ONE HUNDRED YEARS WITH THE SECOND CAVALRY
By Joseph I. Lambert, Major, Second Cavalry
Copyright 1939 Commanding Officer, Second Cavalry, Fort Riley, Kansas
Capper Printing Company, Inc.
For September 29 the squadron received orders to maintain liaison with the Ninety-first Division on the right and the Twenty-eighth Division on the left, and to prevent small groups of the enemy from infiltrating between those divisions and our own, the Thirty-fifth. This order was complied with by having Troop B cover the right, Troop F the left, and Troop H the center of the line, while Troop D was held in reserve at Charpentry but sent out patrols at intervals. The artillery fire was so heavy and the enemy observation so good that it was difficult to make much progress in the work. There were numerous casualties among the four troops, caused because of their inability to find concealment. The patrolling went on, no matter what the difficulties, and much valuable information was obtained, which was sometimes the only information of the front-line units available at the headquarters of the division.
This work was continued on the 30th except that the main body of each troop was kept concealed and small groups were sent out to obtain information, since they would draw less fire from the enemy. While passing through Apremont, First Lieutenant Clifton M. Burbank’s patrol of ten men from Troop F was struck by a shell and the lieutenant and four men were wounded. However, they sent back valuable information of the progress of the Twenty-eighth Division on the left. All of the patrols made progress with great difficulty as the Germans were defending this sector with much tenacity. As there was much confusion in some of the units of the division the work of locating and identifying organizations was extremely difficult. Later in the afternoon the squadron patrolled the roads and searched dugouts for stragglers from the division.
Troop D, under Captain James B. Taylor, was detached on September 30 for duty with the Fifth Army Corps at Avocourt, a few miles to the east. Here the troop began work as military police and regulating traffic. On October 18 the troop moved forward ten miles to Very, but left twelve men under command of First Lieutenant Robert B. Jackson to control traffic in Avocourt. Since arriving for duty with the Fifth Army Corps, seventeen men were assigned as mounted couriers at the advance message center of the corps. The detachment at Avocourt rejoined the troop at Very on November 4, and on the same day a detachment of one officer and fifteen men reported for duty at the headquarters Second Division at Bayonville. While a detachment of one officer and twenty-three men remained at Very, the troop headquarters reported to the Eighty-ninth Division at Barricourt on the 4th. The men on duty with these divisions performed patrol and liaison work between infantry units at the town of Fosse, Tailly, Beauclair, and Laneuville, and thence along the Meuse River to Pouilly and Beaumont, until the armistice.
Turning again to the Provisional Squadron (less Troop D), we find it doing duty with the First Division on October 1, because that division had relieved the Thirty-fifth on this day. The latter division had become somewhat disorganized as a result of the severe fighting of the last few days. Officer patrols were sent out on this date and the remainder of the troops camped at Cheppy. Horses were reshod, clothing was issued, and the sick and wounded men and horses were given better care. It was evident now that the horses were being depleted faster than the men, and very few animal replacements were arriving.
In compliance with orders from the First Division, the squadron was used for liaison between the brigades of the division and the two divisions on each flank. Additional patrols were sent out under the captains of the troops on October 10 for important liaison work with the brigades. Captain Lambert’s patrol from Troop H came under very heavy shell fire and lost one man killed, one wounded, and six horses killed and fifteen wounded. On the same date First Lieutenant John R. Breitinger, Troop B, reconnoitered the town of Sommerance, which was held by the enemy. On the 11th Captain Harmon, with a patrol of twenty men of Troop F, investigated the location of the front lines between Fleville and Sommerance. This same day the Forty-second Division relieved the First and the former continued to use the squadron in the same way, that is, as liaison troops. Lieutenant Colonel Hazzard was relieved from command October 12 for higher assignment.
The squadron was relieved October 17, and retired twelve miles to Camp Mallery near Rarecourt, where the regimental headquarters was located. The four troops of the squadron had 211 serviceable horses on October 18, a loss of one-third during the Meuse-Argonne battle. Two officers and fifteen men were wounded, and one man killed, but many others had become ill or exhausted from the severe work. The squadron was commended by the commander of the Thirty-fifth and First Divisions for the excellent work during the Argonne drive.
The squadron now ceased to operate as a unit. Troop F was ordered to Avocourt October 19 for duty as military police and traffic control with the Fifth Army Corps, remaining on this duty until the Armistice. A detachment of fifteen men of Troop F, under Lieutenant Clifton M. Burbank, reported to the First Division November 1 for patrol duty. It was on duty with this division at the time the attempt was made to reach Sedan ahead of the French, and was within two miles of that town November 9.
Troops B and H were now placed under the First Army Corps as military police. Troop B left Camp Mallery October 22 and marched to St. Menehould, a distance of fifteen miles, and continued on this same work. In the forward push the troop moved to Les Isletters on the 3rd of November, and to St. Juvin on the 4th, where it remained until the Armistice. Troop H was attached to the First Battalion, Military Police, and continued on duty with them in the vicinity of Fleury until the end of the war.