2d CAVALRY DIVISION
SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA
Description: On a yellow Norman shield with a green border, a blue chevron below two eight-pointed blue stars.
Symbolism: The shield is yellow, the Cavalry color. The stars are taken from the coat of arms of the 2d Cavalry, which was formerly a unit of the division.
|BG Terry Allen||April 1941 - May 1941|
|BG John Millikin||June 1941 - April 1942|
|BG John B. Coulter||May 1942 - June 1942|
|MG Harry H. Johnson||February 1943 - February 1944|
Placed on the rolls of the Army in 1921, the 2d Cavalry Division was not activated until April 1941. As part of the Protective Mobilization Plan, the division was reserved for activation at Fort Riley, Kansas, but due to manpower constraints it never reached full strength. The 2d received the appropriate number of cavalry regiments, but units providing the organic support and service troops remained unfilled. The first divisional activations came in October 1940, with the organization of the 3d Cavalry Brigade and the assignment of the 2d and 14th Cavalry. The 4th Cavalry Brigade activated during February 1941 with the 9th and 10th Cavalry as its cavalry regiments. These last two regiments, the only two available for assignment, were black units. The division, therefore, was unique to Army structure at that time, a racially mixed unit.
Split between Fort Riley and Camp Funston, Kansas, neither post having adequate facilities for the division's horse cavalry, personnel shortages continued and divisional elements were activated using provisional assets. General Milliken, the 2d Cavalry Division commander in June 1941, envisioned a combined use of mechanized and horse cavalry within the division. During July, Troop A, 2d Reconnaissance Squadron, was formed provisionally as a mechanized divisional element. The division, now organized with horses, scout cars, jeeps and motorcycles, spent most of the rest of the summer training with its new equipment.
The 2d Cavalry Division participated in the Second Army Maneuvers of late August as a component of the Red Forces facing the VII Corps' Blue Army. Given the task of capturing Arkansas and Louisiana, the 2d's mission ended on 9 September with divisional elements at Chatham, Louisiana. During the next week the division became part of a second training operation. This time the division served with the Second Army's Red Force, now challenging the Third Army's Blue Force. Second Army's first goal was to defeat and remove the Blue Forces from southern Louisiana, and then to keep the enemy from capturing Shreveport. At the close of these maneuvers the 2d Cavalry Division returned to Kansas, having prevailed with Blue Forces still forty miles from the city.
By November the 2d possessed a number of its organic support troops, although most were still functioning in a provisional status. The end of the month found the division involved in another set of training maneuvers. The operation, "PRACTICE BLITZKRIEG", was based in Kansas and finished with the 2d Cavalry Division's capture of Topeka. The exercise ended when the divisional military police unit seized the governor who feigned a surrender of the state.
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor triggered fears of assaults on the west coast and invasion threats from south of the border. A new emphasis was placed on the continent's western defenses and the division deployed its 3d Brigade to Arizona. General Coulter, the brigade commander, was also given command of the Southern Land Frontier Sector of the Western Defense Command. Under him the 2d Cavalry, stationed at Phoenix, and the 14th Cavalry at Tucson, patrolled the Mexican Border for the next seven months. Meanwhile the 4th Cavalry Brigade, still at Camp Funston, continuing an endless cycle of training. Constantly called on to provide cadre for new units, the 9th and 10th Cavalry routinely lost veteran personnel and received untrained recruits.
During the spring of 1942 a War Department decision to increase the number of armored divisions within the United States Army resulted in the planned conversion of the 2d Cavalry Division. White troops in the 3d Brigade were used in the formation of the 9th Armored Division. The 2d and 14th Cavalry were inactivated and their personnel transferred into the newly formed 2d and 14th Armored Regiments, both elements of the new armored division. On 15 July 1942 the 2d Cavalry Division was inactivated. The 4th Cavalry Brigade with its black regiments, however, remained active.
The activation of the 9th Armored Division created logistical problems at Fort Riley and Camp Funston. The installations that had accommodated a single division were now home to a division and an additional cavalry brigade. Consequently, the 4th Cavalry Brigade Headquarters and the 10th Cavalry, relocated to Camp Lockett, California. The 9th Cavalry, although still assigned to the brigade, moved to Fort Clarke, Texas.
As the number of black personnel entering the Army rose, the need for negro units for these soldiers to join also increased. In November 1942 the War Department directed that the 2d Cavalry Division would be reactivated, and that two new black regiments would be assigned. It was also announced that the 2d, now the Army's third black division, would remain divided between Texas and California. Construction was started at both posts since neither had the facilities to support an entire division. The work completed, the 2d Cavalry Division activated on 25 February 1943 with Headquarters at Fort Clarke. The 9th and 27th Cavalry, active at the Texas post, were the assigned troops of the 5th Cavalry Brigade. The 10th and 28th Cavalry, located at Camp Lockett, made up the 4th Cavalry Brigade.
Filled using recruits straight from the induction centers, the 2d Division spent most of the spring and summer of 1943 training its soldiers. The division provided these men with their basic training as well as instruction in Cavalry operations. The divisional training as a whole, however, would not be tested. Stating that there was no intrinsic need for a second cavalry division, the War Department had devised a plan to use the 2d Cavalry Division personnel to form needed service units. Black community leaders, reacting against the criticism of the performance of negroes in combat units, protested the possible conversion of the division. The debate over the capabilities of black units continued but the decision concerning the status of the 2d Cavalry Division was already made. The War Department ordered the division to be shipped overseas where the conversion would take place. During January 1944 the 2d Cavalry Division was dismounted and shipped back east for deployment abroad. Arriving in North Africa during March, the division began losing its elements that same month. Divisional units were inactivated and their personnel funneled into support and service units. The 2d Cavalry Division was inactivated on 10 May 1944 off the North African coast and has not been active since that time.
Last updated 3 October 2003