The 6th U.S. Cavalry was organized in Pittsburgh, PA in 1861, fighting in the Civil War with notable success at Williamsburg in 1862 and during the Battle of Gettysburg at Fairfield. The 6th received 16 battle streamers for their efforts with three 6th cavalrymen receiving the Medal of Honor.
Following the Civil War, the 6th fought the Indian Wars adding ten battle streamers to their Regimental Standard with 46 Medals of Honor given for individual bravery. 6th Cavalryman Lt. Charles Gatewood convinced Geronimo to surrender and return to the reservation, ending a year of murder and terror on the plains.
The Spanish-American War of 1898, saw the 6th Cavalry side-by-side with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders as they won the war in Cuba. The 6th continued on with service in the Boxer Rebellion, Philippines, Mexican Punitive Exhibition, and Yellowstone National Park.
World War I saw little action for the 6th as the Armistice was signed as the regiment was preparing for front line combat. Upon returning to the U.S., the 6th was permanently stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe (1919 – 1942). During this period the Regiment became a “spit and polish” outfit. Competitive polo, military horse tournaments, team sports competition, parades and troop reviews were a way of life at the Post as were the many social activities that brought Chattanooga residents south to North Georgia. The training year annually closed with marches or maneuvers to Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina.
In 1933, the 6th furnished officers and men to organize and instruct the newly formed Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which saw the civilians paid more than the soldiers.
In 1938, the 6th formed the guard for FDR’s visit to Gainesville, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
While stationed at Fort Oglethorpe the 6th experimented with the merger of horse and mechanization, field tested the Bantam Car (later to be known as the Jeep) and motorcycle. The use of horses was over and when called for duty in WWII, the 6th Cavalry (Mechanized) landed in Northern Ireland without any horses.
The 6th entered World War II assigned to Patton’s Third Army doing reconnaissance and landed at Utah Beach at D-Day+33. The 6th earned the Presidential Unit Citation for its part in the Battle of the Bulge 1944-1945. At war’s end in Europe, the 6th Cavalry Group (Mechanized) (Reinforced) had participated in 281 days of continuous and victorious combat. Five battle streamers were awarded for their service in World War II.
Following World War II, the Post at Fort Oglethorpe was determined to be too small for military use, with the buildings and property sold through sealed bid by the War Assets Department to private citizens. The City of Fort Oglethorpe was officially incorporated in 1949, the first new town in Georgia in 25 years.
The Regiment remained in Europe where it patrolled 172 miles of rugged mountain country along the German-Czech border. Also assisting in the reconstruction of Germany and helping at orphanages and schools.
The Bavarian Government was so thankful for the Regiment’s help that it presented a beautiful silver plaque embossed with the Shield of Bavaria. This gift is on display at the museum and is the only known official recognition given an American unit by a German State.
Returning to the U.S. in 1957, the 6th Armored Cavalry was stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky until its deactivation in 1962. The 6th was reactivated in 1967 as the 6th ACR (Armored Cavalry Regiment) at Fort Meade, Maryland. In 1973, the 6th Cavalry was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and activated at Fort Hood, Texas. The 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) was officially reconstituted on Feb. 21, 1975 in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 6th Cavalry Brigade, activated at Fort Hood, Texas. While at Fort Hood, the Brigade was a test bed for new concepts involving the employment of attack helicopters on the modern battlefield. In the fall of 1990 two of the Brigade's subordinate units were deployed for Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm. At this time, the 6th Cavalry was a stand alone Brigade to be mobile and self-sufficient and not attached to any Division. In 1996, the 6th Cavalry Brigade Headquarters moved its flag to Fort Humphreys, Korea.
These four squadrons are currently attached to the 6th Cavalry:
- 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry - 1st Infantry Division - Fort Riley, Kansas
- 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry - 25th Infantry Division (Light) - Schofield Barracks, Hawaii
- 4th Squadron, 6th Cavalry - I Corps - Fort Lewis, Washington
- 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry - 10th Mountain Division (LI) - Fort Drum, New York