You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

My Photo
Location: California, United States

That's a good question...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

US Military Horses

I love horses. I had horses growing up. I prefer horses to most people. You always know where you stand with a horse. If you get kicked, you made him unhappy; if you don't, you didn't. Before I had a horse of my own, I used to take one of our wooden folding chairs, turn it backwards, put a pillow over the seat, tie on braided yarn reins and use my brother's boy scout belts for stirrups (they had those sliding buckles - perfect!). I rode for hours with Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. I was an outlaw, a cavalryman, an indian brave. My bicycle was really a black stallion. I put "horse" at the top of my Christmas list to Santa every year. And then it happened! At the age of 12 I was given my first horse - an old Pinto named Elginine. We used to round up the Jersey milk cows that lived in my grandmother's pasture. I'm sure the poor cows were very confused. Unfortunetly, Elginine developed "heaves" (horsey emphysema) and had to be put down. I then acquired a little spitfire Anglo-arab, Judge. Perfect bareback horse! But I grew up and he became a bit too small for me. So then, I became the proud owner of a Morgan by the name of Ethan. He became my best friend and I spent hours after school on his back, wandering the Berkshire Hills. When it was time for me to leave home, we sold him to a sweet 10 year old girl and I hope she had as much fun with Ethan as I did. He loved children and would always stop to let them pet him as we traveled down the back roads. He'd stand rock still and put his head down to their level so they could scratch his ears.

So, of course, I have to do a post on the horses in the military ~

"During the Revolutionary War, American cavalry decisively defeated British regulars at King's Mountain, South Carolina. These farmers and frontiersmen were mounted on American Horses."

"American Horses accompanied pioneers west into Kentucky. These animals became seed stock, making Kentucky a major horse producing state. In the War of 1812, Kentuckians mounted on American Horses and others from Michigan to Illinois joined the fight against the British and their Indian allies. "

(From the 'History of the American-Saddlebred')

Horses of theU.S. Cavalry

"No matter what your view is about the military, it has been a necessary component of our national security. Our legacy of being able to protect ourselves and our interests is written with the courage and sacrifice of brave men and the sturdy horses which transported them, their artillery and equipment under the most difficult of conditions. While the men shared a sense of duty and purpose, the horses simply did their jobs.

The US cavalry was successful due to a tradition of good horsemanship and cavalrymen who cared for their mounts. The cavalry was known as "the hardest branch there is in the service." Most men regarded their enlistment in the cavalry, which drew $12 a month in pay, as a serious and purposeful act.

During the westward expansion, cavalry posts were constructed and the cavalry was utilized to protect commerce and American settlers. While encounters and skirmishes with Native Americans are the most widely known activities of these soldiers, much time was spent policing relatively lawless territories; protecting immigration trails, rail and overland trading caravans, the movement of the mail and numerous small, rural isolated settlements.

During the Civil War, most regular cavalry units were used in the eastern campaigns while many midwest and western outposts were often staffed by state militia units.

World War-I demonstrated the development of a new technological advance, the tank, and by the late 1920s the Ward Department had directed that a tank force be developed and the cavalry became mechanized. In October, 1938, large scale maneuvers of both horse and machinery were held at Ft. Riley, KS, and the conclusion was clear. The age of the cavalry horse had ended and an era of heavy land machines had begun.

A few horses were still maintained by individual soldiers for battle reenactments and other historical presentations. In 1992, the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard was created at Ft. Riley, KS, whose purpose was to train and maintain a limited number of horses in the traditional cavalry style and provide a living history of the organization of men and beasts who protected our country for nearly 100 years. This unit develops its own horses and performs ceremonies and conducts reenactment missions on a regular basis.

Most recently the Color Guard has begun acquiring mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management, a modern throwback to the days when horses were intentionally turned out on the plains to propagate and provide a supply of "remounts" in time of war. The mustangs were gathered from areas where their populations were approaching the limit that their environment could support, so not only is the Color Guard preserving history, but it is also helping protect America's wild horses.

The US Army is not one to forget it's rich history and even modern military imagery reflects reminders of its past. "

We thank the Ft. Riley Public Affairs Office for the accounts and photos presented in this web document. Color Ft. Riley photos by Gary Skidmore.

Horses of the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard

"Established in 1992, the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard provides a link to Fort Riley's historic past. Troopers and horses of this unit are outfitted in the uniforms, accoutrements, and equipment of the Civil War period. Soldiers are detailed from the ranks of units assigned to Fort Riley and receive instruction from manuals used by Civil War cavalrymen.

From Privates to the First Sergeant, these men recreate the colorful spectacle of the American Horse Soldier. They demonstrate their horsemanship for school groups and perform at parades, re-enactments, official ceremonies on post.

Reflecting this heritage and commitment, the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard lives up to a description of mounted troops written after the Civil War: "The cavalry is the hardest branch there is in the service. A cavalryman is kept busy all day long."

Like most cavalryman of the American Civil War, the Color Guard wear the 1854 pattern uniform jacket. Trimmed in yellow - the cavalry branch color - this wool/cotton uniform provides degrees of warmth as well as coolness. While in camp or garrison, the sack coat and muslin shirts were the common attire.

The trousers are kersey blue in color and are reinforced in the seat to extend wear. The wider the yellow stripe, the higher the enlisted rank. Officers trousers have only an 1/8 inch welt of yellow cord down the outside seam.

Headgear includes a forage cap, copied from a style popular in the French Army. Slouch hats, or campaign hats, are occasionally worn by enlisted men but do not have yellow hat cords.

Boots and brogans, or short ankle boots, are the standard issuance for footwear.

The Civil War cavalryman used a variety of weapons. Handguns included the 1858 Remington New-Model Revolver and Colt Army Model 1860 - both .44 caliber; and the Colt Navy Model 1851 which was a .36 caliber weapon. The Model 1863 Sharps Carbine was one of the more popular firearms carried by the cavalry, although like the side arms, numerous types of shoulder arms were used.

The cavalryman might also carry a saber. The Model 1861 Light Cavalry Saber was the standard pattern issued. However, the saber was a cumbersome piece of equipment, rarely needed in the field and often left back in camp. Nevertheless, the saber gave the horse soldier another weapon in his arsenal - if the situation required.

The standard saddle used was the 1859 pattern McClellan. Captain George B. McClellan developed the saddle's design as a result of his travels on the frontier, in Mexico and Europe in the 1850s. A distinctive feature of the saddle was the rawhide seat which was adopted as an economy measure. The McClellan saddle, which weighs approximately eighteen pounds, was designed for the comfort of the horse. This saddle, with certain modifications, continued to be used by the Cavalry until World War II.

The Mounted Color Guard Stable is housed in the last cavalry training stable building which still has a cobblestone floor. This building was built in 1889 with a capacity for seventy-six horses. Rooms were set aside for the Stable Sergeant and Tack Room. Today, the building is home to the Mounted Color and is staffed by a First Sergeant and special duty soldiers from units assigned to Fort Riley."

We thank the Ft. Riley Public Affairs Office for the accounts and photos presented in this web document. Color Ft. Riley photos by Gary Skidmore.

Mark Atwood The Soldier whoTrains Wild Mustangs

The Last of the U.S. Army Horses, Black Jack

"Black Jack was born on January 19, 1947. His breeding was not known, but he was a beautiful black gelding. Black Jack was sent from Fort. Reno, Oklahoma, to the Third Infantry (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer on November 22, 1953. He was named after General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing, Supreme Commander of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I..."


"Defeat rather than victory brought fame to Comanche. He was known as the sole survivor of General George Custer's command at the Battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.
Of mustang lineage, he was born about 1862, captured in a wild horse roundup, gelded and sold to the U.S. Army Cavalry on April 3, 1868, for $90. The bay, 925 pounds, standing 15 hands high with a small white star on his forehead, became the favorite mount for Captain Myles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry. He participated in frequent actions of the Regiment and sustained some 12 wounds as a result of these skirmishes..."

TRAVELLER, Robert E. Lee's War Horse

"Traveller was the war horse of General Robert E. Lee. Traveller was ridden by General Lee thoughout most of the Civil War. The iron grey horse was born in 1857 in Greenbrier County, in what is now West Virginia..."

U. S. Army Arlington Horses

Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard


The Quartermaster Remount Service


Society of the Military Horse


Military Funeral Honors

Mounted Color Guard

California Rangers

United States Cavalry School


Marines Plan on More Horsing Around