The Role of Horses in the U.S. Army: 20 Cool Facts

When considering the current operations of the United States Army, horses are not considered too much. But there was a day when horses were quite important to operations in the U.S. Army. I would say they had the importance that is now given to tanks or troop carriers.

In today’s post, I am going to examine the role of horses in the United States Army. I will provide 20 cool facts. So, scroll down and learn about how horses helped our Army through many years.

1: Indians Were Army Educators

Realizing that the natives could handle horses in battle with skill and precision, the U.S. Army employed some Indians to help train soldiers on the different methods of handling weapons and their horses in wars and battles.

2: Dragoons Of The War Of 1812

While some horse troops were used during the Revolutionary War, the primary method was on foot. There were no actual Cavalry or Horse units. In 1792, Congress approved Cavalry units known as Dragoons. During the War of 1812, the U.S. Army employed the 1st and 2nd U.S. Dragoons.

3: Dragons Disbanded In 1815

In 1815, it was determined that the cost of up keeping Cavalry forces was just too high. In 1815, all troops and officers were moved to Artillery units and the Dragoons were disbanded.

4: Mounted Rangers In 1832

As people decided to move West, the need for protection was determined for these settlers. It made no sense to use foot troops to protect these people. In 1832, the United States Mounted Ranger Battalion was formed to be the security for settlers on the Santa Fe Trail.

5: Dragoons To Cavalry

It was decided just before the Civil War that Dragoons would now be deemed Cavalry. Both soldiers and officers did not like this change, and they kept their Dragoon uniforms until they wore out and had to change to the Cavalry yellow uniforms.

6: Horses Were The Most Important Military Tool In The Civil War

Horses held a high level of importance when the Civil War broke out. While earlier wars used horses, this war put the horse as a “must have” tool just. Horse Regiments were numerous during the Civil War.

7: Horse Transport

During the Civil War, artillery and supply units had multiple horses and mules to transport supplies, and to pull the guns where they were needed.

8: Union Horses – Confederate Horses

During the Civil War, the Union supplied troops with horses, but the Confederacy required that troops supply their own horses. Many Confederate soldiers were allowed to keep their horse at the war’s end.

9: Officers Only

During the Spanish/American War, only officers were allowed to be mounted on horses. This is because of the transport of the animals to Cuba.

10: Horse Deaths In World War I

Over 8,000,000 horses were killed during World War I.

11: The Phase Out

Horses began to be phased out of the U.S. Army towards the end of World War I.

12: World War II Had Only 1 Cavalry Unit

During World War II, the United States Army had only 1 Cavalry Unit… the 26th Cavalry.

13: Patton On Cavalry In World War II

General Patton truly believed in the use of horses in warfare. This is a quote from this great leader:

“Had we possessed an American cavalry division with pack artillery in Tunisia and in Sicily, not a German would have escaped.”

14: Last Cavalry Charge

The last horse Cavalry charge was in January of 1942 by the 26th Cavalry at Bataan, Philippines.

15: Last Horse Charge

The last charge by horse, but not with a unit considered Cavalry was in April of 1945 by The 10th Mountain Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop.

16: Hierarchy Of Horse Cavalry In 1944

The Hierarchy of the Horse Cavalry Rifle Troop in 1944 was:

  1. HQ

Troop commander (captain) pistol

1st sergeant pistol

Stable staff sergeant pistol

Bugler (private) pistol

Intelligence scout (private) rifle and pistol

Clerk (corporal) rifle and pistol

Orderly (private) rifle and pistol

  1. Troop train

Three horse-holders, one with pack horse (privates) rifles and pistols

Saddler with pack horse (private) rifle and pistol

Two pack drivers with pack horses for ammunition (privates) rifles and pistols

  1. Kitchen section

Mess sergeant rifle and pistol

Three cooks, one in wagon (privates) rifles and pistols

Wagoner with four horses and wagon (private)

Two pack drivers with pack horses (privates) rifles and pistols

Two cook helpers with pack horses (privates) rifles and pistols

  1. Platoon headquarters

Platoon leader (Second Lieutenant) pistol

Platoon sergeant (Staff Sergeant) rifle and pistol

Two intelligence scouts (privates) rifles and pistols

File Closer Sergeant rifle and pistol

Three basic riflemen (privates) rifles and pistols

  1. Three rifle squads

Squad leader (corporal) rifle and pistol

Two Riflemen (privates) rifles and pistols

Two Horse holders (privates) rifles and pistols

Two Scouts (privates) rifles and pistols

Second-in-command (private) rifle and pistol

17: Modern Army Horses

Modern army horses are used for reconnaissance, ceremonial, or crowd control purposes.

18: Afghanistan

During war in Afghanistan, Army Special Forces did use horses in the mountain terrain.

19: Traditions

Modern Cavalry units still recognize their days of horses with several traditions including:

20: Well-Known U.S. Army Calvarymen

There have been some names that are well-known that were U.S. Cavalrymen. Here are some:

and yes, General George Patton was also a Cavalryman.

Final Thoughts

I believe we owe a sense of dedication to Army horses. They have helped us become the nation we are.

What are your thoughts?

Leave your comments below. Thank you.

References

  1. Horses in warfare
  2. United States Cavalry
  3. Here’s The Reason Why The Military Still Has Horses And Bayonets
  4. New horsepower for war zones: Special Forces saddle up
  5. Military Horses and Mules in the 21st Century
  6. History of horses during WWI
  7. Are horses still used in the US military?
  8. Military Mounts at Fort Bragg
  9. War Animals From Horses to Glowworms: 7 Incredible Facts

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