The 10th Mountain trained at Camp Hale, CO with a mounted recon troop, envisioning a combination of horses and snowshoes for winter conditions recon. The concept was, however, abandoned as not being tactically viable; and the mounted troops were transferred to other roles throughout the division.
However, upon the 10th’s arrival in Italy in 1944, it became obvious that mounted recon could actually be very useful in northern Italy’s rugged terrain. Horses would be able to get to places where mechanized vehicles could not. Drawing upon the resource of previously-trained hordes cavalrymen still in service, volunteers were recruited in order to reconstitute the mounted recon troop. The troopers were transported to the MTO, where they drew pack transportation saddles and tack, and Italian horses.
In early April of 1945, the mounted recon troop had the honor of serving as the vanguard for 5th Army’s Po River offensive, their last one of the war. In fact they actually engaged German troops on at least one occasion, even charging a machine gun position with a platoon-sized mounted pistol charge! So much for the belief that U. S. mounted ops ended with the fall of the Philippines in the spring of 1942!
Although the ad hoc nature of the reconstituted troop allows a certain amount of flexibility in uniforms and equipment, there will still be an overall focus on portraying a proper military impression. Troopers will need to have an authentic version of the McClellan saddle (models 1904, 1928 or 1913 pack are acceptable), along with the appropriate tack. A long arm (M1 Garand, M1 Carbine or 1903 Springfield) will be needed, along with a scabbard with which to carry it. Also, an appropriate blank-firing sidearm (1911 Colt “.45 Auto” or time-correct issue revolvers)), holster and 9-pocket mounted cartridge belt will be needed.
Uniforms for the mounted troop will be somewhat flexible, allowing U. S. combat uniforms and equipment, generally. However, leather mounted (sometimes used by ABN) gloves are recommended. Also, mounted uniform items, such as the cavalry breeches and the M1941 3-buckle mounted boots, may be worn.
Contact Ward Brown for more information on the Mounted Recon troop