6th Cavalry, Brief History

Among the multitude of units engaged during the fighting of the Civil War, the 6th Cavalry Regiment was the only regiment of the regular army created during the confrontation between the troops of the Confederate States Army (CSA) and those of the United States Army (USA). Published on May 4, 1851, a General Order (N°16) prescribed the plan of organization for this regiment and provided that the new regiment had to be articulated into three battalions, each battalion being composed of two squadrons and each squadron of two companies. Another General Order (N°3 – June 18, 1861) announced the organization of the 3rd Regiment of Cavalry and requested the establishment the new regiment’s headquarters in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Before this, the US Regular Army was organized as Dragoons, Mounted Riflemen and the Cavalry. Thus, in order to simplify matters for the large volunteer army growing in numbers day by day, the Congress enacted on August 3, 1861, that all Mounted Regiments should be known as Cavalry, while another General Order (N°55 – Adjutant General’s Office) prescribed that the 3rd Cavalry Regiment be renumerated 6th Cavalry Regiment. Assignment of companies to squadrons, and officers to companies, was announced in Regimental Order N°1 dated Aug 15, 1861, and recruitment began immediately in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and western New York.

The 6th Cavalry Regiment participated in every campaign in the eastern theatre. It was among the first units to experience battle during the campaign and was the last unit to depart the battlefields of the Peninsula, serving as rear guard for the army. The 6th Cavalry Regiment received 16 battle streamers for its service with two 6th cavalrymen receiving the Medal of Honor.
Following the Civil War, the 6th Cavalry Regiment spent the next 32 years stationed along the American frontier, scattered among various outposts, Texas and Louisiana (1865-1871), Kansas and Colorado (1871-1875), Arizona and New Mexico (1875-1890), Nebraska, Wyoming, and Washington, DC (1890-1898). The regiment was continually called upon to fight hostile Indians, guard the courts of justice, assist revenue officers, aid in executing convicted criminals, supervise elections, pursue outlaws and murderers, and in general institute lawful proceedings where anarchy reigned.

Of particular significance was the Battle of Little Wichita (1870), the participation in the Gen Nelson Miles Expedition to end the Red River War (1874/75), the establishment of Fort Huachuca (1877), the surrender of Geronimo (1886), participation in the Pine Ridge Campaign (1890), and the Johnson County War (1892).

Again, the 6th Cavalry Regiment earned participation credit for 10 campaigns during the Indian Wars and 50 troopers earned the Medal of Honor.

The call to arms sounded again for the country with the sinking of the Maine in February 1898. The 6th Cavalry Regiment was ordered to leave its various posts and take up camp at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, where most of the nation’s cavalry was camped.

On May 11, 1898, the regiment (less H Troop) moved by rail to Tampa, Florida, and on June 14, it embarked on the transport steamer Rio Grande and sailed for Santiago de Cuba. The 1st and 2nd Squadrons charged alongside Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Battle of San Juan Hill, while the 3d Squadron participated in the Battle of Kettle Hill.

H Troop served as escort and provost guard for Gen John R. Brooke’s headquarters and accompanied that expedition to Puerto Rico. Upon Spain’s formal surrender on July 17, 1898, the regimental band had the honor of being selected to salute the flag as it was raised on the Palace, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, to replace the Spanish ensign. Again, the 6th Cavalry Regiment earned a campaign streamer, this one with the inscription ‘SANTIAGO 1898’ for its service during the Spanish American War.
Pursuant to telegraphic orders dated December 23, 1898, the regiment was reassigned to the Department of Missouri and took stations at Forts Riley and Leavenworth, Kansas, and Forts Reno and Sill, Oklahoma Territory.

In 1899 various troops were reassigned further west, with Troop C taking station at Fort Logan, Colorado, Troop E at Fort Walla Walla, Washington, Troops F and G ordered to the Department of California, and further assigned to the Sequoia National Park, Troop H to Boise Barracks, Idaho, and Troop M to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri.

In June 1900, the various scattered regimental elements amalgamated at Presidio de San Francisco, California, and on 1 July departed (less 2nd Squadron) with orders to proceed to Nagasaki, Japan aboard the USAT Grant, and en route to China during the China Relief Expedition. As part of the 1st International Relief Expedition, M Troop was among the first units to enter the Forbidden City (Peking).

On August 19, 1900, the Regiment (less 2nd Squadron) conducted a mounted charge against Boxer forces at Gaw-Char-Chun. Sent on a minor expedition from the already-captured Tientsin, the squadron initially fought dismounted, then mounted and charged hotly at the enemy. During the charge, Cpl Rasmus Rasmussen was thrown from his horse at the point of furthest advance. Lt J.R. Gaussen of the 1st Bengal Lancers. Gaussen saw Rasmussen lying on the ground near the Chinese trenches, and the Chinese, who had also seen Rasmussen, emerged from their trenches to take him, prisoner. The race was on. Gaussen succeeded in mounting Cpl Rasmussen behind him and rode to the rear.

For his bravery, Lt Gaussen was awarded the China Medal with clasp and named Companion of the Distinguished Service Order.

The Regiment (less 3d Squadron) was relieved of further duty with the China Relief Expedition and ordered to embark on transports which sailed for Manila, Philippines, for service during the Philippine Insurrection. It arrived in Manila Bay on November 21, 1900, and headquartered at Manila Station, whereupon its troops took various stations. It will be remembered that at this juncture the 6th Cavalry Regiment was composed of the Headquarters and 1st Squadron, stationed in the Philippines, the 3d Squadron, still stationed in China, and the 2nd Squadron, acting as the depot squadron, stationed with the Department of California, although each squadron soon rejoined the headquarters in the Philippines, whereupon each troop took respective stations at scattered outposts. It performed patrol, escort, enforcement, and other duties until April 1903 when it was redeployed to Presidio de San Francisco, California, and further ordered to take station in the American West, headquartered at Fort Meade, South Dakota.

In October 1906, the Regiment was called upon to intercept a band of White River Ute Indians who had left their Uintah Reservation in Utah and traveled through Wyoming toward South Dakota. The intervention peacefully ended and officially marked the last action against the American Indian.
In August 1907 the regiment was ordered back to the Philippines in compliance with the schedule of rotation of the era. On July 1, 1908, Troops A and B, the Machine Gun Platoon, and a detachment from the Hospital Corps was sent to capture or destroy Jikiri and his band of Moro outlaws. Jikiri was located on the south coast of Jolo and traced to a cave entrance on an island covered with dense brush. The ensuing action saw the outlaw and his band killed, with four Medals of Honor earned for the action.

In December 1909, the scattered regimental organizations left their respective stations in the Department of Mindanao and embarked on the USAT Sheridan en route to the United States for station. From 1900 to 1909 it had earned the China and Philippine campaign streamers, along with four Medals of Honor. In January 1910, the 6th US Cavalry Regiment took station at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. This same year saw the Madero Revolution in Mexico, and in response to the violence, the Regiment was deployed along the Mexican Border. In January 1912, the Regiment was ordered back to Fort Des Moines. In February 1913, the Regiment was ordered to Texas City, Texas, in anticipation of problems along the US-Mexican border. Here, the various troops were scattered across the border until March 1916, when the Regiment reassembled and took part in the Mexican Punitive Expedition. The unit earned another campaign streamer for its service.​

World War One

In April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and entered into World War One. The regiment continued patrolling the border at Marfa until October 17 1917, when it marched 450 miles to San Antonio in preparation for the war. From San Antonio, it entrained and traveled by rail to Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and on March 16, 1918, sailed for France.

After reaching La Havre on the 31st, the regiment entrained for Bordeaux. Here it was broken up into detachments and sent to various parts of France where the troops were assigned to military police duty. It was then reassembled for immediate duty at the front, but the signing of the armistice caused its delay, first at Gieveres, then at Vendome, until its return to the United States in June 1919. It earned another campaign streamer for its service. Upon returning to the USA, the 6th Cavalry was permanently stationed at the Post at Fort Oglethorpe (1919-1942). During this period the Regiment became a ‘spit and polish’ outfit. Competitive polo, military horse tournaments, team sports competition, parades, and troop reviews were a way of life at the Post as were the many social activities that brought Chattanooga residents south to North Georgia. The training year annually closed with marches or maneuvers to Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina. In 1933, the 6th furnished officers and men to organize and instruct the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which saw the civilians paid more than the soldiers. In 1938, the 6th formed the guard for FDR’s visit to Gainesville, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. While stationed at Fort Oglethorpe the 6th experimented with the merger of horse and mechanization, field-tested the Bantam Car (later to be known as the Jeep) and motorcycle. The use of horses was over and when called for duty in WW-II, the 6th Cavalry (Mechanized) landed in Northern Ireland without any horses. With this mechanization, modernization, and the general expansion of the army throughout the war, the 6th Cavalry Regiment and its troops would undergo many reorganizations and redesignations.

World War Two

6cavregtduiThe 6-CG (Mez), under the command of Col Edward M. Fickett and consisting of the 6-CS and the 28-CS, landed in France on Jul 10 1944.

The group was trained for the mission of establishing the Army Information Service for Gen George S. Patton’s 3-A while in England and in Normandy. In Jul 1944, the 3-A became operational with the 6-CG attached. Until Nov 1, the group operated the AIS (Army Information Service), performing an invaluable mission for the Army Commander in keeping him completely informed as to the activities and location of his forward troops. This information was obtained by front line patrols and reported back by radio and telephone, direct to the 3-A’s G-3.

Early in Nov, the 6-CG was reinforced as a mobile task force to be employed by the 3-A. The operation of the AIS was continued, but on a reduced scale until Dec 1. On this day, the Group was committed in a wooded area northeast of Saint-Avold in the French Department of the Moselle, a city somewhere west of Saarbrucken. After taking Carling (France) then Lauterbach (Germany), the Group pushed rapidly to the east of the Saar and Moselle Rivers in the vicinity of Völklingen, just over the Germany border.


The group was relieved of this mission on Dec 24 by the 106-CG (Mez). The 6-CG then moved with the 3-A for the Battle of the Bulge, were the 6-CS entered the line on the right flank of the 4-AD southeast of Bastogne, while the 28-CS with Group Headquarters, proceeded to Recogne.

The mission assigned was that of locating the enemy force in the Bastogne area and of determining the limit of the enemy advance. The 6-CS rejoined the Group at Recogne 2 days later and went into action on the left (west) flank of the 28-CS. A 6-CS officer patrol made the first contact with the British forces to the north, thus determining the limit of the enemy advance.

On Dec 30, the Group from Bastogne and Recogne went back to the east and entered the line between the 35-ID and the 26-ID in the Lintange – Surré area (Luxembourg) where it remained until Jan 13 1945. During this period, the group assisted in reducing an enemy pocket which had been holding up the corps’ advance.

On Jan 9-10, the group advanced through Betlange (Belgium), Harlange (Luxembourg), Lutremange (Belgium), Watrange, Tarchamps and Sonlez (Luxembourg), thus enabling the infantry on the flanks to advance and reduce a dangerous enemy pocket. For this action the 6-CG with attached units, received the Presidential Unit Citation. The group then advanced with the III Corps through Wiltz and Wilmerwiltz (Luxembourg) to the Our River.

On Feb 3, it took over a sector from Clervaux to Vianden (Luxembourg). The group then returned to VIII Corps control and advanced through Vianden (Luxembourg), and to Waldhof-Falkenstein (Germany), capturing 312 concrete pillboxes in the vicinity of Bauler (Germany). The group then slugged its way through Waxweiler (Germany), and east to Lasel. Moving north it was in the middle of the surrender of the German Army west of the Rhine in the vicinity of Spessart-Andernach.

The next mission was to screen along the west bank of the Rhine in the Koblenz – Boppard area. The 6th Cavalry Group crossed the Rhine River through the 87th Infantry Division at Boppard with the mission of reaching the autobahn south of Giessen as
soon as possible – this advance of 50 airlines (150 ground) miles was made in 2 1/2 days. The next mission, in early April, was mopping-up operations along the autobahn toward Berlin in the Eisenach, Gota, Erfurt, Weimar, and Neumark areas. Relieved here, the group moved to the south flank of the corps in the vicinity of Adorf. The 6th Cavalry remained in defensive positions until May 7, 1945, when it attacked through Adorf, Mareneukirchen, and Erlbach. On May 8, 1945, all forward advance of the group ceased as the war ended.

World War Two – Narrative

The 1st Squadron of the 6th Cavalry Regiment (Horse-Mez), assigned to the 3rd Cavalry Division until Dec 1, 1939, was re-designated 6th Cavalry Regiment (Mez) on Jul 21, 1942, and finally re-designated as 6th Cavalry Recon Squadron (6-CRS), 6th Cavalry Group (6-CG), on Jan 1, 1944, arrived in Normandy on Jul 9-10 1944, out posted the 3-A’s CP and functioned as part of the 3-A’s Information Service Aug 1/Dec 1.
The unit patrolled near Thionville, attached to 3-CG in late September, participated in the 3-A’s winter offensive 1-16 December near Volklingen, Germany, provided flank protection to the 4-AD during the drive to Bastogne beginning Dec 24 and remained in Bulge area.

After having performed an exacting mission under difficult conditions for a period of nearly two weeks, the 6th Cavalry Group (Mez) (Reinforced) (6-CGMR) was committed the night of Jan 8-9 1945, on a 5000 yard front along the general line Villers-La-Bonne-Eau (Belgium), Bettlange and Harlange (Luxembourg) with the mission of aggressive patrolling to follow up any enemy attempts to withdraw. When it became apparent on the morning of Jan 9 that the Germans had so organized the ground that it was impossible for the infantry on both flanks to advance, the 6-CGMR attacked its own initiative and over and above the requirements of its mission.

In order to make this attack successful against numerically superior forces and a well dug-in enemy, a special task force was constituted, composed of elements of the various components of the Group. This task force spearheaded the attack and the 6-CGMR, making full use of the mobility and firepower, captured the towns of Bettlange and Harlange. The attack, continuing through the night despite bitter cold and deep snow, was delayed only by serious obstacles, including mines and blown bridges in the vicinity of Watrange (Luxembourg). At daylight, Jan 10, these obstacles were quickly by-passed and the 6-CG drove on.

Taking finely calculated risks, all leaders made maximum use of firepower in relentlessly seeking out and destroying the enemy. Open flanks were ignored by small units in the interest of speed. This speed, plus the aggressive fighting spirit of all personnel, made possible the capture of the towns of Lutremange (Belgium), Watrange and Tarchamps (Luxembourg) and the zone assigned to the 6-CG was cleared quickly. Having completed its mission, and by doing so, making possible the advance of the units on its flanks, the 6-CG, in furtherance of the Corps plan, requested and was granted permission to advance far beyond its original objective. The 6-CG drove on and assisted in the capture of Sonlez (Luxembourg). Following, the group operated also along the Siegfried Line and west of Rhine River until Mar 29, advanced then across the Fulda River toward Eisenach in early April, shifted to 1-A on April 22 and ended its part of the war along the old German – Czechoslovakian border.

Long before V-E Day arrived, the Allies had apportioned Germany and Austria into four zones each and assigned one of these zones to each of the four main allied powers, The United States, Great Britain, France, and Soviet Russia. Military governments had been set up and waited for long months for the end of the war, ready to step into the devastated and beaten land and return law and order.

The military governments were to carry the big stick of occupying troops, to make certain that Germany would abandon the low road of fascism and take the high road of democracy. On May 8, 1945, when hostilities ceased, the 6-CG found itself along the Czechoslovakian – German border. As a Regular Army unit, it was selected to remain in Germany for occupation duty. Soon after hostilities ceased, two squadrons marched to Berlin for a four-month period. Upon returning to Bavaria, their main duties included maintenance of roadblocks, motor patrols and the guarding of various US installations within their area of responsibility.

The second major reorganization of the Regiment took place on May 1, 1946, when it was re-designated the 6th Constabulary Regiment. The Squadrons became the 6th and 28th Constabulary Squadron, were joined by the 53rd Constabulary Squadron and in Jun 13, the 13th Constabulary Squadron. The US Constabulary was designed to perform the specific duties of an occupying force.

On July 1, 1946, the regiment assumed the responsibility for security along most of the US Zone of Germany, as well as a large interior area. Their main duties were to quell the Black Market, patrol borders, and police the Citizenry. Their vehicles were M-8 Armored Cars, jeeps, and motorcycles. Striped helmets and yellow scarves marked the colorful mounted parades through the streets of various cities and towns.
During September 1948, the Regimental Headquarters moved to Straubing, relieving the 11th Constabulary Regiment (now the 11th Armored Cavalry) for the second time (the first being at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, in 1919).

On Dec 20, 1948, with the first phase of the occupation completed, the 6-CG was again reorganized, re-equipped, and re-designated as the 6th Armored Cavalry. Armored Cars and motorcycles gave way to light and medium tanks and jeeps. Squadrons and Troops became Battalions and Companies. The organization and equipment became substantially the same as the regiment has today.

In 1949, the regiment participated in five large scale field training exercises and maneuvers. With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the tension and training increased. Grafenwohr, Camp Munsingen, and Hohne became as familiar as the home stations of Deggerndorf, Landshut, Straubing, and Regensburg. Although faced by 172 rugged mountain miles of border to patrol, the regiment found time to assist the German People. During the terrible floods of the Danube River each spring, troops worked around the clock on mercy missions; however, regimental assistance was not limited to times of disaster. Orphanages and schools were helped materially each Christmas as officers and men donated freely and wrote home for clothing and other necessities for the children.

German Rifle and Shooting Clubs often listed the names of Sixth Cavalrymen as members. Hunting and fishing parties found Germans and Americans side by side. German-American ladies’ clubs helped promote good relations. War and hatred faded as the years rolled by and friendships grew.

On a cold rainy day in Feb 1957, as the Sixth staged its final review before returning to the United States, it was presented a large silver shield by the Bavarian Government. The shield bears the inscription:

To The Sixth Armored Cavalry Regiment
The Shield of Bavaria
For Its Outstanding Service in Bavaria
20 November 1948 – 17 March 1957
Dr. Wilhelm Hoegner, Minister President of Bavaria

It symbolized the warm friendship which had arisen during the post-war years between the regiment and the people it had helped to conquer and remained to protect. This is the only known official recognition given an American unit by a state of Germany since prior to World War II.
Thus the Fighting Sixth ended its tour on the easternmost outpost of democracy as it again exchanged duty stations for the third time with the 11th Armored Cavalry under Operation Gyroscope. After an absence of almost 14 years, the regiment returned to American soil aboard the USNS Geiger and the USNS Buckner, arriving in New York late in March 1957. Fort Know, Kentucky was to be our new home.

Following the Queen’s visit, the troops participated in the reenactment of the Battle of Yorktown (Virginia). Some wore the white uniforms of the French while others portrayed the Colonial American Forces. Their outstanding performance brought personal praise from President Eisenhower and a letter of appreciation from the Secretary of the Army, Mr. Wilber M. Brucker. The Regiment began writing a new chapter in its history in early January 1958 as 1400 young men reported to begin their military training. Upon completion of their Basic Training, they sail for Europe and the 11th Armored Cavalry. The words of General Pershing are still true The traditions of the old Army and the duties of the hour were our creed. From garrison to combat, as the duties of the hour shall dictate, the Fighting Sixth will maintain the highest traditions of the Army as it has during the 98 years of its valiant history.

1. For as long as each of us shall live we shall hear the unceasing praise of men and nations ringing in our ears – praise for the victory the armies of The United Nations have won, the tribute of civilization for the freedoms our force of arms has preserved in ancient Europe. This honor is the appreciation of the world to you, men of the 6th Cavalry Squadron.

2. You know, as I, that this acclaim was won in the flood of those whom we left on each battlefield. I shall ever remember with you: the concussion and crack of our guns trying to silence the German Reply at Carling; the miserable, cold, glowing, stinking silence of Christmas Night, 1944, at Tintange and Bigonville; the ice-lined, drift-filled foxholes in front of the little mill at Betlange; the convergence of our tracers on German targets as we rolled across the snow into Tarchamps; the deep drifts, steep pine forests north and south of Eschweiller; the appearance of those pillboxes across the Our River and the way we eased across, covered by a mantle of fog at Stolzembourg; the impregnable Siegfried Line and our passage through it; the barrages that fell on Wasweiller as we fought in and out of the valley; and, damnit, the same thing again at Lasel; the confusion of that night march to Spessart; the debacle at Andernach; the day we rolled across the Rhein, the roadblocks en route to Zolhaus, the dumbfounded Germans in the valley up to Panrod, the way we got to Giessen and Langgons; how we got around Werdau and later took the place; the end run around Zwickau to cut the Autobahn; our three column into Adorf, and the roads that disappeared where we stopped in the Czecholslovakian border on VE-day.

3. Those rewards which come to me as your Squadron Commander are the praise of men and of the United States for what you have accomplished. The reward which is mine and mine alone is the honor of having served as Commander of the Sixth Cavalry Squadron. For each round you fired; each yard you progressed; for each patient minute on each outpost; for each bold second that you attacked; for each bolt, gear, and valve you kept running; for each word or signal you sent by electric impulse through the air, each mouthful of food you provided; each drop of gasoline you brought forward; each order and report you wrote for me; each paper you processed; each letter you typed – for these things I owe my everlasting appreciation. This I cannot express.

4. With reluctance and with a sentiment that I shall never again share with you, I leave my assignment as your Commander and turn over my reins to the qualified hands of those who helped me through our campaign across Europe. May the blessings of God, men, and history continue to smile upon you whatever time and the nation guides the future of the Sixth Cavalry Squadron – always, DUCIT AMOR PATRIAE.

SAMUEL McC Goodwin
Lt. Col., Cavalry
Commanding

At the end of World War II, Schweinfurt’s flugplatz was renamed Conn Barracks in honor of 2/Lt Orville B. Conn, Jr. in 1947. Lt Conn was the first World War II casualty of the Sixth Cavalry Group, killed in action on Aug 10, 1944, in Normandy, France. The Panzer Kaserne was renamed Ledward barracks in honor of Col William J. Ledward. Col Ledward was killed in action in Italy, June 1944. He was Commanding Officer of the 27th Armored Field Artillery Bn.

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