| Photo In Uniform
|| Service Details
Last Known Activity|
From the book Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan: The Making of a President
The Second Hero
The commanding officer of the Cavalry Division was Gen. "Fightin'
Joe" Wheeler, a small man with a white beard. Roosevelt
called him a "gamecock" who was eager for battle.
General Lawton of the regular infantry, who led the disembarka-
tion, was soldierly and conservative while the volunteer Wheeler had
a flair for the dramatic. He landed in Daiquiri on the heels of the first
Rough Riders and at once noticed the empty flagstaff still standing
alongside the Spanish blockhouse on Mount Losiltires. He instructed
Wood, as the first cavalry colonel ashore, to have the Rough Riders'
regimental flag flown from the pole.
The Rough Riders had not been in one place long enought ot pos-
sess an official standard. The Arizona troops, though, had a silk
American flag that had been hand sewn by the women of Phoenix.
Wood ordered Color Bearer Sgt. Albert Wright and Chief Trumpeter
Clay Platt to climb the hill and raise the silken banner ceremoniously.
The Rough Riders' chief surgeion, Maj. Henry LaMotte, went along as
When the Stars and STrips were run up the Spanish flagpole,
everyone in the cove and on the shore could see the national colors
and hear the trumpet. The American soldiers and sailors and the
Cubans cheered. Ships joined in with blasts from their steam whistles.
Inside the deserted blockhouse, the three Rough Riders found an
abandoned bag of rice flour and a partly consumed bottle of Spanish
wine. Wright and Platt were about to drink the wine when LaMotte
grabbed the bottle from their hands. To their disgust, he smashed it
against a rock. He maintained that hte wine had been poisoned, al-
though there was no way to know if he was correct.
The flag-raising incident was featured in the press along with
O'Neill's exploit. Surgeon LaMotte received credit as the second celeb-
rity of the day. The episode annoyed Roosevelt and illogically embit-
tered him against LaMotte. To Roosevelt, the regiment was his. Wood
should have asked him to lead the ceremonial party. Raising the flag
over the beachhead was exactly the type of ritual he would have
relished. Instead, LaMotte had seized the glorious moment, adding
prestige to the Rough Riders but usurping the role Roosevelt desired.
From the book Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism
Shafter had planned for Lawton's Second Infantry Division and
four Gatling guns to be the first on the beach, followed by Bates's
brigade with Wheeler's dismounted cavalry (includidng Wood's troops)
last ashore. The landing started at 9:40 in the morning and, to the de-
light and surprise of the toops watching from ships, was entirely un-
opposed. Wood decided not to wait for his regiment to land. He stole a
boat and sent Albert Wright, the oversized ergeant; Henry La Motte,
the regimental surgeon; and Clay Platt, the unit's trumpeter ashore with
the Arizona squadron's flag. They climbed to a blockhouse on Mount
Losiltires which overlooked the harbor from the east where they en-
countered reported Edward Marshall who intended to raise "a small
flag belonging to the New York Journal" in the same place. Marshall
bowed to military precedence and, after several failed attempts at
climbing the roof, the Rought Riders' flag went up. There followed, "A
quarter of an hour of whistle shrieks, cheers, yells, drum flares, bugle
calls and patriotic songs."
Samuels, Peggy and Samuels, Harold; Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan: The Making of a President; 1997; Texas A&M Military History Series; pp. 106 - 107
McCallum, Jack; Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism; New York University Press; 2006; p. 82
MEDAL OF HONOR, WITH DIPLOMA OF SILVER MEDAL OR THIRD CLASS.