In 1898 national attention focused on Florida as the Spanish-American War began. The port city of Tampa served as the primary staging area for U.S. troops bound for the war in Cuba. The arrival of over 30,000 troops, including Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders cavalry unit, changed Tampa from a small town into a city.

Florida, the closest state to the Caribbean and home to a large Cuban immigrant population, became the setting for much of the action in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain.

Rough Riders: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Rough Riders: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: PR10245

Group portrait of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and other high ranking officials of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Group portrait of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and other high ranking officials of the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: PR10255

Rough Riders filling belts with cartridges (1898)

Rough Riders filling belts with cartridges (1898)

Image Number: PR10240

Sultry day in camp: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Sultry day in camp: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: N041294

Mascot of the "Rough Riders" (1898)

Mascot of the "Rough Riders" (1898)

Image Number: PR10228

Skirmish line entrenchment (1898)

Skirmish line entrenchment (1898)

Image Number: PR10237

Company D Florida volunteers at dinner (1898)

Company D Florida volunteers at dinner (1898)

Image Number: PR10231

Clara Barton and Red Cross colleagues having a picnic: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Clara Barton and Red Cross colleagues having a picnic: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: RC13693

They are picnicking in Spring 1898 awaiting permission to take relief supplies to Cuba.

Fever wards at the division hospital: Jacksonville, Florida (1898)

Fever wards at the division hospital: Jacksonville, Florida (1898)

Image Number: N041310

Company E of the 9th Infantry reading newspapers during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Company E of the 9th Infantry reading newspapers during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Image Number: RC06658

9th Infantry breaking camp to embark for the Spanish-American war (1898)

9th Infantry breaking camp to embark for the Spanish-American war (1898)

Image Number: RC20111

9th United States Calvary training horses for Spanish-American war (ca. 1898)

9th United States Calvary training horses for Spanish-American war (ca. 1898)

Image Number: RC20112

Soldiers of the 2nd Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers at train depot: Cocoa, Florida (1898)

Soldiers of the 2nd Regiment of Louisiana Volunteers at train depot: Cocoa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: RC06028

Photographed in June 1898.

Loading camp supplies at Tampa (1898)

Loading camp supplies at Tampa (1898)

Image Number: PR10241