13th Cavalry Regiment
|13th Cavalry Regiment|
13th Cavalry Regiment coat of arms
|Branch||United States Army|
|Type||Cavalry and armor|
|Nickname(s)||13th Horse (special designation)|
|Motto(s)||"It Shall Be Done"|
|Decorations||Meritorious Unit Commendation|
|Distinctive unit insignia|
U.S. Cavalry Regiments
|12th Cavalry Regiment||14th Cavalry Regiment|
The 13th Cavalry Regiment ("13th Horse") is a unit of the United States Army. The 2nd Squadron is currently stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, as part of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.
The 13th Cavalry Regiment was first constituted on 2 February 1901 in the Regular Army, and its first active component was K Troop. The Regiment was organized on 26 July 1901 at Fort Meade, South Dakota. Immediately following the American takeover of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Filipino leader Emilio Aguinaldo led a rebellion against American rule and the Philippine-American War erupted in 1899. By 1902, Aguinaldo had sworn allegiance to the United States and the war was officially declared to be over, but insurgents still plagued the countryside, prompting the deployment of the 13th Cavalry Regiment to the Philippine Islands. From 1903 to 1905 the 13th Cavalry conducted counter-insurgency operations against Filipino rebels and bandits until their return to the United States. In 1909 they returned to the Philippines and continued to conduct counter-insurgency operations until 1910.
In 1911, the 13th Cavalry’s headquarters was relocated to Fort Riley, Kansas, and their attention shifted to defending the US-Mexico border. From 1911 to 1916 the 13th Cavalry patrolled the desert landscape of the border on horseback, deterring bandito raids and protecting American border towns from the violence seeping over from the Mexican Revolution. On 30 August 1915 the 13th Cavalry was part of a posse that killed Pascual Orozco. The Mexican revolutionary was placed under house-arrest in El Paso, Texas for violating US neutrality laws, but managed to escape, until the Texas Rangers and 26 Troopers of the 13th Cavalry caught up to him and killed him.
Four Troops and the machine-gun platoon of the 13th Cavalry were posted at Camp Furlong, near Columbus, New Mexico when raiders under Pancho Villa attacked across the border on 9 March 1916. Under the command of COL Herbert Jermain Slocum, the troopers of the 13th Cavalry were initially taken by surprise by the nighttime raid, but 2LT John Lucas ran barefoot from his quarters to the guard tent and set up a hasty perimeter with a section of M1909 machine-guns. His counterpart, 2LT Horace Stringfellow Jr. led the remainder of the force to his relief and together the two small groups of 13th Cavalry troopers drove off the marauders, killing over one hundred in the process. Eight cavalrymen and nine civilians were killed in the surprise attack, known later as the Battle of Columbus. Intending to punish the transgressors, MAJ Frank Tompkins, Executive Officer of the 13th Cavalry, organized and led two Troops in a pursuit that stretched fifteen miles into Mexican territory before they turned back due to a lack of ammunition and water. MAJ Tompkins was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his gallantry and leadership during the battle.
This raid was a casus belli for President Woodrow Wilson, and he ordered GEN John “Black Jack” Pershing to lead a Punitive Expedition into Mexico on 16 March 1916. Four cavalry regiments, two infantry regiments, and two batteries of artillery comprised the main body of the expedition, and the 13th Cavalry was at the van, with MAJ Frank Tompkins taking point. In early April, MAJ Tompkins took Troops K and M (8 officers and 120 men) on a long-range raid across the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Following many days in the desert wilderness, Tompkins wrote; "We were ragged, shoes were gone and nearly everyone had a beard. We certainly presented a hard-boiled, savage appearance." On 12 April, the command reached the city of Parral, hoping to take a break from their hard desert ride. The sympathetic Mexican commander of the town, however, warned them it was not safe, and Tompkins moved out as soon as he arrived.
As the men left town, cries of “Viva Villa!” were heard and mere minutes later, bullets crashed into the American column, killing a Sergeant and wounding another man. 550 Carrancistas suddenly rode out of the desert and beset the men of the 13th Cavalry. Fighting a rear-guard action until they could reach the safety of the village of Santa Cruz de Villegas, Tompkins’ men had managed to kill 100 enemies. Although the 13th Cavalry troopers had reached temporary safety, their small command was in danger of being overwhelmed by the much larger force, but several Troops of the 10th Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) came to their aid and drove off the Carrancista riders. The Battle of Parral is regarded as the turning point of America’s Punitive Expedition.
GEN Pershing and his men marched 516 miles into Mexico and defeated rebels and government troops alike, but could not capture the elusive bandito, Pancho Villa. Despite his escape from justice, he never again raided into United States territory. American forces began their withdrawal from the country shortly after. The Mexican Expedition was the first major Army operation to involve motorized transport, airplanes, and tractors, but the rough terrain south of the border caused problems for the fledgling motorized units. Cavalry was able to traverse this ground and proved itself, once again, as a vital arm of the service, and the 13th Cavalry was instrumental in doing so. It was there, in Mexico, that the 13th Cavalry earned its special unit designation; “13th Horse,” for its gallant horsemanship in scouting and combat throughout the campaign.
When the United States entered the First World War in April of 1917, the 13th Cavalry remained on the southern border and patrolled the area until 1921. From 1921 to 1935, the Regiment served in Kansas, and was key in developing the Army’s future mechanized and armored force. In 1933 it was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Division and was transferred to the 7th Cavalry Brigade (Mechanized) in 1936. Here, the troopers dismounted their loyal horses for the final time and went on to become a fully mechanized unit. On 15 June 1940, the 13th Cavalry Regiment was redesignated as the 13th Armored Regiment (Light) and was assigned to the newly formed 1st Armored Division in Fort Knox, Kentucky. With the 1st AD, the Regiment trained to improve the new armored force and participated in the Arkansas, Louisiana, and Carolina Maneuvers of 1941, perfecting their trade.
World War II
On 7 December 1941, the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and thrust the United States into World War II. Also on 7 December, the Regiment was redesignated as the 13th Armored Regiment after their light tanks started to be replaced by larger ones. At the time, the 13th Armored was equipped with M3 Stuart light tanks for reconnaissance, and M3 Grant medium tanks for decisive action. On 11 December, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States as well, thus setting the stage for America’s involvement in a two-front war.
On 8 November 1942, almost a full year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allied American, Free French, and British armies launched Operation Torch, the seaborne invasion of French North Africa. The 13th Armored Regiment was assigned to the 1st Armored Division’s Combat Command B, or CCB, and was known as “Task Force Green” for the invasion. 1st and 2nd Battalion landed just west of Oran in Algeria, but France’s collaborationist government, Vichy France, was determined to resist the Allied invasion in order to save their country from further German retribution. At this time, the commander of the 13th Armored Regiment was COL Paul McDonald Robinett. Standing at five feet four, he was known to his men as “Little Napoleon,” “Little Caesar,” or “Robbie.” A cavalryman at heart, he was on the United States Olympic equestrian team and studied at the French cavalry school at Saumur. He offered a dollar to any soldier who could out-shoot him, and only one man ever collected.
Vichy French forces resisted the American landings, but could not stop the 1st Armored Division, and the 13th Armored Regiment entered the city of Oran two days after landing. At this point, most of the Vichy French soldiers joined the Free French and the Allied cause, and the Vichy government was dissolved by the Germans. The Vichy soldiers fought halfheartedly against an erstwhile enemy they didn’t hate, but the 13th Armored Regiment’s next enemy would not be so easy.
The German Afrika Korps was a battle-hardened enemy, and when the tanks of the 13th Armored Regiment first met enemy Panzers, they were the first American troops in World War II to encounter Panzer Mark IVs. Despite performing well in a series of small meeting engagements in the Tunisian desert, the Germans delivered the 1st Armored Division a stiff defeat at the Battle of Kasserine Pass in February 1943. At Kasserine Pass, Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel led a German combined-arms attack against the American and British positions. Their superior maneuver and weaponry defeated elements of the 13th Armor and forced the Americans back over 50 miles before they rallied and halted the enemy offensive. Despite being forced from their positions, 2nd Battalion 13th Armored Regiment made a stand at the town of Sbeitla in the face of the German advance.
G Company of the 13th Armor under CPT Herman T. McWatters covered the withdrawal of CCA along the Faïd-Sbeitla road, until they could be relieved by the rest of LTC Ben Crosby’s 3rd Battalion. From their positions, forward elements spotted a German armored column headed west towards the positions of 2nd Battalion at Sbeitla. Fortified in hull-down or partially concealed positions, 2nd Battalion awaited the enemy advance. Their right flank was covered by 2nd Battalion 6th Infantry, and the 1st Armored Division Reconnaissance Troop screened the flank and reported enemy movements. At least 40 tanks of the 21st Panzer Division were bearing down on them. Holding their concealed positions until the enemy drew near, the tanks of the 2nd Battalion 13th Armor opened fire when LTC J. Paul Gardiner commanded “Boys, let them have it!” 15 Panzers were destroyed or disabled, and the surprised enemy faltered, but the determined Germans managed to drive away 2nd Battalion’s supporting tank destroyers.
While the rest of the battalions in CCB withdrew, 2nd Battalion 13th Armored Regiment stayed in Sbeitla to cover the withdrawal. When LTC Gardiner asked permission to withdraw, he was told to hold on a little longer, so the rest of the command could get through Kasserine Pass. At 1730 on 18 February 2nd Battalion was finally permitted to withdraw to safety. The withdrawal under fire was perilous, and the battalion lost nine M3 Lee tanks. LTC Gardiner made sure he was the last man to leave the field, but his tank was destroyed in the process and he was severely wounded. Rommel later praised the battalion’s defense of Sbeitla, saying it was “clever and well fought.”
After Kasserine, the Allied forces recovered their losses, and the 13th Armored Regiment learned valuable lessons about armored warfare and their German adversaries. They walked away battered, but wiser. Spearheading the Allied drive east, the 1st Armored Division and the 13th Armor contributed to the Axis surrender in Africa on 13 May 1943. Taking this time to rest and refit, the 13th Armor received new tanks; M5 Stuarts for reconnaissance, and M4 Shermans for battle. The Sherman tank would become the Army’s workhorse, and over 50,000 would be produced by the end of the war.
With their new tanks, the 13th Armor landed on the Salerno beachhead on 9 September 1943 to join the Italian campaign. Italy, unlike Africa, was less suited to rapid armored warfare. The Germans broke dams and flooded the countryside whenever they withdrew so as to mire the Allied advance. The winding rivers and steep mountains also proved difficult for the 1st AD tanks to negotiate. Used mainly in an infantry support role, the advance north of Salerno was slow, and casualties were high. In order to bypass the formidable German defenses on the Gustav Line, LTG Mark W. Clark (commander of the US Fifth Army) ordered an amphibious assault at Anzio, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
CCA of the 1st Armored Division took part in these landings, but the 13th Armored Regiment and the rest of CCB remained south in the area of Cassino. Moving in conjunction with American, British, and French units, the 13th Armor steadily drove north to Rome. On the Anzio beachhead, the American forces were being overwhelmed by strong German counterattacks, so CCB was sailed north to rejoin 1st AD on 29 January 1944. Upon arrival to the Anzio beachhead, LTC Gardiner (recently returned to duty after his injury in Tunisia) remarked in his diary, “Our first sight as we drove inland was a shockingly large United States cemetery.” Soon after, the Division attacked the German lines and punched a salient into their flank near Campoleone but were forced to withdraw after a counterattack by German Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring.
By 23 May, Fifth Army was poised to breakout from Anzio and link up with friendly forces to the south. 13th Armored units led the way, but unfortunately ran into an American minefield and lost many tanks when their tracks were blown off. Eventually, they blew a gap through the minefield and sallied forth and captured their objectives along the highway near Cisterna. Despite this setback, Allied forces soon broke out of the beachhead and drove on Rome. On 4 June 1944, Companies A and H of the 13th Armored Regiment were among the first Allied units to enter the Eternal City, the first Axis capital to be captured during the war.
Immediately after the capture of Rome, the Allied invasion of Normandy began on 6 June 1944, marking a shift in the Allied war effort. The Italian Front was no longer the priority, and the 1st Armored Division was reorganized in July 1944. The 13th Armored Regiment was reduced in size and Companies D, E, and F became the 13th Tank Battalion. The remaining Companies were spread out to refill or create new units. Despite a shifting of the war’s focus, the 13th Tank Battalion continued to fight its way north through Italy. The German defenders used a series of fortified lines along mountain ranges that made progress slow and bloody. The 13th Tank Battalion fought against the stalwart enemies in the North-Apennines Campaign and the Po Valley Campaign, and nearly reached the Swiss border by the time German forces in Italy surrendered on 2 May 1945.
In 1951 the 13th Tank Battalion was reactivated with the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas. It remained with the division throughout the 50s and 60s until 1971, when it became part of the 1st Cavalry Division for 3 years. On 20 June 1974, 13th Tank rejoined the 1st Armored Division at Illesheim, Germany until 20 February 1987, when the Battalion moved to Vilseck, Germany. 13th Tank remained here until 1988, when it was inactivated and re-designated to 2nd Battalion, 13th Armor at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
The Balkans and the War on Terror
From 1996–2008, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 1st Armored Division was stationed at Fort Riley, KS. In March 1996, the 3rd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment cased its colors and reflagged as the 1st Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment, with the unit's soldiers exchanging their 1st Infantry Division patches for the "Old Ironsides" patches of the 1st Armored Division. Lieutenant Colonel Richard G. Jung Sr. commanded the "Dakota" battalion from 1996–98, honoring the regiment's history with the battalion name and call sign. Called "13th Tank" by those who served in the unit, 1-13 AR was one of two armor/tank battalions in the Bulldog Brigade (under the command of then-Colonel Joseph F.H. Peterson, the eventual commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division).
In January 1997, the 3rd BCT's mechanized infantry battalion – the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment became the first CONUS-based battalion-sized unit and above to be alerted for deployment to Europe as part of the ongoing peacekeeping effort in the former Yugoslavia. As part of this task force, 1-13 AR's Alpha Company "Ironhorse" under the command of Captain Paul P. Reese, was task organized to 1-41 IN and deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Guard from March–October 1997. Stationed at Camp Dobol near the zone of separation (ZOS) as the first iteration of "SFOR" or the "Stabilization Force" after the designation changed from "IFOR" or the "Implementation Force" in early 1997, "Team Tank" conducted a variety of missions and patrols in accordance with the General Framework Agreement for Peace (GFAP) and corresponding rules of engagement (ROE) while operating within its area of responsibility. The company operated near the Bosnian-Serbian (Republika Srpska) towns of Šekovići, Bratunac and the infamous Srebrenica. A/1-13 AR consisted of 2 M1A1 tank platoons and 1 M2A2 Bradley platoon (1 organic tank platoon was detached and assigned to A/1-41 IN at Camp Demi). Ironhorse company returned to the 1st Battalion, 13th Armored Regiment in December, 1997 upon redeployment to Fort Riley at the successful completion of their mission.
In February 2003 the 3rd BCT began deploying units to Kuwait for the anticipated Invasion of Iraq. As the US led invasion began, the 2-70 Armor and 1-41 Infantry Battalions (3rd BCT), directly supported the 3rd Infantry Division as part of the initial US advance into Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As part of the 3rd BCT, the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment (TF Dakota), began deployment to Iraq 1 April 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The BCT and subsequently the battalion, were attached to the 3rd Infantry Division, and controlled the Kadhimiya area of Baghdad, and was redeployed to Fort Riley, KS 2 April 2004.
Less than a year later, in February 2005, the 3rd BCT deployed to Iraq for a second time, again attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. The TF was primarily stationed north of Baghdad in the Taji, Mushahda, Tarmiyah, Husseiniya, and Rashidiya districts. The unit was redeployed to Ft. Riley, KS in January 2006.
In March 2008 the 3rd BCT "was inactivated ... as part of the redeployment of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division from Germany to Fort Riley. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was reflagged as the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in the process. 3rd Brigade was subsequently reorganized and redesiganted as 3rd Brigade Combat Team, an Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and reactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas, home of the 1st, 4th, and 5th Brigade Combat Teams, 1st Armored Division."
The 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment stood up in 2008 as part of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armor Division at Ft Bliss, TX. The Squadron deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from May 2009 to May 2010. The 1st Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment ("Warhorse") stood up in 2009 as part of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, TX.
After returning home to Fort Bliss from Iraq in May 2010, the 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment immediately began preparing for redeployment to Iraq scheduled for August 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn. In April 2011, the squadron completed a rotation at the Army's National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California in preparation for deployment to Iraq. The unit again deployed to Iraq in July 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn as part of the Army's first successful Advise and Assist Brigade. The Squadron's efforts at this critical juncture set the conditions for the peaceful withdraw of U.S. Forces from Iraq in December 2011. Once again, the unit deployed in part as the Army's Security Force Advisory and Assistance Team in 2012 to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Following the 4th Brigade's re-flagging as 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division in 2015, 1-13 Cavalry inactivated on 15 April 2015 as part of the Brigade's inactivation, and the 2nd Squadron 13th Cavalry Regiment participated in the Brigade's Regionally Aligned Force mission throughout the continent of Africa. The Squadron sent Troopers on various train and assist missions to multiple countries on the African continent to include: Malawi, Morocco, Ethiopia, Namibia, and Zambia. As a result of these missions, the Squadron directly supported the United Nations' Peace Keeping operations, enhanced the Army's geo-political impact, and increased the readiness of America's African allies and partners throughout the continent.
In July 2016, 2-13 Cavalry Squadron assumed responsibility of the US Army Central Command theater security cooperation and partnership missions at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in support of Operation Spartan Shield. By strengthening partnerships with the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, the Royal Army of Oman, and the Kingdom of Bahrain, the efforts of the entire Squadron contributed to peace and stability in the region.
- 2nd Squadron is the armored reconnaissance squadron of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. With the inactivation of 1-13 CAV in April 2015, 2nd Squadron became the Regimental Home-Base Squadron. It currently remains the only active Squadron currently in the 13th Horse Regiment.
- List of armored and cavalry regiments of the United States Army
- 78th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
- 79th Field Artillery Regiment (United States)
- "Special Unit Designations". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
- Atkinson, Rick. An Army at Dawn.
- 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division
- 13th Armor Regiment
- 1st Armored Division (United States)#Operation Iraqi Freedom
- Operation Lightning: Soldiers strike at Terrorists in Taji - DefendAmerica News Article