On 05 March 1833, the first order announcing appointments in the regiment and announced the names of the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, major, four captains and four lieutenants, In addition, it stated that the organization of the regiment would be perfected by the selection of officers from the "Battalion of Rangers."
By June 1834, the regiment filled its complement of officers, many of whom later became noted Civil War generals:
When the War Department created the US Regiment of Dragoons, it had retained a
number of the officers of the Battalion of Mounted Rangers. However, the
reorganization did not include any of the enlisted personnel. Instead, the
Adjutant General, who was responsible for recruiting, sent the officers of the
new regiment throughout the different states with directions to recruit an
elite unit. The orders emphasized aiming for a better class of recruits than
usual and for "native born" Americans. The Dragoons were flamboyant by any
military standard. Long hair, colorful scarfs, facial hair and even earrings
was adorned by these elite troopers.
The Dragoons were furnished with equipment representing the latest in 19th Century technology. To carry his weapons, the trooper wore two wide belts of whitened leather crossed on his torso. From the left side was suspended an iron scabbard for the heavy, brass-handled horseman's sword, known not so affectionately as "The Wristbreaker." To the right side a belt clip held a Hall-North carbine. It was supplemented by one or two huge .54-caliber caplock pistols, muzzleloading smoothbores carried in saddle holsters.
The Dragoon version of the Hall-North carbine was a .52-caliber smoothbore
with a 21-inch round barrel fastened by two bands. It was the first percussion
weapon and the first breech loading weapon adopted by any government on earth.
Being a percussion cap firearm, it was much more reliable in adverse weather
conditions than the flintlock, which required loose black powder for the
priming charge. The percussion system used a small copper cup that held an
explosive charge that exploded and ignited the main charge as the hammer fell.
Being a breech loading weapon, it was immensely easier to load on horseback
than a muzzle loader which called for a barrel-length ramrod to seat the lead
ball projectile on the powder charge.
The Dragoon version of the Hall-North carbine was a .52-caliber smoothbore with a 21-inch round barrel fastened by two bands. It was the first percussion weapon and the first breech loading weapon adopted by any government on earth. Being a percussion cap firearm, it was much more reliable in adverse weather conditions than the flintlock, which required loose black powder for the priming charge. The percussion system used a small copper cup that held an explosive charge that exploded and ignited the main charge as the hammer fell. Being a breech loading weapon, it was immensely easier to load on horseback than a muzzle loader which called for a barrel-length ramrod to seat the lead ball projectile on the powder charge.
When the US Regiment of Dragoons were organized, the Western Department of the Army (Army of the West) protected the perimeter of the western frontier, a line stretching from Fort Snelling, Minnesota, in the north, to Fort Gibson, Arkansas Territory, in the south. In October 1833, the five companies first organized were sent under Colonel Dodge to winter in the vicinity of Fort Gibson which had been established 1824 in Indian Territory by Colonel Matthew Arbuckle. They remained there until June 1834.
At headquarters, Colonel Henry Dodge and Lt. Colonel Steven Watts Kearny mapped the campaign that lay ahead. In the summer of 1834, their first western expedition, the first official contact between the American government and the Plains Indians. was charged with impressing the restless Pawnee, Kiowa and Comanche Indian Tribes of their presence and force. The US Dragoon Regiment left Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, on 20 June, 1834. On 25 June, they joined with the forces of General Henry Leavenworth, Commander of the Western Department of the Army, for a two month exploration and survey of the western plains.On 03 September 1834, Lt. Colonel Kearny, accompanied by three companies of Dragoons totaling 113 men, left Fort Gibson, Oklahoma to establish and occupy a new army post, Fort Des Moines No. 1, located at the mouth of the Des Moines River (near present day Montrose, Iowa), which would protect travelers from Indian encroachment, opening the new frontier territory for settlement. Such a post, located in the upper Mississippi country, would also minimize open warfare between the powerful Sioux, Chippewa and Sac Indian Tribes. In subsequent explorations, lead by Lt. Colonel Kearny, the Dragoons would select and recommended additional sites for two future military posts in the nearby frontier areas, Fort Dodge and Fort Des Moines No. 2, which would eventually become the cities of Fort Dodge and Des Moines, Iowa.
On 29 May 1835, Colonel Henry Dodge and the US Regiment of Dragoons went on a second western exploration from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to the Rocky Mountains. He traveled north, along the west bank of the Missouri River, to the mouth of the Platte River. Moving in a western direction, he followed the Platte River to its source in Colorado and went south to the head-waters of the Arkansas River (near present day Leadville, Colorado) and returned to the Kansas Plains down its valley.
In 1835, the US Regiment of Dragoons were ordered to conduct the first official exploration of the Des Moines River Valley. On 07 June 1835, Lt. Colonel Stephan Watts Kearny, left the post at Fort Des Moines No 1 with one hundred-sixty Dragoons, five four-mule teams and wagons, tents, provisions, packhorses, and beef cattle for the commissary. Captain Nathan Boone, son of Daniel Boone, and Lt. Albert Lea, topographer for the expedition, were two of the officers on the march. By the time the expedition returned to Fort Des Moines on 19 August 1835, the Dragoons had ridden eleven hundred miles in slightly over two months. Lt. Albert Lea's journal of the expedition, later published in book form, gave the American public it's first detailed description of the terrain features of the territory between Americas greatest rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri.
During the summer of 1835, Colonel Henry Dodge led a large force of dragoons from Fort Gibson, Oklahoma as a show of strength to prevent the possibility of widespread warfare with the Comanches. How impressed the Hois (a division of the Comanches - "the timber people") were with the dragoons and their fancy uniforms is questionable, but they (with the Wichita) signed the Camp Holmes Treaty with American representatives pledging peace and friendship with the Osage, Quapaw, Seneca, Cherokee, Choctaw and Creek Indian Tribes.
On 04 July, Colonel Dodge resigned and was appointed Territorial Governor of Wisconsin. He was succeeded by Lieutenant Colonel Kearny, the ranking officer. On 05 July, President Andrew Jackson signed a commission for Kearny as Colonel of the US Regiment of Dragoons. When two more dragoon regiments were created by Congress on 15 May 1836, the US Regiment of Dragoons was redesignated the First Regiment of Dragoons.
In March 1837, a regimental order designated the color of the horses of each company as follows: "A" and "K" Companies, black; "B", "F" and "H" Companies, sorrel; "C", "D", "E" and "I" Companies, bay; and "G" Company, iron gray.
In October 1837, and again in March 1838, Colonel Kearny led elements of the
regiment to quell Osage Indians. In April 1839, the army created Fort Wayne
in Indian Territory for the purpose of keeping the Cherokee Tribe under
control. To keep to peace, "E", "F", "G" and "K" Companies , were stationed
there for several years, with occasional forays into the field to chase
An act of Congress creating forts along the Oregon Route in 1846, led to the establishment of Fort Childs by the Oregon Battalion. The site was purchased from the Pawnee Indians for $2,000 in trade goods. Fort Childs was later renamed Fort Kearny by dragoons who had transferred from the original Fort Kearny located at the mouth of the Platte River. The primary purpose of the fort was to protect and supply travelers along the Oregon Trail. It later also served as a stop on the Overland Stage and the Pony Express. It was abandoned in 1871, by which time the westward migration along the trail had all but ceased.
On 25 April 1846, Mexico started war by firing on Unites States troops,
commanded by General Zachary Taylor. On 11 May, President Polk requested a
statement of war from Congress, and two days later the United States declared
war on Mexico. The United States was, at this time, expanding its boundaries,
which conflicted with Mexico, who had already laid claim to the land, today,
known as the states of Texas, New Mexico, and California.
Very soon after the commencement of hostilities between the United States and Mexico, preparations were begun for the invasion of Mexican territory at various points. One expedition was to advance from the Missouri River west to Mexico, Santa Fé being its objective point. It was immediately determined, however, to push on with this column and occupy Upper California. General Kearny was placed in command of this "Army of the West," which consisted of Companies "B", "C", "G", "I"and "K" Companies, 1st Dragoons, two companies of artillery, two of infantry and nine companies of Missouri volunteer cavalry under command of Colonel A. W. Doniphan, in all about 1800 men. This command was concentrated at Bent's Fort on the Arkansas.
On 01 August, the Army began their western journey toward Santa Fe Territory. On 18 August 1846, in the early period of the Mexican War, Colonel Steven Watts Kearny took Santa Fe from the Mexican Government and raised the flag of the United States over the Plaza. In September 1846, General Kearny appointed Charles Bent as the first Governor of New Mexico of the newly acquired New Mexico Territory.
On 25 September 1846, Kearny left "G" and "I" Companies at Albuquerque under the command of Captain. J. H. K. Burgwin, and began the long march to California. Kearny had been an officer in the First Regiment of Dragoons since its organization in 1833, and was known for being strict and enthusiastic. This venture came to be known as the "Thousand Mile March". On 05 October, near Socorro, New Mexico, Kearny met Kit Carson who, having just come from Monterey and San Diego, assured Kearny that Fremont had secured both territories.
From 05 October to 02 December, Kearny and his army had no communication with
other units of the US Military. During this journey the Dragoons endured
horrible conditions. The area that had to be crossed was pure desert and
mountains. This country had scarce natural resources, such as grass for the
horses and water for the troops. The Dragoons survived the journey without
loosing any lives, however the trip left the troops and their horses in no
position to fight a battle.
The Army of the West finally reached its destination seventy-eight days after leaving Santa Fe. Ultimately, while being defeated at San Pasqual, Kearny and his men proved victorious in the events that followed the Battle of San Pasqual. In less than two weeks, they marched to recapture Los Angeles at the Battle of San Gabriel, thus completing the Army's quest for California. Colonel Stephen Kearny was appointed Military Governor of California for the period of 01 March to 31 May 1847. On 07 September 1848, the Adjutant General's office issued a brevet major general's commission to Kearney for his service and many accomplishments in the Mexican War.
The Indian Wars in the West and Southwest continued to rage. In 1855, Congress
added two new Cavalry Regiments to the military establishment, the 1st Cavalry
and the 2nd Cavalry. (In later years, in order to preserve the lineage of the
First and Second Regiment of Dragoons and the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen
which was organized 19 May 1846 and later redesignated as the 3rd Cavalry
Regiment, this new 1st Cavalry Regiment would be redesignated as the 4th
Cavalry Regiment and the new 2nd Cavalry Regiment would be redesignated the
5th Cavalry Regiment in 1861.) The 2nd Cavalry was assigned to Texas in the
Southwest, engaging in numerous skirmishes with the Comanche, Kiowa and other
bands of Indians that roamed the Lone Star State.
Following the issuance of the Proclamation of Insurrection on 15 April and
the order to blockade all Southern Ports on 19 April 1861, an official state
of war existed between the North and South. The outbreak of the Civil War
added an ironic, but important footnote in the history of the First Cavalry
Regiment. Jefferson Davis, a former Cavalry officer of the US Regiment of
Dragoons, would become president of the Confederacy. Four of the forty
officers assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment eventually became four star
generals. The most well known, Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, rose to the position
of Commander of the entire Confederate Army.
Concurrently another order issued by the Army,in August 1861, specified that all six Regular horse regiments were to be redesignated "Cavalry" and renumbered as the 1st through the 6th in order, according to their respective dates of organization. All were to be armed with the saber, revolver, and carbines. Although these regiments had been known by different names, all were light cavalry. Their members were mounted on light horses, they were trained to fight mounted or dismounted, and they depended on their firearms rather than shock action with sabers.
Nevertheless, the Dragoons and Riflemen objected to giving up their distinctive names. One captain wrote "with the renaming of the old regiments, the units lost the honor attached to the old names, and the change had a demoralizing effect on the troops". The Dragoons and Riflemen also resisted the changes in their distinctive uniform trim; now all were expected to wear the yellow trimmings of the cavalry. Fortunately, from the dragoon and riflemen point of view, under an economy measure that permitted the use of the old uniforms until they were worn out, much orange and green trim was in evidence for a long time.
In June 1863, the two companies left in New Mexico, "G" and "I", were broken up. The officers and noncommissioned officers were transferred to Carlisle Barracks, located in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where the companies were reorganized, joining the regiment at Camp Buford, Maryland, in October 1863. After a period of rest and re-equipping near Washington D.C., the 1st Cavalry Regiment rejoined the Army of the Potomac and was engaged at Manassas Junction and at Catlett's Station, 05 November; Culpeper, 08 November; Stephensburg, 26 November, and Mine River. The regiment was employed during the winter doing picket duty along the Rapidan River.
In February 1964, the 1st US Cavalry engaged in a series of fights along the
Rapidan line, and then accompanied Brigadier General George Armstrong, On
General Sheridan's taking command of the Cavalry Corps. the regiment
accompanied Sheridan on his daring raid around Richmond, Virginia fighting at
Beaver Dam Station, 10 May; Yellow Tavern, 11 May: Battle of Meadow Bridge, 12
May; Mechanicsville, 12 May; Tunstall's Station, 14 May; Hawe's Shop, 28 May;
and Old Church, 30 May.
On 01 June, at the Battle of Cold Harbor, the final battle of Union Army, the regiment saw severe fighting, losing several men and offices. The 1st Cavalry Regiment then accompanied General Sheridan on his Trevilian raid, and lost 35 men in the Battle of Trevilian Station, 11 and 12 June. The regiment was engaged in daily skirmishing during the return march to White House Landing, and was engaged there on June 17, at the Chickahominy River, a river in the southeastern portion of the state of Virginia, 18 June, and at the battle of Darby's Farm, 28 June. 0n 28 July, the 1st Cavalry Regiment captured an enemy flag at the battle of Deep Bottom where the Regular Brigade, fighting on foot, routed a brigade of Confederate Cavalry.
On July 31, the 1st Cavalry Regiment marched to City Point, embarked on ships the next day, and was transported to Washington D.C. to assist in repelling the threatened attack of General Early. On 05 August, the regiment moved towards Harper's Ferry, having been ordered to the Shenandoah Valley to rejoin Sheridan. On 10 August the Reserve Brigade routed Confederates near Winchester. The regiment was then engaged in almost daily skirmishing, and took part in all the important Valley battles except the Battle of Fisher's Hill. From 16 August through 20 August, the 1st Cavalry Regiment was employed, together with the whole of the 1st Division, in the destruction of all wheat and forage, and the seizure of all horses, cattle, sheep, and hogs accessible in the Valley.
On 19 September the 1st Cavalry took part in the memorable charge of the Reserve Brigade at the Battle of Opequon, more commonly known as the Third Battle of Winchester and, in conjunction with the 2nd Cavalry, captured two stands of colors and some 200 prisoners. Its casualties were 37 killed, wounded and missing. On 28 September, in an action at Waynesboro, it suffered 18 additional casualties. On 19 October, the 1st Cavalry played an important part in the Battle of Cedar Creek. Following the surprise and defeat of Horatio G. Wright in the morning, the divisions of Merritt and Custer came up as reinforcements. Two squadrons of the 1st Cavalry formed perpendicular across the Valley Pike and dismounted behind stone walls, the third squadron being held in reserve. This position was held with great difficulty, the advanced squadron being subjected to an enfilading fire.
The regiment then returned to Middletown and, during the fall and winter, engaged in numerous skirmishes and took part in Merritt's raid through the Loudoun Valley and Torbert's raid on Gordonsville. In December, the regiment was assigned to duty at the Cavalry Corps headquarters in Winchester.
On 27 February 1865, Sheridan commenced his last expedition through the Shenandoah Valley, wanting to destroy the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal, and capture Lynchburg, Virginia. On 02 March, the 1st Cavalry took part in the Battle of Waynesboro, where the remnant of Early's army was captured. It was then engaged in many skirmishes during a march from Charlottesville to White House Landing, while destroying locks and the embankment of the James River Canal, railroads and Confederate supplies. It arrived at White House Landing on the 17 March, taking part in a sharp engagement that day.
The 1st Cavalry was then present in all the major battles of the Cavalry Corps until the close of the war. In the engagement on White Oak Road; 31 March, at Dinwiddie Court House; 01 April, at the Battle of Five Forks, 01 April. There, the regiment made a brilliant charge on an entrenched enemy position, carrying it and seizing 200 prisoners. On 02 April, It also fought in the engagement near the Southside Railroad; 06 April, at the Battle of Sayler's Creek; and 09 April, at Appomattox Courthouse, the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia.
The regiment then returned to Petersburg, Virginia, where it remained in camp until 24 April, when it marched with the Cavalry Corps towards North Carolina for the proposed junction with Sherman. On the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston's army, the Cavalry Corps returned to Petersburg and on 08 May, the regiment, escorting General Sheridan, left for Washington DC, arriving 16 May and taking part in the Grand Review of the Armies Grand Review of the Armies
Soon after the end of the Civil war in 1865, the sound of the bugle and the cry of "Charge" sent the thundering hooves of the US Cavalry troopers to protect the western bound settlers in an era when Indians roamed the western frontier and pioneering settlers clung to their land with determination and luck. The 1st, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th Cavalry Regiments, which in the future, would form the nucleus of the 1st Cavalry Division clashed with the Sioux, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache and the Indian Nations during the Indian Wars led by colorful characters like Colonel George Armstrong Custer. In many ways, the next ten years were as eventful as the Civil War.
Following the close of the war, the regiment was ordered to Louisiana, arriving at New Orleans on 31 May and remaining there until 29 December when it embarked for California via the Isthmus of Panama. By 22 January, 1966, it was stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco. On 05 February, "A", "G" and "K" Companies went to Drum Barracks. On 17 February, "C", "D" and "E" Companies followed them and "L" Company went to Sacramento. In June, regimental headquarters relocated to Fort Vancouver and the several companies were distributed through Oregon, Washington Territory, Idaho, California, Nevada and Arizona, no two being at the same station.
Owing to the vast extent of country guarded by the regiment its service for many years following was very arduous. Scouting for Indians and escort duty of various kinds were incessant. Details of the many battles that followed are not available, but many regimental records reported the following:
On 28 November 1872, for the purpose of arresting "Captain Jack" and the leaders of his band of Modocs, and at daylight on the 29th surprised the Indians in their camp near Lost River, Oregon. They refused to surrender and an engagement followed in which 8 Indians were killed and many wounded, and the camp, squaws, and property were captured. The company lost 2 men killed and 6 wounded, 2 of them mortally. The company then went into camp at Crowley's Ranch on Lost River opposite the Indian camp.
On 13 December, "G" Company from Fort Bidwell took station at Land's Ranch, Tule Lake, near the Indian stronghold. The Indians attacked the camp on 21 December, and were repulsed, but not until 2 men and 5 horses had been killed. "B" Company joined up with "G" Company and the two companies marched against the Indians,
On 16 January, 1873, in conjunction with General Wheaton's column, with which was also serving at this time "F" Company and a detachment of "H" Company. The Indians attacked "B" and "G" Companies the same afternoon, but were repulsed, the companies losing 3 men wounded. The general engagement took place 17 January and lasted from 0730 hours to 2130 hours when the troops retired, going finally into camp at Applegate's Ranch, Clear Lake, Oregon. The regiment lost two men killed and two officers, Captain Perry and Lieutenant Kyle, and 8 men wounded, one mortally.
On 22 January, the Indians attacked a wagon train, driving away the escort, but Captain Bernard, 1st Cavalry, came up with reinforcements and the Indians were repulsed, losing one killed and many wounded. On 18 February, "K" Company from Fort Halleck, Nevada, joined the battalion which now consisted of "B", "F", "G" and "K" Companies, under Captain Biddle, who was soon succeeded by Captain Bernard. Colonel Gillem, 1st Cavalry was commanding the expedition, and "H" Company joined the column on 10 February.
During the night of April 14 the companies of the 1st Cavalry moved with the rest of the command to invade the Modoc stronghold, and in the "Second battle of the Lava Beds," 15, 16 and 17 April, drove the Indians out of their position and into the rocks and mountains. The 1st Cavalry lost 2 men killed and 2 wounded.
On 26 April, "B" and "F" Companies went to the scene of the "Thomas massacre" and brought out a number of the wounded and dead. The same companies were attacked by Indians 10 May, at Sorass Lake, California, but repulsed them with the loss of one warrior killed and 2 wounded. The command lost one killed and 6 wounded, 2 of them mortally.
On 17 May "B" "G" and "K" Companies, with a battery (serving as cavalry) of the 4th Artillery, all under Major John Green, came upon a band of Modocs which they drove five miles, killing one and capturing several squaws and children. The troops followed the trail and on 22 May, 70 Indians, (men, women and children) surrendered. "Boston Charlie" was captured 29 May, and on the 31st "Sconchin," "Scarfaced Charlie," and 27 other Indians surrendered.
On 31 May, "F" and "H" Companies were sent from Applegate's Ranch to follow up those of the Modocs who had eluded Green's command, and found them 01 June when the whole party surrendered. With the capture of "Captain Jack," the Modoc war ended, and by the end of June the companies which had been engaged in it had returned to their proper stations.
The companies left in Arizona were moved north, and by the end of October, 1873, headquarters with "A" and "D" Companies were at Benicia Barracks; "B" at Fort Klamath; "C" at Camp McDermitt, Nevada; "E" at Fort Lapwai, Indian Territory. "F", "L" and "M" at Fort Walla Walla; "G" at Camp Bidwell, California; "H" and "K" at Camp Harney, Oregon; and "I" at Camp Halleck, Nevada.
On 15 June, 1877, "F" and "H" Companies, under Captain Perry, were ordered to proceed to Camas Prairie to the assistance of the settlers of Mount Idaho, Indian Territory, who were threatened by the Nez Percé Indians under Chief Joseph. Learning that the Indians were crossing Salmon River and could be taken at a disadvantage, the march was given that direction and Chief Joseph's camp was found and taken by surprise, but the Indians quickly rallied and repulsed the troops with severe loss, Lieutenant E. W. Theller, 21st Infantry (attached), and 33 men being killed and two wounded.
All the companies of the regiment, except "M" at Colville and "A" at Camp Harney watching the Piutes, were now ordered into the field against the Nez Percés. "E" and "L" Companies joined General Howard's command on 21 June, and on 01 July surprised and attacked the camp of "Looking Glass" on the Clearwater, Indian Territory. The village was entirely destroyed, several Indians were killed and about a thousand ponies captured. On 02 July the same command attempted to form a junction with "F" Company, which was on its way from Lapwai. On 03 July, the Indians ambushed the advanced guard, consisting of Lieutenant S. M. Rains, ten men of the battalion and two civilian scouts, killing them all, and were then found to be in such force and so strongly posted that it was considered imprudent to attack them. The junction with "F" Company was effected, however, on 04 July, and the same afternoon the Indians attacked, the fight lasting until sunset. The battalion ("E", "F" and" "L) joined General Howard at Grangerville, 08 July 8. "H" Company had joined 02 July, and the battalion was commanded by Captain David Perry.
On 11 July, General Howard crossed the Clearwater with his whole command and moved down that stream with "H" Company in the advance. The Indian camp was discovered and at once attacked, the fight lasting two days and ending with the retreat of the Indians. On 12 July, "B" Company joined in time to take part in the fight. The regiment lost 3 men killed and 4 wounded.
On 28 July, Major Sanford's battalion, consisting of "C", "D", "I" and "K" Companies, joined General Howard on the Clearwater and the expedition across the Lo-Lo trail began on the 30th. "B", "C", "I" and "K" Companies, under Major Sanford, accompanied it, and "D", "E", "G" and "L" Companies, with other troops under Major Green, constituted the " Reserve Column " which remained at Camas Prairie until 05 August, when it moved near to Mount Idaho, and established a permanent camp called Camp Howard.
General Howard's trying and "stern" march across the Lo-Lo trail, and the final surrender of Chief Joseph to General Miles at Bear Paw Mountains are matters of history. In the Indian attack at Camas Creek on 20 August, "B" and "L" Companies were engaged, losing one man killed and one wounded. At Judith Basin the battalion was detached from General Howard's command and directed to return, and all the companies had reached their stations by the end of November.
On 13 September, 1877, "K" Company and a detachment from "C", attached to the command of General Sturgis, took part in the engagement with the Nez Percés at Canyon Creek, Mexico Territory.
At the outbreak of the Bannock war in May, 1878, "G" Company was the first body of troops to reach the scene of hostilities, and Captain Bernard reported that the Indians numbered from 300 to 500. They were moving towards Stein's Mountain, Oregon. The whole of the 1st Cavalry was at once ordered into the field and Colonel Grover was sent to Fort Boise to take charge of operations there. "D", "I" and "K" Companies, were with him.
On 17 June ,"F" and "L" Companies joined "G" Company on the Owyhee, and the three companies reached Camp Harney on the 21 June, where they were joined by "A" Company. These four companies were designated the "Left Column" by General Howard. On the morning of June 23 the Left Column struck the main camp of the hostiles on Silver Creek, and drove the Indians out of it and on to a cutbank, made by the creek, which had been prepared for defense. The action lasted into the night and in the morning it was found that the Indians had gone. Many Indians were killed and the camp was destroyed. The battalion lost 2 killed and 3 wounded.
On 27 June, "K" Company joined the battalion and on the 28th the cavalry cut loose from the foot troops and pushed forward on the trail of the Indians. The fertile John Day Valley was saved in great part by this vigorous pursuit, and on 05 July, General Howard overtook the command, arriving with it at Pilot Rock on the 7th. Here it was joined by "E" and "H" Companies. The Indian camp was located and at sunrise on 08 July Captain Bernard moved his battalion to the attack.
The Indians, about 300 in number, occupied the crest of the high and steep hills near Birch Creek, and were at once attacked. Captain Bernard giving the first example of fighting cavalry on foot without separating the men from the horses. All the companies, except "A" with the pack train, were deployed and used in the engagement, and the Indians were driven from three successive positions and finally four or five miles further into the mountains. Four men were wounded, one mortally, and probably 20 horses were killed. The enemy's loss could not be told; their women, children and best horses were sent off, seemingly towards the Grande Ronde, before the action began.
Captain Bernard was now directed to take his command (except for "K" Company) to Fort Walla Walla to refit. "K" Company was sent to join the infantry column and with it moved to the Umatilla Agency, near which the hostiles were reported to be. Here the Indians made an attack on 13 July. In the ensuing fight "K" Company held the right of the line and took part in the final charge by which the Indians were driven off the field and for three miles into the hills. At the request of the Indian Agent the command moved back to the agency that night, but two days later seven dead Indians were counted upon the battle-field.
During the months of September and October the companies were sent to their permanent stations, and the return for 30 November shows "A" and "E" Companies at Camp Harney, Oregon; "B", "D", "F", "K" and "M", at Fort Walla Walla, Washington Territory; "C" at Camp Bidwell, California; "G" at Fort Boise; "H" at Fort Colville, Washington Territory; "I" at Camp Halleck, Nevada and "L" at Fort Klamath, Oregon.
In the year 1881, "C", "G", "I" and "M" Companies were sent to Arizona, and on 02 October, "G" Company, with other troops, was in action near Cedar Springs with Apaches. The hostiles fought with great boldness and desperation and the fight lasted until 2100 hours, when the Indians escaped. "G" Company had two men wounded and 12 horses killed.
On 04 October, "G" and "I" Companies had a running fight near South Pass of the Dragoon Mountains, in which the hostiles were followed into Sonora, Mexico. In October, the "Companies" began to be designated "Troops" on the Regimental.
On 09 November, "G" Troop returned to Fort McDermott, "I" Troop to Camp Halleck, December 27; "M" Troop to the Presidio of San Francisco, January 20, 1882; and "C" Troop to Fort Bidwell, 16 April.
In June, 1884, the regiment was transferred to the Department of Dakota, after
a tour of nearly 30 years on the Pacific coast, during the greater part of
which time its stations were remote from civilization and its duties of a most
arduous and thankless character.
Conflict with the "Crows" came in the fall of 1887, and on the morning of 04 November, Colonel Dudley left Fort Custer with "A", "B", "D", "E", "G" and "K" Troops, and "B" Company, 3rd Infantry, with a section of Hotchkiss guns, to arrest "Sword Bearer" and the Indians who had fired into the agency buildings on the night of 30 September.
On 05 October, a demand was made upon the Indians for the surrender of these men, and they were given an hour and a half to comply with the demand. At the end of that time the battalion of the 1st Cavalry, with Moylan's troop of the 7th Cavalry on the right, moved out in front of camp. At the same time a great commotion was observed in the Indian camp, and "Sword Bearer" and another chief dashed out leading from 120 to 150 warriors equipped for battle. The Indians charged but were repulsed and fell back into the timber along, the river where they had dug many rifle pits from which they now kept up a constant fire. This fire was returned, and "Sword Bearer" was seen to fall, when all fighting quickly ceased. All the Indians whose surrender had been demanded and who had not been killed were at once brought in and delivered to the Department Commander, who sent them to Fort Snelling.
In 1886, as part of the expanding role of the Army in guarding the interior, the Cavalry was assigned to patrol the national parks. Captain Moses Harris - seconded by 2nd Lt. William Cameron Rivers, of "M" Troop, 1st Cavalry Regiment became the first Military Supervisors of Yellowstone National Park in 1886. The unit came from Ft. Custer, Montana and returned there in 1890. The Army patrolled the parks until the National Park Service was created in 1916.
In April, 1890, the Cheyennes assumed a threatening attitude and their agent called upon the commanding officer of Fort Custer for protection, who sent Major Carrol with "B", "D" and "M" Troops to the Tongue River Agency where they established Camp Crook. In September a white boy was murdered by "Head Chief" and "Young Mule," and every attempt to arrest the murderers failed. On the 11th they sent word that they would attack the agency and on the 12th made their appearance on a hill commanding the agency buildings where they opened fire upon them. They were soon dislodged and killed.
In 1892 the 1st Cavalry Regiment was transferred to the Department of Arizona,
relieving the 10th Cavalry Regiment. Headquarters and "C", "E", "F", "H" and
K" Troops going to Fort Grant, Arizona Territory. "B" and "I" Troops were
moved to Fort Bayard, New Mexico.; "D" Troop was transferred to Fort Apache,
Arizona Territory; and "G" Troop moved to San Carlos. "A" Troop was at Fort
Meyers, Virginia was not moved. Since its arrival in Arizona the regiment did
not engage in any serious Indian difficulties, although the several troops
have been kept in practice in field work.
In 1905, the Cavalry Regiments were ordered to return to the Philippine Islands with the assignment of defending the protectorate government of the islands from local guerrilla terrorist activities which had sprung up. In addition, they patrolled supply and communications lines and sources of water on the islands of Luzon and Jolo. With the completion of the second Philippine assignment, the Cavalry Regiments were ordered back to the United States, returning to patrolling the hundreds of miles of desert between the United States and Mexican border towns of Serra Blanc, Texas and Lajitas, Texas.
In 1912, the Cavalry Regiments returned to the Philippines for a third
mission. This time the troopers fought the rebellious tribesmen on the island
of Mindanao and in the Sulu Archipelago. In June 1913, a violent battle with
hundreds of Moro warriors on Jolo occurred on Bansak Mountain. The American
force, lead by John J. Pershing, killed an estimated 300 Moro while suffering
only light losses. Oddly this lopsided victory assisted Pershing in his job as
Governor of Moro Province. This helped lead to more peaceful times in that
region of the Philippines.
The traditional horse cavalry of the allied forces did have at least two moments of glory on World War I battlefields which influenced how long cavalry horses and pack mules remained an important part of the United States Army. These were; at Turkish held Palestine under the command of British General Edmund Allenby; and at Moreuil Wood in France when squadrons of the Canadian Cavalry stopped a German breakthrough, which if successful, would have driven the French and British back to the English Channel.
The 1st Cavalry Regiment was anxious not to be left out of the great war. They had served in every war fought since their founding. Therefore they trained vigorously at every opportunity. They received the news that the 1st Cavalry would be responsible for forming and training the 24th and 25th Cavalry Regiments. The Regiment, minus those troops still guarding the border moved to Ft. Russell, Wyoming. On 21 May, 1917, they moved again to Camp L.J. Hearn, Palm City, California for advanced training and target practice. When the mission of forming the 24th and 25th Regiments was completed, the 1st Cavalry relocated to Camp Harry J. Jones, Douglas, Arizona. They were joined by the 17th Cavalry Regiment to form the 3rd Brigade of the 15th Cavalry Division. It appeared that they would soon deploy to Europe so training was intensified in anticipation. However, time dragged on and a policy change of the War department converted 12 of the new Cavalry Regiments to Field Artillery. The 1st Cavalry Regiment was also were informed that there would be no one to relieve them of border duty until January 1919. Enthusiasm began to wane. They were still waiting at Camp Jones when the war ended on 11 November, 1918, with the signing of the armistice.
In 1918 airplanes and tanks had emerged from World War I as the glamour
weapons of the future. By contrast, the long history of the Cavalry was not
finished. The cavalry remained as the fastest and most effective force for
patrolling the remote desert areas of the Southwest and Mexican boarders.
Airplanes and mechanized vehicles were not reliable enough or adapted for
ranging across the rugged countryside, setting up ambushes, conducting
stealthy reconnaissance missions and engaging in fast moving skirmishes with
minimal support. In many ways, it was just the beginning of a new era. The
cavalry was about to be transformed and revitalized - by the activation of the
1st Cavalry Division.
Upon activation, the 7th, 8th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were assigned to the new Division. With almost a century of service behind the oldest of its regiments and sixty five years of service for its youngest, the units that had already ridden and fought its way into the pages of history were organized into the newly formed divisional structure. The four regiments were now to fight side by side. Other units initially assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1921 included the 1st and 2nd Machine Gun Squadrons, Weapons Troops, 10th Light Tank Company, 13th Signal Troop, 15th Veterinary Company, 27th Ordnance Company, 43rd Ambulance Company, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) and the 1st Cavalry Quartermaster Trains which later was redesignated as the 15th Replacement Company.
Later, the 5th Cavalry Regiment was assigned on 18 December 1922, relieving
the 10th Cavalry Regiment. It would not be until 03 January 1933 that the 12th
Cavalry Regiment, organized in 1901, would join the 1st Cavalry Division,
relieving the 1st Cavalry Regiment.
On January 19, 1923 the 1st Cavalry Regiment transferred to Camp Marfa, TX, relieving the 5th Cavalry Regiment. The 1st Cavalry Regiment remained in the old post, where it continued its training. In the fall of 1923 the 1st Cavalry Division assembled at Camp Marfa, Texas to stage its first divisional-level maneuvers since its organization. The maneuvers were held in the Marfa-Shafter-Alamito area of the Big Bend District, Texas. The line of march was Fabens, Ft. Hancock, Sierra Blanca, Hot Wells, Lobo Flats, and Valentine. The wagon trains, all drawn by four mules (no motorized vehicles yet), seemed endless. Terrain covering an area of 900 square miles was obtained through the generosity and public spirit of ranch owners. The enormous tract was mapped and marked by a detachment from the 8th Engineer Battalion.
The actual maneuvers consisted of both one-sided and two-sided problems with
brigade against brigade and included the entire division as a whole. Aircraft
were employed extensively and every detail was made to conform with war
conditions. Since this was the first major United States (US) Army training
exercise since WWI, the maneuvers were attended by representatives of several
|The Line Of March Covered The Harsh Terrain Of The "Big Bend" District|
In the fall of 1923 the 1st Cavalry Division assembled at Camp Marfa, Texas to stage its first divisional-level maneuvers since its organization. The maneuvers were held in the Marfa-Shafter-Alamito area of the Big Bend District, Texas. The line of march was Fabens, Ft. Hancock, Sierra Blanca, Hot Wells, Lobo Flats, and Valentine. The wagon trains, all drawn by four mules (no motorized vehicles yet), seemed endless. Terrain covering an area of 900 square miles was obtained through the generosity and public spirit of ranch owners. The enormous tract was mapped and marked by a detachment from the 8th Engineer Battalion.
The actual maneuvers consisted of both one-sided and two-sided problems with
brigade against brigade and included the entire division as a whole. The 12th
Obvervation Squadron participated in maneuvers with the Division. The use of
aircraft allowed the maneuvers, in every detail, to conform with actual war
conditions. (It was during this period, from 1922 to 1923, that Captain
Claire Chennault, of later "Flying Tiger" fame, served with the 12t has
aviation engineer officer.) Since this was the first major United States
Army training exercise since WW I, the maneuvers were attended by
representatives of several foreign governments.
Published results of the exercises of the 1st Cavalry Division attracted the interest of other cavalry organizations, nationally and international, which placed emphasis on the incorporation of additional realism in successive exercises. From a Time Magazine article dated Monday, 10 October 1927: "Not since the Civil War had US cavalry engaged in maneuvers on the scale of those conducted last week on 120 square miles of terrain in and about Marfa, Texas. Some 280 officers, 4,000 men, 3,200 horses and 1,500 mules were deployed over gulches, hillocks and sagebrush plains - the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Fort Bliss) playing "Brown" army to the "White" army of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Fort Bliss) and 1st Cavalry Regiment (Marfa). Tanks, cannon, airplanes, Red Cross ambulances and every appurtenance of real war, right down to hot weather, secrecy and red tape, accompanied the show."
Over the next four years, elements of the Division were stationed at Camp
Marfa, Ft. Bliss, and Ft. Clark, all located in Texas. The early missions of
the Division were comprised of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border,
and constant training. Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only
viable force capable of piercing the harsh terrain of the desert to halt the
band of smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border. In spite of
the lack of ample funding and the limited availability of new equipment,
priorities were placed on readiness evaluation by extensive field maneuvers.
In 1927 the 1st Cavalry Division carried out the second divisional field
maneuvers and readiness testing in the Marfa area. Following the maneuvers in
October, the division added the capability of aerial observation by the
assignment of the 1st Observation Squadron, US Army Air Corps, a unit that had
previously been with General Pershing on the Punitive in 1916. The unit
remained with the division until the end of its subsequent organizational
changes in February 1929. Today, its predecessor unit, the 1st Reconnaissance
Squadron, 9th Reconnaissance Wing operates the high altitude SR-71 (YS-12)
Reconnaissance Aircraft and continues to play a vital role in the defense of
Divisional strength rose to 9,595. In addition, the change allowed easy expansion to war strength while retaining the capability to take to the field and deliver powerful and flexible firepower by the machine gun troops whose Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) had been increased from four machine guns to eight.
On 01 February 1928, the Army Staff, seeking to increase the usefulness of the
wartime cavalry division, published new TO&E for an even larger unit (on
paper). The new structure involved increasing the size of the signal troop and
expanding the medical unit to a squadron. A divisional aviation section, an
armored car squadron, and a tank company were added. The field artillery
battalion was expanded to a regiment. Divisional wartime strength rose to
9,595. Although the new tables had little impact on the peacetime cavalry
structure, the 1st Cavalry Division did eventually receive one troop of an
experimental armored car squadron, and a field artillery regiment replaced its
field artillery battalion.
In 1929 the 1st Cavalry Division carried out its third divisional field
maneuvers, reflecting organizational changes that occurred earlier. In 1928
the Chief of Cavalry, in an early bid to increase the firepower of the cavalry
division while at the same time having to remove personnel, reorganized the
four cavalry regiments of the Division. Aside from redistributing the
machine guns by giving them to each regiment, he authorized the addition of an
Armored Car Squadron.
In the 1929 maneuvers, Liberty Trucks were of the World War I vintage in terms of motorized transportation. included the first incorporation of armored cars and anti-tank guns, and the Division revisited the use of "Portee (using trucks and trailers to more speedily transport horses and their supplies) Cavalry". "A" Troop, 1st Armored Car Squadron, participated in the maneuvers. The armor plating was soft and the vehicles were armed with .30 caliber machine guns. The mechanized scouts earned high marks for their ability to conduct delaying operations, but their good mobility was attributed to dry weather and the lack of fences and ditches along the Texas roads that otherwise would have prevented them from gaining any degree of off-road mobility. There was some surprise at the relative "invisibility" of the cars until they moved.
The "Portee Cavalry" concept employed during the tactical exercise were given high marks for strategic mobility, but were valued little for their tactical mobility. During the regimental phase of the maneuvers the platoon conducted reconnaissance ten miles forward of the main body and across a five-mile front. Radio sets mounted in the vehicles allowed them to send reports every two hours. The platoon was generally successful in delaying the opposing force with the tactical use of ambushes and effective long-range machine gun fire. Opposing forces learned to get off the roads and using their own towed anti-tank weapons as a supporting base of fire, maneuvered to the flanks of the armored cars.
On 01 January, 1930 the designation of Camp Marfa was changed to Ft. D,A. Russell, Texas. The 1st Cavalry Regiment had relocated there in January, 1923. This was to be the last horse cavalry post for the 1st Cavalry Regiment as the machine age was beginning to catch up with them.
The depression of the 1930s forced thousands of unemployed workers into the streets. As a means to minimize the economic effects of the large unemployed work force, the government established the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to serve as a worker pool for use in the development of local, state, and government projects. The construction of new officer and noncommissioned officer housing put many people to work in the El Paso area and provided quality homes for the troopers. The 1st Cavalry Division stables, guard quarters, blacksmith and saddle shops and additional barracks buildings were also part of this construction. From 1933 to 1936, the 3,300 troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division provided training and leadership for 62,500 members of the CCC in the Arizona-New Mexico District. Later, when World War II broke out, many of those who had been trained in the CCC were well prepared for the rigors of military training.
In the early thirties, the strength and composition of the Division was principally governed by the total strength of the Army, numbers of active regiments, and the desire to maintain a troop level large enough to be an effective fighting force. The Division had two authorized strengths: a wartime strength of 11,485 officers and enlisted men and a peacetime strength of 7,970. During peacetime all elements of the Division were to be filled except for the division headquarters and military police companies, which were combined. Other divisional elements required only enlisted personnel to bring them up to wartime manning levels. For that period, a typical regiment was composed of 690 troops: a headquarters troop with 78 men; a band with 28 men; four rifle troops with 119 men each, and a machine gun troop with 108 men. Each rifle troop was organized into a troop headquarters, three rifle platoons of three squads each, and a machine gun platoon of three squads.
Recovery from the world wide depressions had planted the seeds of isolation and nationalism in many countries. In searching for solutions which would appeal to their own national interests and detract from the issues of discontent, governments began to concentrate on utilizing its resources in building armies and considering territorial expansion. In Asia, Japan had already demonstrated its desire to expand the Nipponese empire in the Pacific, extending into China and along the Pacific Rim to Australia. In September 1931, Japan began the first stage of its expansion plans by the invasion and occupation of the neighboring country of Manchuria. The US, still attempting to concentrate on recovery from its own depression, only condemned the invasion and refused to recognize the Japanese continued occupation.
In light of these events, Washington expressed a new urgency for modernization and recognized that the entire Army must expand and acquire 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.
By 1930, the Army had formed a Mechanized Force at Ft. Eustis, Virginia to conduct a sufficient number of trial exercises using armored cars and tanks to prove the benefits of mechanization. When General Douglas MacArthur became Chief of Staff in 1931, in order to accelerate the utilization of armored vehicles into the Army, he moved the Mechanized Force from Ft. Eustis to Ft. Knox Kentucky to form the basis for a mechanized cavalry regiment.
In preparation for their departure, the 1st Cavalry Regiment held a final
mounted parade on the grounds of Ft. D.A. Russell, Texas on 14 December, 1932.
When the troopers had passed in review one time, they dismounted and passed in
review again, saluting their horses this time. The Regiment departed Ft. D.A.
Russell in late December, 1932.
On 19 April, 1934 when the 1st Cavalry Regiment (Mechanized) moved out of Ft. Knox to Ft. Riley, Kansas for maneuvers, "in the 8 mile long column (one mile in close formation) were 187 vehicles, 587 men and 37 officers. Actually there were only 6 combat cars in the column. One and a half ton trucks painted with yellow bands to indicate they were designated to be combat cars, made up the deficiency."
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. No significant change was made in the field artillery, but the test showed that the engineer element should remain a squadron to provide the divisional elements greater mobility on the battlefield. 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.
The winds of war and mutual agreements continued to swirl. On 23 August 1939,
in the presence of Stalin, the Foreign Minister of Germany, Joachim von
Ribbentrop, and the Commissar of Foreign Affairs of Union of Soviet Socialist
Republics (USSR), Vyacheslav Molotov, signed the Russo-German Pact. The pact,
a complete surprise to France and England, was not only a non-aggression pact,
but also contained a secret protocol providing for the division of Eastern
Europe between the spheres of influence German and Soviet. This mutual
agreement was a marked contrast in the ideology of Hitler, who from the
beginning of his political life, had declared the destruction of Communism as
one of his primary objectives.
01 September 1939, the starting date for the fifth divisional readiness maneuvers of the 1st Cavalry Division, coincided with the invasion of Poland by Germany who used the most modern and deadly military force of its time, the blitzkrieg. Against the background of the invasion of Poland, the Division conducted their maneuvers from 07 to 30 October 1939, not stopping for the turn of events, in the barren desert terrain around Balmorhea and Toyahvale. TX. These exercises, made even more memorable and intense by their timing, were observed by many international military personnel who would be soon involved in a world conflict.
Both, Great Britain and France attempted to intervene and warned Hitler of the
grave consequences of his actions. Failing to influence Hitler to disengage
his forces from the current invasion plans, both Great Britain and France
initiated a declaration of war on 03 September 1939. This set the stage for an
eventual worldwide conflagration involving the two hemispheres.
Armed with the knowledge of the power that was employed by the most modern and deadly military force of its time and facing the fact that the United States would soon be drawn into an ultimate war, the US Army began planning for a series of its own major field maneuver operations that would provide realistic wartime training. The military was expanding and needed a place to hold a large exercise. Louisiana seemed, with its large expanse of variable terrain features, to be a good place.
With the cooperation of the State Government, a location was chosen and secured from 94,000 landowners. The planned maneuver area covering 3,400 square miles (20,000,000 acres) and spanned from the Sabine River, east to the Calcasieu River and north to the Red River. It soon became known as "an area 40 by 90 miles sparsely settled, chigger and tick infested bayou with pitch pine forests, located between the Sabine and Red Rivers."
It would be the largest set of maneuvers ever held at that time and would involve nearly half a million men and 19 divisions. Although the Army was starting to use tanks, some of the cavalry units were still using horses. In order to test the new IV Corps consisting of the 6th Cavalry Regiment and the newly triangularized 1st, 5th and 6th infantry Divisions. against a formation of comparable size, the War Department ordered the IV Corps to Louisiana for exercises against a provisional corps. For the next four years, Central Louisiana would remain the Army's busiest maneuver grounds.
The planned maneuvers were intended to be experiments, not contests. The
maneuvers director, Lt. General Stanley D. Embick, commanding general of 3rd
Army, specifically sought data on the staging of movement and maneuvers of
large units under combat conditions and on the techniques needed to coordinate
traditional combat arms with air and armored forces.
On 07 May, the 1st Cavalry Regiment (Mechanized), as part of the 7th Cavalry Brigade took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers at Monroe, Louisiana that were instrumental in developing the armored division concept. The maneuvers concluded on 27 May and the Brigade returned to Fort Knox on 31 May. Preparations began to expand the Brigade into a division level force.
On 15 July, 7th Cavalry Brigade was expanded, reorganized, and redesignated as the 1st Armored Division. 1st Cavalry Regiment was redesignated as 1st Armored Regiment (Light).
For the second phase of the maneuvers, which began on 17 August, Lt. General Stanley D. Embick created two corps. One of these designated as the IV Corps Blue Army, which consisted of several different units, the Regular 6th Cavalry Regiment (horse/mechanized), the 23rd Cavalry Division (an improvised National Guard unit employing rented horses), the 30th and 31st National Guard Infantry Divisions drawn from the southwest United States and finally a provisional tank battalion consisting of two companies. The Blue Army, totaling some 28,000 strong, assembled in the Simpson-Flatwoods area.
Opposing this force was the VIII Corps Red Army, which consisted of two Regular formations, the 1st Cavalry and the 2nd Infantry Divisions, who had participated in the May maneuvers, the 36th and 45th Infantry (National Guard Divisions), from the southwest United States. The Red Army, totaling some 37,000 strong, gathered in the vicinity of Cravens and Pitkins.
The great maneuvers began in the pre-dawn hours of August 17, with IV Corps
Blue Army's cavalry crossing the Calcasieu River where they encountered the
1st Cavalry Division around daylight. There ensued a day-long horse cavalry
battle, the last one in Army history. When the action subsided, the 23rd
Cavalry Division's rented horses were so exhausted they had to be left behind
and the troopers redeployed by truck. The next day, August 18, both corps
moved up the infantry to relieve the cavalry. The VIII Corps Red Army assumed
the offensive, driving in IV Corps' covering force, placing the 2nd Division
in position to envelop the Blue right flank. On 19 August, the envelopment
proceeded as planned when 2nd Division found itself opposed only by the 23rd
Cavalry Division. The maneuver ended on August 20 with a IV Corps Blue Army
counterattack built around the 30th Division.
France's defeat was particularly distressing to Americans, far more troubling than the destruction of Poland. Many American officers thought the French Army was the best in the world and patterned certain aspects of American doctrine after the French. Strategic contingency plans were drastically revised, for any American expedition to Europe had to fight its way back on to the continent. Worse still, German occupation of France's west coast gave the dreaded U-Boats open access to the Atlantic, negating Britain's North Sea blockage. Finally, France's political capitulation to Hitler raised the specter of German troops occupying France's colonies around the globe, even in the western hemisphere. With the defeat of France, the war threatened America's doorstep.
More evidence of the global nature of the war began to materialize when on 27 September 1940, in Berlin, the governments of Germany, Italy and Japan signed a Three-Power Pact. They agreed to stand by and co-operate with one another in regard to their efforts in greater East Asia and regions of Europe respectively. Their prime purpose was to ostensible establish and maintain a new order destined to promote the mutual prosperity and welfare of the peoples concerned. Additionally the pact was not to impact any previous political agreements which existed, such as that between Germany and the USSR.
In the wake of the German military successes, the United States accelerated preparations for its own buildup of all military forces to wartime strengths. The overall mobilization of the country represented a transitional phase which blended the increased manpower with the growing industrial output of material and weapons. Returning from the maneuvers, the Division undertook the assignment of constructing barracks for 20,000 anti-aircraft troops at Ft. Bliss, Texas and developing the adjacent Biggs Army Air Base at El Paso. An orderly expansion of the Division was underway by the reactivation of "C" and "G" Troops for all the regiments. In the fall of 1940 the 56th Cavalry Brigade, Texas National Guard, was federalized and integrated into the training programs of the Division.
Early in 1941, the Division consolidated all its units on Fort Bliss. The
12th Cavalry Regiment arrived from Camps Ringgold and Brown, and the border
patrols that had so long been a critical mission were discontinued after
Mexico declared war on Germany. An era of intensive training was inaugurated
in preparation for possible war. These maneuvers provided the Division a first
hand opportunity to participate in the early tactical evaluations of the
military use of light aircraft for artillery fire control and troop
reconnaissance. Successful field results with the light planes gained new
supporters for their continued use in future maneuvers, two being the
commander of the 1st Cavalry Division, Major General Innis Palmer Swift and
his Chief of Staff, Colonel Joseph M. Swing. The strength of the Division grew
by the separation of the Service Troops from the Headquarters Troop and the
activation of the 61st Field Artillery Battalion as the first medium artillery
support unit. The authorized manpower strength of the Division was increased
For the initial movement of the 1st Cavalry Division, railroad cars were assembled from all over west Texas at El Paso, Texas. In anticipation of extended marches over gravel roads in rural Louisiana, each horse was provided with a spare set of shoes. Material and horses were shipped by rail while the men and their personal gear were transported by motor convoy to the maneuver areas. The maneuvers were a severe test for the men and their horses.
From 10 August to 04 October, the 1st Cavalry Division, then staffed to approximately seventy percent of the authorized strength, participated in the second 3rd Army field readiness maneuvers that were held in the vicinity of Leesville, Louisiana. The Division covered approximately 900 miles in the maneuver area in the 60 day period. The "Blue" and the "Red" Armies that were selected for this set of LOUISIANA MANEUVERS were the finest and best equipped this country could then field. They represented a small part of the US Army Military Establishment of about a quarter million, in total, who would soon form the strong backbone of a mighty army in excess of thirteen million under arms, so called today as "The Greatest Generation,"
On 18 August, 1941, after completing its organization and equipping, the 1st
Armored Division, with its new 1st Armored Regiment, deployed to participate
in the VII Corps Maneuvers through Arkansas and Louisiana. On 28 August, upon
the completion of the maneuvers concluded, 1st Armored Division then moved on
and arrived at Camp Polk for the Second Army LOUISIANA MANEUVERS which began
on 11 September. On 30 October, they then moved to Fort Jackson located at
Columbia, South Carolina to participate in the First Army Carolina Maneuvers.
On 07 December, the Division returned to Fort Knox and started to prepare for
deployment overseas instead of returning to garrison.
Implementation of the General Headquarters (GHQ) Maneuvers of 1941 findings resulted in the Division losing its antitank capability, the brigades lost their weapons troops and the regiments lost their machine guns and special weapons troops. These changes brought no decrease in the divisional firepower, bur placed most of the weapons within the cavalry troops. The number of .50 caliber machine guns was increased almost threefold. The reconnaissance squadron, the motorcycle and armored car troops were eliminated, leaving the squadron with one support troop and three reconnaissance troops equipped with light tanks. These changes increased the authorized staffing levels from 11,676 to 12,112 officers and enlisted men.
On 06 June 1942, following a final series of experiments with organic Army spotter aircraft, the Secretary of War ordered the establishment of organic air observation for field artillery. Subsequently, the adaptation of aerial technology allowed the 1st Cavalry Division to enter World War II with another discipline in its weapon inventory. This capability would be enhanced and improved leading to its use in the organization of the Aviation Brigade, a major maneuvering unit that, today, changes the way that wars are fought.
In the meantime, isolationist politics remained strong in Congress. In spite of this, 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 one and a half years.
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