11th U.S. Cavalry was activated by Congress on 2 February
1901 at Fort Myer, Virginia. New recruits had to be able
to read, write, and be mentally and physically fit. These
were high standards for the time. Not everyone was cut
out to be in the Cavalry.
December 1901, the Regiment was deployed to the jungles
of the Philippines. Its mission was to help neutralize
insurrectionist forces trying to seize power. For this
tropical deployment, the men operated more like light
infantry than cavalry, due to the jungle terrain in which
they fought and patrolled. In addition to their Krag-Jorgensen
rifles, the men were issued "bolo" knives - machetes used
in the Philippines to slash through thick vegetation.
The bolos became a part of the Blackhorse crest. First
Squadron saw the heaviest action in the Samar campaign
of 1902 for which it earned the Regiment's first battle
streamer, embroidered "Samar 1902." It was also there
that the Regiment suffered its first trooper killed in
action: Private Clarence L. Gibbs, who was shot 4 March
1902, by guerrilla forces who ambushed a U.S. wagon train.
Regiment returned to the U.S. on 12 March 1904. By 1905,
the entire Regiment was for the first time in its history
stationed at one installation - Fort Des Moines, Iowa.
It was there that the Regiment received its next mission
abroad, to Cuba. The Regiment (less First Squadron which
remained at Fort Des Moines) deployed to Cuba on 16 October
1906 as part of President Theodore Roosevelt's army of
pacification. Its mission was to show the American flag
by conducting small mounted patrols throughout the island.
By February 1909, the Cuban situation was calm and the
11th Cavalry returned to the U.S. rewarded for its service
by marching in President William Taft's inaugural parade
in Washington, DC.
March 1909, the Regiment was stationed at Fort Oglethorpe,
Georgia. While there, its mission was training, but it
was interrupted at least three times for missions elsewhere.
In early 1911, when the situation in Mexico worsened,
the Regiment was ordered to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to
train for a possible deployment into Mexico, but by November,
the situation eased again and the 11th Cavalry returned
to Georgia. In May 1914, a domestic crisis arose in a
Colorado mining community. The incident was dubbed "The
Ludlow Massacre" and it touched off an armed riot. The
Colorado militia was unable to halt it, so the President
deployed the 11th US Cavalry to the towns of Trinidad
and Ludlow, Colorado, to stop the bloodshed by disarming
the aggressors. The Regiment was successful and returned
to Fort Oglethorpe in January 1915. Upon the Regiment's
return to Fort Oglethorpe, the situation in Mexico was
particular rebel leader there, Francisco "Pancho" Villa,
was becoming bolder in his struggle to win supporters
for his own power. Villa had formerly been an ally of
the man whom the US government recognized as the legitimate
President of Mexico, Venustiano Carranza; but he was now
his bitter enemy, and sought to seize power from him.
Because of the long standing tension between U.S. border
towns and Mexico, a popular tactic used by the Mexican
rebels was to attack US property or persons a show of
power and boldness that would draw Mexican supporters
to their cause. Villa did just that. On 9 March 1916,
his forces raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico, killing
fifteen Americans and leaving the town in ruins. The assault
could not be ignored. President Woodrow Wilson immediately
ordered General John J. Pershing to lead a punitive expedition
into Mexico to capture Villa and neutralize his army.
On 12 March 1916, the 11th Cavalry received orders to
join Pershing's expedition.
was in Mexico, on 5 May 1916, that the Second Squadron
(Provisional), 11th US Cavalry, commanded by Major Robert
L. Howze, led the last mounted cavalry charge in U.S.
history. The squadron was moving northward from its camp
in Parol, Mexico. Upon reaching the town of Ojo Azules,
Howze's force was surprised by a band of Villa's men.
A two hour gun fight ensued. When it was over, Howze's
men counted forty-two enemy dead and many wounded. There
were no friendly casualties. The incident would later
be known in history as the "Last Mounted Charge."
5th is the Regiment's official Organization Day, in honor
of Howze's charge. The Regiment remained in the United
States during World War I (1914 - 1918). On 9 July 1919,
it moved from the eastern US to its new post, the Presidio
of Monterey, California. Its new mission was to patrol
the US / Mexico border. These were relatively quiet years
for the Regiment.
historians believe it was in Monterey that the Regiment
received its nickname "Blackhorse." One tragic disturbance
began on 14 September 1924 - "The Great Monterey Oil Fire."
It erupted when lightning struck an oil storage tank near
the post. Massive explosions occurred shortly after and
a fire spread to nearby storage tanks and property. The
fire raged for five days. The entire 11th Cavalry participated
in the fire fighting effort. Twenty-six Blackhorse troopers
were killed. In 1929, the Regiment appeared in the Hollywood
film "Troopers Three" as background extras. In 1937, the
Regiment appeared in the Ronald Reagan film "Sergeant
Murphy," and on 1 June participated in the opening ceremony
of the Golden Gate Bridge.
War I taught military planners that the dynamics of modern
battle were pushing the horse into obsolescence. In the
1930's the 11th Cavalry was ordered to start experimenting
with scout cars, the first mechanized cavalry vehicles.
Few cavalrymen, if any, wanted to give up their trusted
horses. An era had come to an end.
15 July 1942, the 11th US Cavalry was inactivated at Fort
Benning, Georgia. The Headquarters and Headquarters Troop
was redesignated on 19 April 1943 as the Headquarters
and Headquarters Troop, 11th Cavalry Group Mechanized.
The former squadrons of the 11th Cavalry were sent to
fight with the 10th Armored Division and the 90th Infantry
Division overseas. The new HHT, 11th Cavalry Group Mechanized
drew new squadrons, the 36th and 4th, and also received
an Assault Gun Troop (a howitzer battery). After guarding
the US southeastern coast from March to June 1944, the
Group moved to Camp Gordon, Georgia to begin training
for an overseas deployment.
Regiment departed from New York Harbor bound for the United
Kingdom on 29 September, arriving on 10 October. The Regiment
entered France on 23 November 1944. The first unit of
the Blackhorse to cross the English Channel was Troop
B, 4th Squadron, commanded by 1LT Leonard B. Holder, who
would later become the 37th Colonel of the Regiment. Moving
through France and into Germany, the Blackhorse was assigned
to the Ninth U.S. Army and attached to the XIII Corps,
whose flank the Blackhorse screened during the Corps'
sweep from the Roer to the Rhine.
the war ended, the 11th Cavalry Group Mechanized was redesignated
as the 11th Constabulary Regiment on 3 May 1946, and remained
in Germany to maintain order in its area of war torn Germany.
The Regiment did this until November 1948 when it was
redesignated as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and
1950 war erupted in Korea between communist and democratic
factions. On 1 April 1951, the Blackhorse was brought
back onto active status as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment
at Camp Carson, Colorado. In 1954, the Regiment transferred
to Fort Knox, Kentucky, the "Home of Armor," to complete
its training in fully armored tactics. In mid-March 1957,
the entire Regiment rotated to southern Germany to relieve
the 6th ACR patrolling the Germany Czechoslovakia border.
1960, the Regiment received its first organic aviation
asset: the Separate Aviation Company, to assist in surveillance
and transport missions. In 1964, the Regiment returned
to the United States and was stationed at Fort Meade,
Maryland, for two years, until it received orders in March
1966 to deploy to Vietnam.
Blackhorse arrived in Vietnam on 7 September 1966 (the
Air Troop arrived in December). At that time, the Regiment
was equipped with M113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicles
(ACAV) and M48A3 tanks - later the M551 Sheridan was employed.
The Air Cavalry Troop as it was now called, or "Air Troop,"
had a mix of OH-6A scout helicopters, UH-1H Hueys, and
later, AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. In Vietnam the Regiment
received its own distinctive patch, won fourteen battle
streamers, and had three of its troopers awarded the Medal
of the Regiment's most notable missions began on 1 May
1970 when it spearheaded a US and Army of the Republic
of Vietnam joint incursion into Cambodia, a country that
was formerly off limits to US forces. There, in Operation
Fish Hook, friendly forces surrounded and choked off a
huge North Vietnamese logistics center. Enormous amounts
of enemy ammunition, equipment, and food were captured.
February 1971, the Regiment (minus Second Squadron and
the Air Troop) redeployed to the US and inactivated. Air
Troop and Second Squadron remained in Vietnam attached
to other units until they too inactivated in Vietnam on
20 March and 6 April 1972, respectively.
17 May 1972, the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which
had the mission of patrolling the East-West German border
along the Fulda Gap, was redesignated as the 11th Armored
Cavalry Regiment in a ceremony at Downs Barracks. In the
1980's, the Regiment underwent several force modernization's,
obtaining M1A1 Abrams tanks, M3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles,
and UH-60A Blackhawk helicopters. The Regiment also received
Heavy Equipment Movement Transport Trucks (HEMTT), High
Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), M109A2
Howitzers, and Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles
9 November 1989, the East-West German border fell. By
December 1991 the Soviet Union dissolved. The Regiment's
seventeen year vigil along the Iron Curtain was over.
In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, prompting the U.S.
Platoon, E Troop, 2nd Squadron deployed with the 3rd ACR,
while the remainder of the Regiment trained Reserve Component
Scouts for war at Camp Colt, Germany. On 10 April 1991,
the Regiment deployed an Aviation Task Force to support
Kurdish relief operations in Turkey and Iraq. On 16 May
1991, remaining Blackhorse units (less Troops B, F, and
K) received orders to deploy to Kuwait to secure the country
as it struggled to rebuild after the war. On 11 July 1991,
an accidental explosion at Blackhorse Base, Doha, shook
the Regiment. A fire caused by a faulty heater in a FAASV
touched off a chain of blasts. Recovery was swift, but
the explosion was not the last set back the Regiment would
endure. On 23 July, another accidental explosion during
an Explosion Ordnance Detachment (EOD) clean up detail
took the lives of three soldiers - two from the EOD and
one from the Regimental Headquarters Troop: Private First
Class Joshua Fleming.
October, the Regiment had completed its missions in Turkey
and Kuwait and returned to Fulda. As the need for U.S.
forces in Europe decreased, the Blackhorse Regiment was
inactivated in an emotional ceremony on 15 March 1994.
October 26, 1994 the 11th U.S. Cavalry was reactivated
in the California desert. The mission, to train other
U.S. Army units from around the country to be the best
in the world. The 11th Cavalry, minus the 3rd squadron,
became the top gun of armor tactics and the opposing force
to beat in desert battle training at the National Training
Center at Fort Irwin, California.
was not ment to be, that such a famous cavalry unit would
be only a memory, or become a portion of itself. So in
September of 1995 the remainder of the Blackhorse, the
3rd squadron, was reactivated as the Las Vegas National