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.

Company B of the 21st Infantry on a dusty march during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Company B of the 21st Infantry on a dusty march during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Image Number: RC20113

9th U.S. Cavalry embarking for Cuba: Port Tampa, Florida (1898)

9th U.S. Cavalry embarking for Cuba: Port Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: RC04841

Captain Curry of the Rough Riders: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Captain Curry of the Rough Riders: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: PR10253

Loading horses onto railroad cars at Port Tampa during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Loading horses onto railroad cars at Port Tampa during the Spanish-American war (1898)

Image Number: RC06502

Spanish-American war camp scene: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Spanish-American war camp scene: Tampa, Florida (1898)

Image Number: RC03722

Colonel and Mrs. William Jennings Bryan in a tent under the live oaks: Jacksonville, Florida

Colonel and Mrs. William Jennings Bryan in a tent under the live oaks: Jacksonville, Florida

Image Number: RC02394

Cannons being loaded on transport preparing to sail to Cuba for the Spanish-American war: Tampa, Florida

Cannons being loaded on transport preparing to sail to Cuba for the Spanish-American war: Tampa, Florida

Image Number: RC02410

3rd Nebraska Volunteers marching on the beach: Pablo Beach, Florida (1898)

3rd Nebraska Volunteers marching on the beach: Pablo Beach, Florida (1898)

Image Number: RC03606

Spanish-American War officer on a mule (1898)

Spanish-American War officer on a mule (1898)

Image Number: PR10243

The Battle of Quasimas near Santiago, June 24th, 1898. The 9th and 10th Colored Calvary in support of Rough Riders (1898)

The Battle of Quasimas near Santiago, June 24th, 1898. The 9th and 10th Colored Calvary in support of Rough Riders (1898)

Image Number: RC10398