Buffalo Bill Cody’s Congress of Rough Riders of the World began the 1898 season with a performance in the grand amphitheater at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There was a pleasing familiarity to the great extravaganza – the Indian attack on the wagon train, crack shot Johnny Baker, Cossacks on horseback and a whirling dervish, the amazing Annie Oakley, and the historic spectacle of Custer’s Last Stand!
The huge crowd loved it all, but the greatest ovation of the evening went up for a new feature, a small band of battle-scarred veterans from Cuba. “Viva Cuba libre!” resounded from hundreds of throats as the white-clad Cuban rebels rode into the arena unfurling their red, white, and blue flag with its bold single star. The Wild West band played the Cuban national hymn and the crowd shouted itself hoarse. Out galloped a color guard carrying Old Glory and again went up the shouts of “Cuba Libre!” It was clear to all that evening that the destinies of the Cuban people and the American people were to be forever intertwined. Buffalo Bill had seen to that in a brilliant moment of topical showmanship. It had been six weeks since the battleship the U.S. Maine had mysteriously blown up in Havana harbor, killing 260 Americans.
For over a generation, Americans had watched in horror as the Spanish imperialists had brutally suppressed Cuban independence efforts, killing thousands of Cuban civilians. Long fuming with indignation, America now demanded a war to liberate Cuba and avenge the Maine. Cody’s presentation of the Cuban insurgents could not have appeared at a more opportune time. On April 25 the U.S. declared war and on July 3 the Spanish fleet was destroyed by American naval forces. On July 17 the city capitulated and on August 12 the war was over.
(The Rough Riders room is a suite that features 2 Queen Size beds, 1 Queen Size sofa bed, a single lavatory, & a shower. All rooms have wired and wireless internet & individual heat/ac.-Facing South towards the Mountains)