After the Civil War, the U.S. Army in 1866 recast its myriad of legacy light cavalry and dragoon-type mounted rifle units into ten U.S. Cavalry Regiments, numbered 1-10. Of course, these included such historic units as the circa 1833 1st Dragoons, the 1836-dated 2nd Dragoons, the 3rd “Brave Rifles,” and the new Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cav. It was these ten regiments that held the line in the Old West, scattered in isolated detachments across the sparsely settled territories, only coming together in larger units for the assorted campaigns of the Plains Wars.
The first new mounted regiment formed after the big 1866 reorganization wasn’t until the 20th Century when the 11th Cavalry was constituted on 2 February 1901 and organized on 11 March 1901 at Fort Myer, soon thereafter leaving to fight insurgents in the Philippines.
Going on to serve in the Villa Expedition, they spent the Great War on the Mexican border– just in case– but, after hanging up their horses in 1942 became a mechanized unit and haven’t looked back.
Fighting their way across Northwest Europe in 1944-45, they remained stationed in Germany (while vacationing in Vietnam from time to time) as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment until 1993, waiting as a speedbump in the Fulda Gap for a Third World War that, gratefully, never kicked off. Since then, they have been the OPFOR at Fort Irwin.
The regiment this week celebrated their 120th.