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On 22 January, 1921 the 1st Cavalry Division was constituted in the US Regular Army. On 04 April, 1921 in anticipation to the activation of the Division, the Army approved and published a permanent 1st Cavalry Division Table of Organization & Equipment (TO&E) for the unit. The TO&E authorized the formation of a "Square Division" composed of 7,463 Officers and Men, integrated into a Headquarters Element (34); two Separate Cavalry Brigades (2,803 each); an Engineer Battalion (357); a separate Ambulance Company (63); a Field Artillery Battalion (790); a Division Quartermaster Trains Command (276); and a Special Troops Command (337).

1st Cavalry Division Table of Organization Chart - 1921

Each Cavalry Brigade was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (101); two Cavalry Regiments (1,155 each); and a separate Machine Gun Squadron (392). Each Cavalry Regiment was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (121); two Squadrons (428 each); a separate Supply Troop (127); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (51). Each Machine Gun Squadron was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (47); three Line Troops (110 each); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (15). Each Cavalry Squadron was organized into a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (35); and three Line Troops (131 each).

The Field Artillery Battalion was organized into a combined Headquarters and Headquarters Battery and Combat Trains Command (227); three Batteries (161 each); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (30). The Special Troops Command was organized into a Headquarters Element (11); the Division Headquarters Troop (161); a Signal Troop (78); an Ordnance Maintenance Company (36); a Veterinary Unit (38); and a Medical and Chaplain Detachment (13).

The Division Quartermaster Trains Command was a unitary structure that contained all of the Quartermaster Corps elements of the Division. At this time, all transportation was pack or animal-drawn (horse or mule), except for 14 automobiles, 28 trucks, and 65 motorcycles that were scattered throughout the various unit headquarters. Without the Trains Command, the 1st Cavalry Division occupied 6.5 miles of road if it moved in a "column of twos".

The Division's Home, Ft. Bliss, TX
Subsequently on 20 August 1921 the first unit assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, the 1st Cavalry Regiment, was preassigned to the Division nearly a month before the formal activation of the Division. On 13 September 1921, with the initiation of the National Defense Act, the 1st Cavalry Division was formally activated at Ft. Bliss, Texas and Major General Robert Lee Howze, a Texas native from Rusk County and seasoned veteran of the Frontier Indian Wars, Spanish American War, Philippines Insurrection, Mexican Expedition, World War I and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was selected as its first Division Commander.

In parallel with the organization of the Division, the Command Units of the Division were being put in place. The Headquarters and Headquarters Company was constituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division on 20 August 1921 and on 13 September 1921 it was activated at Ft, Bliss, TX. The 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was reconstituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Cavalry Brigade, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division on 20 August 1920 and on 01 September 1921 it was organized at Camp Harry J. Jones, AZ. The 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was reconstituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Cavalry Brigade, an element of the 1st Cavalry Division on 20 August 1921 14 September 1921 it was Organized at Ft. Bliss, TX

Upon formal 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.

In early September 1921. the first venture of the 1st Cavalry Division into the aviation environment was in corporation with the 12th Observation Squadron, one of the oldest Unites States Air Force Squadrons, that operated out of Ft. Bliss. The Air Corps furnished the plane and pilot for observation of artillery fire while the field artillery furnished the observer. Doctrine specified that such observation planes should be attached to corps and from there allotted to Cavalry Units on a mission-by-mission basis as the situation dictated. The coordination process between Cavalry requirements and Squadron fulfillment became a major obstacle in its implementation. The General Staff officers of the Cavalry were often out of touch with the requirements of modern aerial warfare that their chief complaint about air personnel was the disrespectful manner in which flying officers flouted regulations by refusing to wear their cavalry spurs while flying airplanes. The joint venture experiment ended in June 1926.

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.

The Line Of March Covered The Harsh Terrain Of The "Big Bend" District

Camp Marfa, Maneuver Headquarters
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 Observation 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.

82nd Field Artillery "Fires" Tests
This video of the 1st Cavalry Division, conducting a day of field maneuver training in 1923, was filmed in the open, rough, desert terrain surrounding Marfa, Texas. This historic document, a follow-on sequence to the Marfa maneuvers - shown on the "OutPost" page, begins with a scene of the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion setting up "French" 75mm (rapid fire) field artillery pieces. Gunners adjust artillery positions, aim, and fire at an attacking "enemy". Quickly reloading, a heavy artillery barrage is provided to cover a "retreat". The artillery and cavalry, move out, riding fast on a dusty "battlefield." to take new tactical positions.

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.

7th Cavalry Parades at BigHorn
On 16 June 1926, a Provisional Squadron (Headquarters Detachment, Troops "C", "E" and "F") from the 7th Cavalry Regiment departed Ft. Bliss by rail for the Crow Indian Agency, Montana to participate in the Semi-Centennial celebration of the Battle of Little Big Horn. The Provisional Squadron returned to Ft. Bliss on 01 July, having traveled 1,800 miles.

On 02 July 1926, when the Army Air Corps was created by Act of Congress, it began to develop specialized types of aircraft to perform its several functional needs. Although the helicopter (still in its early stages of development) was recognized for its ability to operate out of rough terrain - such as the cavalry operated, it became clear that the fixed wing aircraft was the device to develop for its operations. Various operational needs of the cavalry were studied and the Army began to develop specialized types of aircraft to perform its several functions. For observation - a tandem two-seater, open cockpit biplane was generally used. Rather heavy, it required a hard surface runway or its near equivalent.

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 Aero (Observation) Squadron, US Army Air Corps, a unit that had previously been with General Pershing on the Punitive in 1916. The unit, a component squadron of the 9th Observation Group, 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 America.

Japanese Empire Territory Outreach
This film clip depicts the geographical environment of the landholdings of Japan in 1927-1928. An animated map of the Asian - Pacific regions depicts the growth of the Asian Territories that slowly became under the control of the Japanese Empire by their staged plans of expansion by invasion of the surrounding countries which began soon after Commodore Perry led an expedition to open diplomatic and commercial relations with the United States in 1853. The first land mass acquisition came about by the Chinese - Japanese War (1894 to 1895); the second, the Prussian - Javanese War (1904 to 1905); the third, World War I (1914 to 1918).

A more recent series of expansion began in 1937 when 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.

Emperor Hirohito closely monitored the outreach of territorial gains accomplished by his military. The 1st Cavalry Division was not the only military organization conducting training maneuvers in anticipation of the world conditions - Japan was heavily involved in training. The clip covers views of Hirohito following the maneuver training at the Imperial Japanese Military Academy in Tokyo. During the parade and maneuvers, a naval smoke screen is laid to shield the army at a river crossing. The Emperor looks on as soldiers make landfall in a barge. The maneuvers included the Navy as Japanese sailors march as Emperor Hirohito watches from the deck of his flagship "Katori".

1st Cavalry Division - Early 1928
Early in 1928, Major General Herbert C. Crosby, Chief of Cavalry, faced with budget restraints, reorganized the cavalry regiments, which in turn reduced the size of the Division.. Lettered troops of the regiments were reduced from six to four along with the integration of the separate Machine Gun Squadrons of each brigade under the regimental commands. Troops "A" and "B" of each regiment formed the 1st Squadron and "E" and "F" formed the 2nd Squadron. This new organizational change was designed to reduce command overhead and increase force mobility by the addition of three 1 1/2 ton trucks and three modified automobiles, called "light cross country cars". A Divisional aviation section, an armored car squadron, and tank company were added along with the expansion of the field artillery battalion to a regiment.

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.

1st Cavalry Regiment Armored Scout Car
Having learned from the experiences of World War I and to prepare for the mechanization of the future, the 1st Armored Car Squadron became part of the Division in November 1928. This new and experimental unit had been organized and trained at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland. Within the Division, armored cars and scout cars continued to blend into the formations of tanks and horses in the post-war cavalry. Typical of these vehicles was the six-wheeled vehicle of "A" Troop, 1st Cavalry Regiment. The designation of the unit was indicated by the traditional crossed sabers on the door and a stylized version of the distinctive regimental insignia, a black hawk on a gold eight-pointed star, to recall the heritage of the First Regiment of Dragoons.

On 03 March 1929, the Escobar Revolution broke out in Mexico when the colonels and generals of ten Mexican states rebelled. The 1st Cavalry Division was alerted and positioned along the Mexican border from Douglas, Arizona to El Paso, Texas. Their mission was to seal off the border and halt the passage of weapons and refugees into and out of Mexico. Jose Gonzalo Escobar, a Brigade General in the Mexican Federal Army, led the unrest against former president Plutarco Elias Calles, who politically and militarily dominated the country. Control of Juarez, directly across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, became a top priority of the insurgents because they could collect all the import and export duties to support the continuing rebellion effort. A Chihuahua insurgent force of 2,000 rebels was sent by Escobar to capture the town.

On 08 March, the battle for the town commenced as thousands of El Pasoans clustered on roof tops and river levees to view the struggle. As reported by a local newspaper, "El Paso is the only section of the United States trained to appreciate warfare as a neighborhood spectacle." By mid morning, the rebels had pushed the Mexican Federal Troops to the banks of the Rio Grande. General George Van Horn Mosely, Commander of Ft. Bliss, arranged for the Mexican Federal Troops to take asylum at Ft. Bliss. After checking in with the United States Immigration Authorities, the Federal Troops surrendered all their ammunition, but kept their own guns. After a month at Ft. Bliss, the Federal Troops shipped out by the Southern Pacific Railroad to Naco, Arizona, where they crossed the Mexican border to help put down the rebellion.

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Ready For Field Maneuvers
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.

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. As previously depicted, 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.

On 03 January 1933 the 1st Cavalry Regiment was relieved from the Division and transferred to Ft. Knox, Kentucky where it was reorganized and redesignated as a mechanized unit using the assets of the Independent Mechanized Force. The new mission of the 1st Cavalry Regiment was to expand on the evaluations, develop and test mechanized combat vehicles, continuing the mechanization era. The process of replacing horses with machines accelerated and the first mechanized cavalry organization came into being. Cavalrymen from the First Team became the nucleus of new armored forces for America. Concurrent with the relief of the 1st Cavalry Regiment, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was assigned the 1st Cavalry Division.

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 1st Cavalry Division, 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. Following the completion of the tests, the Division returned to Ft. Bliss for a brief period to rehabilitate the horses. 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. 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. 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.

German Storm Troopers in Warsaw
On 01 September 1939, 1.8 million German troops invaded Poland on three fronts; East Prussia in the north, Germany in the west and Slovakia in the south. The Germans employed exceptional rapid maneuver or "blitzkrieg", or lightning war, coupled with the bombing of towns and refugees, that had never been seen before by the world. This operational practice allowed the Germans to capture much territory early in the war. The Polish Army, with a million men but little modern equipment, soon fell prey to the blitzkrieg and was defeated in a little over a month.

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.

War Declared In Europe
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.

3rd Army Maneuvers - Camp Polk, LA
In 1940, the first 3rd Army maneuvers were held in the Carvens-Pitkin Maneuver Area at Camp Polk, LA. Opposing IV Corps was the provisional IX Corps, under Major General Walter Krueger, which assembled on the Texas side of the Sabine River. Krueger commanded the 2nd Infantry and 1st Cavalry Divisions, the two most combat ready forces in the Army. The early preparations which began in April, cumulated in the "Corps versus Corps" maneuvers, which started on 09 May and ran through to 24 August.

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.

At Day's End, Horses Were Cared For
Although the Louisiana maneuvers provided invaluable data on modernizing the Regular Army, the nation was actually more vulnerable when the maneuvers ended than it had been before they started. Even as the Army's two improvised Corps sparred along the Calcasieu River, across the Atlantic ten German panzer divisions spearheaded a stunning assault that shattered the French Army and drove the British expeditionary force out of the continent.

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 to 11,676.

Troopers Watch Fighters Overhead
The United States Army General Headquarters (GHQ) Maneuvers of 1941, were the largest training exercises ever conducted by the US Army. Louisiana and North Carolina were chosen as maneuver sites. Two opposing armies, named "Blue" and "Red", fought one another in mock battles across most of West and North Louisiana. Vernon Parish was the setting for part of phase one (Battle for the Red River) of the maneuvers. The Louisiana Maneuvers established Camp Polk. Now Fort Polk, it continues to serve the nation as a vital military training center and emblem of the 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers.

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,"

J-3 Piper Cub Observation Plane
It was in the 1941 LOUISIANA MANEUVERS that the War Department approved the trial use of light planes for "control of troop movements, scout, patrol, drop bombs, ferry personnel, carry messages, and observe artillery fire". At his own expense, William T. Piper Sr., supplied eight new J-3 Cub airplanes equipped with radios, and a contingent of factory pilots and mechanics. This civilian fleet, called "Grasshoppers", operating through the trying days of the summer and fall maneuvers, proved the flexibility and capability of the light planes to be much more effective than the larger planes used for the same purposes. The after action reports on the maneuvers called for the investigation of their continued use.

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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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 04 Jan '13 SpellChecked