Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

The Last U.S. Cavalry Charge

June 5th, 2011 No comments
The Cavalry Charge, Frederic Remington

The Cavalry Charge, Frederic Remington

You are all familiar, I’m sure, with the image of the horse-mounted Cavalry from movie Westerns. Care to guess in which war the last United States horse-mounted cavalry charge took place?

o Civil War (1861-1865)

o Spanish-American War (1898)

o World War I (1914-1919)

o World War II (1939-1945)

The answer may surprise you: it was during World War II. It happened January 16, 1942 near the village of Morong on the Bataan Peninsula, during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, when the U.S. Army’s 26th Cavalry surprised a Japanese infantry unit and scattered them. [1] A nice painting commemorating the charge can be viewed here. But didn’t they have tanks and jeeps and half-tracks in World War II? Sure they did, but while the Army began the process of mechanization during World War I, this process was not complete even at the start of World War II. There was still a little room for an old-fashioned cavalry charge. The U.S. example, by the way, is not the last in history. As with a lot of historical trivia, there’s a lively debate over when the last cavalry charge in the world actually took place.

U.S. Special Forces on Horseback

U.S. Special Forces on Horseback

The traditional mission of the cavalry was as a specialized scouting and quick assault force. Military commanders used the cavalry to find the enemy’s forces, screen the enemy from finding their own forces, and strike the enemy at focused points in a battle. This is not to be confused with the use of horses as a means of military transportation. Dragoons, or mounted infantry, use horses to get to the scene, but any fighting is done while dismounted. As the photo shows, there are some pretty recent examples of the military use of horses – such as U.S. Special Forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2006. Sometimes the terrain just isn’t suited to mechanized vehicles, as anyone who has hiked in the Rockies can attest.


[1] The Last Mounted Cavalry Charge: Luzon 1942, The CBS Interactive Business Network
[2] Cavalry, Wikipedia

Routes to Statehood

January 29th, 2011 No comments

Most of us are familiar with the two most common tracks to statehood: first of course, there are the thirteen original colonies which joined together to form the United States. Second, most of the other states were admitted as a territory: additional land, often wilderness, beyond the thirteen colonies was acquired from another country by treaty or purchase. The new land was organized into a territory and when the territory reached a sufficient population and level of development, the territorial government applied for statehood, and was either accepted or rejected by Congress. In all, 31 territories were accepted as states.
However, there are a number of states which are exceptions to the two common routes. Four states were at one time independent republics: Vermont, Texas, California (very briefly) and Hawaii (before it was a territory). Louisiana brought a multitude of states when it was purchased from Napoleon’s First French Republic. The War with Mexico, also a republic, brought a bundle of other states.
There are also four states which at one time were part of another state: Maine was a district of Massachusetts, Kentucky and West Virginia were part of Virginia, and Tennessee was part of North Carolina before it became the Southwest Territory, on its way to becoming a state.

Check used to pay for Alaska

Check used to pay for Alaska

The thirteen original colonies were, of course, part of the Kingdom of Great Britain. Florida was acquired by treaty from the Kingdom of Spain. Alaska was famously purchased from the Russian Empire, an absolute monarchy. But one other state was itself a kingdom before it became a state. This was Hawaii, which was wrested away from the Hawaiians when American and European developers managed to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy, form the independent Republic of Hawaii and put Hawaii on a track to United States annexation and eventual statehood.
Not all territories became states. The Philippines, won from Spain in the Spanish-American War, gained independence from the United States in 1946. The Panama Canal Zone was returned to Panama in 1979. And what about the territories today? There are still sixteen territories of the United States, most of which are small islands. The major territories, which presumably could apply for statehood, are the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the United States Virgin Islands.

[1] U.S. state, Wikipedia
[2] Territories of the United States, Wikipedia
[3] Russian America, Wikipedia