3rd Armored Cavalry

3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment "Brave Rifles"

From Global Security

The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was first constituted in the US Army as the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen, organized by Act of Congress in 1846. With its activation the unit brought into existence a new organization in the American Army: a regiment of riflemen, mounted and equipped with hunting rifles to provide longer range and more firepower than the smoothbore muskets of the infantry and cavalry.


The Regiment was organized "for establishing military stations on route to Oregon," and it was under orders to proceed on its mission at the earliest practical date. However, the Mexican War intervened and the troopers found themselves diverted to participate in the invasion of Mexico. As soon as horses and equipment were obtained, the Regiment began moving to New Orleans in detachments of one or 2 companies. The Mounted Rifles lost most of their horses in a terrible storm during the voyage across the Gulf of Mexico, causing them to fight as infantry during most of the Mexican War. This kept the Regiment from being left behind to escort wagon trains and chase guerrillas, allowing it to distinguished itself in 6 campaigns. Its participation there was climaxed by the bloody battle of Chapultepec. At the end of the Mexican War, the Regiment returned to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, and began the grueling 2,000 mile march to the Oregon Territory to accomplish the mission for which it had originally been organized, the establishment of military outposts on the route to Oregon.


In December 1851, the Regiment was ordered to Texas, and for the next 4 years, it operated against the Indian tribes living in that area. In 1856, Indian troubles in the New Mexico Territory required additional troops, and the Regiment moved further west, marching through and also garrisoning in Fort Bliss, Texas.

In August 1861, after the outbreak of the War Between the States, the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen was redesignated the 3rd United States Cavalry Regiment. The Confederate troops started this campaign at Fort Bliss, Texas to seize the territories of New Mexico and Colorado. At Glorieta Pass, near Sante Fe, the Union force defeated the Confederates, causing them to return to Texas. In December 1862, the Regiment moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where it remained until October 1863. In December 1862, the Regiment moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where it remained until October 1863. During the period from October to December 1863, the Regiment participated in operations on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, and fought in skirmishes at various locations such as Barton Station, Cane Creek, and Dickinson's Station, Alabama. Between October 1863 and March 1864, the Regiment fought in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and North Carolina, participating in the Chattanooga Campaign as part of the advance guard of Sherman's Army. The 3rd US Cavalry Regiment's losses during the Civil war were 2 officers and thirty enlisted men who were either killed in action or died of wounds and 3 officers and 105 enlisted men who died of disease or other non-combat causes.

In April 1866, the 3rd Cavalry was once again ordered to New Mexico to campaign against the Indians. In Aril 1866, the Regiment was again moved to the Southwest, this time to subdue an uprising of the Chiracahua Apaches led by Geronimo. In April 1870, the Regiment was ordered to Arizona for operations against the Apaches and, in late 1871, was transferred north to the department of the Platte, which included what subsequently became the states of Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas and Nebraska. During the summer of 1876, the Regiment participated in the Little Big Horn Campaign against the Sioux and Cheyenne. On 17 June 1876, 10 companies of the 3rd Cavalry fought in the battle of Rosebud Creek. This was the largest battle between the Army and the Indians in the history of the American West, with 1,400 friendly Indians and soldiers opposing more than 1,500 hostiles. The final surrender of Geronimo to elements of the 3rd Cavalry signified the end of the Regiment's participation in the Indian Wars. In 1883, in a decision that affected Cavalry units throughout the US Army, Cavalry Companies were redesignated as Cavalry Troops.

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