Philadelphia (1774 – 1775)
The First Continental Congress met in September 1774, in the Hall of Carpenters’ Company, Philadelphia. A Committee of Correspondence was elected by the citizens of Philadelphia to determine the most effective means of resisting the British and to carry out the nonimportation resolutions of the Congress. The Committee first met on the afternoon of Thursday, November 17, 1774, in the Pennsylvania State House. That evening three of the members, together with twenty-five other gentlemen, gathered according to tradition in Carpenters’ Hall and associated as the Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia, a name that was later changed to First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry.
This purely volunteer cavalry troop was the first organized in defense of the colonies. Today the Troop is certainly the oldest mounted military unit and quite possibly the oldest military unit of any kind that has been in continuous service to the Republic. The times that called it into being, and the character of the original members who fought through the seven years of the American Revolution, together forged concepts of service and a body of tradition that have given it a continuity of purpose for 230 years.
The gentlemen of the Philadelphia Light Horse were professional men, shipowners, importers, or traders, generally of conspicuous prominence in the affairs of the day. The membership was not to confine itself to public or civil life, for many were to hold commissions in the Continental service and in the Army and Navy of the State. The Rolls of the Troop ever since have been enriched by outstanding individual records in all branches of military life.
A number of social organizations played an important part in forming the new cavalry unit. The oldest of these was the Schuylkill Fishing Company, a club that numbered many Troopers among its officers. Other organizations from which the Light Horse drew its members were the Schuylkill Company of Fort St. Davids, the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia, the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, and the Society of the Sons of St. George. The Gloucester Fox Hunting Club had especial influence. The “round black hat bound with silver cord and buck’s tail” and the dark brown short coat faced and lined with white worn by the Trooper of the Revolution were similar to the hunting coat and cap in which its club members rode to hounds. Captain Samuel Morris was Gloucester’s first president and Captain Robert Wharton its last, and twenty-five Troopers were among its members during the War.
The associates who met on the evening of November 17, 1774, voted to equip and support themselves at their own expense and to offer their services to the Continental Congress. The company prepared for active duty by holding drills at five in the morning and five in the afternoon several times a week.
Abraham Markoe, a Danish subject, was chosen to be the first Captain because of his energy in organizing the Troop and his previous Danish military experience. Though prevented from open participation in the War as a result of the Neutrality Edict issued by then King Christian II of Denmark, Captain Markoe took an active part in the defeat of the enemy by all other available means.
At the time there was no common flag in use by any of the colonies. Not long after the news of the Battle of Lexington reached Philadelphia, Captain Markoe presented the Troop with the Standard that was to be carried in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown, and on all parades until about 1830, when it was retired for safekeeping.
When George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in June of 1775, the Troop assumed varied duties. Close personal contact with the General developed as he was escorted to distant points in the Colonies. The command was frequently called upon to provide detachments to accompany prisoners and spies, to bear dispatches for the Committee of Safety, and to march with money for delivery to the Army.
Trenton (26 Dec 1776)
With Captain Samuel Morris at its head, the Philadelphia Light Horse reported to General Washington in late 1776. The Troop covered the rear of the Continental Army as it retreated across the Delaware pursued by Lord Cornwallis and his British and Hessian troops. On Christmas night, 1776, the Troop recrossed the Delaware with the Continental Army. The craft in which the Troop embarked could not reach shore and the cavalrymen were forced to take to the water and make their way with their horses through the darkness and floating ice.
Approaching Trenton at dawn, the Troop rode near Washington in the column under Major General Nathaniel Greene. During the Battle of Trenton, the Troop served as escort to General Washington and his staff. A detachment of the Troop captured a body of Hessians fortified in a barn during a fierce engagement. The battle lasted forty-five minutes with the capture of about a thousand Hessians and the loss of two Americans. The Troop served as the Army’s rearguard as it recrossed the Delaware, patrolling the roads until dark. A statue of a Trooper serves as the Trenton Battle Monument to this day.
Princeton (3 Jan 1777)
Trenton was reoccupied on December 30. The Troop performed critical reconnaissance the next day. Twelve Troopers under Colonel Joseph Reed, the Adjutant General, captured eleven dragoons within sight of the enemy’s main army. As Lord Cornwallis occupied the lines across from Trenton, Washington slipped the Army out at night and marched on Princeton. Units of Pennsylvania Militia, the rear of the Continental Army, were panicked and routed by fifty British dragoons during the night march. The dragoons then encountered twenty-two Troopers aligned abreast blocking the road. After consideration the dragoons withdrew and the Troop marched on Princeton.
During the climax of the Battle of Princeton, General Washington, with many Troopers by his side, led the counterattack against the British. The Troop charged in “the fine Fox-chase” and the Army routed three British regiments that day. General Washington withdrew the Army to Morristown before Cornwallis could bring up his superior forces. The successful rear guard action by the Troop saved the artillery train. “The ten days that changed the world” were over. It would be four long years until Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown but the Republic would prevail. General Washington relieved the Troop on January 23rd and they returned to Philadelphia.
Brandywine (11 Sep 1777) – Germantown (4 Oct 1777) – Valley Forge
After its return to Philadelphia the Troop engaged in months of arduous service. The Troop served under Maxwell’s command at the Battle of Brandywine and assisted in maintaining communications during the unsuccessful Battle of Germantown. The Troop served as detachments during the winter at Valley Forge. One group narrowly escaped capture with General Lafayette and his small force when they were nearly surrounded in the woods at Barren Hill. When the British withdrew from Philadelphia, the first troops to reenter the city were the Philadelphia Light Horse with the city’s new commander, the hero of Saratoga, Major General Benedict Arnold.
Philadelphia (1779 – 1799)
The Troop suppressed a serious riot in Philadelphia in October 1779. Troopers subscribed over one-quarter of the Ј300,000 to organize a bank in 1780. In January 1781, the Troop assisted Generals Lafayette and St. Clair in suppressing a mutiny and administering its amnesty.
Yorktown surrendered on October 19, 1781 and the captured standards were placed in the care of the Troop. Eighty-three Troopers, including Honorary Captain Markoe, led a parade through the streets of Philadelphia to the State House and surrendered the trophies to Congress. At the cessation of hostilities on April 11, 1783, the Troop enrollment was eighty-eight members.
Following Washington’s death on December 14th, 1799, the Troop participated in the funeral pageant and paraded, dismounted, assembling “in compleat uniforms at the State House for the purpose of paying the sad tribute of veneration to the remains of their late Commander in Chief.”
On March 30, 1811, a law was passed authorizing a regimental organization of the cavalry; existing troops were to retain their respective uniforms. The provisions of this law were accepted by the officers of the several units of the city and county of Philadelphia. Troop Captain Robert Wharton was elected Colonel of the Regiment’s combined troops.
The War of 1812 with Great Britain (1812 – 1814)
The differences that existed following the War of Independance between the United States and Great Britain resulted in a declaration of war by Congress on June 18, 1812, and four days later the regiment of cavalry offered its services to the Government. During 1812 and 1813 the Troop drilled several time a month.
On August 25, 1814, news came of the Battle of Bladensburg and the capture of the city of Washington. A requisition was made on Pennsylvania for fourteen thousand men. The Troop under Captain Charles Ross tendered its services on August 27th and was ordered to act as vedettes on the line between the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay, protecting Philadelphia from the expected advance of the British forces north from Washington.
On September 11th eight ships were seen heading for Baltimore, and on September 13th the firing of heavy guns was reported. The enemy was repulsed on September 15th. That day the Troop received an order from the Committee of Defense in Philadelphia to establish an extra line of scouts to Baltimore to bring intelligence of the movements of the enemy’s ships in the bay. Former Brigadier General Robert Wharton, who had been Captain of the Troop from 1803 to 1811, was serving once again with the Troop for the campaign as a private Trooper. He was taking his scheduled turn as one of the Troop’s cooks when news reached him, on October 16th, the he was being called back to the city to serve for the fourth time as the Mayor of Philadelphia. By December 7th, 1814, the threat to the City of Philadelphia had passed. The camp at Mount Bull was struck and on December 12th the Troop was discharged from service in the campaign.
Philadelphia (1821 – 1842)
By the time, on November 17th, 1824, that the Troop celebrated its 50th anniversary with a dinner at the Franklin House, the Troop had seen much action both in the defense of the colonies against foreign threats and in recurrent duty to suppress civilian unrest and insurrection. It had become increasingly clear that the organization would carry on in the less spectacular times of peace as well.
Conforming to drill regularions and the expanding militia’s requirements, it proved itself ready on numerous occasions to serve either the Commonwealth or the Nation. It had set standards that influenced and encouraged the growth of similar units. Many members helped to organize or served in military organizations of a like nature.
In civilian and pubic life the membership carried on the traditions begun by the Troop’s founders. By-laws and uniform regulations were adopted and closely attended to. The claim of the Troop that it take the right of the line in all parades was legally established in the Militia Act of April 2, 1821. Efforts were made to record the organization’s early history, and the “Donnaldson Narrative” was prepared and original documents filed for preservation in the archives. In the autumn of 1826, the copper plate still used today for the printing of membership certificates was engraved by Cephas A. Childs and first put to use.
November 17th – the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday – had long since been defined as “the day we celebrate,” and the Sunday nearest the anniversary of Washington’s death had become the occasion of an annual church service. The dinner celebrations were held in rented halls (the Troop possessing no permanent facilities at the time) and the services were traditionally held at St. Peters on Pine Street or Christ’s Church on Second Street — places where founding Troopers often worshiped with General Washington during and after winning of the Nation’s independence. The fifteen years under Captain William H. Hart, 1827 to 1842, were to see these ceremonies mellow into traditions which are still upheld today, while at the same time, the pattern of the organization’s military duties became even more clearly defined.
The War with Mexico (1845 – 1846)
The Republic of Mexico declared war against the United States on June 4th, 1845, but hostilities did not begin until the following spring, when a proclamation of a state of war was issued by President Polk. Although there was no call for cavalry, Captain John Butler raised a volunteer company of dragoons in Philadelphia for the regular United States Service that served in the Mexican Campaign. Several individual members of the Troop served with distinction during the campaign.
An armory of sorts was established in 1853 by the renting and furnishing of a front room on the third floor of a building at Eighth and Chestnut Streets. Up to this time, there had been no permanentl meeting place for the Troop. Business meetiings had been held in the “Captain’s quarters,” or in rooms hired in various hotels and taverns. Some were held “in the saddle” and a number at the “castle” on the grounds of the State in Schuylkill. It was not until 1863 that the Troop was to build its first permanent armory at Twenty-first and Ludlow Streets (then Ash Street).
The Civil War (1861 – 1864)
The drift of political affairs in 1861 made it evident that the Troop might be called into active service. When the call for volunteers was made by the federal government on April 15th 1861, the Troop at once tendered its services. As a unit, First City Troop was the only volunteer cavalry organization accepted under President Lincoln’s first ninety-day call up of state militia units. Ultimately, First City Troop played an integral part in the Civil War, both as a Pennsylvania militia unit and by the actions of individual First City Troopers serving with other units. The impact of their involvement was deep and far-reaching.
In accordance with time-honored custom, Divine Service was attended at St. Peter’s Church on the Sunday preceding departure for active duty and on May 13th, 1861, the Troop was mustered into service for ninety days. Each man was equipped at his own expense with the uniform of the United States Dragoons. The War Department agreed to supply arms, horse furniture and camp equipage, but horses and many other necessities were unavailable from Washington. To meet these needs, $4,050 was contributed by members and friends of the unit.
The unit left on May 30th to join the 2nd U.S. Cavalry at Carlisle. and by June 7th it had reached Williamsport on the Potomac. The Troop led the main body across the river to Falling Water, VA. On reconnaisance the following day, the Troop encountered a small body of mounted Confederates who retreated without offering resistance. After a day of uneventful maneuvering, the Troop was again near Falling Water, when skirmishers on the front and right flank became engaged with the enemy. The forces of the Confederacy on that field were infantry commanded by Colonel “Stonewall” Jackson and cavalry commanded by Colonel J.E.B. Stuart. On the Union side the First Wisconsin, Eleventh Pennsylvania Rangers, McMullin’s Rangers, Perkins’ Battery and the First City Troop were brought to bear.
As the battle was joined, the Troop was hurried to the top of a hill in support of one section of Perkins’ Battery. There a brisk fire was opened upon the enemy. Although the encounter was brief and losses not heavy on either side, it was the first engagement of the Civil War in which troops had been used in any numbers in a systematic manner. Colonel J.J. Abercrombie, the brigade commander, wrote: “Captain Hudson’s second Light Battery and the City Troop under Captain (Thomas C.) James aided materially in driving the enemy from the field.”
Following this first battle, the Troop saw duty at Bunker Hill, Charlestown, Harper’s Ferry, Key’s Ferry and Sandy Hook, Maryland, as well as keeping pickets on the south side of the Potomac. Upon the expiration of its three month’s service the organization was ordered home. It was complimented in orders by its Commanding General and Colonel George H. Thomas, who commanded the Brigade, as well as by General Robert Patterson. In retrospect, as a “school for cavalry officers,” the Battle of Falling Water was invaluable. As the war increased in scope and ferocity, many additional cavalry units would be formed for federal service. Ultimately, forty-nine members of the Active Roll of April 15, 1861, as well as eight members of the Honorary and Non-Active Rolls, would serve as officers in these new federal units.
After federal service was complete, the Troop returned to Philadelphia and mustered out on August 17th, 1861. Many members of the Troop subsequently volunteered to join the Union Army. Concurrently, the Troop recruited new members to fill the vacancies of those marching off to battle in federal ranks. The Troop – as a unit – would continue its traditions and its service to the Commonwealth throughout the war.
In early May of 1862 the Troop offered its services to protect the City of Washington which again appeared to be in peril. Before the Troop’s offer could be accepted, however, the Confederate forces fell back. The subsequent disasterous campaign of the Virginia Peninsula caused alarm in the North and the Troop met daily to recruit and to train new members. In September, when the Confederate Army had crossed the Potomac and encamped at Frederick, the Troop planned to organize a cavalry regiment which would by officered by its current members. A large storeroom was rented as a recruiting station, and five hundred men were promptly enlisted. The project had to be abandoned however, because at this stage in the war, horses and other requisite equipment were unavailable from the state and difficult to procure in such numbers on the civilian economy.
On April 4th, 1863, The Governor of Pennsylvania signed the Act of Incorporation of the First Troop Philadelphia Cavalry, which had previously been approved by the State Legislature.
On June 15th, 1863, following the advance of the Confederate Army into the Cumberland Valley, President Lincoln called out 50,000 militia. At this stage, most members of First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry were serving with other federal units or had already become casualties of the war. The thirty one remaining members organized under Cornet Samuel J. Randall, furnished themselves with horses and equipment, and rode for Harrisburg, arriving there on June 19th. They were immediately accepted into service without swearing in and ordered to Gettysburg. At 4:00 AM on the 21st of June, the Troop was the first military unit to arrive on the scene of what was about to become the pivotal battle of the Cival War. The residents of Gettysburg, relieved to see Union soldiers, were extremely generous to the Troop, then and throughout the campaign. Given the paucity of the Troop’s commissary supplies, this generousity was greatly appreciated and long remembered.
At Gerrysburg, Cornet Randall reported to Major Granville O. Haller. In that no one was certain where General Lee and his vast force might be, Cornet Randall was immediately ordered to take a detail of ten men to reconnoiter the Chambersburg Turnpike toward Cashtown. There they captured two Confederate soldiers who were sent to the rear under the escort of three Troopers. The reconnaissance established the presence of Jenkins’ Brigade of Stuart’s Cavalry Corps, operating between Williamsport and Chambersburg, which was military intelligence of significant import at this preliminary stage of the battle.
The same afternoon, in response to rumors of a force approaching Fairfield, the remainder of the Troop was ordered out to reconnoiter, accompanied by Major Haller and Captain Bell with an additional squad of cavalry which had arrived. Just east of Fairfield they observed about one hundred and sixty Confederate mounted infantry scouting the countryside for forage and remounts. The main Confederate body was stationed on the outsikirts of the town while detachments were sent out in various directions. Major Haller left Captain Bell and his cavalry squad in place and cautiously led the First City Troopers to within a half mile of the town. From that point he ordered a charge that swept through the town, driving the enemy back to a nearby mountain pass.
For the next few days the Troop was employed on patrols covering roads leading in the direction of the enemy. Split into three detachments on June 25th, the Troop continued to live in the saddle, observing and reporting on the enemy’s movements. Shots were frequently exchanged on these missions as Troopers swung close to ememy formations or galloped in even closer in quest of prisoners needed for intelligence purposes.
In one instance, operating together on a mission to York, the entire Troop was nearly enveloped, narrowly escaping capture by riding long and hard. The Troop reached York so covered with mud and grime as to be unrecognizable as either Union or Confederate. From York the Troop moved to Wrightsville and from there across the Susquehanna to Columbia, where it spent the night. The next day it recrossed to observe the enemy advancing in force under General John B. Gordon. A formation of recently raised militia infantry, operating in that area, was engaged by Gordon’s force. Many of the Union militia were quickly enveloped and captured by the battle-hardened Confederate regulars. The Troop’s efforts were essential in preserving order among the many others who were near panic, particularly as the last of these companies approached the bridge over the Susquehanna with Gordon’s infantry hot on their heels. The military authorities on the scene determined to destroy the bridge which, with it’s twenty-one spans across the Susquehanna, was more than a mile long. Four Troopers detailed under the supervision of Major Knox of the 9th New York CIty Cavalry set to work setting fire to the bridge at sundown of June 28th. This heroic task took place under the guns of the Confederate soldiers. When the Confederates drove the Troopers from the bridge and attempted to extinguish the fires it was too late. The bridge was fully engulfed by the flames and, by midnight, the destruction was complete. General Gordon, writing years later, stated that the destruction of that single bridge at that moment in the battle eliminated any possibility of a march on Philadelphia.
A scouting party of twenty-one men crossed the Susquehanna on July 2nd in flat boats and proceeded toward York. Betrayed by an informer, the unit was forced to break off its march and take up defensive positions in a cemetary near Heidelburg. The men slept with sentries posted at the extremeties of a short crossroads, their horses tethered nearby, saddled and ready. In the early evening a thunder of hooves was heard on the main road from Harrisburg to Gettysburg and on a parallel road that branches off from York Springs and runs to Hunterstown. About 6,000 of J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry were observed traversing these roads far into the night. During their passage they completely surrounded the cemetary but never discovered the squad. Sergeant Robert E. Randall hovered with this small command on the outskirts of the ensuing battle at Rommel’s Farm, taking a number of stragglers and sixty horses.
The detachement rejoined the Troop on July 6th near Harrisburg. On July 15th the entire Troop was ordered to Philadelphia, where a riot was threatened, opposing the draft newly ordered by President Lincoln. The Troop was discharged on July 31, after remaining on duty during the draft.
Although the Troop did not participate directly in any of the grinding and colossal battles which changed the course of the Civil War, history duly notes that the efforts of the First City Troop and Bell’s Cavalry alerted the Union forces to the presence and intentions of the Confederate formations, providing Union General Meade the insight he needed to correctly move and position his forces in the critical hours leading up to the historic engagement. In addition, historians agree that the various cavalry skirmishes which involved the Troop in the eastern gorges delayed the Confederate movement in force across South Mountain. In fact, so well did these “irregular” forces meet the enemy advance, Confederate leaders believed they were already confronting the battle tested forward security elements of the Army of the Potomac. This gave Federal troops much needed time to move into the Gettysburg area. The difference of a single day could have changed the outcome of the campaign in the Confederate’s favor.
First City Troop received the prestigious honor of escorting President Lincoln in June of 1864 on his visit to Philadelphia, but less than one year later an assassin’s bullet compelled the grief-stricken Troopers to don their uniforms for their President again, this time as escort and honor guard for the funeral procession of the slain Commander-in-Chief.
Many First City Troopers performed admirably throughout the war in Federal service, providing outstanding examples of sacrifice and duty. Captain James, commander of First City Troop during the first ninety-day call-up, later commanded the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment and was considered to be among the best of the Union cavalry commanders. Lieutenant Price, another First City Troop officer, recruited the 2nd Pennsylvania Cavalry and became their Lieutenant Colonel, and much of the officer corps of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry (Lancers) was comprised of First City Troopers.
The men of First City Troop acquitted themselves with honor, skill and courage throughout the Civil War and provided the country a shining example of the role of the citizen-soldier during one of the darkest periods in United States history.
At the October meeting of the Troop in 1865, Generals Grant, Meade, Sheridan, Thomas, Torbert and Crawford, as well as Admirals Farragut and Porter were elected to the Honorary Roll of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. Generals Meade and Torbert were present as guests of the Troop at the Anniversary Dinner on November 17th, along with Generals Patterson and Cadwalader.
In 1867, the Militia Act of 1864 was amended and this secured for the Troop its “original vested rights, priveleges and immunities.” During these years the unit was reorganized with the strong backing of Generals Patterson, Meade and Cadwalader and the many members who had served as officers under other guidons during the War Between the States returned to the ranks of the Troop.
The Troop started the new century in a new armory. On November 17, 1900, the corner- stone of the new armory was laid. The Troop occupied our new home on April 29,1901 by hosting a “Troop Night” celebration. The years prior to the World War were spent much as the pre-Spanish-American years, with training and ceremony. Three items marked this period. The Troop answered the call of the Governor and served in Luzerne county during the 1902 coal strikes. We escorted several Presidents during this period, and in 1904 conducted ceremonies for Governor Pennypacker at the St Louis Exposition.
Philadelphia and the Mexican Border (1910-1916)
The period of the second decade of this century saw the Troop fully involved in the national military training movement known as “Preparedness” as well as continuing to observe our traditional customs and escorts of notables. In 1916 the Troop voted to expand the size of the Active Roll, at the suggestion of Captain McFadden. Later in 1916 the Troop, along with the rest of the National Guard, was nationalized and posted to Fort Bliss on the Mexican-Texas border. The 142d Anniversary of the troop was celebrated at the Hotel Paso Del Notre; while Washington’s church service was commemorated at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and at St. Clement’s in El Paso. The Troop returned from the border in time to celebrate General Washington’s Birthday, at home with friends and family, in Philadelphia.
World War I and period (1917-1920)
The international situation continued to deteriorate and the 28 th Division was reorganized, but without provisions for Cavalry. Several troopers attended military training schools in order to qualify as officers and the Troop itself was redesignated as a trench mortar battery. The troop was deployed to Europe and saw action in the Argonne Forest as well as other locations. The Troop returned from Europe and continued to observe its traditional customs and escort duties. It was reassigned to its traditional role as Cavalry in 1920.
Pennsylvania between the World Wars (1921-1939)
During the period between the World Wars the Troop continued to perform traditional duties, serving as a training ground for National Guard Officers and training as a military cavalry unit. We escorted numerous members of royalty, and distinguished persons from this country and from abroad. The years of 1924 and 1925 were filled with numerous escorts and ceremonies celebrating the sesquicentennial of the nation and the Troop. significant state event occurred during this period. In 1936 the Troop was called to active state duty, to aid in the recovery efforts following the “Johnstown Flood”.
World War II (1940- 1949)
By 1940, the world situation dictated that the United States must once again prepare for war, and military training was again being emphasized. As a result the troop had to function in a variety of new military and political roles as well as maintain its traditional duties. The Troop was redesignated Troop A of the 104 th Cavalry Regiment in September of 1940 and served as an active military unit from 1941 until 1945. The Troop sadly said good-bye to its mounts during a heavy rain on April 2, 1942. The Troop served two major missions stateside during the war; patrolling the Delaware River and afterwards patrolling the Pacific coast first near the Columbia River and then later in Southern California. In February 1945 the Troop was dispatched to Europe, where it served in Belgium and Germany, and it returned to the United States and was inactivated by the end of 1945. The Troop was redesignated once again in the spring of 1946 as the Reconnaissance Troop, 28 th Division. During this period of general reorganization and confusion within the military it continued to perform both its traditional and military duties. Once again several troopers, with guidance from the Troop leadership, underwent training and were commissioned officers, both within and outside of the Troop.
Korean War (1950-1953)
In the fall 1950, the Troop was Federalized. The Troop was posted to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where it was refitted and assigned new personnel. It trained there and in the Fort Bragg area and was posted to Bavaria, near Munich in November of 1951. The troop served in Germany until it returned to the United States in the summer of 1952. Once again, as they had during World War II the officers and gentlemen of the non-active and honorary roles assumed the tasks of maintaining the armory and fulfilling traditional duties during the absence of the active roll personnel. This pattern would be employed in the future when general activation and deployment of the Troop took the active role personnel out of the Armory for extended periods.
The rest of the decade saw the Troop performing its traditional duties and taking part in the almost continuous reorganization of the national guard. One significant event occurred in 1954, the establishment of the “Boyer Memorial Scholarship Program”.
Trooper John Boyer had tragically died, in an accident, during the summer. His father, Honorary Francis Boyer’s, generosity, supported by the generosity of other family and friends, founded the fund. The fund and scholarship program exist to this day.
This was a period of transition for the Troop. The twin military pressures of the Viet-Nam conflict and the concept of combined arms operations caused several effects in the National Guard as a whole and the Troop itself. The guard reorganization in 1964 resulted in the Troop becoming Troop “A” of the 223 rd Cavalry. The unit was increased to 134 officers and men and equipment now included tanks, armored personnel carriers and mortars. The unit trained in several states outside of Pennsylvania and the squadron itself had troops assigned from Virginia and New York. Operations on the ceremonial and traditional fronts continued at full pace. The armory underwent significant repair during the decade and was closed for a period. It was rededicated in May of 1969. TheTroop continued observing its traditional meetings and turn-outs. The escorts during this period included President Eisenhower and foreign officials, such as the Royal Pricess of Sweden.
The cold war was in full operation during this period and the duties of the Troop reflected the pressures of the cold war and the draft. The concept of 2 days a month and two weeks a summer of drill became firmly entrenched and combined arms operations was the rule of training. Toward the end of this period the use of virtual training devices became more firmly established. A number of significant events marked the Troop’s performance of traditional duties during this period. The Troop continued to escort national and international figures including the Irish Prime Minister, hosting President and Mrs. Nixon at the Armory, and taking part in the Inauguration of President Bush. The Troop’s excellent Museum was opened on January 23, 1972. The years of 1975 and 1976 witnessed many events associated with the Bicentennial Anniversaries of the Troop and the Nation. Two events that stand out were the Troop’s Ride from Philadelphia to Cambridge, in honor of the escort of “new” General Washington in 1775 and the participation of troopers in St. Croix in 1976 in honor of our first Captain Abraham Markoe. The final years of the century witnessed the end of the cold war and saw a new emphasis being placed upon training to meet the dangers of terrorism.
The Troop ushered in the new millennium with a Gala Ball and was prepared to carry the successes and mode of operation of the past century forward. We continued to divide our time between ceremonial functions and army training. The military training became more focused upon unit operations and the Troop had Annual Training exercises in “exotic” locales; unfamiliar to the current troopers. We trained in the sandy brush of Camp Stewart, in the piedmont of Georgia and at the National Training Center on the sand dunes of California desert, just over the ridge from Death Valley. On the ceremonial front we took were featured in national activities such as “Let Freedom Ring” and the opening of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Our troop riders organized a polo team and traveled to India to represent the country and participate in an international Polo Tournament.
In the spring of 2002 orders the troop was mobilized to Federal service along with the Squadron and other elements of the 28th Infantry Division. We were posted to Bosnia as part of Stabilization Force 12 and occupied Forward Operating Base Morgan. We were located in a most critical area and the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the Bosnian Civil War. The Troop preformed its military missions successfully and was involved in a variety of civic and political actions.