History of the Second United States Cavalry

Cavalry Crossing a Ford

A line in long array where they wind betwixt green islands,
They take a serpentine course, their arms flash in the sun—
hark to the musical clank,
Behold the silvery river, in it the splashing horses loitering
stop to drink,
Behold the brown-faced men, each group, each person a
picture, the negligent rest on the saddles,
Some emerge on the opposite bank, others are just entering
the ford—while,
Scarlet and blue and snowy white,
The guidon flags flutter gaily in the wind.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Drum-Taps (1891-92)

Formed in 1836 as the Second Dragoons, the regiment served in Florida during the Seminole wars until 1842, then on the Louisiana and Arkansas frontier, in the war with Mexico from 1846 through 1848, on the frontier again from Kansas to New Mexico, in the Mormon Campaign of 1858, and then eastward in 1861 for the American Civil War, which is our period of interest.

During the conflict the regiment (renamed Second Cavalry 3 August 1861) served at:

After the conflict, the regiment served again on the western frontier during the "Indian" campaigns through 1890.  In 1898 a squadron served in Cuba during the Spanish American war, and afterward the whole Regiment served in the Philippine insurrection.

The old Second went to World War I France in 1918 with their horses and sabers, fighting in the summer and fall campaigns.  Finally giving up their horses and sabers in 1942, the unit served as the 2nd and 24th Mechanized Cavalry Squadrons in the World War II western Europe campaign as part of Patton's Third Army, providing highly mobile reconnaissance (called Patton's Ghosts by the German Wehrmacht).

Beginning in late 1945, the regiment patrolled the Iron Curtain borders through the Cold War period, finally returning to the States in the late 1970's.  Since then our namesake has served as the Second Armored Cavalry in the first Persian Gulf War, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.


Part 1: 1836 - 1842, Formation and Florida

Part 2: 1843 - 1846, Louisiana & Arkansas

Part 3: 1846 - 1848, The War with Mexico

Part 4: 1848 - 1860, Life on the Plains

SPECIAL ADDITION: History of the 1st US Cavalry (Dragoons)

Part 5: 1861 - 1865, The War of the Rebellion

SPECIAL ADDITION: Roster of all enlisted personnel in the 2nd US Cavalry


Part 6: 1865 - 1898, Back to the Frontier

Part 7: 1898 to today, The Dragoons ride on.

"The pageant is past.  The day is over.  But we linger, loath to think we shall see them no more together -- these men, these horses, these colors afield".

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain