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.
Pursuant to orders received by General Wool, who had relieved General Taylor at Monterey, in northern Mexico, the companies on duty there, D, C, H, were ordered to duty in California and New Mexico. Lieutenant Colonel Washington was placed in command of the detachment, which also included three companies of the First Dragoons and a battery of artillery. Leaving Monterey July 25, 1848, they made a pleasant march to Chihuahua City, arriving there August 26.
While here they were hospitably received by the people, and the courtesies were returned by giving a review for the Governor. Upon leaving Chihuahua the detachment was split into two parts. Lieutenant Colonel Washington with Company H, under Lieutenant Pleasanton, and the First Dragoons and artillery took the road to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where they arrived October 10 for station. Companies D and E under Captain Graham and Lieutenant Campbell proceeded to California on an historic march. Traveling northwest they came to the Santa Cruz River and followed it down to Tucson, Arizona. Thence they marched to the Gila River, which was reached by the end of October, and the Colorado River on November 22. From there the march was a severe one on account of the scarcity of supplies. Many of the horses died for lack of food and the men nearly starved. They finally arrived at Los Angeles, January 9, 1849, for station. The effectiveness of Companies D, E, and H was greatly diminished by the numerous desertions on account of the California gold excitement. During May, Companies D and E moved to the Presidio of Monterey, and in July they transferred to Camp Stanton, New Mexico.
The following order illustrates the changes in customs at different periods. In 1874 Rodenbough says in his history of the regiment that if this General Order were published at that time, there would be hosts of resignations among the officers, as they would sacrifice comfort, friends, health, life, but never mustaches. Following is the order:
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT GENERAL’S OFFICE,
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 6, 1848
GENERAL ORDERS NO. 25
II. The hair to be short, or what is generally termed
“cropped”. The whiskers not to extend below the lower tip of the ear, and a line thence with the curve of the mouth. Moustaches will not be worn (except by cavalry regiments) by officers or men on any pretense whatever. (Army regulations, p. 215.)
The non-observance of the above regulation (tolerated during the war with Mexico) is no longer permitted. It is enjoined upon all officers to observe and enforce the regulation.
By order of the Secretary of War,
R. JONES, Adjutant General