The history of the 1st Cavalry Division began in 1921 after the army established a permanent cavalry division Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) on April 4, 1921. It authorized a square division organization of 7463 officers and men, organized as follows, the Hqs Element (34 men), two Cavalry Brigades (2803 men each), one Field Artillery Battalion (790 men), one Engineer Battalion (357 men), the Division QM Trains Command (276 men), the Special Troops Command (337 men) and an Ambulance Company (63 men). On August 20, 1921, the War Department Adjutant General constituted the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions to meet partial mobilization requirements and authorized the establishment of the 1st Cavalry Division under the new TO&E on August 31, 1921. Since the 1-CAV was to assemble from existing units, it was able to go active in September 1921, even though the subordinate units did not arrive completely until as late as 1922.
The headquarters facilities used by the 1-CAV were those previously vacated by the 8th US Brigade when it was commanded by Gen John J. Pershing in 1916 and the wartime 15-CAV, which had existed at Fort Bliss between December 10, 1917, and May 12, 1918. The 1-CAV’s assembled at Douglas, Arizona. The 1-CAV-R, the 7-CAV-R, and the 8-CAV-R had previously been assigned to the wartime 15-CAV until they were returned to the VIII Corps Area troop list on May 12, 1918. The 1-CAV remained assigned until it was transferred to the 1-CAV on August 20, 1921. The 7, 8, and 10-CAV-Rs were transferred on September 13, 1921, although the assignment of the 10-CAV-R to the 1-CAV was controversial because the transfer violated the Jim Crow Laws (Jim Crow laws were state and local laws that enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. All were enacted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by White Democratic dominated state legislatures after the Reconstruction period. The laws were enforced until 1965). This controversy continued until December 18, 1922, when the 5-CAV-R also assigned to the VIII Corps Area swapped places with the 10-CAV-R.
In 1923, the 1-CAV held division maneuvers for the first time, intending to hold them annually thereafter. However, financial constraints made that impossible but in 1927, through the generosity of a few ranchers who provided free land, was the division able to conduct such exercises again. In 1928, Gen Herbert B. Crosby, Chief of Cavalry, faced with personnel cuts, reorganized the cavalry regiments, which in turn reduced the size of the 1-CAV. Crosby’s goal was to decrease overhead while maintaining or increasing firepower in the regiment. After the reorganization, each cavalry regiment consisted of a headquarters and headquarters troop; a machine gun troop; a medical and chaplain element; and two squadrons, each with a headquarters element; and two-line troops. The cavalry brigades machine gun squadrons were inactivated, while the responsibility for training and employing machine guns fell to the regimental commanders, as in the infantry. About the same time that Crosby cut the cavalry regiment, the army staff, seeking to increase the usefulness of the wartime cavalry division, published new tables of organization (TO&E) for an even larger unit. The new structure increased the size of the signal troop (177), expanded the medical unit to a squadron (233), and endorsed Crosby’s movement of the machine gun units from the brigades to the regiments (2X176). A divisional aviation section, an armored car squadron (278), and a tank company (155) were added, the field artillery battalion was expanded to a regiment (1717), and divisional strength rose to 9595.
With the arrival of the 1930s, serious work started on the testing and refining of new equipment and TO&Es for a mechanized and motorized army. To facilitate this, the 1-CAV traded the 1-CAV-R for the 12-CAV-R on January 3, 1933. Taking into account recommendations from the VIII Corps Area, the Army War College, and the Command and General Staff School, the board developed a new smaller triangular cavalry division, which the 1-CAV evaluated during maneuvers at Toyahvale, Texas, in 1938. Like the 1937 infantry division test, the maneuvers concentrated on the divisional cavalry regiments around which all other units were to be organized. Following the test, a board of 1-CAV’s officers, headed by Gen Kenyon A. Joyce, rejected the three-regiment division and recommended retention of the two brigade (four-regiment) organization. The latter configuration allowed the division to deploy easily in two columns, which was accepted as standard cavalry tactics. However, the board advocated reorganizing the cavalry regiment along triangular lines, which would give it an HQs and an HQs troop, a machine gun squadron with special weapons and machine gun troops, and three rifle squadrons, each with one machine gun and three rifle troops.
No significant change was made in the field artillery, but the test showed that the engineer element should remain a squadron to provide the divisional elements greater mobility on the battlefield and that the special troops’ idea should be extended to include the division headquarters, signal, and ordnance troops; Quartermaster, medical, engineer, reconnaissance, and observation squadrons; and a chemical warfare detachment. One headquarters would assume responsibility for the administration and disciplinary control of these forces. Although the study did not lead to a general reorganization of the cavalry division, the wartime cavalry regiment was restructured, effective December 1, 1938, to consist of an HQs and an HQs troop, a machine gun and a special weapons troops, and three squadrons of three rifle troops each. The special troops remained as structured in 1928, and no observation squadron or chemical detachment found a place in the division. With the paper changes in the cavalry divisions and other minor adjustments, the strength of a wartime divisional rose to 10.680.
In order to prepare for war service, the 1-CAV participated in the following maneuvers, Toyahvale Texas Maneuvers, October 7-30, 1939; Cravens-Pitkin Louisiana Maneuvers, August 13-24, 1940; Second 3rd Army Louisiana Maneuvers, August 10 – October 4, 1941, and the VIII Corps Louisiana Maneuvers near Mansfield Louisiana, July 27 – September 21, 1942. The unit staged at Camp Stoneman California from July 21, 1943, until departed the San Francisco Port of Embarkation (POE) on June 26, and arrived in Australia on July 11, where the unit was re-designated 1-CAV-(S) on December 4. The 1-CAV-(S) departed then Australia on December 18, and arrived in New Guinea 2 days later by echelon, the last contingent arriving on February 25, 1944. The division was then moved to Manus Island on March 5-15, 1944; left Manus Island on October 12, and landed in Leyte Philippines, on October 20. The 1-CAV-(S) left Leyte on January 24, 1945, and landed in Luzon Philippines, on January 26. Finally, the 1-CAV-(S) arrived in Japan on September 2, where it remained active until 1946.
1-CAV-(S) – Campaigns
New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, Luzon.
Location Aug 1945, Lucena, Batangas, Philippine Islands.
1-CAV-(S) Order of Battle (1941)
Hqs & Hqs Troops, 1st Cavalry Division
5th Cavalry Regiment
12th Cavalry Regiment
7th Cavalry Regiment
8th Cavalry Regiment
61st Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM-(HD)
62nd Field Artillery Battalion (105-MM-(TRKD)
82nd Field Artillery Battalion (75-MM-(HD)
8th Engineer Squadron
1st Medical Squadron
16th Quartermaster Squadron
91st Reconnaissance Squadron
1st Antitank Troop
1st Signal Troop
27th Ordnance Medium Maintenance Company