Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Rough Riders On Mars! - Chapter 1 - Outfitting The Expedition

Chapter 1 - Outfitting The Expedition

Theodore Roosevelt was attending Harvard College at the time of the first Martian invasion in 1879. Having survived the devastation, Roosevelt was convinced to finish his education. In 1880 he graduated and also married. Theodore was elected to the New York State Assembly during the rebuilding of the state. During this period, he made a name for himself, fighting corrupt building contractors and their government overseers and crusading for the rights of the common man.
In 1884, upon the death of his wife, Roosevelt moved out to his ranch in South Dakota, hoping that the rugged lifestyle would help his soul to heal. This it did and in 1886 he was back in civilization and entering his second marriage. It was while on his honeymoon that Theodore heard news of the second Martian invasion. He and his new bride rushed back to the U.S. However, he was too late to join the space fleet going to meet the Martians. Roosevelt was greatly disappointed by his bad luck. However, his spirits were bolstered when volunteers were required for a possible invasion force. Theodore immediately signed up and was made Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Interplanetary Cavalry.   
By 1887, Lt. Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and the 1st V.I.C. were ready to embark on the grand adventure to Mars.This is where our story begins, with Teddy making arrangements to embark his men and equipage onto spaceships bound for Mars.

Chapter 1 - Preparing for Embarkation
On February 16th 1887, I was informed that I would have two space craft at my disposal to transport as many men and supplies as I could stow aboard. As one ship could carry a maximum of 20 men plus the crew, I concluded that I and 19 of my fellows would take one vessel and our supplies would be carried in our companion vessel. It was suggested that I split the men between the two ships, with the view that if something happened to one at least some of our men would make it to Mars. I declined this advice, thinking it better to keep the unit together; for morale purposes and to ensure that all participated in learning exercises concerning life on Mars.

Having decided the matter of embarkation, my next task was to requisition the appropriate supplies. Obviously, tack and other accouterments for a mounted unit were unnecessary due to fact that we would not be taking horses. So, I focused my efforts on weaponry, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and other necessaries required for a troop in the field. 

I was able to procure 40 Springfield Trapdoor carbines and 40 Springfield Trapdoor Rifles. I took the carbines in the hope that once we got to Mars, I would be able to mount at least some of the men on indigenous animals. In addition to the above mentioned longarms, I was able to obtain 30 M1885 Remington-Lee bolt action rifles from the Navy. These weapons have a five shot detachable magazine which would help to increase our rate of fire. I felt this important, considering the limited number of troops we had on station at the time. All of these weapons were chambered to U.S. Government 45/70 cartridges, so there would be no problem with ammunition.

For sidearms, I acquired 40 Smith and Wesson Model 3 .45 caliber Schofield revolvers. While many in our military prefer the Colt, the break open action of the Schofield makes it much quicker to load. Because I figured to be greatly outnumbered all the time, I wished to have the maximum rate of fire available.

Mr. John M. Browining approached me to take two of his experimental air cooled machineguns. I was able to test fire one of these extraordinary little weapons. The rate of fire was inferior to the beloved Gatling, but its light weight made it a desirable weapon, so I agreed to take them along. I had hoped that these machineguns could be chambered for 45/70, so I would only have two types of cartridges to account for. Unfortunately, there was insufficient time to modify the weapons. Since the Colt’s ammunition was on belts, there was no chance of confusing it with the rifle ammunition in the heat of battle.

Having made satisfactory work of acquiring weapons, I turned my attention to victuals. I contacted several canning companies, including Campbell’s, H. J. Heinz, Underwood, and Borden. From these companies I purchased sufficient food for the duration of the space flight and for two months after arrival. Once on the planet, I intended to supplement our rations with native foods, slowly acclimatizing the men to the indigenous cuisine.

The remaining camp equipage was obtained from the U. S. Army. This material had been tested and proven rugged and reliable on campaigns in the western states against the Indians. Tents, stoves, utensils, tables, bedding, etc. were all provided. The next task was to get all of the provisions and gear stored aboard the two vessels.

Corporal Levasseur, a wonderful chap with numbers, and myself first went about dividing up the provisions into those going on the troop ship and those going on the cargo ship. As food and water are vital for survival on a long voyage, I wanted to ensure that our troop ship had ample supplies of both. Next, space was allotted for the men’s personal kit. In addition to clothing and toiletries, allowances were made each man to bring some small personal items. Knowing that idleness leads to conflict, I wanted each man to have something to occupy his mind during his off hours.

I decided to ship one of the machineguns, and five of the carbines and pistols on the troop ship. This was to allow the men to become familiar with the weapons and practice cleaning and repairing the weapons. I also had several inert rounds made up for each weapon so that we could practice loading and clearing the weapons. I opted for inert rounds to prevent an accidental discharge hurting someone or compromising the hull of our ship.

All of this work took a month to complete, so by mid-March we were ready to depart. The men and I took a few days to say our goodbyes to loved ones and make our final preparations for our departure. It was a bittersweet few days with the thought of leaving my new bride juxtaposed against the excitement of a great adventure to unknown worlds.


  1. It sounds like a splendid little war. I am intrigued to hear of the enemies this force will encounter on the Red planet.

  2. Bully ! A great start to what I am sure will be a great adventure!

  3. Splendid stuff and well written, looking forward to seeing your story line develop...