Leonard Wood was what some people would describe as an overachiever. Born in 1860, he lived for 67 years and, from the evidence of his life, it is clear that he was, at the very least, a motivated man. Wood began his adult life as a Harvard educated surgeon and he put that education to use for the U.S. Army.
When he was 26 years old, he won the Medal of Honor for his service in the Apache Campaign during the American Indian Wars, the same campaign that saw the surrender of the great Apache Chieftain, Geronimo.
By the time Leonard Wood turned 35, he had been named as the White House physician to President Grover Cleveland. And when war broke out with Spain, Wood went to Cuba as the commander of the First Volunteer Cavalry, a group of soldiers he and, his good friend and second-in-command, Theodore Roosevelt had recruited, trained and given the name The Rough Riders.
After the Spanish-American War, Wood stayed on in Cuba as the country’s Military Governor. In less than ten years he rose from a Captain in the Army Medical Corps to the highest post in the U.S. Army as Chief of Staff under President William Howard Taft.
For a time during his remarkable rise through the ranks in the Army, Wood was stationed at the Fort McPherson Barracks just outside of Atlanta. And it was during that period that he decided to go back to college…not so much for the chance to continue his education but more for the opportunity to play some football. And that is the subject of this week’s Stories of Atlanta.