Throughout history, Cavalry units have been readily identifiable by their Stetsons and Spurs.
As the Army was modernized and horses were traded for tanks and helicopters, the Cavalry was reluctant to relinquish its distinctive traditions. They became a reminder of the Cavalry’s glorious past and tended to set apart the Cavalry Trooper from his more traditional brethren. The Spurs evolved into a source of distinction to recognize the best of the Cavalry.
Today, Cavalrymen are still distinguished by their unique hats, or “Stetsons,”
The tradition has its roots in knighthood, where the awarding of gilt Spurs
The Spurs themselves were buckled on during the investiture to knighthood,
It is not known exactly when the tradition of awarding Spurs was started
This led to the nickname “Shave Tail” for newly assigned, Spurless soldiers.
Once assigned to a Cavalry unit, Troopers had to undergo rigorous training and
When worn, the Spurs indicate that the trooper has demonstrated cavalry
The program focuses on the individual trooper’s physical, technical,
Paying for the Spurs and the certificate is voluntary in some units, other units
Trooper will be “sponsored” by his or her NCO or mentor, and the sponsor buys
The standard Spur for many Cavalry units today is the Prince of Wales Spur. This is a more traditional form of Cavalry spur. Note the short neck and no rowel at the end. While other spurs take a much more fancy and ornamental approach to riding, these spurs are designed for a well-trained horse. A nudge from the spurs and a slight tug of the reins is all it takes!
In most units, the gold Spurs are considered “Combat Spurs,” and are awarded for Cavalry service in a combat zone.
Here is a great article on F Trp. 1-4 Cav’s spur ceremony in Iraq.
Authentic military spurs are usually stamped and can be quite valuable to collectors.
C.S. Confederate States (Confederate Government Richmond Depot Issued)
U.S. United States
N.S. Nickel Steel
A.B. Manufacturer August Buermann – August Buermann was born in Sattenhausen, Germany Aug. 04, 1842. He apprenticed as a locksmith in Germany and he arrived in New York Aug. 1864. A few weeks later he went into the Army as a substitute for someone who came into the locksmithing company where he was working, looking for a volunteer. August Buermann Mfg. Co. began making spurs for both the civilian and military markets. Most all of the civilian Buermann spurs after about 1912 were stamped with a star in the government contract versions. Buermann contract spurs were marked US over AB on the inside yoke base, opposite the shank. Many of the “1911 officer spurs” that are seen today were private purchase Buermann’s. Officially, both enlisted men and officers were issued the same 1911 spur, except the officers were entitled to heel chains instead of leather but a wide variety of spurs and 1911 variations were used. The 1914 experimental spur was the only other official spur authorized besides the M1903, which was in use until after WWl and the M1911 which was issued beginning in 1912 and was in use until the end of the era. The 1914 spur had downward bent yoke ends and two lugs instead of one. Buermann was bought by North & Judd, a huge hardware company, who continued to make some cavalry goods until the dismounting in 1948. Partrade now owns the remnants of North & Judd, and they deal chiefly in imported inexpensive pet horse hardware.
(Webmaster’s note: Thank you to Ms. Muriel Parker for the information on her great grandfather, August Buermann!)
WL Whithorse Lecompte – Another government contractor who made quite a few bits and spurs for the government
R.I.A. Rock Island Arsenal
N&J Manufacturer North & Judd
L&R Leech & Rigdon – Confederate Spur Manufacturer
Boone Manufacturer (Actual descendants of Daniel Boone)
MSH Could possibly stand for Miller Saddlery and Harness – I don’t know if they contracted for the Government in wartime, but if General Motors could make machine guns and Smith Corona could make optics for the Army, seems like any horseman manufacturer could worm in on a contract. Millers stayed in business until after Korea, then became Miller Stockman.
Below are some Cavalry spur examples from cowboygear.com
These Cavalry spurs were made from the Civil War to about 1903.
Rock Island Arsenal Cavalry Spurs dated 1903.
A.B. Cavalry Spurs
If you want to do your Spur homework, go here first! Below is an example of a Spur SOP from 1-7 Cavalry.
The Order of the Spur
1. The Order of the Spur is to recognize individual qualifications for those in a cavalry unit. The privilege
2. The following minimum guidelines must be met:
2 years in the 7th U.S. Cavalry.
MOSQ or Branch qualified
Interview with Squadron Commander.
3. Qualified on a Squadron Spur Ride. The title belies the nature of this event. A Spur Ride is led by “Spur Qualified” Non-commissioned Officers and is supervised by the Squadron Command Sergeant Major. Officers, generally, conduct
4. In addition to the above minimum requirements, the following are criteria that will be graded on a point system. A total of 300 out of a maximum of 450 will qualify.
Individual Weapons Qualification: Marksman = 50/ Sharpshooter = 100/ Expert =150
Annual Physical Fitness Test: 180-220 = 50/ 220 – 270 = 100/ 270-300 = 150
Cavalry Thesis w/bibliography: Grade C = 50/ Grade B = 100/ Grade A = 150
Here’s Another example from Army Reserve Cav unit E Trp, 101st Cav:
Reference for esteemed brothers of the Order of the Spur and would be maggots. For those that aspire to someday joined
All candidates will be selected, voted on by the Spur Association and invited to attend the annual Spur Ride based on this
In addition to the above stated criteria it is required for invitation to the Spur Ride, a qualifying soldier must meet a
Also, past unit members that have made a significant impact on the unit may be considered for invitation contingent
Here is an example of required tasks – this also varies from unit to unit
SPUR CANDIDATES WILL BE TESTED ON THE FOLLOWING TASKS DURING CIRCUIT TRAINING:
EVACUATE A CASUALTY
WEAPONS STATION ( M16A2, M240B, M9 )
ISSUE A SALUTE REPORT
PLACE SINCGARS RADIO INTO OPERATION
EMPLOY CLAYMORE MINE
DECONTAMINATE SELF AND EQUIPMENT
EMPLOY CHEMICAL DETECTION
RECITE FIDDLER’S GREEN POEM
SPUR CANDIDATES WILL BE REQUIRED TO COMPLETE ALL TASKS AS A TEAM
Rules of the Mess – (The Spur Ceremony Dinner)
Once the war is over or the Spur Ride is completed, the former candidates are awarded their Spurs in a formal ceremony which honors their intestinal fortitude and valiant efforts. Below is one example of the “Rules of the Mess.”
A. Anything determined by the head table.
B. Improperly worn Spurs.
C. Improperly worn Stetson.
D. Calling the Stetson a “hat”.
E. Out of proper uniform.
F. Smoking prior to the lamp being lit.
G. Moving from seat without permission.
H. Uncharged glass during toasts.
I. Making false charges.
K. Chewing tobacco before the smoking lamp is lit.
L. Improper toasting procedure.
M. Foul language.
N. Harming a Shave Tail.
O. Spilling of drinks or breakage of glass.
P. Inability to respond to being coined.
Q. “Tossing your cookies” in the mess.
*Note: Spur committee members will judge the validity of any infractions and rule on the necessary penalty. Possible penalties include but are not limited to: reciting “Fiddler’s Green”, push-ups, performing, fines (not to exceed $2.00), and eviction from the mess.
Wearing the Cavalry Spurs
Many units have specific requirements regarding the wear of the Spurs. Some are memorandums and some are created as an addition to the Army Regulation 670-1 – Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia.
Here is an example:
Spurs: Spurs will be worn as a matched pair. Only Prince of Wales type spurs will be worn.
a. Low Quarters: The spurs will be affixed to the footgear midway between the upper portion of the sole and the lower part of the heel along the seam of the shoe. The U shaped portion shall enclose the shoe in such a manner as to assure that the rowel of the spurs curves down to the ground*. The strap will be fastened over the instep of the footgear in such a manner that the buckle faces to the outside of the foot.
b. Boots: The spurs will be affixed to the footgear so that the U-shaped portion follows the seam of the ankle support. Ensure that the rowel curves downward to the ground. The strap will be fastened over the instep of the footgear in such a manner that the buckles face the outside of the boot.
c. Occasions for wearing the spurs: Regimental/Squadron formations, parades, reviews and ceremonies, Squadron dining-ins/outs and other social functions conducted in class A or dress uniform. Spur calls,
* In some units, tradition says that spurs worn with the rowels pointing up are to be worn by single soldiers
Another kind of Spur Ride … in Combat
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