Sunday, January 6, AD 2013

A great compilation of cavalry charges in movies.  Cavalry charges in reality were much grislier of course, with wounded and dying horses adding to the inherent horror of any battlefield.  However, it would take a heart of purest granite not to be stirred by the sight of a cavalry charge.  Job 39:  19-25 captures the glamor that has ever attended the cavalry:

[19] Wilt thou give strength to the horse, or clothe his neck with neighing? [20] Wilt thou lift him up like the locusts? the glory of his nostrils is terror.

[21] He breaketh up the earth with his hoof, he pranceth boldly, he goeth forward to meet armed men. [22] He despiseth fear, he turneth not his back to the sword, [23] Above him shall the quiver rattle, the spear and shield shall glitter. [24] Chasing and raging he swalloweth the ground, neither doth he make account when the noise of the trumpet soundeth. [25] When he heareth the trumpet he saith: Ha, ha: he smelleth the battle afar off, the encouraging of the captains, and the shouting of the army.   (Whoever the inspired author  was who wrote Job, I would wager that he had been a horse soldier at some point in his life!)

The last cavalry charge by the US Army was made by the 26th Cavalry, Philipine Scouts.  Led by Lieutenant Edwin Price Ramsay, a platoon of the 26th charged Japanese infantry at the village of Morong in the Bataan Peninsula on January 16, 1942.  Ramsay earned a silver star for his courage and heroism that day.  The 26th fought on through the Bataan campaign as a mechanized unit, their horses, sadly, due to the lack of food on Bataan, being killed and butchered.  Ramsay, after the surrender on Bataan, escaped and  went on to lead guerilla forces on Luzon, and was decorated by MacArthur with a distinguished service cross after the liberation of the Philippines.

The days of cavalry charges are past, a casualty of technology.  There is no changing that, but the horse cavalry will always be  a stirring page in military history.

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