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#77 A Short History of the Norwich Cavalry

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Fun Facts & Stats

77-photo-cavalry002Norwich first acquired cavalry mounts in 1909, thanks in large part to the influence of Captain Leslie Chapman, U.S. Cavalry, who was appointed Professor of Military Science and Tactics in 1906. The horses were beloved and became an integral part of the Norwich experience. In addition to military training, they were used for horsemanship competitions and for the polo team. They also took part in the tradition of the junior mounted expedition to Fort Ethan Allen every summer throughout the early 20th century. Taylor Riding Hall was constructed in 1920 for ring training, and was later converted to a hockey arena.

However, the First and Second World Wars solidified a modern style of warfare in which cavalry horses were increasingly obsolete. Along with the Corps of Cadets, the Norwich cavalry horses left campus for war in 1943. Though they did return after the fighting was over, mounted cavalry training had been replaced with armored cavalry; the last mounted U.S. Cavalry unit was inactivated in 1944. The last horses left campus in 1948.

77-photo-cavalry-hs77248-009The horses were sorely missed and a variety of efforts were undertaken over the years to bring them back. A civilian Riding Club returned to campus in 1975. Today we have a competitive Equestrian Team that is open to all students. And in 2005, President Schneider officially reactivated Cavalry Troop as a ceremonial unit of the Corps of Cadets. They perform historical cavalry demonstrations and serve as mounted color guard.

Though the days are gone when the horses, stable, and riding hall are features of everyday life at Norwich, our history as a cavalry school lives on in the modern-day Cavalry Troop.

You can look at photographs of cavalry training and learn about the history of cavalry at Norwich through the Norwich University Archives Digital Collections or by contacting the archives for more information.