Tankers and Troopers: A Heritage of Courage

By Antal, John F. | Army, August 2010 | Go to article overview

Tankers and Troopers: A Heritage of Courage


Antal, John F., Army


COURAGE. The American soldier's legacy of courage began with the "shot heard round the world" in April 1775 at the battles of Lexington and Concord, Mass. After this initial clash of arms, the Second Continental Congress adopted the militia regiments besieging the British garrison in Boston as Continental regiments. Units of Infantry and Artillery became part of the Continental Army, but the Congress didn't see the need for Cavalry, so no cavalry units were called for. GEN George Washington took command of the Army on July 3, 1775, and, after the British evacuated Boston in March 1776, the war changed to one of maneuver. Washington quickly saw the need for mounted forces, and the first real cavalry forces of the Continental Army joined Washington in the summer of 1776. Virginia sent three troops of cavalry, one of which was commanded by a 21-year-old captain named Henry Lee. CPT Lee was destined to become a cavalry legend during the Revolutionary War and earned the nom de guerre Light-Horse Harry Lee.

The U.S. Cavalry is Born

The Congress, preferring the name dragoons to cavalry, soon authorized more dragoon units. On September 13, 1777, the Congress appointed Polish volunteer and professional cavalryman Count Casimir Pulaski to command the Corps of American Light Dragoons. Although there were never many dragoon units in the nascent American Army, they were invaluable. GEN Washington used dragoons for scouting and intelligence missions, to harass enemy forage parties and, on occasion, to fight mounted. At the Battle of Brandywine near Philadelphia, Pa., on September 11, 1777, American cavalry saved the Army by warning GEN Washington of British Gen. William Howe's flank attack, allowing Washington to withdraw in good order before Howe could block the American retreat. Later, at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina, American BG Daniel Morgan used dragoons commanded by LTC William Washington (GEN Washington's second cousin) to screen the deployment of BG Morgan's force from the observation of the advancing British. LTC Washington's cavalry then withdrew and, as the battle developed, charged, serving as the left thrust of BG Morgan's classic double envelopment that defeated British Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton's legion. The Battle of Cowpens was a perfect example of American tactical genius - and a severe blow to the British. The defeat at Cowpens and the subsequent battle at Guilford Courthouse forced British Gen. Charles Cornwallis to withdraw to Yorktown, Va., and eventually surrender to GEN Washington. At the end of the Revolutionary War, the Congress disbanded the dragoon regiments.

Cavalry in the Civil War

Dragoons were reformed to fight bravely in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. It was in the Civil War, however, that the recognition of the dire need for a mobile fighting force came of age when the American Army established the Cavalry as a unique branch of equal importance to the Infantry and Artillery. In 1861, when the Civil War started, the Union Army had five regular mounted regiments: the 1st and 2nd U.S. Dragoons, the 1st Mounted Rifles, and the 1st and 2nd Cavalry. These units were redesignated as U.S. Cavalry Regiments 1 through 5, and a sixth regiment was recruited. It took time and great expense to train these cavalry regiments, and initially the Union cavalry performed poorly against Confederate cavalry forces.

The balance of quality was changing by 1863 as the Union cavalry gradually learned the bitter lessons of war and continually improved its fighting techniques. On June 9, 1863, Union cavalry fought Confederate cavalry under GEN J.E.B. Stuart to a standstill at the Battle of Brandy Station, Va., in the largest cavalry-on-cavalry fight of the Civil War. The Union cavalry was then put to the ultimate test at Gettysburg, Pa., on July 2, 1863.

The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of GEN Robert E. Lee, was on the march to end the war by invading the North. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Tankers and Troopers: A Heritage of Courage
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.