The 3d Cavalry Regiment was first organized in 1846 as an elite Mounted Riflemen Regiment that combined the mobility of the cavalry horse with the shock of heavy infantry and the long range effective fire power of the new rifled musket. The Mounted Rifles were formed to safeguard settlers on the frontier, but the outbreak of the Mexican War necessitated their deployment to Mexico that year. The Regiment distinguished itself throughout the Mexican War from its first battle at Vera Cruz to the storming of Chapultepec Fortress in Mexico City, earning it the title, "Brave Rifles." Don Prechtel's painting, Brave Rifles-Veterans, commemorates their baptism of fire in Mexico.
General Winfield Scott, commanding the US forces in Mexico, provided one of the Regiment's oldest traditions with his accolades, "Brave Rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood, and come out steel."
The Mounted Rifles distinguished themselves most during the Mexican War when they, as part of a hand-picked task force, stormed the castle of Chapultepec and secured the Belen Gate, opening the way into Mexico City.
After the Mexican War, the Regiment moved back to the frontier where it engaged hostile Indians in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. When the Civil War started the Regiment was stationed along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico. At that time, the US dragoon and mounted rifle regiments were re-designated cavalry, and the Mounted Riflemen became the 3d US Cavalry Regiment. The Regiment's most notable service during the Civil War was its participation in the New Mexico Campaign, scene the war's westernmost battles. The 3d Cavalry helped to stop the Confederate invasion by destroying the enemies supply train (as depicted in the image shown here).
The 3d Cavalry Regiment fought hostile Indian's on the frontier for many years, and it is from this era that the unit draws upon its cavalry traditions. This image depicts Major Albert Payson Morrow, who became the 10th Colonel of the Regiment, in Paris, France in 1880. He wears the officer dress uniform of the Late Indian Wars era.
The 3d Cavalry Regiment's most notable Indian Wars battle was the Battle of Rosebud Creek. A combined force of the 3d Cavalry and friendly Indian allies engaged and defeated the hostile Lakota Sioux on June 17, 1876. George Capps' painting Saving Captain Henry depicts the battle. It was from the Sioux tribe that the regiment adopted its motto, "Ai-ee-yah," the Sioux word for "attack!"
Sergeant Michael A. McGann, Company F, was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the Battle of Rosebud Creek. McGann rushed into a group of enemy braves to rescue the Company bugler who had been shot through both arms, was surrounded, and was about to be finished off by the foe. McGann is pictured here over ten years after the battle wearing an Army-issue buffalo coat.
The 3d Cavalry had a pivotal role in the Spanish American War, leading the attacks in Santiago, Cuba against enemy positions on San Juan and Kettle Hills. These images show the Regiment's troopers in Tampa, Florida before their deployment. Company F is shown with its horses, and Company B is configured as infantry. All cavalry regiments were dismounted before the campaign and fought as such since there was not adequate transportation to send the horses to Cuba.
"Old Bill," depicted here, is the Regiment's unofficial mascot. Western artist, Frederic Remington, visited the Army in Florida, and selected one of the 3d Cavalry's soldiers as the subject of his famous sketch that was to embody the essence of the US cavalry trooper. Remington choose Sergeant John Lannen, a thirty-year career soldier, and a man held in high esteem by his officers and men. Ironically, Lannen died during campaign in Cuba of yellow fever, just months before his retirement from the service. Lannen, however, has been immortalized in Remington's artwork.
The 3d Cavalry deployed to France with the American Expeditionary Force in World War One, but few of its members saw combat. Instead, the Regiment provided a vital logistical role for the Allied forces, issuing horses and mules to the American, French and British armies as the theater's chief remount depot.
In the period between World Wars One and Two (Interim War period), the Army re-considered the viability of an equine force compared to a motorized force. The 1941 General Headquarters maneuvers demonstrated the superiority of motorization over the use of equines, and by 1942 motorization had superseded the horse in the US military. This image shows the Regiment in the waning days of the horse cavalry.
Staff Sergeant Frank Witchey
The 3d Cavalry's bugler, Staff Sergeant Frank Witchey, plays taps at the Tomb of the Unknown in the Interim War period. Witchey's bugle and tabard had been in use since 1921, and are part of the Regiment's historical collection.
At the outbreak of World War Two, in February 1942, the Regiment re-organized as the 3d Cavalry Mechanized and traded its horses for M8 armored scout cars. The M8 Greyhound was less romantic than the horse, but full motorization was necessary on the modern battlefield in Europe.
This image shows 3d Cavalry troopers with the M8 Greyhound. The Regiment continued to operate in the traditional role of cavalry, conducting reconnaissance and screening operations. The unit fought in Europe from August 1944 until the war ended in May 1945. It was attached to XX Corps of General Patton's 3d Army. In that time, it saw action in all of the major battles in France and Germany, ending the war in Austria.
After World War Two, the 3d Cavalry reorganized as the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment for the Cold War. The Regiment was equipped with tanks and armored personnel carriers, and trained as an armor unit for heavy mechanized, conventional warfare. The 3d ACR played a critical role as part of NATO, defending Western Europe and deploying on REFORGER (Return Forces to Germany) every two years (when stationed in the States).
The 3d ACR proved the value of its Cold War training when it deployed for the Gulf War during Desert Storm. The superiority of the US Army's training, doctrine and equipment prevailed easily over the Iraqi army armed with Soviet and East Bloc equipment. Following Desert Storm, the 3d ACR began to re-organize for counter-insurgency and peace-keeping missions.
The 3d Cavalry has changed greatly in the last twenty years, shifting its doctrine and equipment to face new combat roles: counterinsurgency, internal stability and train-advise-assist missions. The helicopters often used to move troopers to the battlefield are a far cry from the horse of yore, but the function is the same: to deploy troopers rapidly to the scene of action. The Regiment has also reverted to its traditional name since 2012: the 3d Cavalry Regiment.
The 3d Cavalry's distinctive regimental insignia, affectionately called the "Bug," due to its shape, was adopted in 1922 and reflects the unit's lineage. The trumpet, or hunter's horn, was the traditional, universal symbol of all mounted infantry regiments in Western armies, and harkens back to the Regiment's original designation. The inscription, "3, Brave Rifles" carries the Regiment's number and motto. The green and yellow colors symbolize the original branch colors used by the Regiment of Mounted Rifles from 1846 to 1861. The gray color of the letters and the numeral "3" simulates the color of steel and refers to the motto, "Blood and Steel."
The 3d Cavalry's coat of arms, adopted in 1921, has symbolism in each of its parts. The green shield symbolizes the facing color of the mounted rifles uniform, and reflected the universal use of green for rifle regiments. The white cross commemorates the Regiment's first combat: the Battle of Vera Cruz. The green tower symbolizes the capture of Chapultepec Fortress in Mexico City, and uses the color green to signify one of the colors in the Mexican flag. The top section includes the red and yellow symbol of Lorraine that commemorates the Regiment's World War One service. The coat of arms is surmounted by the hunter's horn: the universal symbol for rifle regiments.
From the Regiment's first combat in Mexico to today's counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan, the Troopers of the 3d Cavalry carry on the traditions of honor and sacrifice, fighting America's wars. The images here depict a Mounted Rifleman of yesteryear contrasted with today's Mounted Warrior: the commitment and fighting spirit remains unchanged.