In a letter to President William McKinley dated April 5, 1898, famed sharpshooter Annie Oakley offered up an interesting service. The United States was on the cusp of a war with Spain. In case a war was to break out, Oakley offered the government the service and expertise of 50 “lady sharpshooters” who would also provide their own arms and ammunition. McKinley did not accept her offer.
The Spanish-American War officially began on April 25, 1898. While Oakley was not involved in the conflict herself, future president Theodore Roosevelt and his “Rough Riders” were. Oddly enough, it is believed that Roosevelt named his volunteer cavalry after “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World.” How is this related? Annie Oakley was one of the major stars of that particular frontier show.
When the United States went to war against the Central Powers in World War I, Oakley again promoted the idea of women in combat and offered up female sharpshooters – this time to President Woodrow Wilson. He, like McKinley did not accept the offer.