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Men on Iron Ponies
The Death and Rebirth of the Modern U.S. Cavalry
Matthew Darlington Morton
“Cavalryman Matt Morton knows that gathering battlefield intelli-gence means being ready to fight for it. Historian Matt Morton portrays in vivid images the decades-long struggle—political, often petty—between the horse cavalry traditionalists and the reformist advocates of mechanization to achieve that essential capability.”—Colonel Matthew Moten, Ph.D., Professor and Acting Head, Department of History, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
“A coherent, intelligent study of the cavalry branch’s flawed efforts to grapple with the problems of mechanization during the interwar period. It will make a major contribution to the literature on innovation during this period.” —Dr. Williamson Murray, Ohio State University
“The definitive history of mechanized cavalry in WWII. This is a model work of its kind, one I would be proud to have written.” —Dennis Showalter, Colorado College, author of Patton and Rommel: Men of War in the Twentieth Century
At the end of World War I, the United States Army—despite its recent experience with trenches, machine guns, barbed wire, airplanes, and even tanks—maintained a horse-mounted cavalry from a bygone era. From the end of World War I until well into World War II, senior leaders remained convinced that traditional cavalry units were useful in reconnaissance, and horses retained a leading role. Months into World War II, the true believers in the utility of the horses had their hopes shattered as the last horse cavalry units either dismounted to fight as infantry or traded their oat-eating horses for gasoline-guzzling “iron ponies.” The horse belonged to the past, and the armored truck was the way of the future.
(2009) 300 pp., 11 illus.
Matthew Darlington Morton, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army with a Ph.D. in history from Florida State Uni-versity, taught military history at West Point. He is currently serving as a strategic plans and policy officer in Europe.
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