The regimental flag for the first volunteer cavalry in the Spanish-American War, better known as the “Rough Riders”, is a colorful flag for a colorful group of characters. Under the leadership of Colonel Leonard Wood and second in command Theodore Roosevelt, the army unit included a diverse group of rough and tumble cowboys and miners, polished Ivy League athletes, New York City cops, Texas Rangers and Native Americans.
About the Rough Riders
The regimental yellow silk flag of the Rough Riders was carried up San Juan Hill and planted firmly at the top, along with our country’s Stars and Stripes, upon successful capture of the ridge.
The flag itself features a bald eagle on a bright yellow field holding an olive branch and a bundle of arrows in its talons. In its beak, the eagle carries a ribbon with the traditional motto of the United States, “E pluribus unum”, or “Out of Many, One”. There are 13 stars above the eagle’s head and 13 stripes on the shield over its breast to represent the first 13 states. Below the eagle, a red scroll reads, “1st U.S. Regiment Volunteer Cavalry”.
A variation of the Rough Rider flag was also adopted as the official North Dakota state flag in 1911.