Granville Roland Fortescue
Major, United States Army
Newspaper Correspondent & Author
at New York City on October 12, 1875, he attended the University of Pennsylvania,
leaving there at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War.
He then served as Private, and Corporal, 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (Rough Riders) in 1898, being wounded in action at San Juan Hill, Cuba, in July 1898. He then served as First Lieutenant, 26th Volunteer Infantry in the Philippines during the Insurrection there, 1898-1901.
He was appointed Second Lieutenant, 4th United States Cavalry and graduated from the Army Staff College in 1904. He was promoted to First Lieutenant, 10th United States Cavalry, commanding Troop A. He served as a military attache with the Japanese Army before Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War. He served as Military Aide to President Theodore Roosevelt.
He resigned from the Army in 1906 and served as Captain and Special Agent, Cuban Rural Guard, 1906, and as a special correspondent for the London Standard with the Spanish Army in the Riff War, 1909; he was in the exploration of the interior of Venezuela, the headwaters of the Orinoco River to the mouth; as correspondent, London Daily Telegraph with the Belgian, French, English, Russian and Turkish armies in the field during World War I.
He was commissioned Major, National Army, in 1917 and saw active duty with the 314th Field Artillery in France, 1917-18. He was wounded at Mountfaucon and eventually retired as Major, Field Artillery, in 1928.
He was awarded the Certificate of Merit and the Distinguished Service Cross (US); Spanish War Medal; Philippine Insurrection Medal; Order of the Purple Heart, Order of the Rising Sun (Japan); Japanese War Medal.
He was the author of "At The Front With Three Armies," (1914); "Russia, The Balkans and the Dardanelles," (1915); "Forearmed," (1916); "France Bears The Burden," (1917); and the plays, "Delores," (1915); "Love and Live," (1921); "The Unbeliever," (1925); "Frontline and Dead Line," (1937). He was the fiction editor of Liberty Magazine, 1930, and made his home in Bayport, New York.
He died on April 21, 1952 and was buried in
Arlington National Cemetery.
A Secret Roosevelt
Mr. Renehan's books include The Lion's Pride: Theodore Roosevelt and His Family in Peace and War (Oxford University Press, 1998)
On a recent walking tour, I found myself having to correct our guide after he indicated that Arlington Cemetery's hallowed ground contains no members of the Roosevelt family. In fact it does contain at least one furtive Roosevelt. The gentleman in question is soldier, war-correspondent, author and editor Granville Roland Fortescue (1875 — 1952).
At the time of his birth, Fortescue's mother — an Irish maid by the name of Marion “Minnie” O'Shea — was mistress to Theodore Roosevelt's uncle, Robert B. Roosevelt. Attorney, adventurer, conservationist, soldier, reform Democratic politician, author and ambassador, Robert B. Roosevelt had — in the early 1870s — set up Miss O'Shea in a Manhattan townhouse not far from his own, there to live under the alias Mrs. Fortescue. She, in turn, gave him several children. After Roosevelt's wife died in 1887, he promptly (1888) married the “Widow Fortescue,” becoming Granville's “step-father” when the boy was 13.
Unacknowledged as a Roosevelt by blood, Fortescue spent all his days behaving in a thoroughly (in fact, fanatically) Rooseveltian manner. He had lifelong associations with a number of recognized Roosevelts, but he was never able — given the prejudices of the time in which he lived — to utter publicly the truth of his blood connection to the clan he admired so much and emulated so ardently.
Fortescue left the University of Pennsylvania in 1898 to enlist as a corporal in the Rough Riders. Serving under his blood-cousin Theodore Roosevelt — who always referred to him by the nickname “Roly” — he was wounded (in the foot) at San Juan Hill. Fortescue remained in the Army after the war, and saw action in the Philippines throughout the Insurrection (1898 — 1901). During his cousin's presidency, Fortescue received appointment as second lieutenant, 4th United States Calvary. He graduated from the Army Staff College (1904), advanced to the rank of first lieutenant, and thereafter served as military attaché with the Japanese before Port Arthur. Fortescue later became a military aide to President Theodore Roosevelt.
Lieutenant Fortescue resigned from the army the year his “step-father” died, 1906, after which he took on duties as Captain and Special Agent for the Cuban Rural Guard. This continued until 1909 when he signed-on as special correspondent for the London Standard, covering the Spanish Army during the Riff War. Subsequently — about the same time that Theodore Roosevelt busily mapped the River of Doubt in Brazil — Fortescue explored the interior of Venezuela from the headwaters of the Orinoco River to the mouth.
During the early days of World War I, before the entry of the United States, Fortescue worked as correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph and in that capacity traveled variously with Belgian, French, English, Russian and Turkish forces. At the same time, he authored no less than four books (among them, France Bears the Burden, 1917) designed to help the interventionist movement in the United States — a movement headed by TR. Once the U.S. entered the war, Fortescue received a commission as a major in Pershing's army, saw active duty with the 314th Field Artillery (1917 — 18), and received wounds at Mountfaucon.
Fortescue continued in the peacetime army and retired as a major in 1928. During his career he was awarded the Certificate of Merit and the Distinguished Service Cross, the Spanish War Medal, the Philippine Insurrection Medal, the Order of the Purple Heart, and the Order of the Rising Sun (Japan).
Beginning in 1930, Fortescue occupied himself as fiction editor for Liberty Magazine and lived in Bayport, Long Island, just a short distance from Meadowcroft, the home of his half-brother (officially “step-brother”) John Ellis Roosevelt. He wrote a number of plays and also the memoir Frontline and Deadline (1937), wherein he kept the truth of his parentage a secret.
Fortescue died on April 21, 1952 at age seventy-seven.
Photo Courtesy of Ron Williams
G. Roland Fortescue
Corporal, New York, New York
Slight bullet wound in foot, July 1, 1898
Updated: 19 November 2000 Updated: 10 November 2001 Updated: 5 March 2003 Updated: 3 October 2004 Updated: 25 December 2005