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Pvt. Millard L. Raymond, d. 1899

        Little is known about Millard Raymond's life except for what is in the public record.  He was 23 or 24 in April 1898 when he enlisted in the 1st U.S. Volunteers Cavalry (the "Rough Riders") in Santa Fe, New Mexico [1].  The regiment was being raised by Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to fight in the Spanish-American War in Cuba.  After the battleship Maine was blown up in Havana harbor (by whom has never been proven), Roosevelt wanted to strike a lightning blow against the Spanish in Cuba before they had time to reinforce the Cuban garrisons with more troops from Spain. 

        Owing to the fact that the Civil War had ended 32 years prior, most U. S. soldiers and officers had had no field experience and were ill equipped to go into battle without extensive training.  The only exception was cavalry units from the Southwest, who had seen action against the Apaches as recently as the 1880s.  Roosevelt believed that men from Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma would not need much additional training since they already knew how to ride and shoot and were used to a hot climate.  Accordingly, he mobilized the 9th and 10th Cavalry units (the "Buffalo Soldiers") and began to recruit another regiment of cowboys, prospectors and other Westerners, later known as the "Rough Riders". 

        Many more men volunteered than could be used.  All who were accepted met Roosevelt's rigorous standards.  To officer them, Roosevelt recruited several fine young athletes from eastern colleges.  The 1st U. S. Volunteer Cavalry was to be commanded by Roosevelt's good friend, Colonel Leonard Wood, a surgeon who was capable in the field as well.  Roosevelt himself was commissioned a lieutenant colonel, to serve under Colonel Wood [1]. 

        Millard Raymond was assigned to Troop F, commanded by Captain Maximilian Luna [1].  Luna had asked to serve because he wanted to demonstrate that Spanish-speaking native New Mexicans were solidly behind the American war effort.  Owing to Luna's fluency in Spanish, he was eventually assigned to Colonel Wood's headquarters in Cuba, where he acted as an interpreter [1]. 

        The Spanish-American War was quick and not particularly bloody. The Rough Riders shipped out in April and by August, Spain had sued for peace.  Disease took the greatest toll.  Forced to abandon their horses for lack of Navy vessels to transport them, the Rough Riders slogged through sugarcane fields during the humid tropical summer.  What uniforms they had were made of scratchy wool and utterly unsuited to the tropics.  Their rations consisted mostly of hardtack and canned goods.  All the troops lost weight.  Fresh meat was practically impossible to obtain and went bad overnight for lack of refrigeration.  Without mosquito netting, the men fell prey to malaria in droves.   In spite of Roosevelt's best efforts (he had been the public health commissioner for New York City), he estimated that at least half of his fighting force was down sick at any one time.  Such must have been Millard Raymond's experience of the war. 

        It is not known how or why Millard Raymond came to Arizona after he was mustered out.  Perhaps he had formed a friendship with the Arizona men in his troop or planned to settle there.  However, recurrent bouts of Cuban fever (probably malaria) prevented him from working. 

        In January 1899, he decided to return to Ottumwa, Iowa, where he had relatives.  He got as far as Maricopa before he fell ill again.  He was taken to the home of Mrs. C. H. Bury for medical attention but died a few days later [2]. 

        His parents being too poor to have the body embalmed and shipped home, Millard Raymond was buried in the City cemetery with full military honors [2].  The GAR veterans turned out for the funeral [3], and six of his companions from the Rough Riders acted as pallbearers [4]. 

        The original wooden marker erected over his grave listed him incorrectly as "Raymond Miller".  That marker deteriorated and was eventually replaced by a regulation veteran's marker.  On the second marker, his name was spelled correctly but his military unit was wrong [6].

Copyright 2004 by Donna L. Carr. Used by permission; all rights reserved. Last revised 11 November 2004.

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Copyright 2004-2013, Pioneers' Cemetery Association, Inc. Last revised 30 November 2013.