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, remained home based in Germany until 1992, including a deployment to the Middle East during Desert Shield/Desert Storm 1990-91 where the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment devastated the elite Iraqi Republican Guard at the Battle of 73 Easting during the last great tank battle of the 20th Century. After returning to the US, the regiment was deployed to Haiti in 1995, Bosnia in 1997, and Kuwait and Iraq 2003-04. The regiment returned to Germany in 2006 as the 2d Stryker Cavalry Regiment and since then has deployed to Iraq 2007-08, and Afghanistan 2010-11 and 2013-14, the last two as 2d Cavalry Regiment, the current designation. Different squadrons of the regiment are currently deployed in numerous eastern European countries on joint training missions with host country armies while the home base for the regiment is Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany.(updated 12/21/2018 - D.Michel)


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