SECOND UNITED STATES CAVALRY – A HISTORY
Compiled, edited and published by Historical Section, Second Cavalry Association
Maj. A. L. Lambert and Cpt. G. B. Layton, 2d Cavalry
In April 1918 the Second Cavalry landed in France and was in the Toul sector within three weeks of leaving home. “I should consider myself fortunate to again have your splendid Regiment a part of my command”, wired General Pershing to Colonel West when the Second left Jolo in 1912, and his word was fulfilled, when half a world away, thirty-one of it’s troopers landed with him as his escort, first in England, then in France, as Headquarters Troop at Chaumont.
The Regiment followed and gained the unique distinction of being the only American Cavalry to remain mounted to reach the firing line. They fought in the Aisne-Marne offensive in July 18 – August 6, 1918, when the American First and Second Divisions smashed in the west face of the German Marne Salient at Soissons. Detachments from the Regiment took part in the Oise-Aisne offensive, August 18 – September 11, but the greatest commendation was gained by the Second Cavalry for it’s part in the reduction of the St. Mihiel Salient, Sept. 12-16, when Troops A, B, C, D, F, G and H under Lt. Col. O.P.M. Hazzard were attached to the American First Division of the Fourth Army Corps, making the main effort of the American First Army in France.
General Pershing massed six divisions on an eighteen mile front, so something had to give. The 1st Division jumped off by passing Mont Sec, which the French had assaulted for years in vain, and reached the line Heudicourt-Nosard. Here the Squadron passed through the forests of La Belle Oziere, Nonsard, and Vigneulles, scouted the open country as far as Heudicourt, Creue, and Vigneulles, eventually advancing to St. Maurice, Woel, and Jonville, pursuing the enemy, fighting his rear guard, capturing numerous prisoners, forcing deployment and delaying his retreat, in fact, doing everything that so small a force could accomplish.
This action was followed by the final Allied offensive, the Meuse-Argonne, Sept. 26 to Nov. 11, 1918, with the Second Cavalry being attached to the American 35th Division, the left flank of eight divisions then attacking between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. The plan of the American First Army was to bypass the strong points of Montfaucon and Romagne on both sides and seize the high ground at Barricourt with a converging effort, which would shatter all German positions before Sedan.
The 35th Division spearheaded the assault on the left, in an engagement where the troops of the Second Cavalry “during the six days battle at Vauquois, Bois de Rossigny, Quvrage D’Aden, Cheepy, Charpentry, Baulny, Bois de Montre Beau, and Exermont from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2, 1918, accomplished their tasks with fearlessness, courage and disregard of danger and hardship.” (quote by P. E. Traub, Major Gen. Commanding 35th Division)
The 159th Inf. Brigade further commended 2nd Lt. C. Thomas, Sgt. South, Private Naylor, and 15 other men from Troop C, Second Cavalry, for the operation North of Busancy and in Beaumont from Nov. 3 – Nov. 6, patrolling the entire front of the Division sector in advance of the Infantry which resulted in military information of great value, riding into machine gun and artillery swept areas time and time again and drawing fire in successful efforts to aid the advance of the Infantry by locating machine gun nests and enemy parties digging in.
From Beaumont American artillery dominated 20 miles of the German main supply line to the Western Front – the Montmedy-Sedan rail line.
With the Germans driven across the Meuse at Sedan the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11 marking the cessation of hostilities. The Second Cavalry remained with the Army of Occupation in Germany at Coblenz until August 1919 when it returned to the States for duty at Fort Riley, Kansas.