Did you know

DUDE, Your sabers are upside down…

Did you know that at one time, Cavalry officers wore the distinctive crossed sabers with the points down?
Congress authorized the first two Cavalry regiments in 1855. Now, we already had mounted riflemen and dragoon regiments, but since the Cav Troopers wore a unique hat, they only wore their regimental number on it. The Army decided to change hats in 1858, and when they did, both the dragoons and the Cavalry officers wore the crossed sabers. Since the dragoons were already wearing crossed sabers with the points up, the Army directed Cavalry officers to wear their crossed saber insignia upside down. Their logic was that it would be easier to distinguish dragoon officers from Cavalry. Three months later, in what could have been one of the best military decisions ever made, an amendment prescribed all crossed sabers to be worn with the points facing up. To determine who was who, the dragoon officers wore their regimental number in the upper angle of the sabers, and Cavalry would wear theirs in the lower angle. This remained in effect until 1861, when the Army consolidated all horse branches.


 Did you know that these were Cavalry Scouts for the U.S. Army?

Wild Bill Hickock, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Kit Carson!

 Buffalo Bill was awarded a Medal of Honor for scouting for the 3d Cavalry. It was revoked about 1916 along with a large number of others, but his family petitioned the Army for a review. The Army agreed that had he been a Soldier, he probably would have been given the award, so they posthumously enlisted him for the date of the action, made the award, and then discharged him. The medal is in the museum at his burial site.

Did you know that Chief, the U.S. Cavalry’s last horse, died in 1968 at the age of 36? More..

Did you know that the man who invented Coca Cola was a Cavalryman? John Smith Pemberton served with distinction as a lieutenant colonel in the Third Georgia Cavalry Battalion during the Civil War and was almost killed in the fighting at Columbus in April 1865. More..

Did you know that Genghis Khan’s cavalry rode female horses so the soldiers could drink their milk?

Did you know that in the movie “Apocalypse Now”, Robert Duvall, who plays Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, wears two different hats in the movie? When we first see him walking through the village throwing “calling cards” on the bodies, he is wearing a different hat with a cluster and smaller crossed sabers. The beach scene, where “Charlie don’t surf”, is a different hat with the larger crossed sabers. That’s Hollywood for you..

France’s famous Imperial Guard: They were the most feared men in Napoleon’s army. Commanded by the Emperor himself and affectionately known as the Bearskins due to the fabric of which their headgear was constructed, the Imperial Guard was a small, elite army. Like the corps, the Guard had infantry, cavalry and artillery.

Did you know that Cavalry soldiers in many ancient armies carried pieces of turquoise or wore turquoise rings to keep them from falling off their horses?

Did you know that there were bicycle cavalry units? Sweden, Japan, Britain, Germany, China, Hungary, and even U.S. Civil War soldiers


Did you know that the first American Cavalry tactics manual was written by a botanist?

Poinsett’s “Cavalry Tactics” Manual

Joel Roberts Poinsett, who today is best remembered for his work as a botanist, introducing a Mexican flower to the U.S. (later named the Poinsettia in his honor), wrote the first official tactics manual for mounted dragoons and cavalry. It was approved and published in 1841 by the War Department, known by troopers then as simply “Poinsett’s Tactics.” These were the cavalry tactics taught at the military academy at West Point up to and during the war. Poinsett’s work taught a double-rank formation for combat, much different than a new manual to be published just before the Civil War began by Philip St. George Cooke, whose manual taught the long, single-rank formation for combat.


Did you know that Custer finished last in his class at the U.S. Military Academy?

Several days after graduating last in his class, he failed in his duty as officer of the guard to stop a fight between two cadets. He was court-martialed and saved from punishment only by the huge need for officers with the outbreak of the Civil War. Custer

But wait! There’s more!

Robert E. Lee finished second in his class of 1829 at West Point while U.S. Grant finished last. Grant had the highest number of demerits ever for someone who graduated. Lee never had a demerit.

Did you know that there was only one survivor at Custer’s last stand?

When ordered to move a band of Indians toward a large American cavalry force, the ambitious and often arrogant Custer became over-zealous, and as they reached the Sioux encampment, he divided his regiment and decided to fight. Custer’s force was entirely annihilated within a short time. The other regiment force was rescued by supporting cavalry four days later, and the search for survivors of Custer’s troops began. Not one man was found alive and only one horse survived  Comanche.

This quiz will examine your knowledge of the cavalry in the Civil War.

Quiz Part 2!

DID YOU KNOW that…Indian activists misspelled key words in their own commemorative plaque for warriors who fought The Battle of Little Big Horn?

Dateline: Cheyenne, Montana, July 4, 1988.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Wedded to grammar while committed to historical amnesia, the Times reports (page 24) the plaque’s misspelling of “Cavalry” so that it reads “Calvary.”

Did you know that Fort Riley, between Junction City and Manhattan,
was the cradle of the United States Cavalry for 83 years?

George Custer formed the famed 7th Cavalry there in 1866. Ten years later,
at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the 7th was virtually wiped out.

When did the US Army first try aluminum horseshoes?

The US Cavalry field-tested aluminum horseshoes in the 1890′s. The report praised the ease of shaping, fitting and light weight but determined that the shoe would not wear long enough to be practicable for military service.

DID YOU KNOW that at the Battle of Antietam–the single bloodiest day of the Civil War–the Union cavalry suffered only 5 men killed and 23 wounded?

The Earliest Horseshoe

The first horseshoes were manufactured by the Romans and were known as “hipposandals.” These iron shoes were not nailed to the horse’s hoof, but were tied to the hoof with leather thongs. These devices would have decreased hoof wear when the harness or draft horse traveled on paved roads. However, these early shoes were very heavy, and they could not have been attached to the horse with any great firmness.
-The Medieval Horse

First Stirrups; This Major Part of the Saddle Came From the Orient

The first solid evidence of the stirrup comes from an illustration on a fifth-century A.D. Korean jug. Many believe that the Huns were the actual inventors of the stirrup. In any case, the stirrup provided much greater stability for the rider, allowing him to stand while shooting arrows and giving him added stability when fighting with the sword.
-The Medieval Horse

The Bedouins

The Bedouins are among the greatest horsemen and horse breeders in the world. The bloodlines of their Arabian horses can be traced back more than 2,000 years, and their skill in performing with their great dancing horses is legendary.
-The Medieval Horse

Did you know that the first amphibious soldiers to land on French soil
on D-DAY were Cavalrymen from the 4th Cav Reconnaissance?

Sgt. Harvey Olson, of Troop A, 4th Cav Recon landed on Iles St Marcouf Landings…The First Amphibious Soldiers to land on French soil. For his valor, he received the Silver Star.

At 0430 Hours 6 June 1944, elements of Troop A, 4th Squadron and Troop B, 24th Squadron landed on the St. Marcoufs. Sgt. Harvey S. Olson and Private Thomas C. Killeran of Troop A, Sergeant John W. Zanders and
Corporal Melvin F. Kenzie of Troop B, each armed with only a knife, swam ashore to mark the beaches for the
landing craft. These four troopers became the first American soldiers to land on French soil that day. As the other troopers charged from the landing crafts, only a deathly silence greeted them. The islands had been evacuated. They became the first seaborne Unit of American soldiers to land on French soil on D-Day. The Germans had evacuated the islands but they did leave them heavily mined. Meanwhile one platoon of Troop B, 4th Squadron got ashore at Utah Beach and liked up with the 82nd Airborne. On 7 June the platoon surprised a German column and in a mechanized cavalry charge hit the column routing it with a loss of some 200 casualties. Heavy seas prevented Troop C from linking up with the 101st until 8 June.

Here is the Silver Star Citation of Sgt. Harvey S. Olson, Troop A, 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance:
On June 6, 1944, Sgt. Olson with one companion, displaying the highest courage in the face of unknown dangers, became one of the first American Soldiers of the ground forces to land on French soil. He volunteered for the mission of the landing on D-DAY on the …..(should read Iles De St Marcouf) a strategically placed island commanding the beach where assault was to be made. Sgt. Olson and his companion paddled through heavy surf and mined waters in a small two-man rubber boat to within 100 yards of the island. Sgt. Olson then destroyed his
craft by slashing it open, and swam the remaining distance armed only with a knife. Once on the island, which was heavily covered with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, Sgt. Olson and his companion signaled the assault forces and marked the beach with lights.

With generous thanks, we received permission to reprint this information, which was sent by Mr. Shane Olson,
Great Nephew of SGT Harvey Olson.

Read more here! – http://www.warchronicle.com/dday/soldierstories/olson.htm

Icelandic Horse History and Lore

The first horses came to Iceland in the ninth century with Viking settlers from Norway and the British Isles, and horses remained the main form of land transportation in the country until the first roads for wheeled vehicles were built in the 1870s. Since approximately 1100, import of horses to Iceland has been forbidden by law, so the breed has remained pure. The Icelandic Horse is renowned for being hardy, athletic, independent, spirited, friendly, adaptable, and sure-footed, with five natural gaits. Averaging 13 to 14 hands tall, the Icelandic Horse is a versatile family riding horse, bred to carry adults at a fast pleasing gait over long distances. It is distinctive for its thick and often double-sided mane and long tail, and remarkable for its wide range of colors.

In Icelandic mythology, Loki the Trickster god, once became a breeding mare to lure away a giant’s stallion and so prevent the giant from winning the hand of Freyja, goddess of beauty. The result of that union was Sleipnir, the supreme god Odin’s eight-legged steed. “Amongst gods and men, that horse is the best,” says the 13th-century Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturluson. Sleipnir is shown in one famous image with its eight legs extended in the ultimate flying pace. Other gods also owned horses. The goddess Gna the messenger had a horse that ran “through the air and over the sea.” Called Hoof Flourisher, it was sired by Breaker-of-Fences on Skinny Sides. The gods of Day and Night drove chariots drawn by Shining Mane and Frosty Mane: The brightness of the sun was the glowing of the day-horse’s mane, while dew was the saliva dripping from Frosty Mane’s bit. Horses were also associated with Freyr, god of plenty, and sacrificed in his honor.

Other medieval Icelandic works depict racehorses, saddlehorses, packhorses, and fighting horses. The first Icelandic Horse known by name, the mare Skalm, appears in the 12th-century Book of Settlements. The chieftain Seal-Thorir settled where Skalm lay down under her load. Horses play key roles in some of the most famous Icelandic Sagas, including Hrafnkel’s Saga, Njal’s Saga, and Grettir’s Saga. The sagas, written anonymously in the 13th century, look back as far as the early 800s. In these stories, horses were first of all riding horses and beasts of burden. But the sagas also tell of horse races and horse fights, both of which often led to violence, and of horses given as gifts to stop or avert a feud. A fine horse was often a medieval Icelander’s most prized possession.-The Medieval Horse

The Oriental Horse

The Chinese did not employ the horse in great numbers until the third century B.C. well after its use was common in the West. The value of the horse quickly became clear to the Chinese. By the seventh century A.D., the T’ang emperors had huge stud farms holding as many as 300,000 horses, with each horse given seven acres of pasture. Paintings from the tenth and eleventh century reveal the Chinese as thorough horsemen. Their equipment is rather modern in appearance, and they seem altogether at ease on their mounts. Handsome spotted horses were a favorite in the Orient.-The Medieval Horse

Some More Civil War Trivia

Where did the largest cavalry battle of the war take place ? The largest cavalry battle took place at Brandy Station Virginia, June 9, 1863.
By what affectionate nickname did Nathan Bedford Forrest, CSA, refer to his cavalry units? Critter Companies
Who was John Huff of the 5th Michigan Cavalry? The man that shot General J.E.B. Stuart – May 11, 1864 at Yellow Tavern, VA
What was Cavalry General Ben Grierson’s profession? music teacher

Name director John Ford’s trilogy of cavalry movies, all starring John Wayne,
known as the Cavalry Trilogy.

“Fort Apache”, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, and “Rio Grande”

John Wayne also played a Civil War Cavalry colonel in “The Horse Soldiers”


When the German Panzer divisions crossed the Polish border in 1939, they confronted an adversary which symbolized the end of the mounted soldier – or so they thought. Pathetically, the Polish Cavalry attempted to stall the invasion by charging the German tanks on horseback. To say the least, the valiant Poles were quickly overrun. Four years later the cavalry had a final say. In the cold winter of 1943, on the steppes of the Ukraine, the German tanks were literally frozen in their tracks. Cossacks descended on the tanks, mounted on ponies which were descendants of the horses of the ancient Scythians, the first masters of cavalry.

The Cossacks swept over the frozen plain firing machine guns and throwing grenades into the German forces with deadly effect. The Cossacks fled on their swift horses before the astonished Germans had time to react.

This story is not true!


Sunday, June 6th, 2004, marked the 60th anniversary of one of the proudest moments of the “Greatest Generation”. With complete secrecy and incredible coordination, the largest armada in history crossed the English Channel to assault the Nazi armies on the beaches of Normandy. The heroism of thousands of young men that day is the stuff of legend.

Here are some questions from Kenneth C. Davis’ book, Don’t Know Much About History:

  1. What does the “D” in D-Day refer to?
  2. How many Allied men and ships were in the invasion?
  3. Among the commanders was a relative of two U.S. presidents. Who was he?
  4. Give the code name of two of the five beaches assaulted that day.
  5. After D-Day, how much longer did the war in Europe last?
  6. Where can you visit the 4-year-old National D-Day Museum?

Did you know that there is a version of chess called Cavalry chess? Check it out!

Maybe not Cav related, but, do you know just how big the world’s biggest flag is?

Have you got some great Cav trivia to add? Contact us!