12th Cavalry Regiment
Historical Missions
"Always Ready"

Quadrangle Clock Tower (1876)
On 02 February 1901, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was constituted in the Regular Army. On 08 February 1901, the organization of the regiment was started at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and was completed on 29 June 1901, under the command of Colonel James N. Wheelan.

During the years of 1901 and 1902, following their organization at Ft. Sam Houston, companies of the regiment moved to Fort Clark, Fort Bliss and Fort McIntosh, all located in Texas. In 1903, the regiment was sent, by squadrons, to the Philippines, completing the change of station on 30 August 1903.

In 1905, the regiment was ordered back to the United States. By 13 September 1905, the last contingent of the regiment arrived at their assigned post, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia. In 1909, following four years of garrison duty at Fort Oglethorpe, the 12th Regiment returned to the Philippines for a second tour of duty, stationed at Fort William McKinley.

In February 1911, the regiment - less the 3rd Squadron, returned to the United States being stationed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Troops "I" and "K" were remotely stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona and Troops "L" and "M" were stationed at Fort Apache, Arizona. In December 1911, the 3rd Squadron was transferred to Fort Meade, South Dakota.

In November 1913, the 1st Squadron was ordered to Gallup, New Mexico for temporary duty on the Navajo reservation and subsequently in December, moved on to El Paso, Texas. In the same time period Troops "E" and "F" changed station by marching from Fort Robinson, Nebraska to Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming.

Early in 1914, the 1st Squadron was ordered to the lower Rio Grande Valley and garrisoned with a troop each at San Bonito, Harlingon, Morcedes and Donna. During that year, troops of the 2nd Squadron had a short tour of duty in the Trinidad, Colorado coal strike zone. Shortly later troops of the 3rd Squadron, guarding interned Mexican prisoners, joined them. In the fall of 1914, the 2nd Squadron returned to Fort Robinson, Nebraska and Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming. Early in 1915, the 3rd Squadron returned to Fort Meade, South Dakota. The 1st Squadron, remained on border duty, and continued to engage small detachments of Mexican raiding bandits at various points along the border.

Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal
In November 1903, the country of Panama had proclaimed its independence from Colombia and entered into the Hay/Bunau-Varilla Treaty that authorized the United States to build a Pan American Canal through a zone 10 miles wide. In addition to overseeing the construction of the canal, the treaty also had included the responsibility for the United States to administer, fortify and defend the canal "in perpetuity." In 1914, the United States completed the 52-mile canal. On 16 February 1916, as part of the military mobilization for the defenses of the canal, the 1st Squadron shipped out from Galveston, Texas on the US Army Transport, the Kilpatrick, to Corozal, Panama, which was located just west of the Pacific entrance to the Miraflores Locks, in the Panama Canal Zone.

In April 1916, the 3rd Squadron departed Fort Meade, South Dakota, traveling by train to Hachita, New Mexico. The 2nd Squadron proceeded also by rail from Fort D. A. Russell, Wyoming and Fort Robinson, Nebraska to Columbus, New Mexico. From Columbus, Troop "H" became escort to supply trains with the Punitive Expedition into Mexico. The 12th Cavalry was one of several units which patrolled the Mexican border before, during and after World War I. The border was patrolled constantly, and because of the lack of roads in the area, the cavalry operations was the only practical and effective way to monitor the activity. In 1919, these two encampments exchanged stations. In March 1920, both squadrons marched overland to Del Rio, Texas where they remained until 1921.

In October 1921, after the Tables of Organization had been amended, the 1st Squadron stationed at the Canal Zone returned to the United States and personnel of the unit were transferred to the 3rd Cavalry Division.

During August 1921, Troops "I", "K", "L" and "M" of the 3rd Squadron were disbanded. The personnel of Troops "I" and "K" were transferred to Headquarters Troop and Service Troop, 12th Cavalry. The Machine Gun Troop was transferred intact to the 1st Machine Gun Squadron stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

On 24 March 1923, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was relieved from the 3rd Cavalry Division and assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division.

Needs Data

The entire Army was expanding and acquiring new equipment. Faster and lighter medium tanks were assigned to both, cavalry and infantry units. The mobile 105mm howitzer became the chief artillery piece of the Army Divisions. There was also a new urgency being expressed by Washington. Japan, which had invaded Manchuria in 1931, continued to expand conquests into China and Nazi Germany had annexed Austria and was threatening to seize Czechoslovakia.

Ringgold Barracks, Texas
On 03 January 1933, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was relieved from the 2nd Cavalry Division and assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, relieving the 1st Cavalry Regiment. The stations of the 12th Cavalry remained the same as previously assigned by the 2nd Cavalry Division, Forts Ringgold and Brown, Texas.

In 1936, the Modernization Board, which was performing an evaluation of overall Army operations, began an evaluation of the 1st Cavalry Division. Most officers still envisioned a role for the horse, because it could go places inaccessible to motorized and mechanized equipment. Taking into account recommendations from the XII Corps Area, the Army War College and the Command, and General Staff School of the Army, the board recommended a new, smaller "triangular" cavalry division.

In July 1937, initiating the second stage of expansion, Japan launched a major invasion of northern and central China. After a costly resistance, the ill-prepared Chinese armies were forced back from eastern China and in December 1937 the Nationalist capital, Nanking, was subjected to an orgy of rape and destruction. At this time the rest of the world remained neutral, and some western countries, including the US, were still selling scrap materials to Japan, which were converted into armaments for use in additional expansion plans. Further, Nazi Germany had annexed Austria and was now threatening to seize Czechoslovakia.

Maneuvers near Toyahvale, TX
During the fall of 1937, the 12th Cavalry Regiment, along with other troops stationed at Ft. Bliss engaged in the Provisional Infantry Division (PID) Tests at Ft. Sam Houston and Camp Bullis, Texas. The PID Tests developed the partially motorized triangular division that was employed in World War II. In the early spring of 1938, the Division moved out again and, against the background of growing international tensions, began its fourth divisional maneuvers staged in the mountainous and desert areas near Balmorhea and Toyahvale, Texas. New units, including the 1st Signal Corps, the 27th Ordnance Company and the 1st Medical Squadron also joined the 1st Cavalry Division. In these maneuvers, the 1st Cavalry Division conducted tests and evaluated the many organizational recommendations for a Provisional Cavalry Division made by the Modernization Board.

Following the tests, a board of 1st Cavalry Division officers, headed by Brigadier General Kenyon A. Joyce, rejected the three-regiment division and recommended retention of the two-brigade (four-regiment) organization. The latter configuration allowed the Division to deploy easily in two columns, which was an accepted standard cavalry tactic. However, the board advocated reorganizing the cavalry regiment along triangular lines, which would give it a headquarters and headquarters troop, a machine gun squadron with special weapons and machine gun troops, and three rifle squadrons, each with one machine gun and three rifle troops. It further demonstrated that the special troops concept should be extended to include the division headquarters, signal, ordnance troops, quartermaster, medical, engineer, reconnaissance and observation squadrons, and a chemical warfare detachment. One headquarters would assume responsibility for all the administration and disciplinary control for these forces.

The results of the study did not lead to a general reorganization of the 1st Cavalry Division. However, on 01 December 1938 the wartime cavalry regiment was restructured to consist of a headquarters and headquarters troop, machine gun and special weapons troops, and three squadrons of three rifle troops each. The special troops remained as structured in 1928, and no observation squadron or chemical detachment was added to the Division. With the paper changes in the cavalry divisions and other minor adjustments, the strength of a wartime divisional force was set at 10,680.

War Declared in Europe
The staging of the third divisional maneuvers near Balmorhea, Texas was made even more memorable and intense by their timing. The starting of the maneuvers, 01 September 1939, coincided with the invasion of Poland by Germany, who used the most modern and deadly military force of its time, the "Blitzkrieg". Failing to influence Hitler of the grave consequences of his actions, both Great Britain and France initiated a declaration of war on 03 September 1939.

Having returned to Fort Bliss from the 3rd Army Louisiana readiness maneuvers in October 1941, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was trained and ready for action. Isolationist politics was still strong in Congress. Major priorities were placed on building up the industrial capacity to supply equipment to the Allies in Europe. Many officers and men took leave or returned to civilian life. Other, more dedicated, members of the 1st Cavalry Division began to prepare for battle. They had no way of knowing that their first combat engagement would not be for more than two and a half years.

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 08 Nov '09 SpellChecked