Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army Page: 13
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resulted by 1943 in the marginalization of the Cavalry Branch as well as a confused doctrine
with poorly equipped formations.
Cavalry doctrine remained remarkably consistent in army thinking from the Civil War to
after the First World War. During the Civil War, American cavalry performed a number of
roles, but their key missions emerged as reconnaissance, security, and economy of force.
Reconnaissance is defined as "a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other
detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy... or to secure
data concerning the meteorological, hydrographic, or geographic characteristics of a particular
area."11 This function has long been the province of cavalrymen, and is utterly vital to the
success of any operational maneuver. Robert E. Lee's lack of cavalry blinded him to the
locations and movements of the Army of the Potomac during the Gettysburg campaign, allowing
him to blunder into battle under unfavorable circumstances. Conversely, J.E.B Stuart's cavalry's
successes in the Second Bull Run campaign allowed Lee to gain a superiority in situational
awareness and set the conditions for a major victory.
Security operations are less well known than reconnaissance. In fact, many times, the
two are often confused, with historians mistaking one for the other. The problem lies in the
concept that a unit conducting security operations often, almost by definition, is also conducting
either reconnaissance or counter-reconnaissance. Thus security operations are defined simply as
"those operations undertaken by a commander to provide early and accurate warning of enemy
operations, to provide the force being protected with time and maneuver space within which to
react to the enemy, and to develop the situation to allow the commander to effectively use the
" Department of the Army, FM 1-02. Operational Terms and Graphics (Washington, D.C: Government
Publishing Office, 2004), 1-158.
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Nance, William Stuart. Patton's Iron Cavalry - The Impact of the Mechanized Cavalry on the U.S. Third Army, thesis, May 2011; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc68023/m1/19/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .