The last mounted charge of the American cavalry in World War II
The use of horses in wars dates back to 4000 BC. They often pulled tanks or carried horsemen on their backs as they charged towards the enemy. They also pulled the wagons that contained an army’s supplies. The automobile itself and the vehicles that followed it attempted to improve the horse’s strength and mobility. When the United States Army adopted light tanks and half-tracks, personnel were drawn from its mounted cavalry units. World War II produced incredible advancements in weaponry. Within just a few short years the United States had an atomic bomb and was manufacturing jet engines, but by the start of World War II the United States military still had mounted cavalry units and carried out the one of the last cavalry charges of the 20th century.
Not prepared for the attack
Japan launched an attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, after attacking Pearl Harbor. The troops began to land two days later and the Americans in the Philippines were unprepared for battle.
Filipino Scouts of the 26th Cavalry
By this time, US General Douglas MacArthur had to depend on his elite troops to protect the rest of his units which lacked training, equipment and manpower. He therefore summoned the 26th Cavalry Philippine Scouts made up of Filipinos who enlisted and American officers, led by Colonel Clinton A. Pierce. Their plan was to slow down the precipitous divisions of the Masaharu Homma. Masaharu Homma was lieutenant general of the Imperial Japanese Army. The riders were exhausted from days of scouting in the hot jungle, but found themselves in the saddle and headed for Bataan, where they managed to reach the village of Morong before the Japanese troops.
Chariots against horses
To their surprise, a Japanese infantry vanguard arrived, and it was led by tanks. Cavalry had little time to come up with a plan, History News Network reports, they “threw themselves against the flaming guns of the Japanese tanks. Much to the shock of the Japanese cavalrymen and commanders, the cavalry dispersed and pushed back the armored squadrons.
As reported by Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Price Ramsey, United States Army officer, “A few fired back, but most fled in confusion. To them we must have seemed a vision from another century, mad-eyed horses beating headlong; cheers, cries of men pulling stools.
They continued to charge and counterattack the well-equipped Japanese troops, sacrificing their lives to protect the rest of the Filipino and American soldiers.
Fall of Bataan
They suffered heavy losses and MacArthur later ordered a full retreat from Bataan. And as if the pain of their fallen comrades was not enough, the horsemen had to slaughter their beloved horse companions when they began to starve to death. According to historynewsnetwork.org, they “struggled to hold back tears as they described how they must have pulled the horses.”
“They shared all of our dangers, loving and trusting us as we did with them. There is a special bond and we were the last to share it, ”recalls one of the runners in the 26th.
Unfortunately, that was not enough. Paralyzed by disease and starvation, they surrendered to the Japanese military on April 9, 1942, where conservative estimates by historians say 600 Americans and 5,000-10,000 Filipinos died during what was known as the name of “Bataan Death March. “
In New York, there is a statue of a special forces soldier on horseback. The Green Berets of the ODA-595, Task Force Dagger actually relaunched the cavalry charge in Afghanistan in 2001, during the Battle of Mazar-e-Shariff in October 2001. The horse and cavalry that killed them did not are therefore not yet completed.
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