2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment
In 2007, the 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated and its personnel reflagged as the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, which remained assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
At the end of the Mexican War in 1848, the US Army had only 3 mounted regiments, the 1st Dragoons, the 2nd Dragoons, and the Regiment of Mounted Rifleman to protect settlers moving westward. By 1855, Congress realized the number of mounted Soldiers was not enough and authorized the raising of 2 more regiments, the 1st Cavalry and the 2nd Cavalry.
The 1st Cavalry Regiment was constituted on 3 March 1855 and was organized at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri on 26 March 1855 under the command of Colonel Edwin Voss Sumner. Upon completion of the organization of the regiment in August 1855, the 1st Cavalry was assigned to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Company B, 1st Cavalry Regiment was organized in September 1855 in Rome, New York. This unit later joined the Regiment on 20 September 1855 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The regiment's mission was 2-fold: to maintain law and order in the Kansas Territory between pro and anti-slavery factions and to protect the settlers from attacks by the Cheyenne Indians. In 1857 the regiment was split with half taking up new quarters at Fort Riley, Kansas and the rest maintaining small garrisons scattered throughout the state.
With so many units being sent east for the war the 1st Cavalry was initially kept on the frontier until militia type units were raised to protect against Indian raids. On June 22, 1861 George McClellan now a Major General, requested Company A and Company E to serve as his personal escort. The 2 companies saw action in the Bull Run, Peninsula, Antietam and Fredericksburg campaigns, not rejoining the Regiment until 1864. The rest of the 1st Cavalry was committed to action in Mississippi and Missouri. In August 1861, a reorganization of Cavalry units occured, with the 1st Dragoons being reflagged as the 1st Cavalry and the unit previously known as the 1st Cavalry was reflagged as the 4th Cavalry.
During the early years of the Civil War, Union commanders scattered their cavalry regiments throughout the army conducting company, squadron (2 company) and battalion (4 company) operations. The 4th Cavalry was no exception with its companies scattered from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic coast carrying out traditional cavalry missions of reconnaissance, screening and raiding.
In the first phases of the war in the west, companies of the Regiment saw action in Missouri, Mississippi and Kentucky campaigns, the seizure of Forts Henry and Donelson and the Battle of Shiloh. On 31 December 1862 a 2-company squadron of the 4th Cavalry attacked and routed a Confederate cavalry brigade near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 1863-64 companies of the 4th saw further action in Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi. On 30 June 1863, another squadron of the Regiment charged a 6-gun battery of Confederate artillery near Shelbyville, Tennessee capturing the entire battery and 300 prisoners.
By the spring of 1864, the success of the large Confederate cavalry corps of Jeb Stuart had convinced the Union leadership to form their own cavalry corps under General Phillip Sheridan. The 4th Cavalry was ordered to unite as a regiment and on 14 December 1864 joined in the attack on Nashville, Tennessee as part of the cavalry corps commanded by General James Wilson. In the battle the 4th helped turn the Confederate flank, sending them in retreat. As the Confederate forces attempted a delaying action at West Harpeth, Tennessee an element of the 4th Cavalry led by Lieutenant Joseph Hedges charged and captured a Confederate artillery battery. For his bravery, Lieutenant Hedges received the Medal of Honor, the first to be bestowed on a member of the 4th Cavalry.
In March 1865, General Wilson was ordered to take his cavalry on a drive through Alabama to capture the Confederate supply depot at Selma. General Wilson had devoted much effort in preparing his cavalry for the mission. It was a superbly trained and disciplined force that left Tennessee led by the 4th Cavalry. It was more than a traditional cavalry raid. It was an invasion by a cavalry army. As the column moved south into Alabama it encountered the famed Confederate cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Union force was too strong and defeated the Confederate cavalry allowing the Union forces to arrive at Selma the next day.
On 2 April 1865, the attack on Selma commenced led by the 4th Cavalry in a mounted charge. A railroad cut and fence line halted the mounted attack. Dismounting the Regiment pressed the attack and stormed the town. Selma's rich store of munitions and supplies were destroyed along with the foundries and arsenals.
General Wilson next turned east to link up with General Sherman. His force took Montgomery, Alabama, Columbus, Georgia and had arrived in Macon, Georgia when word came of the end of the war. The Regiment remained in Macon as occupation troops.
The end of the Civil War brought a new surge of westward migration. Indian nations were determined to hold on to the lands they had taken back during the Civil War. In Texas the situation was acute with the Cheyenne and Arapahoe roaming at will in the north and the Comanche, Kiowa and Mescalero Apache controlling western Texas and eastern New Mexico. The 4th Cavalry was ordered into Texas to confront these formidable foes. The Regiment was filled with skilled Civil War veterans from both armies and outfitted with the latest and best equipment. On War Department records of that day the 4th Cavalry was rated the best cavalry regiment in the US Army.
By November 1865 the Regiment had transferred to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. From here the 4th pacified the San Antonio area and conducted campaigns against Indians along the Mexican border. On 15 December 1870 29-year old Colonel Ranald Slidell Mackenzie assumed command of the Regiment. A brilliant leader, he commanded a Union cavalry corps at the age of 24. He would command the 4th Cavalry for 12 years, leading it on some of its most famous campaigns.
On 1 April 1873 the Regiment moved to Fort Clark, Texas close to the Mexican border. To stop the cross-border raiding by the Apaches coming out of Mexico Mackenzie was ordered by President Grant to ignore Mexican sovereignty and strike at the Apache/Kickapoo village at Remolino, Mexico some 55 miles south of the border. With utmost secrecy Mackenzie began training and preparations for the operation. On 17 May 1873, 6 companies of the 4th (A, B, C, E, I, M) crossed the Rio Grande under cover of darkness and headed to Remolino. It was a difficult night march over unfamiliar terrain, but by dawn they were in position and on Mackenzie's signal the 4th charged the camp. There was some scattered resistance but most of the warriors fled leaving their horses and families behind. The families and horse herd were rounded up and the 4th began a grueling march back to the Rio Grande reaching Texas at dawn on 19 May. During this operation the 4th Cavalry covered 160 miles in 32 hours, fought an engagement, and destroyed a hostile camp. With out their horses and their families in captivity the Indian warrior returned to their reservations in Texas.
In August 1874, with the border pacified the 4th began a major campaign against the Comanche nation in northern Texas. On 27 September 1874 the Regiment located the Comanche in the Paladuro Canyon of the Red River. Two companies drove off the large pony herd of 1200 while other companies attacked the camp driving off the warriors and then burning it. The Comanches made their way on foot to Fort Sill to surrender.
Successfully accomplishing their pacification mission in Texas, the Regiment was stationed in what is now the state of Oklahoma when it received orders to march with General Crook north to avenge the massacre of General George Custer and 5 companies of the 7th Cavalry. On 24 November 1876, the 4th Cavalry located Chief Dull Knife and his northern Cheyenne band. The Regiment rode all night to reach the Indian camp. At dawn the 4th Cavalry charged the village killing many of the Indian warriors, destroying their lodges and capturing 500 horses. The survivors soon surrendered. In 1880 and 1881 the Regiment was busy relocating Indian tribes in Utah and Colorado.
In 1883, the War Department redesignated all cavalry companies as troops. The designation squadron was given to a group of 4 troops and the cavalry no longer used the designation battalion. Since 1862 the US Cavalry had used guidons similar in appearance to the United States flag to better distinguish Union from Confederate cavalry. On 4 February 1885 the War Department ordered a return to the traditional red and white cavalry guidon used before the Civil War with one specific change. On the upper red half instead of displaying US in white, the regimental numeral would be displayed and as before the troop letter would be displayed in red on the white lower half.
In 1884, the 4th Cavalry was ordered to Arizona to combat the Apache. By May 1884 the Regimental headquarters was located at Fort Huachuca along with Troops B, D and I. The rest of the Regiment was stationed at army posts throughout the eastern half of Arizona. In May 1885, 150 Apaches led by Geronimo left the reservation and cut a wide swath of murder and robbery throughout southern Arizona as they headed for Mexico.
After unsuccessful efforts to bring Geronimo back to the reservation, General Nelson A. Miles commander of the Department of Arizona ordered Captain Henry W. Lawton with Troop B, 4th Cavalry in pursuit. Several engagements with 4th and 10th Cavalry elements took a toll on Geronimo's band, but he managed to escape back to Mexico. In July, Lawton resumed the pursuit. Geronimo sent word he was willing to surrender. Moving into Mexico Lawton accompanied by Lieutenant Charles Gatewood, 6th Cavalry, whom Geronimo respected and trusted, met with Geronimo on 24 August 1886. Geronimo agreed to cross back into Arizona and surrender to General Miles. Captain Lawton and Lieutenant Gatewood brought Geronimo to Skeleton Canyon some twenty miles north of the Mexican border where he formally surrendered to General Miles on 3 September 1886.
General Miles and Captain Lawton escorted Geronimo and his band to Fort Bowie. They were immediately put on a train and sent to Florida accompanied by Troop B, 4th Cavalry. After delivering Geronimo to the authorities in Florida, Troop B was ordered to Fort Myer, Virginia to serve as an honor guard. With the capture of Geronimo the 4th Cavalry was transferred to Fort Walla Walla, Washington in May 1890. For the next 8 years it performed routine garrison duties.
After the seizure of Manila during the War with Spain by Admiral Dewey the call was made for American ground forces to defend the Philippines. The first regiment to be sent was the 4th Cavalry. Six troops were initially sent in August 1898 to Manila where they were immediately deployed to defend Manila from dissident elements of the Philippine army that resented the American takeover of their islands. Fighting broke out when Filipino forces fired on US Forces. The Americans drove the Filipinos from the city and began a campaign to capture the insurgent capitol of Malolos. A mix-up the 4th Cavalry's horses had led them to be unloaded in Hawaii. Troops E, I and K were mounted on Filipino ponies and participated in the Malolos campaign. The dismounted squadron consisting of Troops C and L participated in the capture of Santa Cruz led by Major General Lawton.
By August 1899 the rest of the Regiment had arrived in the Philippines. In the fall of 1899 the 4th Cavalry moved north under General Lawton to capture the insurgent President Aguinaldo. Severe fighting took place in the small town of San Mateo and General Lawton was killed in action.
In January 1901, the Regiment was assigned pacification duties in the southern part of Luzon. On 31 September 1901 the tour of duty in the Philippines ended for the Regiment. The 4th Cavalry had participated in 119 skirmishes and battles. The Regiment's 3 squadrons were reassigned to Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley, Kansas and Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the birthplace of the regiment. In 1905 the 4th returned once again to the Philippines and participated in the Jolo campaign on the island of Mindanao.
n 1907 the 4th Cavalry was reassigned back to the United States to be stationed at Fort Meade, South Dakota, except for the 3rd Squadron stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. In 1911 the 4th Cavalry was sent to the Mexican border. Two years later it departed for Schofield Barracks, Hawaii where it served throughout World War I. In 1919 the Regiment returned to the Mexican border and then to Fort Meade, South Dakota in 1925. Regular duties were performed with practiced marches and annual maneuvers held in Wyoming. In 1926, the March King John Phillip Sousa, impressed with the reputation of the 4th Cavalry, wrote an official march for the regiment entitled "Riders For the Flag." The 4th Cavalry Band and the Black Horse Drill Team of Troop F participated in many civic functions throughout the Midwest.
As war swept Europe in 1940, the 4th Cavalry Regiment was reorganized as a Horse-Mechanized Corps Reconnaissance Regiment. The 1st Squadron retained their horses and the 2nd Squadron was mechanized. In January 1943 the Regiment left Fort Meade for the last time for the Mohave Desert to prepare for the North African campaign.
However, the Regiment's orders were changed and the 4th Cavalry arrived in England in December 1943 to serve as the reconnaissance regiment of the VII Corps. Immediately upon arrival the 4th Cavalry Regiment was redesignated and reorganized as the 4th Cavalry Group, Mechanized. The 1st Squadron was reorganized and redesignated as the 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized and the 2nd Squadron was reorganized and redesignated as the 24th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, Mechanized.
In preparation for the Normandy invasion the 4th Cavalry was assigned a critical role in the amphibious assault of the VII Corps onto Utah Beach. Aerial reconnaissance showed German fortifications on the St. Marcouf Islands 6000 yards off of Utah Beach. These fortifications posed a serious threat to the Utah Beach landings. The 4th Cavalry was assigned the mission of neutralizing them prior to the landing. The 4th Cavalry also had the mission of getting 2 troops ashore on D-Day to link up with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions to give them armor support.
At 0430 Hours on 6 June 1944, elements of Troop A, 4th Squadron and Troop B, 24th Squadron landed on St. Marcoufs. Corporal Harvey S. Olsen and Private Thomas C. Killeran of Troop A, with Sergeant John S. Zanders and Corporal Melvin F. Kinzie of Troop B, each armed only with a knife, swam ashore to mark the beaches for the landing crafts. They became the first seaborne American Soldiers to land on French soil on D-Day. As the troops dashed from their landing craft they were met with silence. The Germans had evacuated the islands, but they did leave them heavily mined. Meanwhile, one platoon of Troop B, 4th Squadron got ashore at Utah Beach and linked up with the 82nd Airborne.
As the American forces swung into the Cherbourg peninsula the 4th Cavalry Group's 2 squadrons performed flank protection for the 4th and 9th Infantry Divisions. In the Cape de la Hague area the 4th Squadron fighting dismounted seized all of its objectives in 5 days of bloody fighting capturing over 600 prisoners. Both the 4th and 24th Cavalry Squadrons were awarded the French Croix De Guerre with Silver Star for their gallantry on the Cherbourg peninsula.
In the dash across France the 4th Cavalry assumed traditional cavalry missions of flank screening and protection of lines of communication for the VII Corps. By 3 September 1944, the 4th Cavalry crossed into Belgium and by 15 September 1944 they had reached Germany and the Siegfried Line.
On 16 December 1944, the German Army launched its surprise attack against lightly-held Allied positions in the Ardennes. While the attention of the world was focused on the early stages of what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge, some of the fiercest fighting of the war erupted to the north on the 19th, 20th and 21st of December 1944 in the VII Corps sector on the edges of the Hurtgen Forest along the approaches to the Roer River. It was here that the 4th Cavalry Group was given the mission to seize the heavily fortified town of Bogheim and the high ground to its southeast.
On 19 December 1944, under a ground fog, 2 troops of the 4th Squadron entered the town undetected and engaged the Germans. Two other troops coming up in support were caught in the open as the fog lifted and took heavy casualties. The 2 troops already in the town successfully drove out the Germans by the afternoon. All 4 troop commanders had either been killed or wounded and over one fourth of the enlisted personnel had also become casualties. The next morning the 4th Squadron charged dismounted across 2 hundred yards of open terrain to seize the high ground overlooking the town. In the battle for Bogheim the 4th Squadron destroyed 2 battle groups of the 947th German Infantry and a company of the 6th Parachute Regiment. For its magnificent bravery at Bogheim the 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation.
As the German Ardennes offensive pushed westward the VII Corps was shifted south into Belgium to blunt its advance. By 23 December 1944, the 4th Cavalry Group was in contact with advancing German forces. On 24 December 1944, the 4th Cavalry Group was attached to the 2nd Armored Division and ordered to defend the key road junction of Humain to prevent the Germans from driving a wedge between the 2nd Armored and the 84th Infantry Divisions. The 4th Squadron was screening to the west between Combat Commands A and B of the 2nd Armored Division, leaving the 24th Squadron to defend Humain. By midnight Troop A, 24th Squadron had taken Humain.
By early Christmas morning Troop A was forced out of the town by a strong German panzer attack. Attempts to retake the town by the lightly armored 24th Squadron made little progress against the heavy German armor. Nevertheless by 26 December 1944, the 2nd Armored Division along with the 24th Squadron had repelled the German attack in the Humain sector and significantly contributed to ending the German attempts to continue their westward advance across the Meuse River toward Antwerp.
After retaking the territory lost to the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge allied forces resumed their advance into Germany. The 4th Cavalry Group conducted screening missions for the VII Corps in the advance on the Roer River in February and the closing of the Ruhr Pocket. In the last stage of the war the 4th Cavalry Group became a task force with attached infantry, artillery and engineers with the mission of eliminating German forces in the Hartz Mountains. It was there the 4th Cavalry Group was operating at war's end.
For occupation duties in Germany and Austria the Army organized the US Constabulary. The 4th Cavalry Group was redesignated the 4th Constabulary Regiment with the 4th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons. The Headquarters of the 4th Constabulary Regiment was stationed at Camp McCauley in Hoersching near Linz, Austria. The 4th Constabulary Squadron was stationed at Wells and the 24th Constabulary Squadron at Ebelsburg. Troops of the regiment were posted at 7 other towns throughout the American occupation zone of Austria conducting law and order and security missions.
The 4th Constabulary Regiment was inactivated on 1 May 1949. The 24th Constabulary Squadron was transferred to Bad Herzfeld, West Germany also on 1 May 1949, where it performed border surveillance until its inactivation on 15 December 1952. The 4th Constabulary Squadron was reorganized and redesignated as the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion on 1 April 1949 and then on 1 December 1951 as the 4th Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion. It remained at Camp McCauley until its inactivation on 1 July 1955. To retain some portion of the 4th Cavalry on active duty, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Battalion was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Armor Group and activated in West Germany on 1 July 1955.
In the short span of 12 years, the 4th Cavalry Regiment had been redesignated 5 times and reduced to an armor group headquarters company. With the decision to also do away with most tactical regiments the Army realized it wanted to preserve the valuable honors, traditions and history of famous regiments. In 1957 the Army set up the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS). Under CARS the regiment would be a group of tactical units bearing the regimental name. Over 150 historic regiments of cavalry, armor, infantry and artillery were preserved. The original line companies/batteries/troops of a regiment would be activated as the headquarters company/battery/troop of newly constituted battle group/battalion/squadron to preserve the lineal ties with the old regiment. Should a separate company-sized element be required the original company/battery/troop would be activated.
On 15 February 1957, 5 elements of the 4th Cavalry were activated. The 1st Squadron descending from Troop A was activated in the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. The 2nd Battle Group (Infantry) descending from Troop B was activated in the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea. The 3rd Squadron descending from Troop C joined the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The 4th Squadron descending from Troop D was activated in the Army Reserve 102nd Infantry Division at Kansas City, Missouri and the 5th Squadron descending from Troop E was activated with the Army Reserve 103rd Infantry Division at Ottumwa, Iowa.
During the 1960s, Army requirements led to changes in the active elements of the 4th Cavalry. On 1 August 1963 the 2nd Battle Group was reorganized and redesignated as the 2nd Squadron and assigned to the 4th Armored Division. Elements of the 4th Cavalry Regiment saw extensive combat during the Vietnam War. However, 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry did not participate in the Vietnam conflict. The unit was inactivated in Germany in 1972, having spent the time assigned to the 4th Armored Division and then the 1st Armored Division.
2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry was reactivated as part of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Stewart, Georgia in January 1987. The 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry was the reconnaissance squadron for the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps. Troop D, 4th Cavalry, the reconnaissance troop of the 197th Infantry Brigade (which was attached to the 24th Division), was placed under operational control of 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry.
The unit was deployed as part of Operation Desert Storm with the 24th Infantry Division. The ground attack of Desert Storm was launched shortly after midnight on 24 February 1991. The attack began in the XVIII Airborne Corps sector on the extreme left flank of the Coalition Forces. The 24th Infantry Division had the critical mission of blocking the Euphrates River valley to cut the escape of Iraqi forces in Kuwait and then to attack east with VII Corps to destroy the Republican Guard divisions. 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry crossed the border 6 hours ahead of the main attack and scouted north along the 2 axis of advance. 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry found little evidence of the enemy and the Division made rapid progress. With 2-4th Cavalry screening 5 to 10 miles in front of the attacking brigades the 24th Infantry Division continued north until around midnight when the Division was halted 75 miles inside Iraq. By 27 February 1991, the fourth day of combat, the 24th Infantry Division had destroyed all Iraqi units it had encountered securing the Euphrates River Valley and had trapped most of the Republican Guards divisions for the 2 Corps to destroy.
A cease-fire was declared at 0800 hours on 28 February 1991. Thus ended the quickest and most overpowering victory in US Army history. The 4th Cavalry elements that participated in Desert Storm, which included the 1st Squadron, the 2nd Squadron and Troop D, all performed their missions with courage and outstanding professionalism, adding to the reputation of the 4th Cavalry.
The deep draw down of the Army beginning in the middle 1980s and continuing after Desert Storm combined with the burgeoning peace keeping commitments led to the decision to halt the implementation of the unit replacement system. Unfortunately, by the time the decision was made the Army had completed a massive reassignment of regiments, which had often terminated long standing historical associations between regiments and divisions. By 1996 the Army, recognizing the damage such moves had made on esprit-de-corps reassigned many units back to their traditional parent organizations. As part of these reorganizations, the Army inactivated the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) in February 1996. Concurrently, 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry was inactivated. With the inactivation of the 197th Infantry Brigade, Troop D, 4th Cavalry was also inactivated.
The 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry was activated on 16 January 2006 at Fort Riley, Kansas. This was concurrent with the activation of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, as part of the reorganization of the 1st Infantry Division under the new modular force structure. Under the new force structure it was decided that each brigade would have an organic Cavalry element, and that each Division would have a total of 4 of these modular maneuver brigades. In 2007, the 2nd Squadron, 4th Cavalry was again inactivate and its personnel reflagged as the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry. 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry remained assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|