millionaire in his own right. When William Astor Chanler was informed
that the roster of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry
(Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders”) was already full , he came up with a
plan to raise a full regiment which he would completely fund. The
regiment was to be commanded by Robert Emmet, a man related through
marriage to the Chanler family, and who was formerly a brevet colonel
with the 9th U.S. Infantry.
Recruiting began at 140 – 142 Sixth Avenue, in New York City on April
21, 1898, four days prior to the declaration of war with Spain. However,
the plans changed when William Chanler obtained the position of
assistant adjutant general on the staff of Major
General Joseph Wheeler. Completing the formation and deployment of
the unit fell to Winthrop Astor Chanler, William’s brother and also a
member of the new military unit.
The size of the organization changed and only consisted of about fifteen
to twenty-five men when finally deployed. Membership in the organization
consisted of New York socialites, sportsmen, former military men and
those with riding and shooting skills – similar to the requirements of
members of Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders”. The known roster of the group is
shown below. It is not known if all listed below were deployed to Cuba or if they remained with
Chanler’s Rough Riders throughout.
“Chanler’s Rough Riders” departed from Key West, Florida on June 25,
1898. The cavalry unit was part of an expedition that was to land 650
Cuban troops, a company of the 10th U.S.
Cavalry, Chanler’s men, armaments and supplies in Cuba. The first attempt near
Cienfuegos failed between serious Spanish opposition and the coral reefs
at the proposed landing site. The next attempt was made at the mouth of
the Tayacaboa River. Chanler and his men and a Cuban force landed, only
to find themselves pinned down by Spanish fire in what became known as
the skirmish at Tayacaboa. Early in the
engagement, Chanler went down with a broken arm from Spanish fire. He
was helped into the brush line and into a swamp at the edge of the beach
by two physicians who were part of the group – Maximilian Lund and
William Louis Abbott. Subsequently during the skirmish, Lee Hervey was
wounded in the leg, and Eli Carpenter was killed, both apparently part
of Chanler’s force. The landing forces, including Chanler and his men,
were extricated in a daring nighttime landing by the 10th
After the skirmish at Tayacaboa,
the expedition was successfully landed at Palo Alto and joined the
forces of Maximo Gomez. “Chanler’s Rough Riders” took part in actions at
El Jibaro (July 18) and Arroyo Blanco (July 27). At El Jibaro the Cuban
forces, aided by the use of the Dudley-Sims dynamite guns landed by the
expedition, captured eighty men, ninety rifles, forty thousand of
ammunition and ten thousand rations. Similarly, with the aid of the
dynamite guns, fifty Spaniards were killed, two hundred wounded out of a
Spanish force of four hundred at Arroyo Blanco. In his book, In Darkest Cuba: Two Months'
Service Under Gomez Along the Trocha From the Caribbean to the Bahama
Channel, basically a diary of a man serving with the Cuban
forces under another command, the author, N. G. Gonzalez, notes that
Chanler’s Rough Riders maintained their own camp and so the unit must
have maintain its identity as a distinct fighting force. It appears that
the unit served about two months. It is unclear how the unit disbanded,
because some men served a bit longer and make no mention of a muster out
of any sort. For instance, Hugh Thomason stated he did not learn
of the August 12 armistice until September, and had remined fighting
beside the Cuban forces until that time. At that point he went to a
Spanish camp, surrendered to an officer who had been paroled by his
force. He was given assistance. After recovering from a tropical fever,
he was finally able to leave Cuba on December 3, 1898.
Annotated Roster of Chanler’s “Rough Riders”:
ABBOTT, WILLIAM LOUIS
William Louis Abbott
(Source: National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution)
Abbott had earned a medical degree
from the University of Pennsylvania in 1884, and traveled to London to
study surgery. After receiving a very sizable inheritance in 1886,
Abbott devoted his life to being a naturalist specializing in
birds. However, in 1894, he attempted, but failed, to join with
the Malagasy natives to fight the French in Madagascar. Five years
later he joined with Chanler in the expedition to Cuba,
and was wounded at the Tayacaboa
skirmish. Correspondent Gonzalez referred to Abbott as being
"kindhearted a man as ever lived though rough as a bear." He also
noted that Abbott owned a "fine old home" in Philadelphia that Abbott
had not seen in fourteen years. During the skirmish at Tayacaboa, Abbott received a
mauser bullet through the shoulder. Gonzalez and Abbott departed Cuba
after the armistice was signed aboard the schooner DELLIE. Aboard ship
Abbott cared for the sick soldiers who were also aboard the schooner.
After the war, Abbott continued his life as a naturalist. During his
career he discovered forty new species and collected sixteen thousand
animal specimens from all over the world. Near the end of his career
he became the director of the Philadelphia Zoo. He died on his estate
in Cecil County, Maryland on April 2, 1936.
The only reference to Aguero appears
in N. G. Gonzalez' book, In Darkest Cuba. Gonzalez stated that
"At dusk Aguero of the Chanler party paid me a visit..." in late July,
1898. No first name is provided.
Carpenter was killed in the boat
during the Tayabacoa resuce from the beach. Since the landing party
consisted of Chanler’s men and a Cuban force, he is assumed to be one
of Chanler’s men. Some sources identify him as a stevedore, but it is
unclear why a stevedore would have been part of the initial landing
CHANLER, WINTHROP ASTOR
Chanler was born on October 13, 1863.
After being wounded in the left arm at Tayacaboa,
he returned to Tampa aboard the Transport FLORIDA, planning to return
to his unit in Cuba when sufficiently healed. It is unclear if he did
so. Later in life, in 1909, he aided in the search for missing
Americans following the Taomino earthquake in Italy. During World War
One he served as an aid to Major General John J. Pershing. In his
later years he retired to breed horses and hunt on his estate in
Geneseo, New York. He died on August 24, 1926 after suffering a head
injury following a fall from a horse.
CHARLES, W. A.
Charles was a wealthy American and
African explorer who had offered to raise a regiment at his expense,
as did William Chanler. The two traveled in the same social circles.
COWAN, JOHN H.
DELAIGNE, H. B.
Delaigne was apparently from Lakewood,
Ocean County, New Jersey and a reporter for the Washington
Times. After the war he became the “Superintendent of Dumps”
in the Canal Zone of Panama.
EMMETT, CHRISTOPHER TEMPLE
Temple was a brother-in-law of
Winthrop Chanler, an attorney and sportsman. He later served also in
World War One and in the New York National Guard.
GALVIN, GEORGE E.
Galvin was a friend of William Astor
Chanler having been on Chanler’s on African expedition.
Flint was the son of a Civil War
general. He was a foreign journalist, and had lived in Madrid, London,
and in Chile. In the years leading up to the Spanish American War,
Flint joined the Cuban revolutionaries, writing a book on the
experience entitled Marching
with Gomez. The book was published in 1896. Flint was wounded
in the right arm at the Tayacaboa
Skirmish, and returned to Port Tampa aboard the Transport
FLORIDA, with the intention to
return to Cuba when sufficiently healed. After serving with Chanler’s
Rough Riders he continued to travel in the Philippines and the far
east. He became a director of the "Order of Santa Clara" for U.S. army
and navy members who served in Santa Clara and Puerto Principe
provinces of Cuba in 1898. Flint died in 1909.
Hankins was listed as being from
Lakehurst, New Jersey and in association with Delaigne. Both are
listed as being “Rough Riders.” Hankins does not appear on the roster
of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry
(“Roosevelt’s Rough Riders”) so it is assumed that
he was with Chanler’s force.
HERRINGTON, WILLIAM T.
Herrington was a native of Nashville,
After being wounded at Tayacaboa, Hervey joined the
U.S. Volunteers, and claimed to have been wounded five times in one
leg, though some claimed the wounded were from a previous trolley
accident. One meber of the unit states that Hervey claimed prior
military service when he joined Chanler’s men, which later roved to be
untrue. Following the war he went to the Klondike to take part in the
gold rush, and apparently did fairly well, with his prospecting
allowing him to live at the Imperial Hotel in New York City. He was
later arrested having deserted his wife before the war.
HOOD, JOHN B.
Jack's last name has not yet been
found. Jack was an African-American servant who had accompanied
William Louis Abbott in his travels around the world and apparently
had gained some fame for boxing a kangaroo during their travels. It is
not clear if he traveled to Cuba by choice or because he was employed
by Abbott. In Cuba, Jack was reported to be intolerable by some
other members of the Chandler party. Though accounts are vague, from
Gonzalez' account of his time with Abbott and Jack aboard the schooner
DELLIE, it appears that the problem was that Jack acted as an equal to
the others rather than a servant, something that Gonzalez, a Cuban
American who lived in the southern U.S., found annoying. In fact,
during his service in Cuba, Jack appears to have simply asserted
Accounts list Llanos as being part of
the expedition. Correspondent N. G. Gonzalez reported his presence in
camp in Cuba, therefore we know he did take part in the expedition.
A native of Copenhagen, Denmark, Lund
attended Heidelberg University studying to become a physician. At
Heidelberg, he was active in the fencing societies. Heidelberg fencing
was a unique sport in which razor-sharp blades are used and the only
target is the face, the remainder of the body, including the eyes are
protected. Lund’s face bore evidence of the wounds, showing numerous
scars. He claimed to have fought in 47 duels, with three being with
pistol. It is not known how many duels were with the fencing societies
and how many were outside of these somewhat controlled conditions.
Lund claimed to have spent seven years in the German military and to
have served as a member of the bodyguard of King Albert of Saxony. In
about 1895, Lund became an American citizen.
At the skirmish at Tayacaboa
where Lund swam out to the transport and reported the plight of the
landing party, Lund was recognized for "especially meritorious conduct
attending the sick and wounded under fire." After finally getting
ashore in Cuba, Lund basically left Chanler’s force and attached
himself to the company of the 10th U.S.
Cavalry that landed at the same time. After the battle of
Jabaro, Lund and Lt. Carter Johnson of the 10th
U.S. Cavalry and Lund got drunk on a barrel of rum
and directly disobeyed orders of the Cuban commanders under which both
Chanler’s men and the 10th
U.S. Cavalry were serving, and threatened to fire
on the Cubans themselves. Lund also challenged a
Harpers war correspondent to a duel, however when the man being
challenged chose "bowie knives, toe-to-toe" Lund backed down. He
became a director of the "Order of Santa Clara" for U.S. army and navy
members who served in Santa Clara and Puerto Principe provinces
of Cuba in 1898 In later years Lund was in charge
of an insane asylum near New York.
REMETREZ, REGOBERTO (or possibly REMIREZ)
Remetrez is listed a captain at the
time of his joining the unit. Correspondent N. G. Gonzalez noted his
presence in Cuba, and that Remetrez (Remirez) supplied him with
tobacco. Gonzalez also refers to him as being a captain.
Thomason served five years in the 6th
U.S. Cavalry, then attended the Michigan Military Academy. After
graduating he rejoined the army. His discharge from the army was
secured so he could take charge of the cavalry in Buffalo Bill’s “Wild
West Show” which did an exhibition of military riding skills.
(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in
red will take you to that book on
“Adventures of One Young Man,” The
Coalville Times (Coalville, Utah), February 23, 1900, 6. (Lee)
“Chanler to Fight,” The
Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey). April 22, 1898, 2.
“C. Temple Emmett, Skier, Lawyer,” New
York Times. July 25, 1957.
“Dane Blames Prussia,” The Sun
(New York, NY), October 8, 1914, 6.
“Dr. William L. Abbott,” The
Midland Journal (Rising Sun, Maryland), April 17, 1936, 8.
“Duelist Hero Talks of Deeds,” The
Los Angeles Times. February 24, 1906, 18.
Fischer, William H., Biographical
of Ocean County, New Jersey (Philadelphia: A. D. Smith & Co.,
1899), 83. (Delaigne and Hankins).
“Florida Back at Port Tampa,” The
Sun (New York, NY). July 16, 1898, 2.
Adjtant General's Office, General
and Circulars, 1900. (Washington: Government Printing Office,
1901), General Order #15 (Lund)
Gonzalez, N. G., In Darkest Cuba: Two Months'
Service Under Gomez Along the Trocha From the Caribbean to the Bahama
Channel. (Columbia, S.C: The State Company, 1922), 168,
176, 179-180, 203-204, 329, 330, 337, 339, 349, 350, 366-367.
“Head Injuries Prove Fatal to Major Chanler,” The
Daily Messenger (Canadaiqua, New York). August 25, 1926, 3.
“Native Cubans in Invading Army,” Chicago
Tribune. May 24, 1898, 3.
“Major Chanler is Dead at 65,” The
Buffalo Times (Buffalo, New York). August 25, 1926, 17.
Neely's Panorama of Our New Possessions (New York: F. Tennyson Neely,
1898)(Photo of Lund).
“Noted Army Surgeon Visiting This City,” Los
Angeles Evening Express. December 27, 1905, 7.
“Obituary Notes,” The Sun
(New York, NY). February 4, 1909 2. (Grover Flint).
Official Register of the United
States (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1899) 295.
"Order of Santa Clara" Chicago
Daily News Almanac and Yearbook for 1903, 117 (Lund and Flint)
“Regulars Never Kick,” The
Boston Globe (Boston, MA), June 25, 1898, 3 (roster).
“Rich New Yorkers,” The Topeka
State Journal (Topeka, Kansas), May 4, 1898, 2.
Some Tight Times at Tayabacoa,” The
Leaf-Chronicle (Clarksville, Tennessee). December 28, 1898, 1.
“Sixth Cavalry Troopers Chosen,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.). February
24, 1897, 7. (Thomason)
The Inter Ocean (Chicago.
IL), December 29, 1896, 12.
Thomas, Lately. The Astor
Orphans: A Pride of Lions, W. Morrow, 1971; p. 126.
“To Search for Americans,” The
Houston Post (Houston, Texas), January 8, 1909, 2.
“War To-Day,” Hanpshire
Telegraph and Naval Chronicle (Hampshire, England). April 23,
1898, 5 (Charles)
“William Louis Abbott (1860 – 1936)
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