• Birth of the U.S. Cavalry: The Regiment of Dragoons, Military Professionalism, and Peacekeeping along the Permanent Indian Frontier, 1833-1836

      Urwin, Gregory J. W., 1955-; Isenberg, Andrew C. (Andrew Christian); Waldstreicher, David; Ball, Durwood, 1960- (Temple University. Libraries, 2011)
      Birth of the U.S. Cavalry" examines the founding and initial operations of the U.S. Regiment of Dragoons, forebear of the First Cavalry Regiment and thus the army's first permanent mounted unit. The dragoons escorted traders along the Santa Fe Trail and projected American authority by visiting the villages of many Plains Indian nations. Dragoon officers and men made the first contacts between the U.S. government and the Kiowa, Comanche, and Wichita nations. They also helped negotiate a treaty that cleared the way for the completion of Jacksonian Indian Removal. The appointment of dragoon officers and recruitment of their enlisted subordinates reflect diverging military cultures in Jacksonian America. Approximately half of the officers served as volunteer officers during the Black Hawk War. These men clashed with the regiment's regular officers, who viewed themselves as members of a nascent profession. Analysis of government records and army registers shows that the regulars emphasized the need for military education, sought to exclude partisan politics from the appointment process, and served longer on average than the ex-volunteers. The army, expressing concerns over the quality of infantry and artillery rank and file, wanted healthy, native-born citizens for the dragoons. It departed from established recruiting practices and recruited the dragoons from all over the country, including rural areas. These novel efforts attained the desired results. Enlistment records reveal that dragoons tended to be younger than other recruits, to hail from all regions of the country, and to have been farmers or skilled tradesmen in civil life. Obtaining these men came at a price. Dragoons saw themselves as virtuous citizens and did not like regular discipline or performing the mundane tasks of frontier regulars. Many expressed dissatisfaction by deserting, making dragoon desertion rates higher than those of the army as a whole.