5th Cavalry Regiment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from 5th U.S. Cavalry)
Jump to: navigation, search
5th Cavalry Regiment
5th Cavalry Regiment coat of arms
Active 1855 – present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Cavalry
Nickname(s) "Black Knights"[1]
Motto(s) Loyalty Courage
Engagements Indian Wars
American Civil War
Philippine Insurrection
Mexican Expedition
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
War in Southwest Asia
Iraq War
Operation New Dawn
Operation Enduring Freedom
LTC John D. Moris
Albert Sidney Johnston
Robert E. Lee
Wesley Merritt
George H. Cameron
Gordon B. Rogers
Edgar Joseph Treacy, Jr
Eric Shinseki
Benjamin Freakley
Distinctive unit insignia 5thcav.png
U.S. Cavalry Regiments
Previous Next
4th Cavalry Regiment 6th Cavalry Regiment

The 5th Cavalry Regiment ("Black Knights"[1]) is a historical unit of the United States Army that began its service in the decade prior to the American Civil War and continues in modified organizational format in the U.S. Army.[2]

Coat of Arms[edit]

The Coat of Arms consists of a shield, on which there is drawn across the center a partition with five battlements, suggestive of a Spanish castle, and representing the numerical designation of the Regiment. The portion of the shield below the line is colored yellow, symbolizing the Regiment's arm of service, the Cavalry.

The upper portion of the Coat of Arms consists of a bundle of five arrows tied together with a rattlesnake skin having five rattles; this is a Native American symbol of war. The arrows commemorate the five major Indian Campaigns in which the Regiment was engaged. The first arrow designates the campaign against the Comanches fought 1856-1860; the second represents the defeat of the Cheyennes under Tall Bull in 1869-1871; the third symbolizes the fight against the Apaches in 1872-1874; the fourth arrow was won fighting against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull; and the fifth and final arrow represents the campaign against the Utes of Colorado in 1879.

The black cross on the yellow portion of the shield was won during the Civil War. This cross, known as the "Cross Moline," represents the famous charge by the Regiment at Gaines' Mill, Virginia on 27 June 1862. The word "Moline" comes from the French word "Moulin" for mill. The split ends of the cross represent the iron pieces of a millstone.

The upper portion of the shield consists of a white Maltese Cross on a black field. This is symbolic of the service of the Regiment in Puerto Rico from November 1898 to 1900. Puerto Rico was originally known as San Juan, named for the Knights of St. John, who wore a black habit with a white Maltese Cross. It is from this derivation that the Soldiers of the 5th Cavalry became known as the Black Knights.

In 1923, the War Department draped the shield with a yellow ribbon bearing the motto "Loyalty and Courage" thereby honoring the Coat of Arms with its official approval.

Formation and the Frontier[edit]

As the borders of the United States expanded westwards, the US government decided that it needed more mounted troops to protect the wagon trains and secure the frontier. On 3 March 1855, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (later to be known as the 5th Cavalry Regiment) was activated in Louisville, Kentucky with troopers drawn from the states of Alabama, Maryland, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia[3]. Each company rode mounts of a certain color, so a trooper's company could easily be identified in the confusion of battle, and so that the regiment appeared more splendid and organized during dress parades. Company A rode Grays, Companies B and E rode Sorrels, Companies C, D, F, and I had Bays, Companies G and H rode browns, and Company K rode Roans[4]. Under the command of Col. Albert Sidney Johnston, its officers included 12 future generals: field officers Robert E. Lee, William J. Hardee, and George H. Thomas, and line officers Earl Van Dorn, Edmund Kirby Smith, George Stoneman, Kenner Garrard, William B. Royall,[5] Nathan G. Evans, Fitzhugh Lee, and John Bell Hood.

After receiving cavalry training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, the regiment, under COL Albert Sidney Johnston, began riding out to Fort Belknap, Texas. The journey to the fort was long and hard; the 700 men and 800 horses of the 2nd Cavalry marched over the Ozark Mountains, through Arkansas, and into Indian Territory until they arrived on 27 December 1855. COL Johnston immediately received orders to set up Headquarters along with Companies B, C, D, G, H, and I at Fort Mason, Texas[6]. Arriving on 14 January 1856, the men arrived at the post (which had been abandoned for two years) and immediately began work repairing it. On 22 February 1856, Company C of the 2nd Cavalry, under the command of Captain James Oaks, engaged the Waco Indians in their first battle just west of Fort Terrett, Texas[7].

In July 1857, LTC Robert E. Lee arrived at Fort Mason to take command of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. That same month, LT John Bell Hood led a company of the 2nd Cavalry into the Texas frontier. Near the Devils River, the patrol spotted a band of Comanche warriors holding a white flag of truce, and LT Hood went to speak with them. The warriors dropped their white flag and began lighting fires to carefully placed burn piles in order to provide a smoke screen. 30 more Indians, hiding within 10 paces of the Cavalry troopers, began attacking with arrows and guns[8]. The cavalrymen charged and engaged in hand-to-hand fighting, but were forced to withdraw under the cover of revolver fire in the face of two-to-one odds. LT Hood was wounded by and arrow through the left hand in this engagement, but continued to serve with the 2nd Cavalry[9].

On 15 February 1858, Major William J. Hardee was instructed to proceed from Fort Belknap with Companies A, F, H & K to Otter Creek, Texas and establish a Supply Station. On 29 February, they came upon a large encampment of Comanche Indians near Wichita Village. In July 1858, the entire regiment assembled at Fort Belknap in anticipation of joining Johnston in Utah to subjugate rebellious Mormons. Their orders were rescinded and they instead formed a striking force, the "Wichita Expedition," against the Comanche[10]. Led by Major Earl Van Dorn, four companies trapped and defeated a sizable force of Comanches on 1 October at the Wichita Village Fight, and followed it up on 13 May 1859, with a similar victory at the Battle of Crooked Creek in Kansas. During this period (1858-1861), the regiment fought in some forty engagements against the Apaches, Bannocks, Cheyennes, Comanches, Kiowas, Utes and other tribes along with Mexican banditos[11].

American Civil War[edit]

Early in 1861, the regiment went to Carlisle Barracks, where the officers and men loyal to the South left the regiment to serve in the Confederate States Army. Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee was replaced by Lt. Col. George Henry Thomas. The regiment was rebuilt with new officers and recruits loyal to the Union and was assigned to the Army of the Potomac under the command of General George McClellan. On 21 July 1861, the regiment participated in its first battle of the American Civil War, the First Battle of Bull Run; it was the last action in which they would be called the "2nd Cavalry." In the summer of 1861, all regular mounted regiments were re-designated as "cavalry", and being last in seniority among the existing regiments, the regiment was re-designated as the 5th United States Cavalry[12]. During the Civil War, the Regiment fought valiantly at the Battle of Gaines's Mill, the Battle of Fairfax Courthouse, the Battle of Falling Waters, the Battle of Martinsburg, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Wilderness, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, among many others. The 5th Cavalry's most notable action came at Gaines Mills, when the regiment charged a Confederate division under command of a former comrade, General John Bell Hood. The regiment suffered heavy casualties in the battle, but their attack saved the Union artillery from annihilation. This battle is commemorated on the regimental crest by the cross moline, in the yellow field on the lower half of the crest[13].

On 9 April 1865, the 5th Cavalry was selected to serve as the Union Honor Guard for the surrender of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Courthouse. The Regiment stood by solemnly as it watched its former commander, General Robert E. Lee, surrender to the Union Army[14].

Indian Wars[edit]

A computer generated reproduction of the insignia of the Union Army 5th Regiment cavalry. The insignia is displayed in gold and consists of two sheafed swords crossing over each other at a 45 degree angle pointing upwards with a Roman numeral 5
5th Regiment United States Cavalry insignia

In September 1868, the 5th Cavalry Regiment received orders to prepare for duty against hostile Indians in Kansas and Nebraska. In the following years the 5th Cavalry fought many skirmishes and battles against the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho on the Great Plains, and against the Utes in Colorado. On 8 July 1869 at the Republican River in Kansas, Cpl John Kyle made a valiant stand against attacking Indians resulting in him receiving the Medal of Honor.[15][16] The 5th was then sent to Arizona, where it defeated the Apaches in 95 engagements from 1871 to 1874. Due to these actions, General William Sherman told a committee from the United States House of Representatives that "the services of the 5th Cavalry Regiment in Arizona were unequaled by that of any Cavalry Regiment." After General Custer and 264 of his men died at the Battle of Little Big Horn, troopers of the 5th rode after the Sioux to avenge their deaths. The punitive ride quickly became known as the Horsemeat March, one of the most brutal forced marches in American military history. Men and horses suffered from starvation, but they eventually caught up with the Indians. Under the leadership of Col. Wesley Merritt, a Civil War veteran, the 5th was instrumental in defeating the Indians at the Battle of Slim Buttes. It was the first significant victory for the army following Little Bighorn. In the next few years the principal engagements in which the regiment took part were with the 2nd Cavalry and 3rd Cavalry.

Greely Expedition[edit]

The six survivors of the U.S. Army's Greely Arctic expedition with their U.S. Navy rescuers, at Upernavik, Greenland, 2–3 July 1884. Probably photographed on board USS Thetis[10]

As the Indian Wars continued, an officer of the 5th Cavalry Regiment, Lieutenant Adolphus Washington Greely, who had overseen the construction of some 2,000 miles of telegraph lines in Texas, Montana, and the Dakota Territories, was named to lead an exploratory expedition to the Arctic. On 7 July 1881, Greely and his men left St. John's, Newfoundland, and arrived at Lady Franklin Bay on 26 August, to establish Fort Conger on Ellesmere Island, Canada, just across the narrow strait from the northwest tip of Greenland. During their tenure at Fort Conger, Greely and his men explored regions closer to the North Pole than anyone had previously gone[17]. Although they were able to gather much needed scientific data about arctic weather conditions which was used by later arctic explorers, the expedition lost 18 out of the original 25 members of the party through starvation because a supply ship was unable to break through the heavy iced seas[18].

Spanish-American War[edit]

In 1898, the Spanish-American War began after the USS Maine sunk under suspicious circumstances in Havana, Cuba. As the US mobilized for war, the 5th Cavalry was sent from San Antonio, Texas to Tampa, Florida. A shortage of naval transports and an abundance of military units eager to get into the action meant that the 5th Cavalry Regiment had to be split up, and only a few troops made it to Puerto Rico in time to engage the enemy[19]. Alongside 17,000 other US troops, the troopers landed on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico at the port of Guánica, 15 miles west of Ponce. In July 1898, the regiment was split into four columns of both dismounted scouts and mounted cavalry, and in early August began fanning out across the mountainous countryside. Troop A saw most of the action in the Puerto Rican Campaign; under General Theodore Schwan, it was part of the 2,800 man "Independent Regular Brigade." Troop A performed well at the Battle of Silva Heights, at Las Marias and at Hormigueros where the 1,400 Spanish defenders beat a hasty retreat[20]. The regiment's service in this war is symbolized by the white Maltese cross in the black chief of the upper half of the regimental coat of arms. The Spanish turned over the island of Puerto Rico to the United States on 10 December 1898. The 5th Cavalry remained on the island until early in 1899, when it returned to San Antonio. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Troops E, K, and L of the 5th Cavalry are enumerated in the Port of Mayagüez. The Black Knights returned to the United States in 1900[21].


In 1901, the Regiment, minus the 2nd Squadron, sailed to the distant Philippine Islands to help put down the bloody Philippine Insurrection being fought there. In 1902, the 2nd Squadron proceeded to the Philippines to join the main body of the Regiment. Dismounted, they battled in the jungles of the Pacific to help end the rebellion and defeat the army of Philippine revolutionary Emilio Aguinaldo[22].

In March 1903, back in the United States, the troopers of the 5th Cavalry found themselves spread throughout Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Some of them fought Navajo Indians in small rebellious battles located in Arizona and Utah. The Regiment remained fragmented for five years until January 1909, when Headquarters and the 1st and 3rd Squadrons were reassigned to Pacific duty to strengthen the U.S. military presence in the new territory of Hawaii[23].

Although there was a small Army population on Oahu, the first deployment of cavalry troops provided the need to start a permanent Army post. By December, Captain Joseph C. Castner had drawn up the plans for the development of today's Schofield Barracks. The 2nd squadron arrived in October 1910, to help in the completion of the construction. In 1913, border threats to the United States brought the 5th Cavalry back to the deserts of the Southwest, where it was stationed at Fort Apache and Fort Huachuca, Arizona[24].

Mexican Expedition[edit]

In 1916, the Regiment was dispatched to the Mexican border to serve as part of the Punitive Expedition. Under General John "Black Jack" Pershing, the Regiment crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico and was successful in stopping the border raids conducted by bandits of Pancho Villa who had expanded their operations of rustling cattle, robbing banks, and killing into the United States. The Regiment remained with the Punitive Expedition in Mexico, until 5 February 1917. When the United States entered World War I in April 1917, the 5th Cavalry was selected to remain stateside and defend against incursions along the Mexican border[25].

After several relocations, in October, the Regiment moved into Fort Bliss, relieving the 8th Cavalry Regiment. Following the Mexican Punitive Expedition, the 5th Cavalry Regiment was spread throughout Texas helping safeguard wagon trains, patrolling the Mexican border and training[26]. In 1918, airplanes and tanks had emerged from World War I as the glamour weapons of the future. By contrast, the long history of the Cavalry was not finished. The cavalry remained as the fastest and most effective force for patrolling the remote desert areas of the Southwest and Mexican border. Airplanes and mechanized vehicles were not reliable enough or adapted for ranging across the rugged countryside, setting up ambushes, conducting stealthy reconnaissance missions and engaging in fast moving skirmishes with minimal support. In many ways, it was just the beginning of a new era. 5th Cavalry troopers were getting into frequent, small scaled combats with raiders, smugglers and Mexican Revolutionaries along the Rio Grande River[27]. In one skirmish in June 1919, four units, the 5th and 7th Cavalry Regiments, the 8th Engineers (Mounted) and 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) saw action against Pancho Villa's Villistas. On 15 June, Mexican snipers fired across the Rio Grande and killed a trooper of the 82nd Field Artillery who was standing picket duty. In hot pursuit, the troopers and the horse artillery engaged a column of Villistas near Ciudad Juárez. Following a successful engagement, the cavalry expedition returned to the United States side of the border[28].

Interwar Years[edit]

On 18 December 1922, the 5th Cavalry Regiment became part of the new 1st Cavalry Division and has served with this division ever since.

As tensions in Europe began to rise in the 1930s, the 5th Cavalry Regiment continued to train with anticipations of war. With the US Government maintaining its isolationist stance on Europe in 1941, the Black Knights had to wait two and a half more years to do what they have been training 25 years for, as they had missed out on participation in the great war.

World War II[edit]

On 27 February 1944, Task Force "Brewer", consisting of 1,026 troopers, embarked from Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General William C. Chase. Their destination was a remote Japanese-occupied island of the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance in force and if feasible, capture Momote Airfield and secure a beachhead for the reinforcements that would follow. Just after 0800 on 29 February, the 1st Cavalry troopers climbed down the nets of the APD's and into the LCM's and LCPR's, the flat bottomed landing craft of the Navy. The landing at Hayane Harbor took the Japanese by surprise. The first three waves of the assault troops from the 2nd Squadron, 5th Regiment reached the beach virtually unscathed. The fourth wave was less lucky. By then, the Japanese had been able to readjust their guns and some casualties were suffered.

Troops under the command of LTC William E. Lobit of Galveston, Texas, dispersed and attacked through the rain. They quickly fought their way to the Momote Airfield and had the entire airfield under control in less than two hours. The United Press would hail the Los Negros landing as "one of the most brilliant maneuvers of the war." In the darkness that the Japanese infiltrated the 5th Cavalry's perimeter. Hand-to-hand fighting broke out near some foxholes and tough fighting raged the next day and through the night. Japanese pressure on the invasion force remained desperate and intense. The arrival of the 5th Cavalry's reinforcements helped to turn the tide of the fight. In a coordinated action, the 40th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees) landed on Los Negros Island in support of the 5th Cavalry. Their mission was to reconstruct the Momote Airfield. Assigned to defend a large portion of the right flank, the 40th suffered heavy casualties while defending the airfield with the Soldiers of the 5th. Along with the 40th, the consolidated 5th Regiment soon secured all of the Momote Airfield and spent the long night of 2 March, repulsing suicidal attacks.

The 5th Cavalry spent its 89th Anniversary in combat as they fought off attacks from the Japanese Imperial Marines. It was during this fight that a member of the Regiment, Staff Sergeant Troy McGill earned the First Cavalry Division's first Medal of Honor. SSG McGill held his foxhole while under attack by a Japanese company; when his weapon failed, SSG McGill charged the enemy and clubbed them until he was killed. The next morning, 146 enemy dead were found in front of his position.

On 6 March, the 5th Cavalry went back into action to occupy Porolka. The next day the Black Knights pushed south and overran Papitalai Village after a short amphibious landing assault. By 10–11 March, mop up operations were underway all over the northern half of Los Negros Island and attention was being given to future operations. The Admiralty Islands campaign officially ended on 18 May 1944. Japanese casualties stood at 3,317 killed. The losses of the First Cavalry Division were 290 dead, 977 wounded and four missing in action. Training, discipline, determination and ingenuity had won over suicidal attacks. The 5th Cavalry Troopers were now seasoned veterans.

On 12 October 1944, the First Cavalry Division sailed away from its base in the Admiralties for the Leyte invasion, Operation King II. The missions of the First Cavalry Division in late October and early November included moving across Leyte's northern coast through the rugged mountainous terrain and deeper into Leyte Valley. The 1st Brigade had severe fighting in most difficult terrain when the 5th and 12th Cavalry secured the central mountain range of Leyte. With the last of the strongholds eliminated, the division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. On 12 April, the 5th Cavalry Regiment began a drive southeastward down the Bicoi Peninsula to clear it of Japanese and link up with the 158th Regimental Combat team. The two forces finally converged at Naga on 29 April, after "B" Troop, 5th Cavalry and a group of engineers made an amphibious assault across the Ragay Gulf at Pasacao. On 30 June 1945, the Luzon Campaign was declared completed.

Korean War[edit]

After the war, the regiment was garrisoned in Japan. The 5th Cavalry Regiment deployed to Korea with the rest of First Cavalry Division on 18 July 1950, twenty-three days after North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel. Landing in the middle of a typhoon, the Regiment marched toward Taejon to establish battle positions by 22 July with North Koreans less than twenty-five miles away.

On 23 July, the Regiment first encountered the enemy. 1-5 CAV took the brunt of an enemy attack, suffering severe losses over two days. Company F, 5th Cavalry, moved to support 1st Battalion on its right flank. By the end of the second day of fighting, only 26 survivors from Companies B and F managed to return to friendly lines. Over the next several days the Regiment withdrew to defensive lines, first replacing the 25th Infantry Regiment at Hwanggan and then by 1 August moving with the rest of the 1stCavalry Division to form part of the western line of the Pusan Perimeter near Kumchon. On 9 August, this defensive line came under assault by over five enemy divisions, with 1-5 CAV once again bearing the brunt of the attack. The 5th Cavalry Regiment held their ground, allowing the 7th Cavalry Regiment to flank the enemy and stop their initial push toward Taegu. Pulling back and strengthening the line, the 5th Cavalry withstood two more ferocious assaults before the North Korean drive grounded to a halt short of Taegu on 8 September and momentum began to turn.

Following GEN Douglas MacArthur's successful amphibious landing deep in the North Korean rear at Inchon on 15 September, the 1st Cavalry Division broke out of the Pusan Perimeter and began driving north. The 5th Cavalry crossed the Naktong river on 26 September and continued the advance north, crossing the 38th Parallel into North Korea on 9 October. 1LT Samuel S. Coursen of C Company, 5th Cavalry, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on 11 October during the battle for Hill 174 in the course of this drive north. On 19 October, the 5th Cavalry led the division into Pyongyang, becoming the first American regiment in the North Korean capital city.

Following the Chinese entry into the war, GEN MacArthur ordered the First Team to participate in a massive counteroffensive. The Regiment participated in this attack, meeting the Chinese forces on 24 November and managing to stop the enemy advance south. The Regiment withdrew southward throughout the winter with the rest of the UN forces. By January, the Chinese had driven UN forces back south of the Han River, forcing them to abandon Seoul. On 25 January 1951, the 1st Cavalry Division, including the 5th Cavalry, and the rest of 8th Army began to counterattack and advance back north. The advance was slow and methodical, averaging only two miles per day against fierce Chinese resistance. On 29–30 January, 5th Cavalry fought for Hill 312. 1LT Robert M. McGovern of A Company, 5th Cavalry, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on the second day of this battle, on which he single-handedly charged a machine gun nest and killed seven enemy soldiers, inspiring his men to fix bayonets and charge the hill with such ferocity that they overran enemy positions and took the hill.

On 14 February, the 5th Cavalry formed Task Force Crombez, a rescue force to relieve the surrounded 23rd Regiment and a French battalion at Chipyong-Ni. The tanks of Task Force Crombez broke through the Chinese lines on 15 February and routed the enemy, marking the first major defeat of the Chinese Red Army during the Korean War. 8th Army continued the drive north and established Line Kansas, a defensive line north of Seoul along the 38th Parallel, in late March 1951. In April the Chinese and North Koreans counterattacked in an attempt to recapture Seoul. The 5th Cavalry helped reinforce the defensive line and pushed the enemy back into North Korea. The fight continued back and forth throughout the summer and fall, culminating in the battle for Line Jamestown in October.

In December 1951, after 549 days of continuous fighting, the 5th Cavalry was rotated with the rest of the 1st Cavalry Division to Hokkaido, Japan, sailing on 7 December. The Regiment returned briefly to Korea in February 1952 to assume defensive positions near Pusan, but all units except 3rd Battalion and the Regimental Heavy Mortar Company returned to Hokkaido in April. The 3rd Battalion and Mortar Company returned to Hokkaido in September 1952, ending the 5th Cavalry's service in Korea until the 1st Cavalry Division assumed Demilitarized Zone security in 1957.

Vietnam War[edit]

The regiment was reorganized in August 1963 as the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 5th Cavalry Regiment and later as the 3rd Squadron, 5th Armored Cavalry. The units arrived at Fort Benning in 1965, and then proceeded to the Republic of Vietnam as air and armored cavalry. In Vietnam 5th Cavalry units participated numerous campaigns; Tet/Counter-offensive, Summer-Fall 1969, Winter-Spring 1970, Sanctuary Counter-offensive, Consolidation 1, Consolidation 2, Cease Fire Defense, Counter-offensive, Counter-offensive Phase I, Counter-offensive Phase III, Counter-offensive Phase IV, Tet 69 Counter-offensive; Counter-offensive Phase V, Counter-offensive Phase VI, Counter-offensive Phase VII, Fishhook.

The 1st Cavalry Division went home from Korea in 1965, but only long enough to be reorganized for a new mission. In July 1965, the division was activated as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) in Fort Benning, Georgia. Just two months later, the "Skytroopers" deployed to Vietnam. In November 1965, the 5th Cavalry saw heavy combat during the Battle of Ia Drang and Captain George Forrest of Alpha Company, 1-5 CAV received praise from LTC Hal Moore for his heroics in the fight. When the campaign ended later that month, First Team troopers had killed over 3,500 North Vietnamese soldiers and destroyed two of the three regiments of a North Vietnamese division. As a result, the First Team was awarded the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam.

In August 1966, the 5th Cavalry saw heavy combat once again, this time on Hill 534 near the Cambodian border. Alpha Company, 1-5 CAV and Bravo Company, 2-5 CAV got into an intense firefight with enemy soldiers in a bunker complex. When the fight was over, 138 NVA bodies were found.

On 21 November 1966, during Operation Paul Revere IV, Company C, 1-5 CAV was operating along the Cambodian border when 2nd and 3rd Platoon came under fire from a significant NVA force. The two platoons, heavily outnumbered, were caught in a desperate fight. 3rd Platoon was overrun with only one man surviving while 2nd Platoon suffered over 50% casualties and was saved by the arrival of air support armed with napalm. The NVA also suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the Black Knights, however, as they lost nearly 150 of their men.

On 31 January 1968, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive in an attempt to overrun parts of South Vietnam. Elements of 1-5 CAV responded to the enemy's attack on Quang Tri City and succeeded in destroying the heavy weapons support positions of the NVA and attacked the enemy from the rear.

The Black Knights became the "First into Cambodia" on 1 May 1970 when they were air inserted into the Fishhook region of the border. The Black Knights occupied the towns of Mimot and Snoul, scattered enemy forces, and deprived them of supplies and ammunition. This mission proved one of the First Team's most successful: the division destroyed the equivalent of three NVA divisions' manpower. This was the last of the Black Knights' major operations in Vietnam; less than a year later, the First Team's official duties in Vietnam ended.

In May 1971, the units moved to Fort Hood.

In 1974, when the 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized from the "Tricap Division" into an Armored Division, the First Battalion was reorganized into a mechanized infantry battalion, while the Second Battalion became an armor battalion.

Gulf War[edit]

On 12 August 1990, both the 1st and 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, were alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert Shield to aid in the defense of Saudi Arabia against potential Iraqi attack. The First Team moved to the remote Assembly Area Horse (AA Horse) in the Saudi desert and began three months of intensive training. During this time, division leadership planned the First Team's role as the theater counterattack force - the force that would defeat any Iraqi attack into Saudi Arabia. They were followed by 3rd and 5th Battalions, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade (Ready First), 3rd Armored Division (Spearhead) Ayers Kaserne (The Rock), Kirchgoens, West Germany (redesignated from 2/36 INF and 3/36 INF) on 1 January 1991 to June 1991.

In January 1991, the division was attached to VII (US) Corps and the focus of the First Team clearly began to shift toward offensive action. The First Team was repositioned into a key strategic location covering the historic Wadi al Batin approach into Saudi Arabia and threatening Iraq along the same avenue into western Kuwait, completing defensive preparations along the Tapline Road. The First Team began a calculated war of deception along the Saudi border. The goal was to lure Saddam Hussein into believing the main ground attack of the Allies would come up the Wadi al Batin, a natural invasion route, causing him to reposition additional forces there.

From 7 to 20 February, the offensive lines of the 1st Cavalry Division crept north in preparation for Operation Desert Storm. Desert Storm's first major ground encounter was on 19 February 1991, when the division's 2nd Brigade conducted Operation Knight Strike I, named for the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Black Knights. 1-5 CAV's Alpha Company made contact 10 kilometers into the Iraqi Desert; the company's Bradleys laid a base of fire while the tank companies attacked. The Black Knights savagely destroyed an Iraq battalion in only minutes.

On 24 February 1991, in the opening days of the ground war, the mission of the First Cavalry Division was to conduct a feint up the Wadi al Batin, creating the illusion that it was the Allies main ground attack. The Blackjack Brigade moved into Iraq on a reconnaissance in force. . The Blackjack Brigade moved out promptly at 1700, moving north in a limited attack to fix the enemy's focus on the Wadi. Blackjack moved forward reaching enemy fire trenches, hundreds of meters long, filled with burning oil. Clouds of acid oil smoke and flying sand reduced visibility. The Knights attacked straight at the fire trenches. On 25 February, around noon, the brigade was ordered back from the Wadi. They withdrew south to rejoin the division for the subsequent series of final attacks. Meanwhile, far to the west, the VII Corps and the XVIII Airborne had already begun a deep strike into Iraq.

The enemy reacted as anticipated. Iraqi divisions focused on the coalition threat in the Wadi, and the First Team froze them. The deception worked, in that it tied down four Iraqi divisions, leaving their flanks thinned and allowed the VII Corps to attack virtually unopposed, conducting a successful envelopment of Iraqi forces to the west. Having fulfilled their assigned mission of deception, the following day, General Norman Schwarzkopf issued the famous command:

"Send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home."

At 1000 26 February, in the approximate center of the allied line along the Wadi al Batin, the 1st Cavalry Division swung west, crossed the 1st Infantry Division's breach sites and moved up the left side of VII Corps' sector. By late 26 February, the division had attacked north into a concentration of Iraqi divisions, whose commanders remained convinced that the Allies would use the Wadi al Batin and several other wadis as avenues of attack. The 1st Cavalry found and destroyed elements of five Iraqi divisions, evidence that they had succeeded in their deception.

By mid afternoon 27 February, after a high-speed 190 mile move north and east, slicing into the enemy's rear, the First Team joined in with the 24th Division. The dust storms had cleared early in the day, revealing the most awesome array of armored and mechanized power fielded since World War II. In a panorama extending beyond visual limits 1,500 tanks, 1,500 Bradleys and armored personnel carriers, 650 artillery pieces, and supply columns of hundreds of vehicles stretched into the dusty brown distance as they rolled east through Iraqi positions.

By 28 February 1991, when the cease-fire ordered by President Bush went into effect, the Iraqis had lost 3,847 of their 4,280 tanks, over half of their 2,880 armored personnel carriers, and nearly all of their 3,100 artillery pieces. Only five to seven of their forty-three combat divisions remained capable of offensive operations.

The 3rd Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Brigade (Ready First), 1st Armored Division was deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina in December 1995. The Battalion operated out of Camp McGovern near Brcko, BiH. Attached to the battalion was Special Operation Detachment Gypsy. Gypsy Team was the civil military operations (CMO) direct support team in Brcko. The team deployed in January 1996 and left the theatre in July 1996.

In 1992, Delta Co. 2/5th was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for guard duty on Haitian Immigrants camps setup on the Naval Base.[citation needed]

Bosnia peacekeeping[edit]

3-5 Cav crossed the Sava River from Croatia into Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina on Christmas Day 1995. The formal designation was Task Force 3-5 as the Task Force was augmented by "slices" from the armored unit to reinforce the combat power of the Task Force. The unit was commanded by then LTC Anthony Cucolo III who went on to attain the rank of Major General.

The location of the base called "McGovern Base"near the highly disputed city of Brcko located in the Posavina Corridor. The location of the unit in this location was designed to separate the former warring factions as part of the Dayton Peace Agreement. The unit spent nearly nine (9) months in the area as part of the Implementing Force (IFOR).

Brcko remains a disputed city and today, some nearly 20 years later remains under the jurisdiction of the international community because of its strategic importance to both the Serbs and the Bosnians. Bosnia today remains gripped in post war issues with unemployment at 25% plus; the government is a rotating presidency between the former warring factions.

On 7 October 1998, The First Cavalry Division assumed authority of the MultiNational Division (North) area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the 1st Armored Division. As part of the 1st Cavalry Division, 1-5 CAV's mission was to conduct operations to enforce the military provisions set forth by the Dayton Accords.

Task Force 1-5 CAV in Bosnia consisted of a Headquarters Company, two mechanized infantry companies, three armor companies, a military intelligence company, an engineer company and numerous attachments. The Task Force patrolled its sector of Multinational Division (North) as a part of Stabilization Force Five from 20 March 1999 to 20 September 1999.

During the six months, squads and platoons from the 1st CAV Division conducted over 9,000 combat patrols and escorted over 1000 convoy movements over some of the most rugged terrain and austere conditions. The soldiers conducted hundreds of weapons storage site inspections, established vehicle checkpoints designed to monitor and control movement and often conducted searches for and seizures of illegal contraband and weapons.


The 5th Cavalry Regiment comprises two battalions, both part of the 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Battalion is assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, while the 2nd Battalion is assigned to the 1st Brigade Combat Team. Both units are combined-arms units with two M1 Abrams tank companies, two M2 Bradley mechanized infantry companies and an engineer company.The 1st battalion was deployed again to the Middle East, this time to Kuwait leaving in December 2000, and returning in April 2001.

Soldiers of 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment on patrol near Ur, Iraq. (2009)

The "Black Knights" returned to Southwest Asia in March 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. Task Force 1-5 (TF 1-5) was assigned to the Kadamyia District of western Baghdad. In August 2004 the 1st battalion was shifted from stability operations in Kadamiya to go and fight the Madi Army in Al Najaf. After completing the mission in Al Najaf, TF 1-5 returned to Baghdad to resume operations in the Kadamyia District. In November 2004 the 1st battalion was again ordered to assist in the retaking of Al Fallujah. Once the city was under coalition control TF 1-5 moved to North Babil to support the election process in Iraq. From October 2006 to January 2008, TF 1-5 was deployed to the Mansour District of western Baghdad. The majority of the deployment the battalion was attached the Dagger Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division. Task Force 1-5 fought in Al Amiriya bringing that section of the city under control with the help of one of the first Sons of Iraq movements. In January 2008, TF 1-5 redeployed back to Fort Hood, Texas. In January 2009, TF 1-5 again deployed to Iraq. This time the battalion operated in Al Adamyiah. After the SOFA went into effect the battalion moved north to Camp Taji and took over areas north of the camp. In 2004 Task Force LANCER 2-5 Cav was assigned responsibility for Sadr City, in the north-eastern portion of Baghdad. The battalion conducted over 80 days of sustained combat during the initial months of the deployment. After another 30 days of combat, the task force focused on rebuilding the infrastructure and training Iraqi security forces. These efforts contributed to the success of Iraq's first free elections in January 2005.

The United States Army has since reactivated another component of the 5th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, in the form of Delta Troop, 5th Cavalry Regiment; as the Brigade Reconnaissance Troop for the 170th Infantry Brigade, in Baumholder, Germany. Although a reflagging of G Troop, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division; the BRTs of Europe remain the Warding Eye and Fulda Gap presence in Germany. Also Echo Troop, 4th Cavalry Regiment, has been reflagged to Echo Troop, 5th Cavalry Regiment, of the 172nd Infantry Brigade in Grafenwoehr, Germany.

In May 2011, the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division deployed to COB Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. During its time there, the Black Knights routinely conducted patrols through the city of Tikrit and the surrounding neighborhoods, provided route security for retrograde operations through and south of the city limits, and conducted terrain denial missions against insurgency rocket launch sites. Additionally, Charlie Company was positioned at the Bayji Oil Refinery to both provide additional security to the site and to conduct combat operations in the surrounding area. In October 2011, the Black Knights transitioned to the Strategic Reserve Force in support of Operation New Dawn. With the beginning of this mission, the 1st Battalion conducted several three-day retrograde operations to Camp Buehring, Kuwait. However, Alpha Company remained at COB Speicher an additional ten days, to conduct COB sustainment operations and facilitate the transition of the facility to civilian security contractors. Once this mission was complete, Alpha Company departed and joined the 1st Battalion at Camp Buehring. Following a month of intense daily training, the Black Knights redeployed to Fort Hood, Texas the last day of November in 2011.

In October 2012, D Troop inactivated with the 170th Infantry Brigade. E Troop and the 172nd Infantry Brigade inactivated in May 2013.

In July 2013, the Black Jack Brigade deployed to Afghanistan. The Black Knights were sent to RC-East, one of Afghanistan's most dangerous areas, where it was positioned at Bagram Airfield and FOBs Airborne, Goode, Gardez, Sharana, Shank, Ghazni. 1-5 CAV conducted a variety of missions in Afghanistan, including serving as a Theater Reserve Force. The Black Knights area of operations covered over thirteen thousand square miles of Afghanistan while conducting convoy security and route clearance operations, both of which contributed to theater retrograde operations. The actions of the Black Knights directly resulted in the closure of FOBs Sharana and Goode, in addition to the de-scoping of numerous other FOBs. The 1st Battalion received a Meritorious Unit Citation for its actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Current status[edit]

Medal of Honor Recipients[edit]

Civil War

CPT Abraham K. Arnold, 1LT Charles H. Tompkins

Indian Wars

1LT John B. Babcock, SGT James E. Bailey, 1SG Clay Beauford, SGT Daniel Bishop, SGT James Brown, William Cody, 1SG William L. Day, SGT George Deary, PVT Michael Glynn, SGT Edward P. Grimes, 1LT William P. Hall, SGT Frank E. Hill, 1SG James M. Hill, PVT George Hooker, CPL John Kyle, SGT John S. Lawton, PVT James Lenihan, SGT Patrick Martin, PVT Michael McCormick, SGT John Merrill, CPL George Moquin, CPL Edward F. Murphy, 1SG Henry Newman, PVT John Nihill, Wilhelm O. Philipsen, SGT John A. Poppe, CPL Hampton M. Oach, PVT Eben Stanley, 1SG Rudolph Stauffer, SGT Bernard Taylor, 1SG James H. Turpin, SGT Rudolph Von Medem, 1SG Jacob Widmer

World War II

PFC William J. Grabiarz, SGT Troy A. McGill

Korean War

1LT Lloyd L. Burke, 1LT Samuel S. Coursen, 1LT Robert M. McGovern, MSG Mike C. Pena

Vietnam War

SGT Jesus S. Duran, SP5C Charles C. Hagemeister, SP4C Carmel B. Harvey, Jr., SP4C George A. Ingalls, PFC Billy L. Lauffer, SP5C Edgar L. McWethy, Jr.


  • Garvin, Paul M. (1981). Policing the Plains: The 5th U.S. Cavalry in the Military Division of the Missouri, 1868–1888. unpublished M.A. thesis, Pittsburg State University. OCLC 8599986. 

External links[edit]