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Troop “A” Oregon Cavalry in camp at the Presidio of Monterey, California, 1915. Image source: Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) No. CA-2266 and the DLIFLC & POM Archives also has this image in their collection.
THE 11TH CAVALRY 1901 TO 1923
“As Your Were”
Source: DLIFLC & POM Archives
Adaptation by Greg Krenzelok
By Captain F.T. Bonsteel
To: Colonel John Murray Jenkins, 11th Cavalry this work is respectively dedicated. Capable, courageous, cultivated, deeply devoted to his regiment, and possessing a profound affection for his Country and his profession that is an inspiration to all who serve under him, he is ably carrying on the traditions of a regiment noted for its illustrious leaders.
Colonel John Murray Jenkins, Commanding, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922
HISTORY OF THE U.S. ELEVENTH CAVALRY
With a spirit of youth and vigor that never grows old, with a treasure of achievement of which it is justly proud, with a passionate love of country that inspires, elevates, and sustains an efficiency of the highest order, not only in campaign, but also in the less dramatic work of daily routine, the Eleventh Cavalry has just completed its twenty-second year of service to the Nation.
Officers of the 11th Cavalry at the Presidio, circa 1922
By Act of Congress, February 2, 1901, the Eleventh Cavalry was organized at Fort Myer, Va. Colonel Francis Moore, a veteran of the Civil War, and an officer with a record for distinguished service during the Spanish-American War, was the first commanding officer, and Earl Thomas the lieutenant-colonel. The regiment was exceptionally fortunate in having an officer of the caliber of Colonel Moore to start it on its career. A leader in his profession, his zeal, capability and sterling character gave to the Eleventh Cavalry a priceless heritage.
In March, Troops “A”, “B”, “C” and “D” the First Squadrons, were organized and ordered to Jefferson Barracks, Mo., for duty. Troops “E”, “F”, “G”, and “H” were organized the following month and as soon as properly equipped, were ordered to Fort Ethan Allen, Vt. Troops “I”, “K”, “L” and “M” then were organized and stationed at Fort Myer, Va., until January, 1902, when the whole regiment was ordered to the Philippine Islands.
Thus we see that the regiment was but in its infancy when it was ordered on its first tour of Foreign Service. The spirit of adventure, the passion for travel, and the lure of the unknown, - those powerful influences that supplement patriotism, love of horses, and desire for “he-men” comrades in prompting the youth to forsake home, friends, and independence for service in the cavalry, - had played their part in bringing men to this new regiment. Imagine the enthusiasm and anticipation that welled up in the hearts of these cavaliers upon receipt of this most welcome order. But on matter how excited a cavalryman becomes at heart, he never loses his head. Carefully, quickly, and efficiently the necessary preparations were made to departure. The First Squadron went by way of San Francisco; the Second and Third Squadrons, by way of the Suez Canal.
To anyone who has never traveled on army transport, the mere description of the trip could but half convey an appreciation of the experiences of these troops. It is not improbable that, on the first day at sea, many were afraid the ship might sink, but it is a certainly that, on the second day, the majority earnestly hoped it would do so. Never before had they so heartily agreed with King Richard in his sentiment, “ A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” Gradually, however, even the raging wintry seas ceased to hold sway over the early victims, and one by one the troopers came out on deck. Life, again, was something worth while.
The more interesting of the two trips was the one taken by that Second and Third Squadrons by way of the Suez Canal. The first land sighted after leaving the United States was one of the Madeira Islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Soon Gibraltar, majestic, awe-inspiring, and impregnable, - the trusty sentinel of Great Britain guarding the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea, - loomed into view. The next stop was at Malta, where a three-day stay enabled the troops to stretch their legs and visit the British fortification. A short visit was made to Port Said, Egypt, whence they sailed through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to Aden. Here huge elephants, carrying great logs with their trunks, made lasting impressions upon the troops. “If only we had a few of those elephants to do our fatigue,” thought many a recruit. The next port was Singapore, where our men had their first glimpse of the Orient, and where they had their first ride in “rickshaws”. Finally on the sixty-first day after leaving New York, they arrived at Manila, where the two squadrons disembarked, bade their now quite intimate friend, the U.S.A.T. “BUFORD” farewell, and were transferred to separate boats to sail to their respective new stations. They had traveled more than half way around the world, and when, a few years later, they returned to the United States, the circuit was completed.
Upon arrival in the Philippine Islands, the First Squadron was ordered to Samar, the Second Squadron to Batangas Province, and the Third Squadron to northern Luzon. Horses were procured and the business of whipping the troops into efficient fighting organizations was resumed in this new clime.
There is no “royal road” to horsemanship. The softening influences of a long ocean voyage told on the men. Many a trooper wished that the government issued mantelpieces so that meals could be eaten with some degree of comfort.
If suddenly we were to come upon an organization dressed in the uniform of those days, it is not improbable that we would mistake them for men of some foreign army. The campaign hat was sort of a fedora with a crease down the middle of the crown. The shirt was made of blue chambray. The trousers were long and made of a buff colored khaki. For mounted duty, the trooper wrapped the bottom of his trousers around his leg before putting on his dark brown, low cut canvas leggings. The shoes were black, and the riding gloves were long gauntlets. The equipment also was different. The old style 38-caliber revolver, the leather “thimble” belt with its two rows of ammunition, the old revolver holster, the brass spurs with rowels, the watering bridle, the crooked-shaped curb bit, the curved saber, the tin cup, the round flat canteen, the blue blankets, and the leather halter shank have long since passed into the discard. Dame Fashion, hand in hand with Modern Improvement, has succeeded in almost completely changing the appearance of our Cavaliers.
Among the officers of the regiment at that time were James Harbord, George Langehorne, Frank Tompkins, Verne Rockwell, Ralph Parker, Stephen Reynolds, and James E. Shelly. Of the enlisted men who were with the regiment at that time, there are left only Master Sergeant Benjamin Quigley and Staff-Sergeant Solomon Schneider.
The troops were quartered in old public buildings and convents confiscated shortly after the opening of the Spanish-American War.
During the time the Eleventh Cavalry served in the Philippine Islands they were engaged on several occasions in suppressing insurrections that arose among the natives. The most important operation was against General Malvar.
11TH CAVALRY RETURNS HOME
The regiment was assembled in Manila and, on March 16, 1904, sailed on the Transport Sheridan for the mainland, arriving in the United States on April 14. For several days it remained in the lower “Model Camp” at the Presidio of San Francisco, California. This camp was one of those constructed during the Spanish-American War for the use of volunteers en route to the Philippines. Its purpose was to give these new troops an idea of the correct layout of a good camp. At the time that the Eleventh Cavalry camped there, however, it was not quite so exemplary.
The regiment then proceeded to new stations as follows:
- First Squadron to Fort Riley, Kansas
- Regimental Headquarters, Band, and Second Squadron to Fort Des Moines, Iowa.
- Troops I and K to Fort Sheridan, Ill.
- Troops L and M to Jefferson Barracks, Mo.
Upon arrival in the United States, the complement of the regiment consisted of just about one-third of its authorized strength. All the horses had been left in the islands. Recruits and horses had to be obtained. The regiment was quickly filled up with new men. The regimental commander, Colonel Thomas, an expert judge of horseflesh, was ordered to St. Louis, Mo. to by horses. A sufficient number was purchased to mount the regiment. The Missouri horse was considered, at the time, the most suitable type for cavalry service. It was a stocky, short-coupled animal that made an excellent weight carrier.
11th Cavalry Staff non-commissioned officers, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
New men and new horses meant plenty of hard work for the officers and non-commissioned officers, but diligent, progressive training soon won excellent results. Gradually, but nonetheless surely, the troops were developed into efficient organizations.
Fort Des Moines, where the Regimental Headquarters and the Second Squadron were stationed, was a new post, still in the process of construction. As soon as barracks and quarters were ready for occupancy, the Third Squadron was ordered there (October and November, 1904). In August 1905 the construction work was finally completed, and the First Squadron left Fort Riley, Kansas, to join the rest of the regiment. Thus the whole regiment was assembled again in one post.
During 1905, several troops of the regiment participated in county fairs and horse show at various places throughout the States of Iowa and Indiana. A mutual feeling of respect and friendship was established wherever the troops went, and quite a number of prizes for successful competitions in horsemanship and horseflesh were brought home.
Early in the spring of 1906, while the regiment was engaged in garrison duties, the famous order of President Roosevelt was promulgated requiring three-day marches every month. Throughout the spring and summer, a large portion of the regiment was in the field. Quite often, during these hikes, a squadron would go out for a three-day march and take six days to get back owing to the condition of the Iowa roads. The wagon transportation would sink up to their hubs in mud. On one occasion, a wagon became stuck so deep that it was necessary to have a detail of men dig the mud out from around the wheels, take the wagon apart, carry the parts a short distance to more solid ground, and set it up again. Of course, these were not the usually traveled roads. They had been selected for the march, probably, because they afforded soft footing for the horses during dry weather, but a couple of storms rendered them almost impassable.
In August 1906, the whole regiment marched to Fort Riley, Kansas, to participate with a number of other regiments in annual maneuvers.
Headquarters Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
First Squadron Headquarters Detachment, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
Second Squadron Headquarters Detachment, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
ARMY OF CUBAN PACIFICATION
While engaged in maneuvers at Fort Riley, the regiment, less the First Squadron (which was ordered to return to Fort Des Moines, Iowa), was ordered to proceed at once to Cuba as one of the units of the Army of Pacification. It entrained for Newport News, Va., and there embarked on the U.S.C.T. Zealandia for Havana. The horses were shipped via Key West, Fla., in the charge of Troop “M”.
The troops arrived in Havana Harbor on October 16th, unloaded, and went into camp the same day at Camp Columbia.
On the night of October 17-18, a tropical hurricane struck the camp and totally destroyed all of the shelters of the regiment. The transport bringing the horses was caught at sea, resulting in the loss of over two hundred horses. Of the horses belonging to one troop, only ten survived.
The Second Squadron remained at Camp Columbia and Regimental Headquarters and the Third Squadron went to Pinar del Rio. In the meantime, the First Squadron, which had returned to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, was relieved by the Second Cavalry and went to Fort Ethan Allen, Vt.
The efficiency of the regiment at this time is shown by the following:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF CUBAN PACIFICATION
General Orders No. 62
Mariano, Havana, Cuba
April 13, 1908
The commanding general has pleasure in calling to the attention of this command the unusual and extraordinary feat just performed by Troops F and G, 11th Cavalry. These troops were sent from Camp Columbia to Pinar del Rio and were in camp engaged in target practice during the month of March, when their horses had very little exercise and no drills. It can, in fact, be stated that they were practically standing on the picket line. For the ten days beginning April 1st the troops took part in field exercises which were of a very strenuous character, demanding much of the men and horses.
The commanding general’s experience, after careful observation prompted the belief that our animals were in fine condition, due to good care and putting into practice the experience gained during former service in Cuba. Opinions vary as to the work that may be demanded of men and animals in the tropics. To determine this conclusively and to have a thorough knowledge of what may be expected of them experiment must be or it is a mere matter of opinion and guesswork.
Troops F and G, 11th Cavalry, were therefore authorized to return from Pinar del Rio to Camp Columbia as rapidly as possible consistent with maintaining horses and men in serviceable condition and ready for action at the end of the march. It was suggested that ten selected men and horses be taken from each of the four troops of the 2d Squadron, 11th Cavalry, and trained for this return march. This was disapproved because the feat was not to be by trained and specially selected men and animals to come through in the shortest time practicable, but, on the other hand, the bringing of an entire troop through fully equipped in heavy marching order, armed with rifle, saber and pistol, and have it, at the end of the march, ready for action.
To avoid any ill effects to man or beast, the captains were instructed to permit no man to make the march whom the medical officer at the camp reported against, and not to take any horses that were sick or incapacitated in any way. They were cautioned that it was not a race not was it desired to rush through with such men and horses as could make the trip, stringing the rest along the road. Having full confidence in the two captains concerned to take thorough care of their troops and to carry out explicitly the wishes of their commanding general, no other instructions were given; i.e., the conduct of the march was left entirely to them, with the distinct understanding that if they saw their men or horses weakening they would stop and come in at a slow pace.
Before this march was made there was considerable discussion by those concerned, and by many who were not concerned, as to the expediency of it, and there were many who did not believe the march could be made in this climate at this time of the year.
The proper spirit to manifest on occasions when officers and men have a hard task to perform is to encourage them by word and action not to dishearten them by arguing that the feat is impossible. In this particular instance the two captains concerned and the officers and men of their troops were heartily in the spirit of the feat and had full confidence in themselves and their mounts, and were not to be discouraged. Their commanding general shared this confidence and the action justifies it.
In round numbers, the distance from the camp at the target range at Pinar del Rio to Camp Columbia, by the route traveled is 110 miles. The march has been made and in the history of the American Army, it is doubted if such a feat has ever been performed such results.
Troop F covered the distance, including halts, in approximately 29 hours; Troop G in approximately 30 hours. Careful personal examination by the commanding general, the inspector-general of the Army, and the supervising veterinarian, reveals the fact that men and horses came through without injury to a single man or horse not even to the extent of one sore back.
The credit for this extraordinary result is due entirely to the troops commanders and their officers and men; to their efficient handling and instruction; and, to the spirit that animated them.
The commanding general extends to them, one and all, his sincere congratulations. In the tropics and without the inspiration of no enemy, this feat is marvelous and demonstrates what may be expected of the American soldier and horse when properly appealed to, instructed and led; it is all the more remarkable when it is considered that of the 81 enlisted men who made the march, 34 have had less then one year service.
The following are the names of the officers and enlisted men who took part in the march. Of the men mentioned, the following are the only ones still in the regiment: Q.M. Sgt. Solomon Schneider
Corporal Fred E. Gaines
Private Otto A. Seidel
A copy of this order will be furnished to each officer and enlisted man concerned. A full report of this march in all its details is being prepared and will be forwarded to the War Department. [6048-I.K.]
By command of Brigadier General Barry:
Millard F. Waltz
Lt. Colonel, General Staff, Chief of Staff
Upon the promotion of Colonel Thomas to the rank of Brigadier General in 1907, Colonel James Parker was assigned to command the regiment. The Eleventh Cavalry will always retain a sincere affection and profound respect for “Galloping Jim.” During the six years that he commanded the regiment, it attained and maintained a degree of efficiency conspicuous even in those days of old when all of the regiments were exceptionally efficient. Colonel Parker was a pioneer in the school that pointed out that a cavalryman often will be called upon to fight on foot, and should be trained to fight as well dismounted as mounted. He was a master of detail. Nothing was so small as to escape his notice. As an instance of this, the following incident is recalled:
An unusually large number of enlisted men had married. One day when, in accordance with custom, an application of one of the men to get married was placed before the Colonel, he declared himself: “I do not mind these young fellows marrying if they can support a wife, but I do object to the homely girls some of them marry. In the future I want to see the girl before I approve of the application.” The new ruling was broadcasted throughout the regiment. A short time later a would-be bridegroom was very much perplexed how his prospective bride was going to pass inspection. He realized that she would stand out in a thousand homely girls, but he loved her enough to take a chance. The girl, however, was not a gamble. This was her first and, perhaps, her only chance to get a husband so she could not afford to lose. She proposed that they get a good-looking girl to “double” for her during the inspection only. This was done, and a few months later when the Colonel saw the young soldier with his homely wife at a baseball game, he remarked, “My, what marriage will do to some people!”
In July 1908, the Army of Cuban Pacification held a field meet, which lasted for ten days. All the troops, including a battalion of marines, were represented in the competitions. The Eleventh Cavalry made a very creditable showing. In a competitive drill between Troop “F”, Eleventh Cavalry, under the command of First Lieutenant Eben Swift Jr., and a troop of the Fifteenth Cavalry, the former won by a close margin. It was declared by some of the older officers, including General Barry, to be one of the finest and hardest fought contests ever witnessed by them in their long experiences.
During the rest of the time in Cuba, the regiment was in the field marching from town to town, demonstrating to the natives that the American Army was ready for any and all eventualities. War is at times inevitable, but the Regular Army best serves the country when it can command the respect of other nations and thereby avert war.
Supply Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
11TH CAVALRY RETURNS HOME
On February 25, 1909, the Eleventh Cavalry sailed on the U.S.A.T. Meade for Newport News, Va., where it arrived on the first of March. It proceeded at once to Washington, D.C., to participate in the inaugural parade of President Taft. On the evening of March 4 it entrained for its new station, Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., where it relieved the Twelfth Cavalry. The First Squadron, which had been at Fort Ethan Allen, Vt., now joined and the whole regiment was united again.
In September the regiment marched to Knoxville, Tenn., carrying out, en route, a comprehensive schedule of tactical problems, including the fording of the Little Tennessee River. During 1910 the regiment participated in the Military Tournament at Nashville, Tenn., carrying off the lion’s share of prizes, and in maneuvers in Chickamauga Park with the militia from the Southern States.
At the outbreak of trouble in Mexico, caused by the overthrow of President Diaz, orders were received to proceed at once to the mobilization camp at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. Here the troops were recruited to war strength, and remounts were obtained. The old men trained the remounts, and the old horses trained the recruits. In a very short time the new elements were drilling with the regiment. Six weeks after the recruits and remounts were received they behaved like veterans in a charge with regimental, front, at an inspection made by Secretary of War Stimson and General Wood. The Eleventh Cavalry remained at San Antonio, Texas, until November 1911, when it returned to Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
Garrison duties now enabled the regiment to give more attention to sports. A cross-country riding course was built in Chickamauga Park, and the Eleventh Cavalry Hunt, which soon became famous throughout the Service, was organized. A pack of fifteen couples of good English hounds was procured. Twenty brace of red foxes were planted. Fox hunts were held twice a week, and drag hunts once a week. On these hunts the country miles around was covered and many an exciting run was enjoyed.
In 1912 Colonel Parker was sent to Europe to observe the European armies. Upon his return he said that he had observed the foreign cavalries from the sidelines and ridden in their ranks but, with the exception of the niceties sought in equitation, their training was in no way better than that of the Eleventh Cavalry, and that in the matter of fighting on foot the latter was far superior.
Colonel Parker was promoted to a Brigadier-General in 1913 and was succeeded by Colonel James Lockett. In June of that year the regiment marched 620 miles to Winchester, Va., where it was brigaded with the Tenth and Fifteenth Cavalry to try out the new double rank Cavalry drill. Every evolution from squad to brigade drill was tested. On October 1st the regiment marched to Fort Myer, Va., and was reviewed by President Wilson. Thence it returned to Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
For the purpose of experiment, Troops “G” and “H” were converted into a remount and a recruit troop, respectively. The object was to determine what progress could be attained in training horses and men by intensive instruction. Expert horsemen were selected to train the remounts, and experienced officers and non-commissioned officers were assigned to the recruit troop. These two troops specialized in their work and did no other duty with the regiment. Very creditable results were attained.
11th Cavalry: Mexican Border patrol 1913. DLIFLC & POM Archives
In May 1914, the regiment was ordered to Trinidad, Colorado, immediately after the Ludlow massacre, to quell the trouble, which had resulted from the coal strike. Regarding it work there, the following is quoted from the report of the Secretary of War, 1915:
“Appreciation of the fine service is due to those who were on duty in the State of Colorado. Injected in the midst of an inflamed populace lately in open conflict, they restored and maintained order. Their poise, justness, absolute impartiality and effectiveness not only applied the proper corrective to the situation on the ground, but commended them to all, whatever the individual sympathies might be, and highly commend them to us. Such a demonstration of the spirit that animated and controls the American Army must make every citizen proud thereof.”
Returning to Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., in January 1915, the regiment spent most of the summer in maneuvers and field problems, and then resumed its usual garrison duties.
For years the vicious propaganda of revolutionary leaders stirred up ill feeling among our Mexican neighbors along the Southwestern border. The leaders, for the most part outlaws, terrorized the peaceful citizens in the northern States of Mexico, and spasmodically made depredations of American citizens, not only in Mexico, but also on the side of the border. They capitalized the ignorance of their followers by making all kinds of false accusations against the “Gringos.” Extolling their own virtues and proclaiming themselves as delivers – sometimes from the bondage of their own rulers, sometimes from the impending conquest from the north – they succeeded in raising bands of followers whom they used to promote their own personal interests. Ostensibly in the cause freedom they plundered and murdered not only their fellow citizens, but also a number of citizens of the United States. The irritation caused by these bandits was small, but nonetheless annoying. The climax came when, on the night of March 9, 1916, Poncho Villa raided the little town of Columbia, N.M.
At this time the Eleventh Cavalry was quietly performing garrison duties at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Out of a calm and peaceful sky arose a crisis such as frequently results in war.
To the advocates of the reduction of our Army, no better lesson could be cited. War, like death, often comes when it is least expected. To be unprepared is to defy the lessons of history. It is not generally realized that, since the United States became an independent nation, we, a supposedly peaceful country, have had one year of war for every three years of peace. Providence, however, has been more than kind to us. When our helplessness has been so great as to warrant nothing but disaster, it has shielded us long enough to avert the defeat, which our lack of preparedness forecast. Is it not tempting Fate to expect that, in our next war, we will have powerful allies (as in the World War) to hold off our enemy for a year or more until we can properly prepare to defend ourselves?
"A" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
In the case of the Columbus raid, however, the attack was made, not by a nation or its representatives, but by a band of outlaws that had been as troublesome to its own nation as it now was to us. Had the offense been committed by authorized representatives of a foreign nation war would have been inevitable. As it was, the Punitive Expedition was decided upon.
In compliance with telegraphic instructions dated March 1916, from Headquarters, Eastern Department, Governors Island (Note: double check to see if Governors Island is correct it was hard to read the fold in the page) N.Y., the Eleventh Cavalry with a total strength of thirty-two officers and 905 enlisted men, left Fort Oglethorpe March 12, 1916, El Paso, Texas. The first section left at 6:15 p.m. March 12, and the seventh section at 9:30 a.m. March 13th. Considering that the regiment had been quietly engaged in garrison duties, without the slightest anticipation – save only the ever-readiness of an efficient organization – that it would be ordered into the field, this was a remarkable example of dispatch.
All of the little luxuries that Uncle Sam allows his soldiers in garrison, such as beds, mattresses, sheets, dining tables, chairs, dishes, and a hundred other things that cannot be taken into the field, had be carefully packed up and turned into the Quartmaster. Such sections of train, including cattle cars for the horses, had to be procured and loaded. In passing, it might be well to remember troops trains do not have Pullman-dining cars attached. Preparation had to be made to feed the men and horses for five days on the train. Wives, children and sweethearts were left behind for an indefinite period and consequently some little time had to be given before the departure. The barracks and stables had to be left in as much. All of this, and more, was accomplished in this remarkably short time. Very few individuals in civilian life could break up their home and move as quickly as this.
To travel on a troop train with horse cars hooked on behind is a experience that sticks in one’s memory for years afterward. The trains are usually made up of tourist sleeping cars for the men, with a car fitted up with a stove and some pots and pans as a kitchen and the cattle cars with the horses behind. When these troop train were called for in a hurry, as is usually the case, the railroad company had an excellent excuse for resurrecting all of the rattleboxes from its junk pile on the grounds that no other cars are available.
Another feature of these troop trains is their “rapid” transit. The engine is usually an extra that happened to be not is use (probably, almost incapable of use). The train, being half passenger and half freight, it is decided that the more profitable half should receive the greater consideration in determining how the train should be run, so it is run as a freight. The freight service becomes insulted by having to handle this mongrel makeup, and sidetracks it at every opportunity.
One of the other advantages of traveling with horses is that one sees all of the stockyards of the country. About every half hour you reach a state boundary, and back into a stockyard to comply with interstate commerce laws by exercising, watering and feeding the animals.
Speaking of eating, the menu of the troops must not be forgotten. In every game of chance there is always a possible element of disappointment, but there is neither chance nor disappointment in the matter of train meals for troops. The inevitable “government straight,” consisting of canned baked beans, canned tomatoes, canned “corned Willie,” bread, coffee and prunes, may not sound so bad, but it can get monotonous.
Before the World War (WW1) no delegation of the Red Cross met the trains with hot coffee and sweet smiles. A couple of times a day the trains stopped at stations, usually ones noted principally for their water tanks. During these short stops the men were exercised, the water barrels filled up and the slats of the stock cars that had been kicked almost off by the horses, nailed or otherwise repaired.
Such experiences almost made one forget that he was on his way to war, because he had plenty of Sherman’s definition of war right where he was.
"B" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
Upon the arrival of the first section of the Eleventh Cavalry at El Paso, Texas, orders were received to go direct to Columbus, New Mexico, to join the expedition going into Mexico under the command of Brigadier-General Pershing. The regiment dis-entrained at Columbus and went into camp for the night together with other regiments that were assembling there. Orders were received to march to Colonia Dublan, Mexico, 119 miles south, as a secondary base. A careful inspection was made to see that every man was properly equipped, and also that he was taking along with him only what regulations required, because long, hard marches were anticipated, and every extra pound of weight would mean additional hardships on the horse.
The following day March 17, 1916, the First Squadron, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry T. Allen commanding, entered Mexico en route to Colonia Dublan, preceding the rest of the regiment by a day’s march.
The roster of the officer who served with the Eleventh Cavalry in Mexico is as follows:
Colonel James Lockett, commanding
Colonel George H. Sands, attached
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Allen
Major Robert L. Howze
Major John M. Jenkins
Major Melvin Rowell
Major Robert Thornburg (M.C.)
Captain James McKinley
Captain Joseph Cusack
Captain Leon Kromer
Captain William Renziehausen
Captain William MacKinley
Captain Guy Cushman
Captain John Hemphill
Captain Eben Swift
Captain Julian Gaugot
Captain George Lake (M.C.)
Captain John Bosely (M.C.)
1st Lieutenant Edwin Cox
1st Lieutenant Charles Eby
1st Lieutenant John Pearson
1st Lieutenant Emil Laurson
1st Lieutenant Sumner Williams
1st Lieutenant James Shannon
1st Lieutenant Carl Muller
1st Lieutenant Alden Graham
1st Lieutenant Seth Cook
1st Lieutenant William Geary
1st Lieutenant Wade Westmoreland
1st Lieutenant James Collins
2nd Lieutenant Joseph Viner
2nd Lieutenant Burton Read
2nd Lieutenant Kenneth Lord
2nd Lieutenant Victor Taylor
2nd Lieutenant Harding Polk
2nd Lieutenant Stafford Irwin
2nd Lieutenant John Crutcher
2nd Lieutenant Henry Miller
2nd Lieutenant Cuyler Clark
2nd Lieutenant Wilfred Blunt
2nd Lieutenant Alexander MacDonald (Veterinary Corps)
Major Julian Lindsey joined the regiment in June 1916.
The first day’s march into Mexico was a memorable one. The regiment had suddenly been transferred from Chickamauga Park (Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.), a garden spot of the South, then fresh and fragrant in all of the glory of Spring. The fields of verdant grass and many colored flowers, the shady bridle paths meandering in and out and a forest of budding trees, the cheery songs of the birds and the rivulets, were now but memories. In contrast thereto, pictorial desert waste, utterly devoid of every gift that nature, usually bountiful bestows, and broken only by a few bald gray hills. The burning sun beat down with a fiery passion as if he resented the intrusion into a domain over which he was accustomed to exclusive reign. The sandy dust stirred up by the hoofs of the horses settled on the perspiring men and animals. The faces of the men were black with dust, their eyes bloodshot from the sand in them and the glare of the sun, and their sunburned necks aflame from the irritation caused by the grit that settled in the collars of their woolen shirts. The unaccustomed heat parched their lips and aggravated their thirst but they dared not empty their canteens, for it was uncertain when where they could be refilled. At best there was no possibility of doing so reaching camp, and eventualities might prevent even that possibility. Added to the physical anguish of the men was the next strain. Every faculty was alert, expectant, determined, as they started out on their mission. No one knew where or how long it might take and every moment was pregnant with possibilities. They were pursing a stealthy foe that had crept upon a sleeping town and butchered the inhabitants.
The First Squadron arrived in Colonia Dublan on March 21 and the regiment the following day. En route the few little hamlets consisting of abode houses, mostly deserted, were eloquent testimonial of the havoc and depredation that had been wrought by bandits on the homes of the few courageous pioneers who had struggled to make these little oases yield a livelihood.
On March 24, 1916, a provisional squadron of the Eleventh Cavalry under the command of Major (now Major-General) Robert L. Howze left Colonia Dublan for the south under special instructions from General Pershing. On the 30th of the same month Lieutenant-Colonel (now Major-General) Henry T. Allen, commanding another provisional squadron of the Eleventh Cavalry, left on a similar mission, also under special instructions from the Expedition Commander.
"C" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
The following extracts from war diaries and other official documents give a brief estimate of the work accomplished by the Eleventh Cavalry in Mexico and an insight into the conditions that existed:
MAJOR HOWZE’S SQUADRON
March 24 – “The command, after a cold day through a snow storm, arrived in camp on the Santa Maria River, eight miles south of Galeana, at 7:00 p.m. Distance march, thirty-five miles.
March 31 – “Major Howze’s command left camp immediately after midnight.
March 30, under verbal instructions from the General Pershing, and scouted the mountains to the southwest of San Geronimo and went into camp at 6:00 p.m. in a heavy snow storm within miles of Providencia. Distance marched, thirty-six miles over difficult trail.”
April 7 – Major Howze’s war diary: at San Francisco de Borga I got from the principal the best information yet received, information that was later confirmed, viz., that Villa was wounded in the calf of the leg; that he could and was riding; that the seriously wounded man was Pablo Lopez; that Lopez had just died in the Cuevos region, which suggested to Villa to announce his death; that the main organized band of Villa was headed eastward for the purpose of tolling us off toward Parral; that Villa with fifty selected follower and plenty of extra mounts and pack animals was following un-traveled routes toward the Sierra Puras southward in the general direction of Durango. I struck south with the utmost vigor possible and near Casa Colorado struck Villa’s trail, the six days old. We followed it through the mountain fastness over the nearly impassable Gabilana trail and in three days gained nearly three days on Villa. At a place called Aguho he went into the Sierra Mountains – mountain devoid of food, without plains or cultivation - over a trail nearly, if note quite, impassable for American animals. I had the Apache Scouts I should have attempted to follow. Instead, I skirted the mountain wall as far as San Jose del Sitio a community practically wholly Villista, disposed to fight us and determined not to aid us in any possible way. Our camp was fired upon. As I did not want to kill the people if it could be avoided. I refrained from returning the fire, and as I delayed to the last the taking of food, etc., I allowed my animals to go on short food, hoping that our humane and civilized ideas would be fruit, hopes which never materialized.
MAJOR HOWZE'S WAR DIARY:
April 8 – “ During the forenoon we met the mounted force of General Cavazos (Caranzistas). When what appeared to be his point saw our column, it was hurriedly re-enforced and charged rapidly toward our point, which had been properly dismounted and re-enforced and had taken up an excellent position in an arroyo. I ordered more men in to the arroyo and carefully cautioned that there should be no firing unless ordered by me, and then hurriedly advanced to a point between the advancing forces and, waving my hat, called out in Spanish that we were Americans and not to fire. The Caranzistas continued to advance at a fast gait, drawing their rifles, until within fifty yards of me. The situation was most threatening, most delicate, and if one shot had been fired there is no doubt but we would have had a nasty time, before the firing could have been stopped, many Caranzistas would have been killed, while few, if any, of us would have been hit. There is no doubt, however, but what I would have been shot. Quick action, good discipline and luck saved the situation. Cavazos was ugly towards all American and was inclined to try our patience.”
April 10 – “Major Howze’s command left San Jose del Sitio at 7:00 a.m. As a ruse the command marched east-southeast towards Pillar Conchas and west as far as the Concho River, when it turned south-southwest and marched over a more difficult mountain trail to the town of La Joya de Herrera, where it arrived at noon. The advance guard was fired on and fire was returned. Captain Silva (Villista) was killed and the band dispersed. After resting and feeding the animals the advance the advance south was continued at 2:30 p.m. At about 4:30 that afternoon the pack train was fired into from the canyon sides. Two mules were wounded and later died. At about 5:50 p.m. the command received a vicious attack from two sides of the canyon. The fight lasted about twenty minutes. The advance guard (Lieutenant Laurson, commanding) received the brunt of the attack. One man, Private Kirby, Troop “M,” was killed and three men wounded. Four horses were killed and one mule escaped during the fight. Private Kirby was buried on the site of the fight. Night coming on, it was impossible to determine the damage that was inflicted upon the enemy. The command bivouacked until 10:00 o’clock that night, having marched twenty-five miles, exclusive of the distance covered during the fight. It was then quietly moved on and surrounded the town of Santa Cruz de Herrera; arriving there about 3:00 a.m. Distance marched, sixteen miles. Upon arrival at Santa Cruz de Herrera, Major Howze’s command was fired upon by escaped Villistas. The fire was returned by a few of his men, killing one Villista and wounding Lieutenant Beltran, son of Gorgonia Beltran, one of Villa’s generals, who later died, and natives report that Gorgonia was severely wounded. The command then proceeded up the Balleza River."
The information which governed Major Howze’s moves from this date, April 11, to the date he joined Colonel Brown at Santa Cruz, is shown in his war diary, dated April 10, 1916: “I proceeded up the Belleza Valley, and when we had gotten well into it upper reaches I found that we were in Carranzista country and, as far as determinable, Villa had not debouched from the mountains which had so closely skirted from Aguaho, the point where he had entered. Our animals were low in flesh, lame and footsore; are men were almost barefooted; the country was nearly devoid of food, and whenever we turned we found less horse feed, so I decided to move to Parral, skirting the northern foot of the range of mountains which separated the States of Durango and Chihuahua. We marched east-northeast for two and one-half days, distance about seventy miles, and when about five miles from Parral, April 14, we were met by a delegation from that city bearing a white flag, which informed me of the attack which had been made upon Major Tompkins’ small command, and begged and warned me not to go into the city; instead, urged that we join Colonel Brown at Santa Cruz de Villegas. We were further informed that it would be impossible to get grain at any other locality, and that if we camped so near the city serious trouble might follow. The need for grain, of which we had none for thirty-six to forty-eight hours, and my desire to do everything reasonable to avoid complicating an already difficult situation, and to prevent the loss of life due to the foolish acts of ignorant Mexicans (Note – Parral was Carranzista The attack made on Major Tompkins’ command was perpetrated by ignorant members of the populace, incensed by the entry of Americans into their city), decided me to join Colonel Brown, a decision arrived at with great reluctance. My command reached Colonel Brown at Santa Cruz at 8:30 a.m., April 15. It had covered 691 miles since leaving Columbus, a great part of the distance over difficult mountain trails, some of which as difficult as has ever been passed over by American Cavalry. The country passed through after leaving San Geronimo was nearly devoid of food articles except in the small Guerero and Cusi regions, which we simply marched through. We have lost all together thirty-two horses and five mules.
In commenting upon the march from Colonia Dublan to Parral, the New York World said: “Among many instances of achievement since the troops entered Mexico, one to the lasting credit of the men stands out among the rest, at the time when 208 men of the Eleventh Cavalry cut loose from all communication on the desert march. On an issue of five days’ rations the column marched in twenty-one days 571 miles only 100 miles less than the distance from Paris to Berlin. The country through which they marched is a desert waste. It afford no fodder, and only at long intervals water for the horses. There were no roads; at best only rough, un-traveled mountain trails. During the entire march they were beyond reach of relief. They fought several engagements and had only one man killed. It is to be doubted if there are cavalrymen in the armies of Europe capable of equaling the feat.
April 21 – “The Chief of Staff, Punitive Expedition, arrived at Santa Cruz de Villegas (after the conference with General Herrera) with instructions for the two provisional squadrons of the Eleventh Cavalry (Colonel Allen’s and Major Howze’s had joined here) to move north. The moved out at midnight.
April 28 – “Major Howze’s command up to this time had covered a total distance of eight hundred and forty-five miles.
May 5 – Major Howze’s report to General Pershing: “We made an all-night march to Ojo Azules, distance thirty-six miles. Reached here at 5:45 a.m., unfortunately one-half hour after the daylight. We surprised Julia Acosta, Cruz Domingues and Antonio Angel; jumped them. Had a running fight for two hours. Drove their bands into the hill between here and Carichic. Killed forty-two verified by officers; captured several and some fifty to seven-five ponies and mules. It is believed that we killed Angel, although identification not complete. We rescued a Carranza lieutenant four soldiers just before they were to be shot. We followed the enemy consisting of about 140, until our horses were wholly exhausted, but the chase did not stop until the enemy left un-hit had been broken at entirely. In fact, those who escaped us did so as individuals. Our approach was discovered by Villista herd guard, which fired at our Indians, and also alarmed the enemy, which ran pell mell, firing at us in their flight. The remarkable part is, although the clothing of several of our men was hit, not a single man was wounded, thanks to the utter surprise and confusion of the enemy. We lost three or four horses. I had to wait for two hours at Cusihuiriachic for guides. Hence my inability to get here earlier than 5:45 a.m., to do which we had to ride as hard as our horses could stand. It is needless to say that officers and men behaved as would be expected. I intend to rest here. I will try to get a message to you tomorrow. I can make out on the rations I have for four days. Please pay bearer three pesos and send me nay instructions, of course. Greatly relieved that we have no wounded.”
The following congratulatory telegram and letter were received by Major Howze:
Columbus, New Mexico
May 6, 1916
San Antonio, Mexico
“The following transmitted quote El Paso, Texas, May sixth, nineteen sixteen, number one forty-three dash period. Congratulations to you and Major Howze for the splendid work yesterday. Funston. Unquote.”
Official copy furnished Major Robert L. Howze, Eleventh Cavalry, for his information.
DeR. C. CABELL
Chief of Staff
HEADQUARTERS PUNITIVE EXPEDITION, U.S. ARMY
San Antonio, Mexico
May 5, 1916
5:00 o’clock p.m.
Major Robert L. Howze
Ojo Azules, Mexico
Sir: Your message dated noon today, reporting your fight at Ojo Azules, just received. Please accept my congratulations for yourself and your entire command. I am highly pleased at your success. When you have full information, I hope to hear that you may find some of the leaders among the killed.
Instead of returning here, you had best remain and take up the work of district commander. As to the selection of your headquarters, I shall leave it to your discretion. I think that Ojo Azules would probably be a good starting point. You had best remain there a few days, rest up your men and horses and determine later where your headquarters are to be. Get your information bureau to work and you may find others in the vicinity. Do not start out on an extended expedition without first reporting fully your plans, as this whole situation may change any day, and your should not at any time be out of easy reach.
I have arranged to send rations and forage when you need them. Send full report and outline of your plans, with any information you may have obtained.
JOHN J. PERSHING
Brigadier General, U.S. Army
"E" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL ALLEN’S SQUADRON
April 2 – “Six miles out of Namiquipa the rear of the column was fired on by snipers from the foothills to the south. They were chased and lost after pursuit of about two miles.”
April 3 – “Colonel Allen’s command proceeded to Los Tanquez. This cul de sac in the mountains offers a fine secluded place from which exit north, east or south is over precipitous hills. There is but one house there. Villa used this house for his personal ___ (can’t read the word here) and the campsite for his men while organizing the forces for the Columbus raid. He also stopped here during his retreat south. As it was evident that only the Cervantes contingent of the Villa Columbus column had remained in this section of the country, and in accordance with instructions Colonel received by courier from the Commanding General, he moved to San Geronimo.”
April 9 – “Colonel Allen’s command proceeded nine miles beyond Rancho Laguna and then returned as a feint to await darkness before surrounding Sitio Santa Lucia (six miles south), whither Lopez’s horse’s tracks (American horse with shoe missing on right front foot) and information indicated he had gone the preceding night. Nothing was gained by the search. Colonel Allen decided to pursue the investigation at the very large Hacienda Bustillos, where it was known Lopez parents lived. Colonel Allen’s command reached there, an additional eleven miles, about midnight, and his information was confirmed that Lopez had gone south, probably to the Caves of Santa Rosalia.”
April 14 – “Captain Reads showed Colonel Allen the instructions he was carrying from General Pershing to Colonel Brown, supposed to be in a very delicate position, and Colonel Allen ___ (can’t read the word here) with his command towards Parral. This was the sixteenth consecutive march without the break of a single day, and it meant a distance of fifty-seven miles more before this command could reach Colonel Brown at Santa Cruz de Villegas. The command did not halt on the night of the 14th of April, but continued its march to Santa Cruz. ___ (can’t read the word here) march is deserving of most favorable mention.”
April 15 – “Colonel Allen’s command, after marching all night of the 14th – 15th, had been on the road twenty-two hours. The short forage and long and successive marches were telling dreadfully on his stock. A few hours after his arrival Major Howze came with his squadron, which also had made a remarkable march. From this time till these two provisional squadrons joined the rest of the regiment at San Antonio, Mexico, Colonel Allen commanded both of these Eleventh Cavalry columns. While in Santa Cruz, Colonel Brown was in command of all the Cavalry detachments, which consisted of four troops and Machine Gun Troop of the Tenth, the two selected squadrons of the Eleventh, and two troops of the Thirteenth.
Colonel Allen’s war diary: “The story of Parral, conferences at Santa Cruz between the American and Mexican authorities, and the search for supplies, especially forage, during our encampment at this little ranch, constitute one of the most interesting, characteristic and peculiarly delicate situations within my knowledge of the Punitive Expedition. The attitude of the people at Parral, prohibition by a Major of the Carranza forces the day after the Parral affair of Lieutenant Troxill’s visit to the railway north of Parral, the instructions from General Gutierrez not to go a step further south, the dictatorial manner of General Luis Herrera at the conference on April 21st, and his reply to the request for a disavowal of the unprovoked attack ending with “no hay lugar a satisfaccion per mi parte” (there is no reason for an apology on my part), all these go to show the character of the co-operation this expedition was receiving from the authorities of the people. The night our column passed through Zarogassa (immediately following the Parral affair) the situation was very tense and I was expecting an attack as we passed."
April 21 – “The Chief of Staff, Punitive Expedition, arrived at Santa Cruz with instructions to Colonel Allen to move north with his command and that of Major Howze.”
April 28 – “The march from Santa Cruz to San Antonio was without incident. There was practically no grazing anywhere southeast of San Antonio. There was a great shortage of forage in the provisional squadrons throughout their trip. The country people through had been devastated by adherents of both Villa and Carranza. Colonel Allen states in his report, “There was no instance requiring special mention on the return to San Antonia except the exceptional and continued good-will of the officers and men of the command spite of the fact that retirement was a reluctant act. The conduct and general behavior of the entire command from start to finish left to be desired.”
May 25 – “Captain Cushman with Troop “F”, Eleventh Cavalry, and a casual detachment of forty men of the Thirteenth Cavalry under Lieutenant Merchant, was ordered to the relief of a detachment of the Seventeenth Infantry attacked by bandits near the mouth of the Alamilla Canyon, about nine miles south of Cruces. Five minute after receiving the order this troop was saddled and out of camp. When Captain Cushman arrived the Infantrymen were retiring down the arroyo which leads out of the canyon. A hot fight followed Cervantes, the most powerful man in this section of the country who had been with Villa at Columbus, was killed by the infantry in the action, and Bencomo, Cervantes’ right hand man, was also killed in this action.”
"F" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
MAJOR JENKINS’ SQUADRON
“Major Jenkins (who only recently joined the Eleventh Cavalry), with Troops “C” and “D”, left to support Cushman. En route a messenger reported that the Cavalry had driven the Villistas through the canyon. Major Jenkins then determined to march on Santa Clara with hopes of striking the band. His command marched through Santa Clara Canyon, bivouacking at 9:00 p.m., having covered twenty-eight miles. He arrived at Santa Clara at 7:00 a.m., the following morning and pushed on to Ortega, arriving at 6:20 p.m. While his horses were grazing at about 7:30 p.m., a sentry fired shots, which were answered. Within two minutes fifty men were on the firing line. Two bandits were seen to fall from their horses. The skirmish line advanced towards the enemy, dispersing the band and driving it into the foothills, in close black jack timber, where darkness rendered further pursuit useless.”
June 18 – “Major Jenkins with Troops “A” and “B” was sent on a special mission with instructions from the Camp Commander to observe and report movements and presence of Carranzista forces in the vicinity of Ojo Caliente. Information was desired as to what was transpiring along the Mexican Central Railroad and to the eastward, but the information was to be obtained without exciting suspicion on the part of the Mexicans. Arriving in Colonia Dublan late the night of the 21st, Major Jenkins was given verbal instructions by General Pershing to proceed with the First Squadron to the rescue of two troops of the Tenth Cavalry, which had been ambushed at Carrizal. Major Howze with the Second Squadron and Machine Gun Troop followed about twelve hours later in support of Major Jenkins. Marching fifty-five miles in twenty-two hours, Major Jenkins’ command arrived at Sutoano, fourteen miles east of San Luis Ranch, at midnight. Here an old windmill had to be worked by hand to obtain water for the men and animals after the long march. The entire surrounding country was scouted for wounded men from the fight at Carrizal. The command returned by night march to San Luis Ranch. Over twenty men, including Captain L.S. Morey, of the Tenth Cavalry, were rescued and cared for.”
Although the Villistas had been dispersed and the majority of them driven out of Northern Mexico, the Punitive Expedition remained in camp at Colonia Dublan for many more months, ready, if need be, to again take the field. The strenuous manner, however, in which the campaign had been conducted against the bandits brought lasting results. During the months in camp, the troops were busily engaged in drill and maneuvers. An exceedingly high degree of efficiency was attained in every organization, from the division down to the squad.
The Eleventh Cavalry maintained its high standing in the division. An instance of the characteristic manner in which the Eleventh tackled a proposition and fully justified the laudable self-confidence that it entertained for its own ability occurred at this time.
Keen competition among the infantry regiments, both in Mexico and on the border, in rifle combat firing was attracting considerable interest. Organizations boasting of 100 per cent re-enlisted personnel with a minimum requirement of at least the qualification of marksman demanded of a man before he was permitted to join their select circle, were attaining exceptional results in their firing. A picked battalion was then organized and a demonstration of their prowess followed.
At about this stage of the affair the Eleventh Cavalry began to feel that the “doughboys” were trying to monopolize the limelight Congressman Kahn, the chairman of the Military Affair Committee was scheduled to visit the camp in a day or so, and a demonstration was being planned for him. Major Julian Lindsey volunteered to take a like number of yellow-legs, picked at random from the Eleventh Cavalry, and beat the results obtained by the infantry. To undertake such a task required not only pluck, but also a firm confidence in the general excellence of the regiment.
It is often erroneously presumed that, because a cavalryman had to spend so much of his time in training and caring for his horse, as well as to attain proficiency in the use of his saber and pistol, he does not acquire the same degree of skill with his rifle that an infantryman does. No cavalryman ever conceded this.
In presence of Congressman Kahn and General Pershing Major Lindsey with cavaliers of the Eleventh galloped up undercover dismounted, went into action, and riddled the targets. By a comfortable margin he had beaten the results of the picked battalion of infantry – beaten them at their own game. The results were highly praised by both the Commanding General and Congressman Kahn.
In addition to drill, there were other things to occupy the “spare moments” of the troopers. The rainy season has set in. Every afternoon commencing at about 2 o’clock a storm would drench the camp for about an hour. It is a rather uncomfortable feeling to get up in the morning out of a wet “pup” tent, with your bones aching from sleeping in wet clothes – your best, because they are your only clothes – and everything else still wet from yesterday’s rain. But it is a still more uncomfortable feeling to know that your are going to get wet all over again at 2 o’clock that afternoon. Neither eloquence nor commands were necessary to get the men to employ every moment, not engaged in actual drill, in making abode bricks and constructing small rain-proof huts for themselves. A little village sprang up. No longer either the rain or the approaching winter held any fears for the men.
Later on, when weather conditions permitted, athletics were encouraged. In the Army more so, perhaps, than in any other walk of life, it is fully realized that a man must have “a sound mind, in a sound body.” Especially in campaign the former without the latter soon fills the hospitals. The Eleventh Cavalry, true to form and tradition, stood out prominently in competitions. The most exciting and spectacular victory was the final game for the football championship of the Punitive Expedition. Rivalry was keen and feeling ran high. The Eleventh met and defeated their husky, dusky brother-in-arms from the Tenth Cavalry before an enthusiastic audience of about ten thousand two-lunged spectators whose cheering would make a college football game seem like a funeral service.
When the Expedition entered Mexico it took with it all of the motor trucks transportation of the United States Army (four trucks), on which was carried the equipment of the Air Service of the United States Army (three aero planes), then known as the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, and some signal apparatus. On account of the lack of transportation for supplies, both men and animals suffered from want of the necessities of life. Immediate steps were taken to remedy this deficiency, but slow progress was made. Each of the manufactures of motor trucks was called upon to furnish enough trucks to make a truck train, and a number of factory mechanics to run them and keep them in repair. Eager to have their own trucks make good, the manufacturers offered bonuses to the mechanics, payable at the end of a short period of time – in some cases three months – provided the mechanics kept their trucks running and in good condition. The roads (a misnomer for the short distance though sand from one water hole to another in the desert of Northern Mexico) were too much for most of the mechanics. Upon completing their first trip, many of them quit their jobs and forfeited their bonuses rather than repeat the experience.
The progress of organizing these trains was very slow. The troops operating at a distance of over 500 miles from the base of supplies were in dire straits for food, clothing and other necessities. It was months before their urgent needs could be satiated. By July fourteen trains were in operation, and more promised. Plying slowly back and forth from Columbus to the field of operations, and weighted down with heavy cargoes, these caravans struggled to supply the wants of the troops. Their most valiant efforts, however, were spent on a losing battle until the withdrawal of the Expedition to Colonia Dublan reduced the round trip, from the base of supplies to the troops, from over a thousand miles to less than two hundred and fifty miles. Thus eventually the supply was enabled to approximate the demand.
Thanksgiving Day – the day when the Army cooks try to crowd their whole culinary repertoire into a single meal – was fast approaching. The memories of oyster dressing and cranberry sauce just persisted, somehow or other, in recurring to the minds of the men, bringing longing for the good old garrison days. But Uncle Sam, though far away, had not forgotten his men who had done such good work for him. A whole truck train, known as the “Turkey Special” laden with everything “from soup to nuts,” was rushed to the troops. On Thanksgiving Day fond dreams of good things to eat became a reality.
Another month slipped by. It was almost a year since the Expedition had entered Mexico, and now that their work was done, they were getting impatient to get back to the United States. Rumors, rumors, and more rumors. At last the orders finally arrived, and preparations were made to leave.
On the last day of January the regiment left Colonia Dublan en route to Palomas, where the Division was being assembled prior to its withdrawal from Mexico. Before leaving Colonia Dublan the abode village that had been constructed by the troops was demolished and the campsite policed.
The order for the withdrawing of the Punitive Expedition caused an exodus of people who had been friendly to the Americans. They had experienced the horrors of years of brigandage, and they now could hardly believe that the peace established by the Americans would be lasting. For several days the roads were filled with refugees on their way to cross into the United States.
"G" Troop, 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
11TH CAVALRY RETURNS HOME
On February 5, 1917, the Eleventh Cavalry as a part of the Punitive Expedition, crossed into the United States at Columbus, N.M., where it camped for the night. On the following day the regiment left, by marching, for Camp Stewart, El Paso, Texas, arriving there on the 9th.
Regarding the results accomplished by the Punitive Expedition, the following extract from the report of the Secretary of War, 1917, is quoted:
“General Pershing’s force, consisting of a highly mobile column far too strong to be attacked with safety, exercised by its mere presence a stabilizing effect in the disturbed territory for great distances beyond its actual base. Villa himself fled from one hiding place to another in the mountains, and there the wounded fugitive cut too poor a figure to attract support; so that his activities and those of other lawless bands in Northern Mexico gradually ceased to menace the safety of our border.
The expedition was in no sense punitive, but rather defensive. Its objective, of course, was the capture of Villa if that could be accomplished, but its real purpose was an extension of the power of the United States into a country disturbed beyond control of the constituted authorities of the Republic of Mexico, as means of controlling lawless aggregations of bandits and preventing attacks by them across the international frontier. This purpose it fully and finally accomplished.
“Further trouble from scattered bands of outlaws, and the Mexican incident, which had at times seemed to be fraught with possibilities of grave embarrassment in the relations of the two Republics, was happily closed. That such an outcome was possible was in no small degree due to the self-restraint and consideration shown by the officers and soldiers of the American Army, and the relations maintained between our military forces, both on the border and in Mexico, and the civilian population, made it impossible to misjudge the purpose of the Government of the United States, which was, as it was declared to be, solely the protection of our own national interests, un-complicated by any disposition to interfere in the domestic concerns of the Republic of Mexico.
“The Mexican incident was valuable to the United States in two important ways. In the first place it demonstrated very definitely the determination of the Government not to allow a menace to continue on our frontier; and, in the second place, by the mobilization of the Regular Army and the National Guard, it gave an excellent opportunity for training both to the men in Guard and to the several supply departments of the Government and thus afforded a most serviceable foundation upon which to proceed with the larger expansion of the Military Establishment which we were soon called upon to undertake.”
At Camp Stewart, El Paso, the regiment, as part of the Provisional First Cavalry Division, under the command of Brigadier General Eben Swift, was busily engaged in drills and maneuvers. On April 6, 1917, when the United States entered the World War, this organization was unquestionably the most efficient fighting force in the Service. Having only recently returned from active campaign, it continued a strenuous course of training.
By the time that our country entered the war, both sides already had become committed to position warfare, which, on account of its peculiar nature, made maneuvering on a large scale more or less impossible for the time being. Occasions were bound to arise, however, when, if it had been available, cavalry would have been of incalculable value. Many a time during the war the commanders wished that they had a division of cavalry to envelop a flank or to exploit a success. But the cavalry could not be kept intact for such a occasion. The need for experienced, efficient officers was most pressing. Cavalry leaders, such as John J. Pershing, James G. Harbord, Henry T. Allen, George W. Reade, Willard Holbrook, Grote Hutcheson, Robert L. Howze, John M. Jenkins and hundreds of others, as well as thousands of junior officers and experienced non-commissioned officers, were needed to command and train our new Army.
The Eleventh Cavalry contributed generously of its treasure. Most of its officers and a great many of its enlisted men were assigned important duties both in France and in this country, and they served with distinction and gallantry. Experienced non-commissioned officers were commissioned as officers, many rising to the rank of major and one to that of lieutenant colonel.
On May 23, 1917, the regiment left El Paso for Chickamauga Park, Ga., where it went into camp. Approximately two-thirds of its officers and men were transferred in June for the organization of two new Cavalry regiments, the Twenty-second and Twenty-third Cavalry, later converted into the Eightieth and Eighty-first Field Artillery. The regiment was filled up with new officers and recruits.
In September 1917, the following troops were ordered to new stations to organize remount depots: Troops “I” and “K” to Camp Gordon, Ga.; Troops “L” and “M” to Columbia, S.C.; and Troops “G” and “H” to Camp Pike, Ark. The First Squadron was ordered to Newport News, Va., to organize the port embarkation at that place. Having completed the organization of these new units and established them in good working order for the new Army, these troops returned to Fort Oglethorpe, Troop “G” was then ordered to Yellowstone Park, Wyo., and the Third Squadron to Calexico, Campo and Camp L.J. Hearn, California.
Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY
Early in 1918 Regimental Headquarters, Machine Gun and Supply Troops and the First Squadron were ordered to Fort Myer, Va., where they remained until July 9, 1919, when they proceeded to the Presidio of Monterey, California. Here, later, the rest of the regiment joined them, one troop being stationed at Camp Hearn, Calif., as a border patrol.
With the reorganization in 1921 the Eleventh Cavalry became the active associate of the Seventeenth Cavalry. The latter regiment arrived from the Hawaiian Islands on September 25, 1921. On the following day many of the officers and all of the enlisted men of the Seventeenth Cavalry were transferred to the Eleventh Cavalry, and the Seventeenth Cavalry became inactive.
Under the sunny skies of California the Eleventh Cavalry has recovered from the deteriorating effects of the war. A recent march of the First Squadron is indicative of the very high standard of efficiency maintained by the regiment.
“The First Squadron, Eleventh Cavalry, under the command of Major Clark P. Chandler, marched 305.5 miles form Ross Field, Calif., to San Lucas in eleven days, then marched from San Lucas to the Presidio of Monterey, a distance of 74.5 miles, in twenty-nine hours. The men arrived in excellent physical condition. The horses came in with heads up and stepping out briskly. They were tired, but could easily have continued the march with a day’s rest.
11th Cavalry troopers on the porch of their barrack posing with what appears to be a M1913 enlisted cavalry saber, also known as the Patton sword or saber, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1920's. DLIFLC & POM Archives
“Taken from the records of the recent World War, the following marches are offered in comparison: In August, 1914, the First French Cavalry Corps marched 62.5 miles in twenty-four hours and arrived before Liege to be engaged. In May 1918, the Second French Cavalry Corps marched 125 miles in three days, was engaged at once, counter attacked and contributed in stopping the German advance in the region northwest of Chateau Thierry. In Palestine, the Fifth British Cavalry Division made a forced march of 65 miles in twenty-four hours. At the termination of the march it galloped into Nazareth, fought a hot street fight and captured the Turkish Army Group Headquarters 2000 prisoners.
“Major General Charles C. Morton, on his recent inspection at the Presidio of Monterey, complimented Major Chandler and his subordinate officers on this remarkable march, saying ‘Had you arrived at Monterey in poor shape, with men and animals worn out or incapacitated, it would have been a tactical blunder. But inasmuch as you arrived in excellent shape with men and animals ready to proceed, you deserve great credit. It is a good indication of the efficiency and discipline of your command and of your high soldierly qualities’.”
This march was made on the return from Los Angeles, Calif., to which city the squadron had marched on the same animals the same distance to participate in the “Pageant of Progress” Exposition.
Measured by the standard among organizations, both past and present, the Eleventh Cavalry has just cause for pride in its present efficiency. Its discipline, training and esprit de corps are of that character, always sought, but rarely attained. The true great, however, even in the complacency of success, forever strive toward greater achievements, higher goals and new ideals.
11th Cavalry: Sgt. Lenke on “Romeo”, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1920's. DLIFLC & POM Archives
Costume dance 11th Cavalry, Presidio of Monterey, circa 1922.
Some of the cups won by the Eleventh Cavalry, circa 1922
Source: DLIFLC & POM Archives
THE R.O.T.C. CAVALRY CAMP AT PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, CALIFORNIA 1921
By Major Cushman Hartwell, Cavalry
Source: The Cavalry Journal, Volume XXX, October 1921, Number 125
The R.O.T.C. camp for the cavalry units located west of the Mississippi River was held at the Presidio of Monterey, California, from June 16 to July 31, 1921.
There were 75 students enrolled in the Advance Camp and 82 in the Basic Camp, making a total of 157, of which 35 were from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, 30 from the Oregon Agriculture College, 80 from the New Mexico Military Institute, and 12 from the University of Arizona.
The camp was ideally located on the parade ground in the post and overlooked the beautiful Monterey Bay.
The students were housed in pyramidal tents that were floored, heated, and electrically lighted, and a frame kitchen and double mess hall was especially constructed for their mess, which was conducted by personnel of the Regular Army. Regimental Color Sergeant Schneider, 11th Cavalry, acted as Mess Sergeant, and to his untiring zeal and ability is due the credit for the best Army mess I have ever seen.
During the first three weeks the instruction was greatly handicapped, due to the fact that sufficient instructors were not provided until the beginning of a new fiscal year made mileage funds available to send instructors to the camp. The students in the Advance Camp (juniors and seniors in the colleges) were organized into one troop for administrative and instructional purposes and the Basic Camp students (freshmen and sophomores) were organized into a separate troop.
It was soon discovered that all the students needed a thorough course of training in the very rudiments, and neither time nor pains were spared in teaching them the things that a cavalry recruit gets hammered into him. They were taught how to saddle, unsettle, and care for their mounts, the principles of riding and rifle-shooting and some elementary work in musketry and minor tactics, and it is believed that not a man who attended the camp left it without feeling that it had been of inestimable value to him. Many of the students probably thought they were worked to hard. They were worked hard, and there were few idle moments between first call for reveille, 5:15 a.m., and retreat, at 6 p.m.; but the time was short and the amount of work to be covered was great, and with all the hard work and long hours the spirit displayed was excellent, and every instructor that had anything to do with the camp was impressed by the way the instruction was absorbed. At the end of three weeks both troops could execute a cavalry drill in close and extended order under their own officers that would do credit to any troop in the Regular Army. It is true the students were far from being first-class horsemen, but they were getting “shaken down” into a seat and could control their mounts and displayed a proper boldness in their riding.
The time element in a six weeks’ summer camp absolutely prohibits carrying out thoroughly a program of instruction such as was furnished by the War Department. It is believe that secondary subjects should be eliminated from the camp course, and that the entire six weeks be devoted to giving these future reserve officers an insight into the proper conduct of a cavalry troop in the field. It is further believed that during the college year more attention should be paid to details, and whatever the student is taught let him be taught thoroughly. Let us get away from a beautiful and comprehensive program that looks fine in reports, etc., and that is impossible to carry out.
If our camps are to fulfill their objective, they must be made to cover the practical phases of training that lack of facilities and continuous hours render impossible during the school year. The students attending camp should be required to perform all duties of a cavalry soldier, except those connected with the policing of latrines and messing. You cannot learn the cavalry game by letting John do it. You can never make a cavalryman by skipping the worthwhile essentials and allowing the candidates to participate in the kid-glove features only.
The discipline that is worthwhile is loyal obedience. Socialistic ideas of participation on the part of students in the conduct of training and interior economy of camps are folly.
The Administrative Training Staff of the camp was as followed:
Major Frank K. Ross, Cav. D.O.L., Camp Commander.
Major Alex W. Cleary, Inf. D.O.L., Executive Officer.
Major Cushman Hartwell, Cav. D.O.L., Senior Instructor.
Major Francis R. Hunter, U.S. Army, ret., Adjutant.
Major J. C. F. Tillson, Jr., Cav. D.O.L., Instructor.
Captain Lee B. Conner, Cav. D.O.L., Instructor.
Captain Norman Fiske, Cav. D.O.L., Troop Commander.
1st Lieutenant W. C. Scott, Cav. D.O.L., Troop Commander.
In addition to the above the following graduates from the general and special service schools reported at camp after July 5 as specialists in the subjects enumerated after their names:
Lieutenant Colonel L. W. Oliver, Cav. D.O.L., Director of Minor Tactics.
Captain Charles Wharton, 5th Cav., Equitation and Polo.
Captain Rexford E. Willoughby, 16th Cav., Minor Tactics.
Captain Charles H. Unger, 5th Cav. Minor Tactics.
1st Lieutenant L. G. Smith, 14th Cav., Musketry.
1st Lieutenant William P. Withers, 12th Cav., Musketry.
1st Lieutenant Hugh G. Culton, 11th Cav., the Pistol.
1st Lieutenant Fred L. Hamilton, 3d Cav., the Saber.
It might be added in closing that the scope and caliber of the training imparted at the Cavalry School, as indicated by its graduates, created a most favorable impression on all with whom they came in contact, and it is to be regretted that they were not present during the entire camp.
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