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An English officer of the Napoleonic wars once said that the principle of cavalry in warfare was to give tone to what otherwise would be simply a vulgar brawl. And the U.S. Cavalry has certainly always done that--with its dashing uniforms and yellow sashes--and has backed it up with solid achievements in some difficult fields of battle. From its first, rather fumbling use in the Continental Army, the U. S. Cavalry has gone on to win great distinction in the Mexican War and the subsequent occupation of the ceded New Mexican and Californian territories, the opening of the West (1848-61). The brilliance of the Confederate Cavalry (which sprang naturally from a horse and hunting citizenry) and the slowly mounting juggernaut of Union Cavalry that had to learn the hard way, which in the end, proved invincible, are -- among the evergreen legends of the Civil War. And, once peace was restored, the Cavalry went on to a really major part in the winning of the West and the subjugation of the last rebellious Indian tribes in the 1865-90 period. The immortal charge up San Juan Hill proved to be the Cavalry's last great moment. From then on the once glorious story moves downhill--from peripheral duty in World War I, to the 1933 policy of the then Chief of Staff, General MacArthur, to mechanize each arm of the service to the greatest extent possible--then the last ride of all--the Louisiana maneuvers of 1940-41. The motor-conscious American public was so impressed by the successes of the German panzer divisions over the flat roads of North Europe that it was thoroughly convinced that the horse had no more place in modern warfare. But various voices of high military authority--among them General Patton's--have stated that the subsequent campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and most recently, in the broken, jagged Korean hills, would have been won with far greater dispatch had there been some highly mobile, mounted troops around. And the authors enter a fervent plea for immediate equine reinstatement. For boots and saddle men--and their women, in and out of uniform.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 1953
Publisher: Little, Brown