An Overview of the Employment of Cavalry in History, with an Emphasis on the State Defense Force of the United States of America in the 21st Century
Contributor(s)MARYLAND DEFENSE FORCE PIKESVILLE MD
KeywordsHumanities and History
Military Forces and Organizations
*MILITARY FORCES(UNITED STATES)
FIRST WORLD WAR
SECOND WORLD WAR
SEARCH AND RESCUE
*STATE DEFENSE FORCES
MDDF(MARYLAND DEFENSE FORCE)
URBAN CROWD CONTROL
LARGE ANIMAL RESCUE
SABER QUALIFICATION COURSE
STATE MILITARY RESERVES
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AbstractThis article presents a historical overview of the role of horse cavalry in armies from the 18th to the 21st centuries. From 1750 to 1854, the cavalry was used for reconnaissance, line of supply protection, flank and rear protection, to fall on a wavering enemy, and to pursue a beaten enemy. This period was the height of the mounted cavalryman. The period 1854-1914 began with one of the most celebrated and criticized actions in history, the Charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade at Balaclava in the Crimea. Some of the finest light cavalry in the world charged into a valley bristling with Russian artillery and were subsequently decimated. With the advent of rifled artillery and small arms with a greater range and rate of fire, the cavalry charge was a decidedly risky tactic that had to be used wisely. During the period 1914-1945, the invention of the machine gun and the static trench warfare that developed in World War I heralded the beginning of the true demise of the cavalry on the modern battlefield. Yet in World War II, contrary to popular belief, most of the supplies and artillery of the armies of the world were horse drawn. In the post World War II era to the present day, some low intensity conflicts have seen the use of cavalry in challenging terrain and where the logistical or cultural situation makes it advantageous to use mounted troops (e.g., Afghanistan). Today, horse cavalry are still being used in state defense forces for ceremonial purposes, public relations, military recruiting, rural search and rescue (SAR), urban crowd control, remote medical evacuation, and homeland security and disaster relief missions. Cavalry Troop A of the Maryland Defense Force currently consists of 20 officers, troopers, and their mounts. The Troop has two missions: (1) function in a ceremonial role for the Maryland Military Department as an aid in recruiting and public relations, and (2) partner with Maryland agencies as a rural terrain mounted SAR asset.
See also ADA494467. Published in the State Defense Force Monograph Series: Special Units, p17-26, Fall 2007. Creative Commons Attribution License. The original document contains color images.
Copyright/LicenseApproved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
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