The First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry -- commonly called the "Rough Riders" served with distinction in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Their most celebrated commander, and the one most often associated with the unit, was Theodore Roosevelt. He resigned his post as Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1898 to help found, train and command the Rough Riders, leading them in their famous battles of Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill. Roosevelt would go on to become president of the United States. In the Rough Riders, however, he was only second in command.

Commander, First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry

When the Spanish-American War broke out, Leonard Wood was serving in the Army Surgical Corps in Washington, D.C. His political connections enabled him to rise from the rank of captain to brigadier general in the space of two months. He was tasked, along with Lieutenant Colonel Teddy Roosevelt, with raising and commanding a volunteer cavalry unit. After the Spanish-American War, General Wood was named military governor of Cuba. He was called on in 1904 to fight in the Philippine Insurrection and shortly thereafter was named Army Chief of Staff. Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri was named in his honor in 1941.