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After their return
from the Cuban campaign. Many of the servicemen in Cuba had contracted
tropical fevers, which had prompted the U.S. government to establish Camp
Wickoff as a place where these soldiers could be quarantined until they
recuperated. The evacuation of the Fifth Corps to Montauk was made before
the camp was ready, resulting in inadequate provisions of housing, food
and medical facilities. Secretary of War Russell Alger was blamed in popular
opinion for the condition of the camp as well as for poor care of the troops
while in Cuba, prompting President McKinley to create a special commission
to investigate the conduct of the War Department during the war. By September,
the situation at Camp Wickoff had improved measurably, and President McKinley
visited the camp to show his approval. Over 20,000 soldiers were evacuated
to Camp Wickoff before it closed on October 28; 257 died while there.
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71st Regiment, Camp Wickoff
President Roosevelt and the Rough Riders / American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.
General Wheeler and Secretary Alger at Camp Wickoff