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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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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