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  • 26th President of the United States
  • As president, dined once at the Warren Green Hotel, Warrenton after demonstrating the ability that service members should be able to ride 100 miles in a day. He did this on January 13, 1909, returning to a snowstorm in Washington, DC.

Excerpts

  • 250 Years in Fauquier County, A Virginia Story p.137, Fauquier Historical Society

1909WarrenGreenHotelRoosevelt.jpg

See above article

93-MILE RIDE BULLY, PPRESIDENT DEGLARES
Roosevelt in Saddle, Except for Short Halts, from 3:40 A. M. Yesterday Till 8:30 P. M.
RETURNS IN DRIVING SLEET
Three Relays of Horses — Three-Companions -— Done to Show Rides He Orders Involve No Hardship.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 13.
President Roosevelt spent seventeen hours in the saddle today, barring brief dismounts for rest, and in that time covered ninety eight miles of Virginia roads. When he rode up to the portico of the White House at 8:30 tonight he was covered with mud and ice from the brim of his Rough Rider hat to the tops of his riding boots. He sprang from his steaming mount, however, with the alacrity of a boy just back from a canter on the bridle path in the park, threw the reins to an orderly, and, after shaking himself to cast off his icy mail, disappeared Into the White House.
Before the doors closed behind him, the President flung back three hearty words -- this with a grin that showed all his teeth and wrinkled his weather-beaten face into a hundred little furrows:
"It was bully," he said.
The President. accompanied by his military aid, Capt. Archibald W. Butt, Admiral P. M. Rixey. Surgeon General of the Navy, and Surgeon C. D. Grayson of the navy, started from the White House this morning, long before dawn. It was, in fact, exactly 3:40 o'clock when the little cavalcade made its way down the sweeping drive from the White House and rode off in the direction of George-town.
Capt. Butt had made all the preparations for the long ride. Cavalrymen from Fort Myer had been instructed to be at hand at two points along the route with fresh mounts for the President and his party, and the first of these relays was at Fairfax. Here the party changed horses and continued through Centerville, Bull Run, Gainesville, where another change of horses was made, and thence to Buckland, New Baltimore, and Warrenton.
Good Dinner at Warrenton
The President was a hard man to follow, for he did not let his party rest more than ten minutes at any place, with the exception of Warrenton, where they took lunch or rather dinner, for the Presidential horsemen by that time were famished. The President fell to and played havoc with soup and rare roast beef. His three followers also proved themselves valiant trenchermen.
The meal over, it was discovered that Warrenton had been advised by telephone of the President's coming. Business was suspended and the schools had been closed for the afternoon. A crowd of more than 1,000 persons had gathered outside and clamored for a speech. Mr. Roosevelt would much rather have rested comfortably after his big dinner, but he grinned good naturedly and went outside.
His appearance was the signal for an outburst of cheering. When it had subsided, he said he was enjoying the the ride to the utmost; that he was glad to be with them, and that he thanked them deeply for the kind reception. Then the good people of Warrenton lined up and Mr. Roosevelt shook hands with each, giving especial attention to the school children. It was 5:10 when the party started back from Warrenton.
The ride out was pleasant, but on the return the party ran into a sleet and snow storm at Centreville. By this time darkness had fallen, to make the conditions worse. So had were the roads and blinding the sweeping sleet, that the four fell into single file, horse closely following horse.
President Falls Behind
For several miles Capt. Butt took the lead, and was then followed by Admiral. Rixey. Both men are very familiar with that section of Virginia and can find their way about there blindfolded. In this procession the President was kept in third position, Surgeon Grayson dutifully brining up the rear.
At Fairfax, where the party resumed the horses they had ridden out in the morning, Capt. Butt telephoned to the White House, ordering the Presldent's carriage to meet him at the Aqueduct Bridge. It was feared that Pennsylvania Avenue would be a glare of Ice and that the footing would be dangerous for the horses. When the party reached the Georgetown side of the bridge, however, it was found that the footing was not bad, and the President dismissed the carriage with a wave of his hand, spurred his mount, and rode toward the city at a brisk pace.
While the President declines to admit that the ride covered more than 98 miles, these figures are taken from the Geodetic Survey, and do take into account numerous twists and turns in the roads. According to those who know the route taken by the President and his three companions the party actually covered 106 miles. This distance also includes some bad stretches of country pike that tax the horsemanship of the most expert rider.
The trip of today was taken by the President because of the criticism leveled at his order to the Navy Department prescribing a ninety-mile riding test for officers, to be completed within three days. Mr. Roosevelt felt that the criticism was unjust, and he decided to accomplish in one day more than he has called upon the officers of the navy to undertake in thrice the time.
“Mr. Roosevelt, I understand. said before starting out that he was not in good condition," said an officer to-night “and that he was making the trip when 'fit' for the sole purpose of demonstrating that his physical test order will work no hardship on navy men. Wouldn't it be interesting to know what Mr. Roosevelt might accomplish on horseback if he really felt up to the mark?"
Not a single accident marred the entire ride from dark to dark. Neither were there any vexatious delays, Capt. Butt having seen to it that the horses and men were at their stations and ready when the party arrived, both going out and returning.
-- The New York Times, Published: January 14. 1909
"A notable high point in the library’s history occurred in 1917 when President Theodore Roosevelt and several others rode on horseback from the White House to Warrenton. The town hosted a reception, and, in appreciation, the President presented the library with a large photo of himself in his hunting clothes along with notes from his ride. "
[ed. A large framed photo of Theodore Roosevelt in riding clothes was present in the Fauquier County Library Virginia room in May 2014]
TEDDY ROOSEVELT GALLOPS ACROSS PRINCE WILLIAM
Teddy Roosevelt, during his presidency, led a cavalry run across Prince William County, reminiscent of his days as a Rough Rider. The purpose was to demonstrate to Army and Navy officers that it was not unreasonable to expect their forces to ride ninety miles in three days. On a single day, January 13, 1909, Roosevelt and his cohort rode 98 miles. They left the White House at 3:40 a.n1. Crossing the Aqueduct Bridge into Virginia, they soon ran into many miles of icy roads. Their route took them along present-day Route 29, through Gainesville. They stopped at Buckland only long enough to saddle fresh horses. Without announcement, they arrived in Warrenton about 11 a.m. and were greeted by a throng of about 1000 people. After a reception and lunch, they remounted for their return trip. "The road from Warrenton to Gainesville on the way home, was exceptionally bad. In all his riding experience, the President never saw a worse road, he said." At Centreville the party ran into sleet and snow, which lasted the rest of the trip. They arrived back at the White House at 8:30 p.m., tired from many hours in the saddle, but all in good health. It was reported that the President hadn't had such fun in years.
--[DLW]
[1] The Washington Post, 14 Jan. 1909, p. 1. H. W. Brands, T. R. the Last Romantc (Basic Books, 1997), 634.
  • Newspapers.com free text - Washington Post, 14 January 1909, p. 1.
PRESIDENT IN TEST Covers 98 Miles 09 Horse in a Single Day
SILENT REPLY TO CRITICS Proves Justice of Order to Army and Navy Officers
WASHINGTON THURSDAY JANUARY 14 1909
Leaves White House Before 4 oclock Yesterday Morning Accompanied by Admiral Hixey Capt Butts and Dr Grayson Rides to Warrenton Va Over Sleety Roads and Returns at 830 oClock Last Night in Fine Condition
The White House must have looked good to President Roosevelt when he came home last night at half past 8. He rode to Warrenton Va and back, a distance of 98 miles yesterday to prove that the 90 - mile horseback test for officers of the army and navy can be made by them in three days without too much hardship. At the conclusion of the trip the members of the party were in excellent physical condition. The road from Warrenton to Gainesville on the way home was exceptionally bad. In all his riding experience the President never saw a worse road he said. At Centerville the party ran into the sleet and snow which lasted until Washington was reached. From Fairfax to Washington the night was so dark that horsemen could not distinguish horses or riders 10 ft away. Every road traveled was frozen owing to the slippery condition of the highways. From the fall of sleet and the fact that the shoes of some of the horses were not sharpened there was a gradual loss of time in the schedule itinerary so that the return which was scheduled for 6 o'clock was not made until 830. Covered with sleet, hair, mustaches, clothing and boots matted with snow, ice, sleet and mud the president and his party galloped into the White House grounds from the record-breaking ride and swung themselves from their saddles which they had occupied for a little less than seventeen hours the start having been made from the White House at 340 yesterday morning.
Mrs Roosevelt had been sitting beside a window - in [unreadable] room on the second floor front awaiting the return of the President and when she saw him come home in the saddle instead of the carriage she had sent to the Aqueduct ridge for him she ran down stairs and greeted him at the door. He said he was a little tired of sitting in the saddle and was sorry to be late for dinner. After he had changed to evening clothes there was a family party at the table.
The object of the President's long day in the saddle he said was to prove to the critics who have found fault with the recent order requiring all army and navy officers to take a physical test, that if a President who is not in training can ride 98 miles in one day without being laid up in bed thereby it should not be too much to ask of the men who are supposed to be in the best of physical training all the time to ride 80 miles in three days.
Took Test Himself
wlthyni any of his callers remembering he ald the fame of Virginia and especially the Warrenton section - aa - a breeder si horses. He was introduced to the people by [unclear - "Surgi J C4 Wise XL SjtNa"] and Son the return trip he was acccompanied for a few miles by [unclear "- the itnas - tertff they liunt"] of the Warrenton Hunt Club. Luncheon was served at 1130 and the start back was begun at 1210.
It was from Warrenton to Gainesville that the worst roads were found and the sleet and snow from Centerville to Washington tested the horses and their riders to the utmost. Arriving at the Aqueduct bridge across ithe Potomac the President refused to take the carriage waiting there for him. As the four riders followed by two policemen on wheels and the empty carriage swept into the sleet-covered grounds of the White House, the President in front with his broad - brimmed black - slouch hat pulled down over his face they presented a striking picture.
Makes Strong Finish
If any of the critics of his army and navy riding order could have seen him as he dismounted at the portico they would have been sadly disappointed for he did not show in the least that he had been sitting for nearly seventeen hours in a hard saddle. Gen Rixey was in the best of training of those among the party as he rides out to his farm in Virginia and back every day. It was to Gen Rileys place that the party was supposed to havu gone yesterday for a days riding about the country roads to give the President a holiday of exercise and fresh air. The 88 miles given by the President yesterday as he distance he rode is on the authority of the geodetic survey. Members of the hunt club who wished to escort him over a part of the return trip told him that the distance was 106 miles. This distance was confirmed by other citizens along the route. The President however says he sticks to the geodetic survey figures.
Protests have been made to the President that riding 90 miles in three days was a hardship upon the officers. So strong and so widespread were these protests that the President was not certain that the order should stand. He therefore decided to make the test himself and to go the protestants one better by doing in one days march what he asked them to do in three. Invited to accompany the President were Capt Archibald Butts TJ S A, his military aid at the White House, Surg Gen P M Rixey TJ S N, and P A Surg Cary T Grayson U N. These formed his escort. Leaving the White House yesterday at 340 a m the party found the roads exceedingly difficult as soon as Virginia was reached. The route was from the White House to Aqueduct bridge and from there to Falls Church, Fairfax Courthouse, Centerville, Bull Run, Gainesville, Buckland, New Baltimore, Warrenton. Horses were changed only at Fairfax, Bull Run, and Buckland.
Rode Army Horses
The President rode during the first two relays his Jumper, Roswell and the bay mare, Georgia. The other horses used by the party were sent from Fort Myer. No one at the fort knew the President was going on the ride and it was given out that a party of officers was going on a day's jaunt. Ordinary officers horses were furnished and the test was one for the government animals as well as their riders. No stop was made for more than ten minutes and these halts were only for changing saddles and bridles. No stimulants were taken by any members of the party notwithstanding the lash-like cutting of ice-coated tree leaves and branches into the faces of the horsemen. Capt Butts took a flask of cold tea, sticking to the horseman's belief that anything stronger in a forced march is bad for the heart and weakens the riders endurance. The party arrived at Warrenton at 11 o'clock. No one in the little - Virginia town knew of the President's coming and no preparations had been made to receive him. The news of his great ride however soon was noised about and something like a thousand people gathered to greet him. He shook hands with every one at the Warren Green Hotel where lunch was served. At this point the President looked as fresh as a schoolboy. The greeting that the town gave the party showed its knowledge of the fact that its people, including many women and school children were enjoying the first visit of a President of the United States since the days of Franklin Pierce.
President Makes Speech
The President made a short speech expressing his delight at his visit to the [ed. Free text ends].
ROOSEVELT RIDES 98 MILES
ON A STORMY DAY JUST TO SHOW THE ARMY AND NAVY
How Easy These Endurance Tests Are -- He Makes A Speech for Good Measure -- Dr. Rixey and Capt. Butt with Him -- Three Relays of Horses Used
WASHINGTON, Jan 13. --President Roosevelt rode forty-nine miles on horseback to-day, shook hands with a thousand citizens and children at Warrenton, Va., and then rode back to Washington. This ride of ninety-eight miles was made just to show the officers of the army, navy and Marine corps that the physical endurance tents prescribed by the President on a prerequisite of promotion are not cruel or unduly severe.
These tests require that officers shall ride ninety miles on horseback in three successive days. The President wanted to show how easy it was to do the trick in a single day.
The President left the White House before light this morning and it was several hours after dark to-night when he returned. It was an ideal day for his purpose —-that is, it was ideal to the standard which Mr. Roosevelt has established for his outdoor stunts in the vicinity of Washington, these generally being performed under the greatest stress of wind and weather.
To-day it first rained. then hailed, then snowed, and finally rained again, the rain freezing as it fell. In some respect, the weather was worse than it was on that miserable February afternoon when Mr. Roosevelt took Prince Henry of Prussia and members of the royal suite on a ride through Rock Creek Park and put much money in the pockets of Berlin’s military tailors.
On his ride to-day the President was accompanied by three companions -- Surgeon-General H. M. Rixey of the navy, Dr. Carey Grayson, a navy surgeon, and Capt. Archibald W. Butt of the Quartermaster's Department, one of his military aides. Galloping away from the White House at 3:45 o'clock this morning. B-r-r-r, it was cold! The President and his companions rode to Warrenton, and after they had eaten luncheon in the little inn which goes by the attractive name of the Warren Green Hotel and Mr. Roosevelt had made a speech to the Warrenton-ites the Presidential party galloped back again, arriving at the White House at 8:30 o'clock this evening.
Sleet was coming down thick and fast as the riders neared home and the coating of ice on the roads made this going pretty bad. But from all accounts it was an enjoyable adventure for the President, more so because he had done in one day that what the physical endurance rules give officers of the military services three days to accomplish.
Perhaps the President‘s companions did not enjoy it so much, but they will hardly confess it. Dr. Rixy is 55, six years older than President Roosevelt. Dr. Grayson and Capt. Butt are more skittish colts in the forties, and nobody would ever suspect Capt. Butt of being anywhere out his age.
On the theory that the merciful man is merciful to his beast, and that, moreover it would be impossible to make the century ride without change of mounts, the President and his oompanions used three relays of horses. The President rode his own horses, Roswell and Georgia over two-thirds of the journey and rode a cavalry horse Fort Myer for the rest of the way. The horses stood the trip well.
The greatest secrecy attended the preparations for the journey, the impression having been given yesterday that the President was merely going for a horseback ride to Surgeon-General Rixey's farm in Virginia, a few miles from Washington. The White House servants were among the first to learn that there was something unusual on foot for to-day for the President ordered that breakfast be served for himself and Capt Butt at 3:15 o'clock this morning.
Half an hour later they were joined by surgeon-General Rixey and Dr Grayson, and promptly at 3:45 the horseman galloped out of the White House grounds and turned toward Georgetown. The electric lights were burning along Pennsylvania Avenue. The sky was cloudy, giving a promise of snow.
Arriving at Georgetown the President and his fellow riders crossed the Aqueduct Bridge to the Virginia side of the Potomac and took the road towards Falls Church at a good clip. The inhabitants the town were sleeping as the party galloped through the long main street, making good time toward Fairfax Court House. There were streaks of light in the eastern sky as they rode into Fairfax, where the first relay station had bees located, sixteen miles from Washington.
A cavalry corporal from Fort Myer had been sent over with horses, and the President and his companions took ten minutes to change saddles, remount and ride away toward Centreville. From Centreville, where the early risers were just turning over for one more nap when the distinguished party of horsemen rode through. The route led toward Cub Run, which is only a short distance from Bull Run, the historic battlefield.
The President rode along one side of the battlefield and then came to a farm-house where the second relay or horses had been left. There was another stop of a few minutes -- just long enough to change the saddles -- and the party galloped off toward Gainesville, through a country made historic by the civil war. Then came Buckland and New Baltimore and than Warrenton.
Only a few persons recognized the President as he rode along the Thoroughfare Pike, which is the main highway loading from the Potomac to Warrenton, and only a few persons in Warrenton had been apprised of the fact that the President was on the road.
The last relay of horses was at Buckland, only about eight miles from the end of the first half of the journey, and the President and his party rode briskly into Warrenton just as the old town clock was striking 11. They proceeded straight to the Warren Green Inn, where luncheon (or rather dinner) was served within a few minutes after their arrival.
The news that the President was in town soon spread over Warrenton and the schools were closed promptly so as to give the children a holiday in honor of the event. Roosevelt is the first President to visit Warrenton since the days of Franklin Pierce. People came from everywhere, many of them riding. Warrenton is famed as a residence or sojourning place of many lovers of horses. It has a hunt club and an annual colt show and in its manner of life approaches nearer to the South of antebellum days than most places south of the Potomac.
It is the centre or business and amusement of a fine grazing and farming country where many young Englishmen have settled down to do some farming and a good deal of hunting and shooting. There is not anything slow about Warrenton and the people who live there or near by are mighty proud of the little town nestled in the foothills that spread over what the geographies call the Piedmont section of Virginia.
From all over Fauquier county came those curious to see the man from the White House of whom they had heard so much. The Warrentonites rang up their their out of town friends on the telephone to let them know what was going on. Virginians, Englishmen, Irishmen and Scotchmen hurried to the Warren Green Hotel and with them scores of pretty girls, for which the town and the country are noted throughout the Old Dominion.
There were at least a thousand near the inn when the President and his friends had finished their meal of soup, roast beef and potatoes. Mr. Roosevelt came out on the hotel steps and made a little speech to them, telling them how glad he was to see them. Then he reentered the building and at his invitation the whole crowd passed through the hotel, shaking hands with him as they passed. Among the number were all the school children in town.
The President started on the return ride from Warrenton only an hour and ten minutes after his arrival. He told everybody that that he had enjoyed the ride from Washington immensely and there was nothing in his appearance to indicate that he had ridden more than a mile or two. He wore a sweater, riding breeches, high top boots and a broad brimmed slouch hat.
The first two-thirds of the return trip to Washington was passed over without special incident. At each of the relay stations where cavalry men from Fort Myer had the horses in charge the President and his companions changed mounts, taking the same horses they had ridden in the morning.
At Centreville, twenty-seven miles from Washington, the freezing rain was falling steadily, and the trees, fences, roads and even the saddles and riders were covered with ice. By the time the party reached Fairfax Court House daylight had gone and within a few minutes the night became absolutely black. It was impossible to see a horse and rider more than ten feet ahead, and this made it necessary to proceed with great caution.
The roads through the whole journey were exceedingly rough and the road here had become deeply rutted after the recent rains and frozen hard. The party left Fairfax Court House at 5:10 o'clock and although the journey as a whole was made at the average rate of seven miles an hour, the trip from Fairfax to Washington was at a much lower rate of speed.
Capt. Butt took the precaution because of the icy condition of the roads to telephone to Washington before leaving Fairfax directing that the President's carriage meet him at the Georgetown end of the Aqueduct Bridge. When the party arrived at Georgetown, however, the President declined to dismount and stuck to his mount until he reached the porch of the White House.
From Fairfax the party walked their horses through inky darkness for about eight miles. Then the reflected light from the city made the going better, and the Presidential party rode the rest of the journey at a brisk gallop.
When they reached the White House the President declared that he had stood the journey well and never felt better in his life. He and his companions were literally covered with a mailed suit of ice, but they said they were not cold and, strange to say, not very hungry. None of them had taken any refreshment since 3:05 in the morning, except the hearty luncheon at Warrenton.
The President declared that any military officer who is in fit physical condition ought to make the prescribed ninety mile ride with perfect ease in three days, and he thought that his ride of ninety-eight miles in a single day proved this amply. He remarked that he did not consider himself in the best condition for riding, for he has not had as much exercise as he would like recently. Surgeon-General Rixey was in better training he thought than any of the others for he rides to his farm in Virginia every day.
As for the distance, the ninety-eight miles was given by the President on the authority of the Geologic Survey. Members of the Hunt Club who wished to escort the President over a part of the return trip but whose company he politely declined told him the distance was 106 miles. This distance was confirmed by other citizens along the route. The President, however, puts it at ninety-eight miles.
NAVY TEST ORDER OUT.
It Affects All Officers Except Those About to Be Retired.
WASHINGTON, Jan 13. -- The text of the order prescribing the annual physical tests for officers of the navy was issued to the service to-day as "general order No. 6." The order applies to every officer on the active list except those within one year of the date of retirement.
The test may be taken once each calendar year, but no officer shall be required to take the test before July 1 next except at his own request. The test provides an alternative of a ninety mile horseback ride, a hundred mile bicycle ride and a fifty mile walk, all to be completed within three days.
  • Warrenton, Virginia, A Unique History of 200 Years, 1810 to 2010, John T. Toler, Cheryl H. Shepherd, Ann C. Power, p.52
In appreciation for the hospitality shown by the people of Warrenton during his visit, Pres. 'Teddy' Roosevelt gave the town a signed photograph of himself taken from a portrait by Geri Melchers. The photograph can be seen today in the Virginiana Room of the Fauquier County Library. [ed. see below image of portrait]
1908-17a-TheodoreRoosevelt GeriMelchers.jpg
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