Thursday, January 20, 2011

Frances Wheeler's Encounter With General Joseph Wheeler

From "Roses in December," the autobiography of Frances Parkinson (Wheeler) Keyes:

My (Frances Wheeler's) first meeting with General Joseph Wheeler, which took place at the Capitol a few days later, was less disastrous than my meeting with General Miles at the White House...  An aura of grandeur surrounded the names of the men who had fought under the Stars and Bars and who, thirty years later, volunteered to serve under the Stars and Stripes; in the case of Fitzhugh Lee and 'Little Joe' Wheeler this aura became a positive radiance.  The pint-sized cavalry officer---'a diminutive Alabamian of terrific energy'--had had twenty-four horses killed under him during the War Between the States, but undeterred had continued to go galloping onward; the greater the danger the more he seemed to thrive.  Nothing could have been better suited his tastes and talents than the charge on San Juan Hill and, in my eyes, he was the outstanding hero of the Spanish-American War.  Therefore, I could hardly believe my good fortune when the distinguished companion with whom I was just entering the Rotunda...shouted to an officer who was just entering it, 'Hold on a minute, Joe!  come and meet a Yankee relative of yours!'"

The general turned at once, smiling broadly and saluting swiftly.  'Well, well,' he said in response to the quick introductions.  'So your name's Wheeler, too, is it?  Frances Parkinson Wheeler?  John Wheeler's daughter?  Well, well.  But what do they mean by calling you a Yankee then, my dear child?  Weren't you born in James Monroe's house, at the University of Virginia?  If that doesn't make you a southerner, I don't know what would!'

Scenes of Rough Riders charging Kettle Hill (from a movie) can be found on YouTube here.  My blog about authentic YouTube images for the Spanish-American War can be found here.

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