Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Teddy Roosevelt considered himself a rare specimen of manliness and was rather contemptuous of those who he believed fell below his high fitness standards. The "fat colonels" described in The Post of Oct. 9, 1907, however, showed the "Rough Rider" president that appearances could be deceptive. An excerpt:
Twenty-eight of the "fat colonels" took their horsemanship test from Fort Myer yesterday, and the joke is on the President, who suspected that some of them couldn't ride. They fooled him completely by coming in at the close of the fifteen miles, every man of them fresh as a daisy. The only casualties were two pairs of split riding breeches and two newspaper men, one of whom gave up the job right after the start, and the other, who quit when his horse was kicked by a restless army animal.
Immediately after final dismount the twenty-eight reported at the Fort Myer hospital for the second physical examination, following which they were invited to regale themselves for a time at the quarters of Maj. Rumbaugh, of the Thirteenth Cavalry, stationed at the fort.
It was not only a demonstration that the field officers stationed in Washington did not deserve the questioning glances of their commander-in-chief when they undertook to prove their skill in equitation, but it was a clear showing that they are not "fat," as they have been described so often recently, at least not all of them. They range in the matter of embonpoint from the rotund profile of Lieut. Col. Casey, 260 pounds, all solid, to Col. McCain, aptly described as the "human darning needle." There was a fair sprinkling of rotundity in the column, but Col. McCain was not without his rivals.
The ride was under the immediate supervision of Maj. Gen. William P. Duvall, who would have earned more demerits than almost any other man in the column, if he had been taking the test, for failing to force his horse out of a trot during the periods prescribed for galloping.
It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride, and the road was in fairly good condition, despite the heavy rain of the night. Early yesterday one of the older colonels, who had been a little timorous as to the outcome in his case, looked out of his window at the wild swirl of rain driving over Washington and thought with a comfortable sensation that the test would have to be postponed. He turned back to bed for another nap, but was instantly routed out by this terrifying suggestion:
"If Roosevelt hears that the ride was called off on account of rain, he will get out of the canebrakes to-day and be here day after to-morrow to take us out himself." ...
The ride was distinctly popular with those who took it, and there were very few evidences at any time that any rider was having hard work of it. A high-strung horse ridden by one of the majors livened things up occasionally by kicking at his riding mate or the horse following, and as the ride was in very close formation, almost nose to tail, two or three officers narrowly escaped damage. One man caught a flying heel on his swinging saber, the hoof just missing his shin.
There were a good many suggestions that such rides should be taken regularly at weekly intervals, for the good of the men stationed in Washington, whose work is so sedentary as to render them unfit for sudden emergency hiking. It was also suggested that when the President sees how successfully everybody stood his test he will order another longer one.