1948 3¢ Rough Riders Anniversary
Issue Date: October 27, 1948
City: Prescott, Arizona
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary Press
Perforations: 11 x 10 ½
Color: Violet brown
U.S. #973 was issued in Prescott, Arizona, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Rough Riders. The 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry – later known as the Rough Riders – was formed in Prescott to fight in the Spanish-American War. While the Rough Riders are most often associated with Theodore Roosevelt, the stamp shows an image of William “Buckey” O’Neill.
O’Neill was a journalist in Prescott who also served in the Arizona Militia. He eventually became mayor. In 1889, Prescott took part in a four-man posse who captured four train robbers. When the Spanish-American War broke out, he helped form the volunteer unit of the Rough Riders and was named captain of Troop A. In an odd twist, one of the train robbers he had captured nine years earlier, William Sterin, served in O’Neill’s company as a sergeant under the name “Henry Nash.”
O’Neill was killed in action during the Battle of San Juan Hill. Roosevelt later wrote that O’Neill’s death was “the most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered.
The image on the stamp is of a statue made in O’Neill’s honor by Gutzon Borglum, the chief sculptor of Mount Rushmore. The statue stands at the north entrance of Yavapai County Court House in Prescott. At the time of its release, there was controversy that a stamp honoring the Rough Riders didn’t include Roosevelt, its most famous member. But the stamp’s first day of issue was on October 27, 1948 – the 90th anniversary of Roosevelt’s birth.