After the World War

By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.

Any chronicle of an organization in peace time is necessarily not as filled with adventurous and exciting events as that of a war period. Officers and enlisted men of the regiment are well acquainted with happenings in the command since the World War. The record as set forth here from the late war through the year 1936 is intended as a faithful story of the highlights of the regimental history.

The Cavalry School was reestablished at Fort Riley following the World War. In order to illustrate the teachings of this school in a practical way, it is necessary to demonstrate the principals taught, by the use of troops. The Second Cavalry was brought to the post primarily to carry out this important duty. The training of the regiment has been carried on to the present time primarily to put into practice this idea. Since the Cavalry Board is also located here, the troops are constantly testing equipment for it. In addition, the regiment must carry on routine training to fit it for active field service.

It was necessary to carry on a recruiting campaign in order to bring the depleted numbers of the organization to working strength. This effort was successful and by the end of the year 1920, the present strength was twenty-eight officers and 964 enlisted men. During this period many soldiers took advantage of the new Educational and Vocational system of schools which offered courses in elementary, grammar, and high school subjects. Enlisted men also took advantage of the recreational athletics, musical and dramatic entertainments, service club, and library.

Before the World War the breeding of riding horses in this country was not done along scientific lines. Many of the horses on ranches and farms were sired by stallions which were not registered or pure bred. The result was that, except for racing animals, there were comparatively fewer horses in this country than in Europe capable of performing in a proper way either in the army or in civilian hands.

To correct this situation the Remount Association was formed in 1920. Thoroughbred and other stallions have been donated and purchased by the government until today there are over 600 placed in suitable horse raising areas. These are turned over to responsible men to care for who receive small fees when the horses are bred. By encouraging the owners of mares to breed only their best ones, a much finer grade of stock has been obtained. There are also three government remount depots, located at suitable places, where these stallions are brought for occasional closer supervision. All remounts are brought to these depots for gentling before being sent to the regiments. The results are entirely satisfactory, for today the army is receiving suitable type horses and the ranch men and farmers have found a ready market for their grade animals.

In the early post war period the weapons issued to the regiment were the caliber .30 Springfield, bolt action rifle, the Colt caliber .45 automatic, recoil operated pistol, the two edged, straight blade saber, the Browning caliber .30, gas operated, automatic rifle, (which was modified to a machine rifle in 1922), and for the Machine Gun Troop the Browning caliber .30 water cooled, recoil operated machine gun. The Headquarters Troop was issued radios, telephones, and pioneer and demolition equipment. It was necessary to qualify in marksmanship with all the weapons mentioned above. The new drill regulations was issued in 1921 and has been used to the present time with very few modifications. It provides for definite leadership in all units, and maintains the single rank both mounted and dismounted.

In January, 1921, the first squadron marched to Camp Funston which was on the Fort Riley reservation, and took over the guard of the camp from the Seventh Division. A telegram was received permitting all men to be discharged from the army who might request it during the month of July. As a result of this order the strength of the regiment changed from 835 on July 1 to 395 at the end of the month. This same year the third squadron was abolished altogether, as well as Troops D and H of the first and second squadrons, and also the Machine Gun Troop. The Supply Troop was renamed the Service Troop, the Machine Gun Troop was transferred out of the Regiment, and became Machine Gun Troop Number One, and Troop L was transferred as Troop L, Training Center Squadron Number Seven.

On September 12 the regiment reached the lowest strength since the Civil War, with a total present and absent on that date of 191. General recruiting began at once and by the end of the year there were in the regiment thirty-three officers, two warrant officers, and 457 enlisted men. In December Troop G relieved the first squadron on duty at Camp Funston.

General Order Number 4, Second Cavalry, July 13, 1921, prescribed the new coat of arms for the regiment. It will be recalled that the first one was adopted in 1913. After using the new coat of arms for five years, it was found that the two stars on the shield should be eight pointed instead of six, and it was changed accordingly in 1926. The Mexican gunner defending himself with a rammer was added at the same time.

Chaplain David L. Fleming was retired from active service August 15, 1921. Coming to the regiment in 1903 for his first assignment, he served with the Second Cavalry during the entire time he was in the army. For most of these years, he was regimental historian, keeping a detailed account of events, and spending much of his time collecting information. Beloved by all who knew him, he typified the high soldierly quality of loyalty.

Colonel John S. Winn was retired from active service July 18, 1922, after more than thirty-eight years of service. He had served in the Second Cavalry in every grade except that of Lieutenant Colonel. During the same year Troop E was relieved from duty at Camp Funston on August 31 and Troop G took its place. Work was begun at once by the latter troop demolishing the buildings and this great wartime cantonment was completely dismantled before the end of the next year.

Troop F relieved Troop E at Camp Funston March 1, 1923, and continued the work of tearing down the camp until June 30. The regimental badge was adopted this same year by G. O. No. 1, Second Cavalry, April 3. Similar to the coat of arms, it was intended to represent historical events of the regiment. Perceiving the same error in this as in the original coat of arms as adopted in 1921, the badge was changed by G. O. Number 8, Second Cavalry, November 4, 1924, so as to prescribe an eight pointed star instead of the six pointed one.

Fort Riley, Kansas
November 4, 1924
No. 8

1. The regimental badge of this regiment is designed to represent historical events of the Second Cavalry.

Originally the regiment was called “The Second Dragoons”.

The Dragoon Regiments wore an eight pointed star. Hence the base of the badge is the eight pointed star.

The regiment was organized primarily to fight Seminole Indians in Florida. One of the characteristic trees of Florida is the “Palmetto Tree”, bearing a leaf like a palm leaf fan with spikes running out from it. Therefore, the next figure in the badge is the green palmetto leaf representing the earliest service of the regiment.

A regimental badge has not room for emblems of all the campaigns of the Second Cavalry, so we omit the Mexican War, Civil War, Indian Wars, and Philippine Campaigns and come down to the World War where the Second Cavalry had the honor of being the only cavalry regiment of our army to participate in battle as cavalry. The historic emblem of France has been the white Fleur de lys (pronounced “fleer de lee”). Therefore, we have on top of the palmetto leaf the Fleur de lys.

Finally, we have at the bottom of the device the regimental motto “Toujours Pret”, pronounced “toojoor prey”, and meaning “always ready”.

In brief the badge represents by a dragoon star the early designation of the regiment, by a palmetto leaf the first campaign of the regiment in Florida, and by the fleur de lys the battle service of the regiment in France in the World War. The motto “Toujours Pret” indicates we are always ready to do whatever we may be called upon to do.

Lt. Col., 2nd Cavalry,
Executive Officer.
John W. McDonald,
Captain, 2nd Cavalry,

On August 25, 1924, General Pershing paid a farewell visit to Fort Riley before retiring as Chief of Staff of the Army. He made a dismounted inspection of the regiment and it was then marched to the post theater, where the General made an address. The following letter of commendation was received by the regimental commander after the departure of General Pershing:

Office of the Commandant.
Fort Riley, Kansas, August 26, 1924.

Subject: Commendation of General Pershing.
To: Commanding Officer, 2nd Cavalry.

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that General Pershing stated to me, while going from my quarters to the station, that the Cavalry Squadron which was escorting him was the best looking Cavalry he had ever seen.

I hope you will let the members of the Second Cavalry know this as I considered it a very splendid compliment. The appearance of the Squadron could not be surpassed.

Edw. L. King
Brigadier General, U. S. A.

One of the most far reaching changes in the equipment of the cavalry for several years was the adoption in 1924 of the Phillips pack saddle to replace the Spanish aparejo. Units equipped with the latter article functioned well with thoroughly trained packers, but horses’ backs were quickly injured by new men. By building frames to fit different types of loads and adjusting the pads to fit each horse the use of the Phillips pack saddle can be learned in a short time. Horses’ backs are kept in good condition by ordinary care that any trooper knows.

In addition to acting as a demonstration regiment for the Cavalry School, many regimental training events have been held. For example, during the year 1925 a night ride was conducted on April 16 for noncommissioned officers of the regiment, entries limited to three selected from each troop. The course was an unknown one over roads in the vicinity of the reservation and was forty-six miles in length. An endurance ride was held from April 30 to May 2 this same year in which a squad of seven privates and a corporal from each troop marched 120 miles. The squads were scored on the condition of the animals before, during, and after the ride, which was won by the squad from Troop B. The Draper Trophy prize of $1000.00 for the platoon demonstrating the most efficient leadership as a team was won by the platoon from Troop F, commanded by Second Lieutenant John W. Wofford. Also, the individual troop conducted night problems and other exercises which combined training with the spirit of competition.

One of the outstanding changes in equipment was the adoption after much research of the M-1, or “boat-tail”, ammunition for the rifle and machine gun in 1926. The chief difference between this and the old ammunition is the shape of the bullet. Instead of being flat at the base, it tapers toward the rear end for about one-fourth inch. Superior accuracy and increased range were the improvements, the maximum range being 6,000 yards.

Illustrative of the work outside Fort Riley during these years were the many trips to fairs and patriotic celebrations, where a troop generally demonstrated spectacular riding or the use of modern firearms. For instance, in 1926 Troop A acted as escort for Major General James G. Harbord, the former chief of staff of the A. E. F., on a visit to Manhattan, Kansas, June 1. The band was sent to Hays, Kansas, July 3 to take part in the American Legion celebration. Troop G went to Manhattan, Kansas, July 3 to participate in the Colonial Pageant. On August 25 Troop F left for Ellsworth, Kansas, to take part in the ceremonies of the American Legion. This same troop attended the Fair at Marysville, Kansas, September 5.

General Orders No. 2, Second Cavalry, March 13, 1926, announced the regimental coat of arms as still in use today. The shield has a dragoon of the Mexican War mounted on a white horse brandishing a saber as he charges a field gun defended by a gunner holding a rammer in his hands. On the upper part of the shield are two eight pointed stars, the insignia of the old Second Dragoons. Above the shield is the headdress of the dragoons of 1836. Below the shield is the motto Toujours Pret, which means “Always Ready”.

March 13, 1926.

No. 2

2. The following Coat of Arms, having been approved by the Secretary of War, is announced as:


SHIELD: Tenne, a dragoon in the uniform of the Mexican War mounted on a white horse brandishing a saber and charging a Mexican field gun defended by a gunner armed with a rammer all proper, in chief two eight pointed mullets or stars.

CREST: On a wreath of the colors the headdress of the dragoons of 1836 proper.

MOTTO: Toujours Pret.

The Second Cavalry was organized in 1836 as the Second Dragoons, being changed to the present designation in 1861. The color of the facings of the old dragoon regiment was orange, which is used for the field of the shield; the insignia was an eight pointed star of gold, two of them (conforming with the numerical designation) are placed on the shield. The traditional episode in the regiment is the charge of Captain May’s squadron on the Mexican artillery at Resaca de la Palma, which is commemorated by the principal charge on the shield. The crest is self explanatory.

3. The colors of the regiment are Orange and Gold.

By order of Colonel Williams:
Lt. Col., 2nd Cavalry,
Executive Officer.

John W. McDonald,
Captain, 2nd Cavalry,

The band was separated from the Service Troop and became a separate organization commanded by the adjutant, under authority of a letter from the Adjutant General June 22, 1927. That was the manner in which the band had always been administered prior to the organization of the Service Troop. For several years after the World War a troop was sent to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, each summer to assist in conducting a Citizens’ Military Training Camp. Troop G made the march in 1927, starting July 22 and returning September 10, and after this year the practice of sending a troop was discontinued. Later in the year Troop G, under the command of Captain Louis Le R. Martin, and seconded by that fine soldier, First Sergeant Patrick Sheehan, won the Goodrich Trophy as a result of competition with one selected troop from each cavalry regiment. The winner is the troop which excels all others in general proficiency, and in mobility, fire power, and shock action. The prize was a handsome bronze statue of a cavalryman making a charge with a pistol.

New tables of organization were issued in 1928 which materially reduced the number of organizations in the regiment. The First and Second Squadron Headquarters detachments, Service Troop, and Troop C and G were abolished. The Machine Gun Troop was again organized from personnel of the regiment, mostly from Troop G. The armament of this troop continued to be about the same as when it was previously discontinued in 1921, namely, the caliber .30 Browning water-cooled machine gun. The animals and equipment were turned over to the other troops and each organization did for itself the work formerly done by the Service Troop.

In the year 1929, two 37-millimeter guns, M 1916, were issued to the Machine Gun Troop and are still a part of the armament of that organization. This gun was used by the infantry during the World War against machine gun “nests” and tanks. It has two types of ammunition, the high and the low explosive, with a maximum range of 4,300 yards. For accurate shooting this is probably the most effective weapon now in the service.

In the period since the World War, the regiment has always gone on a practice march each year to give the men more definite training in simulated active field service. Sometimes the regiment goes alone, but generally it makes the march in order to fulfill the schedule of the students of the Cavalry School, who accompany it. An example of one of these marches was that made in the fall of 1929. Leaving the post October 2 the daily marches varied in length from thirty-one to sixteen miles and continued for fifteen days, with one day of rest, covering altogether 304 miles.

In the year 1930, the mounted band was made inactive and the personnel transferred to the bands of the other organizations. The plan of the War Department at this time was to allow generally not more than one band for each army post, and the Ninth Cavalry was the regiment selected to have one at Fort Riley. By the reduction in the number of bands, it was intended to increase the combat troops in our army, which at this time was being gradually decreased in size. The members of the regiment saw with much sadness the disappearance of this organization which had done so much to maintain the morale of the command since the beginning of the Second Dragoons.

Although the Second Cavalry had celebrated May 23 as Regimental Day since the founding of the regiment, it was thought more fitting to select a date of outstanding accomplishment in the annals of the organization. After thorough investigation May 9 was chosen, which was the day of Captain May’s charge at the battle of Resaca de la Palma in 1846. The new Regimental Day was selected in the year 1930, and was approved by the War Department.

A forced march of 100 miles in twenty-four hours was made by a selected detachment of thirty-three men and forty-eight horses on April 23-24, 1931, in connection with test conducted by the Cavalry School. The machine rifle was discarded during this year and the caliber .30 gas-operated light machine gun was substituted in the lettered troops. Both these guns are modifications of the automatic rifle issued during the World War. The machine rifle had a heavier barrel and a bipod rest but was still held to the shoulder. The light machine gun has a covered barrel to prevent burns and a light tripod which weighs much less than the one used with the water-cooled gun in the Machine Gun Troop.

Part of the men of the Headquarters Troop experimented with several second-hand automatics under the supervision of the Cavalry Board during the years 1932 and 1933, in order to work out a system of operation of a proposed regimental mechanized force. The troop was issued several old cars of different manufacture, and on some of them placed radios and a small amount of armor. It was intended to work out a system of tactics and to decide what type of car was most fitted for issue to a regiment.

The Cavalry School Brigade made a forced march of 100 miles in twenty-three and one-half hours May 16-17, 1932. The Second Cavalry participated with every man and horse available for duty at this time. Regular equipment was carried and ordinary march conditions prevailed. The time of the trot was seven minutes at nine miles per hour, the walk was three minutes at four miles per hour, and the lead was three minutes at four miles per hour. After a march of thirty miles, the brigade halted for an hour to water and feed the horses, while the men ate a cold meal. The march was then resumed for thirty-two miles when a bivouac of four hours was made to water, feed, and rest the horses and men. The last thirty-eight miles was made with the regular hourly halts of five minutes. After a night’s rest the brigade made a short march to prove that the men and horses were fit to continue.

Memorandum No. 12, Second Cavalry, November 18, 1932, prescribes the shoulder sleeve insignia for the Second Cavalry Division, of which this regiment is a component. It is worn on the upper part of the left sleeves of the service coat and overcoat. The device is a yellow shield which has on it a blue chevron below two eight pointed stars, the latter taken from the coat of arms of this regiment.

The experimental work continued in the year 1933 under the direction of the Chief of Cavalry with the improved Scout Car Platoon, but in addition there was issued during this year twenty Chevrolet one and one-half ton trucks and one motorcycle with side car for the same experimental purpose. These trucks replaced the horse-drawn escort wagons, and thus passed out of existence this ancient form of transportation. No one can witness the discard of these old wagons without a feeling of sadness, for they and the army mule are inextricably connected with the many adventures of the regiment since its organization.

When the Civilian Conservation Corps was begun in 1933 as an attempt to give temporary employment to young men of the country, it was turned over to the army to administer, as this was the only government department fitted to take charge of 300,000 men. Although the Department of Interior has charge of the work for this corps, the army still feeds, clothes, shelters, and disciplines these enrollees. When the job was first given to the army every officer who could be spared was assigned to this duty. In the summer of 1933 there were twenty-one officers from the Second Cavalry sent out to these camps scattered all over the country. Since then, reserve officers have been trained to carry on the work of the company organizations.

One Year Active Duty

CALLIHAN, Edward W., July 8, 1936-37.
CHLOUPAK, Lawrence E., July 8-22, 1936.
FINCH, Merle Joseph, August 1, 1936-37.
FULLENKAMP, George C., July 8, 1936-37.
HAAS, John H., July 8, 1936-37.
POLLOCK, Philip S., July 8, 1936-37.
THORNBROUGH, George W., July 8, 1936-37.
VAN PAWEL, Ernest, July 8, 1936-37.
MAPES, William H, Jr., July 9, 1936-37.
SIDMORE, Phillip R., July 9-22, 1936.
SIMMEN, Floyd Barton, August 1, 1936-37.
WARNER, Richard L., July 9, 1936-37.
WHEELER, John Z., July 9, 1936-37.

Six new armoured four wheel drive scout cars were issued to the regiment on June 30, 1934, and were assigned to Headquarters Troop. The Scout Car Platoon was organized with one officer and nineteen enlisted men. Two-way voice and code radios have since been provided for half the cars. The armament consists of two caliber .30 light machine guns, a caliber .50 machine gun, and a Thompson caliber .45 sub-machine gun to be fired from the shoulder. This platoon has become the main reconnaissance agent in the hands of the regimental commander.

A letter from the Adjutant General dated April 18, 1934, abolished the saber as a weapon for the cavalry. The officers still carry the dress saber for ceremonies. Since the beginning of recorded history, armies have carried the saber or sword as a weapon typifying the fighting man. The cavalrymen in late centuries was the only one still armed with this weapon. In this regiment we connect it with such beau sabreurs as Captain May in the Mexican War, and Captains Buford and Merritt in the Civil War.

Three of the caliber .50 Browning machine guns were issued to the Machine Gun Troop in 1935. This weapon had been issued to the Air Corps for several years and was adopted by the cavalry principally to be used against mechanized forces. It is recoil operated and is cooled by air by means of a slotted jacket around the barrel.

The one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Second Cavalry was celebrated in May, 1936. On regimental day, May 9, a handsome granite monument with a bronze plaque, commemorating our gallant dead, was dedicated on the upper parade ground at Fort Riley. That night a street dance and fiesta was held along a paved road, also on the upper parade. The troops erected the fronts of canvas buildings on both sides of the road, like stage scenery, so that one looked down a Mexican village street on fiesta night. Everyone appeared in costume and danced to the music of two orchestras. Each troop operated a bar where beer and sandwiches were served.

On the second night of the celebration a centennial pageant was held in the post stadium. The whole regiment had made costumes and spent much time rehearsing for this event. Starting at 8:00 p.m. under flood lights the following scenes were shown as typifying the history of the organization: the birth of the regiment, Captain May’s charge, the Civil War, a covered wagon escort, attack of an Indian village, the World War, the finale, and a platoon in a musical ride. Battery B, Fourteenth Field Artillery, assisted in the scene of Captain May’s charge. Due to the inclement weather, the athletic contest was not held until later in the month.

Typical of marches and maneuvers which occur at Fort Riley every year, the Cavalry School Brigade, consisting of the Second Cavalry, Thirteenth Cavalry, First Battalion Eighty-Fourth Field Artillery, and other attached troops marched to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and returned, for instruction of the students of the school. During the march tactical situations were assumed which had been previously prepared by instructors of the Academic Division. The troops maneuvered without leaving the public roads, but the officers received much practice in issuing field orders and the troops in carrying them out.

Since the World War, reserve officers have either been assigned individually to the Second Cavalry for two weeks training, or more often, trained as a regimental unit at Camp Whitside, near the post, with cadres from this regiment to assist. In 1936 this camp was conducted in July for the reserve officers assigned to the Sixty-Sixth Cavalry Division. Horses and equipment were furnished and enlisted men were placed on duty there for routine administration. The troops of the regiment gave demonstration to the officers on the technique of handling a cavalry command.

The Scout Car Platoon of Headquarters Troop left the post July 27, 1936, for participation in the Second Army maneuvers as a part of the mechanized force at that post. The personnel consisted of First Lieutenant Charles B. McClelland, commanding, and twenty enlisted men and six scout cars with regular equipment. After strenuous service in several states, the platoon returned to Fort Riley August 28.

A composite troop, known as Detachment, Troop A, consisting of Major Frank H. Barnhart and First Lieutenants Paul A. Disney and Edward J. McNally and ninety-one enlisted men, left Fort Riley June 26 to attend the Texas Centennial at Fort Worth with all expenses paid, returning to the post October 14. The selection of a detachment of the Second Cavalry to attend the centennial was due to the fact that Troop F of this regiment established the post of Fort Worth when it arrived there June 6, 1849. The work there consisted of giving daily exhibitions of a musical ride while dressed in the blue uniforms of the Mexican War.

The Thirteenth Cavalry was transferred from Fort Riley to Fort Knox, Kentucky, in September, 1936. In order to care for the increased needs of the Cavalry School for demonstrations, the authorized strength of the Second Cavalry was changed from 969 to 1217. This regiment received twenty-three officers and 463 enlisted men from the Thirteenth Cavalry. The number of the troops was not increased but the size of each was practically doubled. The Machine Gun Troop now has included in its organization two sub troops known as the caliber .50 Machine Gun Troop and the caliber .30 Machine Gun Troop.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The owner of this website has made a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, please report any problems that you encounter using the contact form on this website. This site uses the WP ADA Compliance Check plugin to enhance accessibility.