Category Archive 'Dragoon 1836-1861':

Dragoon Tactics and Early Weapons

Researched and Written by Wally Tomtschik

Dragoons used different tactics than Cavalry. In the old history of the 2d Dragoons, very few of their number actually were killed. They were masters of using the land and could live off the land very comfortably.

The horses were treated with loving care and protected from harm, being used for transportation rather than in battle, with a horse holder holding the horses out of sight, hidden in the background. The horse holder would hold 4 horses. Dismounted, the other 3 Dragoons would fan out and cautiously approach the enemy.

Unlike light Cavalry, that went in with sabers clanking and the bugler blasting away, Dragoons went in very heavily armed and were masters of stealth, kind of like the “Navy Seals” of the Everglades. The Dragoons took great pride in their orange piping and hat cords, which differentiated them from Cavalry.

Learning their trade from the Seminoles in Florida, the Dragoons would quietly sneak up on an enemy, many times surrounding them. They would find cover and wait. When the time was right, they would close in and “tighten the noose” in unison with massive firepower, subduing the enemy. It was not easy for a white man to sneak up on an Indian, but the Dragoons could. Being the original policemen of new territories, there was not wanton killing of innocents, but those that chose to not live peaceably were killed in battle or brought to justice. Read more…

Fort Jesup

As the war with the Seminoles began to wind down, the Regiment was repositioned in Louisiana, which formed part of the eastern frontier of the Louisiana Purchase. This was the Regiment’s first posting in the state of Louisiana.

In October 1842, Company’s A, D, E, F, and G were ordered to move to Fort Jesup, Louisiana, and Fort Towson, Arkansas. The remaining Companies worked to improve their positions and to scout for the last band of hostile Indians in Florida. Upon completion of their tasks in Florida, these Company’s went to Louisiana, where the entire Regiment assembled. Headquarters were at Fort Jesup and additional postings were to the Arkansas Territory and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In August 1842 Congress passed a resolution to dismount the Regiment as a cost-saving measure, and it was reconstituted as a Regiment of Riflemen. The Secretary of War noted in his report of 1842 that dismounting the Regiment saved very little money. It was also pointed out that the distances along the frontier and the mounted Indian tribes of the area necessitated more mounted formations. In March of 1843 the Regiment was re-mounted and again designated as the Second Dragoons. Read more…

WESTERN EXPANSION

dragoonAfter the Mexican war, the Regiment moved west to secure the country’s newly acquired territories for the influx of settlers. In June of 1849 troopers from Company F under the command of Major Ripley Arnold established an encampment along the banks of the Trinity River in Texas, which they named Fort Worth in honor of General William J. Worth, whom the Regiment had served with during the final years of the Seminole War. This area is now known as “the fort that became a city”, Dallas/Fort Worth.

The Regiment spent the pre-Civil War period fighting Indians and securing the routes that brought settlers into the new territories of the United States. In 1854, the Second Dragoons took part in a campaign against the Sioux Indians and soundly defeated a sizable Brule Sioux force near Ash Hollow, Nebraska, without incurring a single loss. This action forced the Sioux to sign a peace treaty.

In late 1857, in response to reports of harassment and abuse of Federal officials from Mormon settlers in Utah, a Battalion formed from the Regiment was sent to put down Mormon resistance to U.S. authority as part of a 2,500 man expeditionary force. Expecting a confrontation, the Mormon leader and Utah governor, Brigham Young, mobilized the Utah militia, but agreed to terms just before the expeditionary force reached the state. This long and arduous winter march is immortalized in the Don Stivers print, “Never a Complaint.” Read more…