Chronological History of “The ESSEX TROOP” of Newark
Compiled by Past President Essex Troop, SFC (RET) Walter J. Hill
1890 The Essex Troop Organized
May 1890 - Colonel James E. Fleming and a dozen members of the Essex Club joined in parade for the unveiling of the statue dedicated to Seth Boyden. This statue still stands in its original position in Washington Park, across the street from the Veterans Administration building in Newark, NJ. After the parade and ceremony the horsemen assembled at the Essex Club for lunch. Colonel Fleming remarked that it was unfortunate the City of Newark did not have an organization to depend upon for such occasions. He was asked what kind of organization he had in mind? The reply was "A mounted body, a troop of cavalry." It was finally agreed upon that a call would be put forth to form such an organization. The call was sent to sixty prospective members. The original call read "A number of gentlemen of this city propose organizing a troop of cavalry, and with that object in view a meeting will be held at the rooms of the Board of Trade, June 3, 1890, at eight p.m. to which you are cordially invited. Should you be unable to attend in person, please signify on or before that date your desire to become a member."
June 3, 1890 - The meeting was held this date with Wayne Parker presiding and Frederick B. Young as secretary. There were about fifty attendees, to which forty agreed to join this troop of cavalry. Colonel Fleming, then 54 years old, was elected captain of the newly formed Essex Troop, with several officers and noncommissioned officers elected the same night. Colonel Fleming appointed committees to form a constitution and by-laws, membership applications, drill rooms and equipment. The first staff of the Essex Troop included First Lieutenant Frederick Frelinghuysen, Second Lieutenant R. Wayne Parker, First Sergeant Charles Heath and Quartermaster Sergeant Frederick B. Young.
Colonel James E. Fleming - Born in Warren, Ohio on July 24,1836, his family was of Scottish descendents. His family enjoyed horsemanship; therefore his love and knowledge of horses came naturally. He was a student of law in Philadelphia when the Civil War broke out. He was instrumental In organizing a body of cavalry and was assigned to Harlan's 11 Pennsylvania Cavalry. He served throughout the war, serving on several different general staffs, was captured, escaped and was wounded several times. These wounds would summarily cause his resignation from the Union Army on February 13, 1865. Colonel Fleming would go on to serve as the first Captain, or Commander, of The Essex Troop until June 1895, when he resigned from active command. He would turn 60 years old on July 24, 1895. He remained active in the Troop's affairs until his death on April 10, 1909 in Newark.
June through November 1890 - The Troop drilled dismounted at the old City Armory on Orange Street. Colonel Fleming held meetings weekly with much of the training lead by himself. Gradually the colonel turned the drills over to his first, second lieutenants and first sergeant. The mounted drills were held at Hill's Roseville Avenue Riding Academy on Roseville Avenue in Newark. This is the site, of the present day Newark Armory. The troop adopted the U.S. Army fatigue uniform, along with the issue saber, revolvers, saddles, bridles and other like cavalry equipment, which was on loan from the state. The state issued saddles soon proved unsatisfactory for cavalry tactics. Trooper J. Newton Van Ness had a number of Whitman Saddles constructed. He offered these saddles to the troop for $12.50 each. Horses were pressed into service from all points, even cab horses were drafted for the nights activities and drills. Armorer Aber of Troop A, NY National Guard drilled the first saber training of the Troop.
November 25, 1890 - Thanksgiving 1890 a parade to Waverly Park marked the first public appearance of the Essex Troop. Demonstrations of drill and maneuvers were held on the grounds of the State Agricultural Society that same afternoon.
February 24, 1891 - Washington's Birthday a parade and inspection by Governor Leon Abbett in downtown Newark. This same day the governor presented the Troop a standard of colors, on behalf of the Ladies of Newark.
July 9, 1892 - First encampment of the Essex Troop at Sea Girt with the Second Brigade of the NJ National Guard. An article written in the New York Evening Post (July 11, 1892) praised the Troop as "a crack mounted military organization of Orange and Newark, known as the Essex Troop," The Troop remained in camp for two weeks, working side-by-side with guardsmen from the NJ Third and Sixth Regiments. Newspaper article of the day rendered praise for the Troopers efforts and dedication to the ideals of military discipline.
October 12, 1892 - Troop marched in the New York City Columbian Parade. The Mail and Express, a New York paper of the day, wrote, "The command numbered 50 mounted men and constituted one of the most superb companies of light cavalry ever seen in America."
February 21, 1893 - The Troop endorsed a bill to be sent before the State Legislature that would allow the NJ National Guard to form two troops of cavalry. It was introduced into the Senate my State Senator Michael T. Barrett shortly after the 21st. It passed both houses without amendment, but meet some resistance with the State Military Board. Finally after a few week Governor George T. Werts signed the bill and the Adjutant General William S. Stryker, detailed Colonel Michael T. Barrett to muster the Essex Troop on May 17, 1893. In all 52 officers and men; in full dress uniform armed with sabers, swore the oath of allegiance to the state and the newly recognized Troop A, Cavalry, National Guard of New Jersey, at the City Armory, Orange Street, Newark, NJ at 8:00 pm. Troop A was assigned to the First Brigade, National Guard of NJ.
June 1894 - Designated First Troop, National Guard of New Jersey. NOTE: Sometime between February 1893 and June 1894 it is believed that the Troop was designated a Cavalry Company A, National Guard of New Jersey.
August 9, 1894 - Parade for the unveiling of a statue in honor of the Honorable Frederick Frelinghuysen at Military Park, Newark, NJ.
October 24, 1894 - Parade at Philadelphia, for the unveiling of a state in honor of General George B. McClellan. The Troop's host was the City Troop of Philadelphia.
November - December 1894 - New armory committee formed to workout the arrangements for a new armory. Committee members were First Lieutenant Frelinghuysen, Second Lieutenant Wayne Parker, Leslie Ward, Fred Stevens and John Tillard. The committee obtained options on the Roseville Riding Academy and adjacent properties. Cost estimates were in the $30,000 range.
March 24,1895 - Captain Fleming resigned his command; Captain Frederick Frelinghuysen assumed command of the Troop the same day. Lieutenant Parker was promoted to first lieutenant and First Sergeant Heath was promoted to second lieutenant. Promotions were made throughout the ranks; Sergeant Parker was promoted to Second Lieutenant.
March 1896 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the new armory. Construction took about one year to complete and the cost ran up to almost $50,000. The money was raised through subscription from members, friends of the Troop and mortgages secured through the banks. Records indicate the State of New Jersey did not contribute any money for the construction of the armory.
March 1897 - Personal escort for Vice-President Garret A. Hobart in Washington D. C. Vice-President Garret was a native of Paterson, NJ. And served under President McKinley. A paper of the day wrote "The Troop presented a fine appearance..".
April 1897 - Dedication ceremonies for the new Troop Armory were held at the site with many friends and dignitaries attending. The facility was great improvement over the old Roseville Riding Academy and Orange Street Armory. It consisted of a drill hall, assembly room (25'x25"), locker room, general store room and saddle room. The second floor ceiling was low due to the sloop of the roof, the lack of space only allowed for a washbasin and the staircase presented a challenge to many when walking up or down.
May 1897 - Participated in the ceremonies transferring President Grant's tomb to New York City.
April 24, 1898 - President McKinley issued a call for volunteers and the Troop assembles at the Armory to consider this call. Captain Frelinghuysen addressed the Troop, reminding all of their duty to country, practically all of the members affirmed their willingness to serve. In addition to the regular members of the Troop, a number of "conditional members" were signed on. It is recorded had the Troop been summoned to active duty, the rolls would have recorded 100 officers and men. The call to active duty would never come; the federal and state authorities saw no need for cavalry troop from New Jersey. Despite undue criticism the Troop remain faithful to it's allegiance and welcomed home the First New Jersey Infantry by standing on parade at the Central Railroad Station upon their arrival.
June 1899 - Lieutenant R. Wayne Parker succeeded to the command of the troop, upon the retirement of Captain Frelinghuysen. Captain Parker also served as a U.S. Congressman at the same time he took command of the Troop. Lieutenants Bryant and Parker stepped up to the occasion as acting commanders in his absence.
July 15, 1899 - First field exercise with a regular Army unit. The Troop left the Newark Armory and traveled to Pompton and pitched camp for the first night. The next day a hick was would take the Troop to Green Pond (Northern Randolph Township) here the Troop remained for three days. While at Green Pond the Troopers received their first instruction on water crossing with horses. Many of the horse did not care for this exercise. The field marches of the next few days took the Troop near Lake Hopatcong, Convent (Convent Station, Morristown) and finally to south Orange. At South Orange the Troop paraded for Lieutenant Heath, who was deathly ill and received his final salute at his home. Before the turn of the century the Troop would conduct marches to Chester, Two Bridges and Sea Girt.
September 1899 –Participated in a parade honoring Admiral dewy in New York City.
1890 - 1899 The Essex Troop worked very hard to develop their individual and troop riding skills. The received instructions from the regular Army and at one particular event a rough riding lesson from an English gentlemen; Captain Turner, who remained in attendance until the officers and NCOs could proficiently drill the Troop. Class attendance for the Rough Riding instruction was a volunteer roster, because each Trooper was required to pay for his mount. This act demonstrated the sincere involvement of the Troopers, since they did not receive any pay or allowances as a Trooper. This instruction was so well received that an annual competition was organized. This competition was soon to be named the McGregor Medal, named in honor of Graham B. McGregor one of the best Rough Riders to belong to the Troop.
It is interesting to note that the Essex Troop acted an Honor Guard for each Governor, of the period, at the inaugurations. Additionally interesting is that in the early years none of the troopers received any pay or allowances. Everyone had to buy his own uniforms. The State of New Jersey authorized one allowance after 1899. Each enlisted man was authorized $7.00 towards the purchase of his fatigue uniform. The $7.00 didn't amount to much when you consider the total cost of the fatigue uniform was $55.00.
June 19, 1902 - Under the command of Lieutenant William A. Bryant the Troop was mustered for state active duty. First Sergeant Bertram R. Roome was the Troop's senior enlisted soldier at the time. The textile strikes in Paterson, NJ had become violent and Governor called upon the First Infantry and the Troop to assist local officials. The call went out later Wednesday, June 18, 1902 and by 5:00 am the 19th the Troop was ready. All members had reported for duty, accept for those members out of town or sick. The Troop left Newark at 5:00 am, arrived in Paterson at 8:00 am. Camp was established near the Fifth Regiment Armory. The Troop remained on state active duty until June 28, 1902. Because of the tension in the city, the Troopers remained indoors during daylight hours and patrol the city streets at night. The patrols at night required the Troopers to enter the local saloons looking for soldiers violating the standing orders. The night patrols encountered no violators of the standing orders. The Troopers held a feeling that they should have covered the back door as well as the front door of the saloon.
August 18, 1906 - The Troop; fifty-seven officers and men, reported to Mt. Gretna, PA to participate in Regular Army (RA) maneuvers. The Troop was attached to the 15th U.S. Cavalry for the duration of the exercise. On August 19th the Troop participated in forming a cavalry screen with the 15th Cavalry and squadron from the 13th U. S. Cavalry. This exercise was very though on men and horses not accustom to the hardships of the field. By days end one horse died and many others were near death. The Trooper faired a little better than their mounts, but were feeling the aches and pains from the forty-mile march. The remainder of t he week was devoted to instructions of patrolling, platoon drills and combat maneuvers. The Troop returned to Newark at weeks end with a better appreciation for their regular cavalry trooper counterparts and a better-trained organization.
October 30, 1907 - Last drill in the old armory, the same day the building was razed to make room for the new facility. Construction would take a little more than three years to complete. Temporary arrangements were made at the Orange Riding and Driving Club, on Halstead Street in East Orange. The club's quarters were much smaller than the armory. Drills were held on Wednesday and Fridays nights, with the First and Second Platoons drilling respectfully.
June 26, 1908 - Cavalry maneuvers at Pine Camp (Fort Drum), NY. The Troop was attached to the 11th U.S. Cavalry and worked along with the 15th U.S. Cavalry during the one-week training exercise. Once again both organizations gained a better appreciation for each other.
March 4, 1909 - The Troop rode Honor Guard at President Tafts inauguration parade. They arrived in Washington on March 3, 1909 during a heavy rainstorm that would turn to snow during the night. The storm delayed many organizations from appearing on time for the parade. Seventy-five officers and men rode in the parade on the snow-covered streets of Washington. The Essex Troop would escort President Taft two more times in the coming years.
August 13, 1909 - The Troop participated in the Massachusetts Maneuvers as part of the invading Red Army, under the command Major General Tasker H. Bliss. The Troop sailed from New York Harbor to New Bedford, Massachusetts on three ships. The rolls of the Troop indicated 70 officers and men and an equal number of mounts. The Quartermaster's Corps arranged for the S.S. Pilgrim, S. S. City of Brockton and the S. S. Puritan to transport the Troop. The cavalry of the Red Army was organized around one squadron from the 10th U.S. Cavalry. Attachments consisted of a provisional troop from Squadron A NYNG; Troop A, Connecticut National Guard and the Essex Troop. The daily schedule called for a new encampment each night, reveille at 3:00 am, break camp at 5:00 am, maneuvers, mock fighting until 1:00 pm and then finding a suitable campsite before 6:00 pm. The maneuvers stretched from New Bedford, Maas through the Townships of Rochester, South Middleboro, Plymton, Pembroke, Hanover Four Comers and finishing at Braintree, Mass. At 1:00 pm Thursday the maneuvers ended with the Red Army in the superior position to capture Boston. Again the Troop returned home a better-trained outfit and perhaps a little leaner around the waste line. Only two meals a day were served, breakfast and diner.
Historical Note: During the early 1900's the official name of the Troop was the First Troop, NJ Cavalry. This designation would remain until the reorganization of 1913 when the First Squadron of Cavalry was formed with three troops of cavalry.
April 30,1913 - The First Troop, the official name of the Troop, orders were received that the Troop would be divided to form, to new organizations. The new designations would be Troop A and C of the NJ Cavalry. Many of the members were against this reorganization and dully expressed their dissatisfaction. The dissension fell on deaf ears, due to the fact that plans had moved forward to such an extent that reversal of the orders could not be enacted. The membership felt that one large organization was better than two smaller units. The orders remained and were effective on June 4, 1909.
May 31,1913 - The Memorial Day Parade in Newark, NJ was the last public appearance as the First Troop of NJ Cavalry.
June 4. 1913 - Reorganized into two separate troops of cavalry. The First Platoon was reformed into Troop A, Commander by Captain Bertram R. Roome. The Second Platoon reorganized as Troop C, Commander by First Lieutenant Wilbour Kyle. Troop B was organized in 1908 in Red Bank, NJ.
1914 – Troop D was formed in Plainfield, NJ.
June 20,1916 - Mexican Border Service - Troops A and C were among the first National Guard units to respond to the President’s general call-up on 20 June. The Squadron arrived at full strength at Camp Wert, Sea Girt, New Jersey and was mustered into federal service. Troops A and C departed by rail followed shortly thereafter by B and D Troop. The Troops arrived at Camp Douglas July 4th with all equipment, horses and personnel. Throughout the four months of active service, each troop gained valuable field experience and training with the regular army. NOTE: Mr. Robert Trott, Armorer, while not carried on the muster roles of the 1st Squadron, (Essex Troop), New Jersey National Guard, accompanied A Troop during their Federalized Mexican Border Service in 1916. He would later receive state recognition for his military service and would be commissioned as an officer in the 1st Separate Battalion, New Jersey National Guard. Captain Trott is only one of several African Americans carrying this family name, who served with Essex Troop and the New Jersey National Guard.
April 6, 1917 - World War I – troop was mustered into federal service on July 28, 1917 at Sea Girt, moving rapidly to Camp McClellan, Anniston, Alabama. It was divided into Headquarters Troop, and Troops A & C became the104th Military Police Company, of the 29th Infantry Division (Blue and Grey). They traded their mounts for riding motorcycles. Troops B & D became artillerymen in Battery F of the 112th Field Artillery.
October 1919 - Becomes 1st Cavalry (Essex Troop), New Jersey
March 1,1920 - Re-designated 1st Cavalry Regiment, New Jersey National Guard. Essex Troop Association purchases 44 acres of land in West Orange, NJ, known as the Essex Troop Farm. It is fitted with facilities for a target range, mounted pistol course, saber qualification course and pasture where debilitated horses could recuperate.
August 17,1921- Re-organized and re-designated 102nd Cavalry Regiment, New Jersey National Guard. The Troop took special pride in marksmanship and horsemanship, winning many trophies and ribbons. The Troop’s rifle team won the third oldest national rifle team competition. The Columbia Trophy, among many others for four consecutive years, beginning in 1921.
1935 - The Essex Troop Association deeds 30 acres of land to the State of NJ for the explicit purpose of constructing the West Orange Armory for the Regiment. In addition to the original Roseville Armory in Newark armories were built in West Orange and Westfield.
November 16,1940 - The 102nd Cavalry Regiment was converted from a cavalry regiment to a horse/mechanized regiment.
January 6,1941 - 102nd Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop) New Jersey National Guard, with elements from Newark, West Orange and Westfield, NJ were mobilized into federal service in preparation for World War II. Shortly after mobilization the Troopers traded their horses for tanks and under went extensive and specialized training at FT. Jackson, South Carolina.
April 6,1942 - Re-organized and re-designated 102nd Cavalry Regiment (Mechanized), New Jersey National Guard.
October 26, 1942 - The102nd Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop) embarked from New York and arrived at Liverpool, England to begin an additional 20 months of training.
November 30,1943 - Soon after the 102nd Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop) arrived, the 2nd Squadron was selected as the security unit for the North African Allied Force Headquarters and was detached for Operation Torch. A, B and F Troops 2nd Squadron from West Orange and Newark became the nucleus of the 117th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, which served as a separate unit throughout North Africa, Italy, France and Germany.
June 6, 1944 - The two Squadrons (102nd and 38th) of the Regiment took part in the landings at Normandy. The hedgerows 6 to 27 feet in height of France became obstacles to the American advance for tanks and mechanized equipment. The Regimental Executive Officer called for the Troopers to put their thinking caps on and come up with a solution. Within hours several troopers came up with the idea that became known as the “Rhino Plow”. A steel device made up from steel angle irons from the beaches that the Germans had strewn over the beaches. They configured them into a plow attached to their tanks, which permitted the tanks to cut through these hedgerows rather than ride over them, which allowed the Germans to destroy the tanks through their unprotected underbellies. Upon personally inspecting the “Rhino Plow”, General Omar Bradley ordered the highest secrecy regarding it’s nature and purpose so that its initial use against the enemy would be a complete surprise. It’s success was immediate. It was stated in history 1948 that this was one of the most important products of G.I. ingenuity during the entire World War II, one that probably saved more American lives and kept more American tanks in operation than any other single development.
June 8, 1944 - Normandy Invasion, Troop C and later that day Troops A and B, 102nd Cavalry Squadron (Essex Troop), established the first Command Post on Omaha Beach near the outskirts of Colleville-Sur-Mere
August 21, 1944 - Captain Charles H. Petersen’s B Troop was the first to reach and enter the city of Paris, France.
The 102nd Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop) is believed to be the only outfit in the U.S. Army whose units took part in both the liberation of Paris and the liberation of Rome. While one element entered Paris, another entered Rome, almost on the very same day.
1945 - Elements of the 102nd Cavalry Group and the 117th Recon Squadron link up after 2 years. Elements of the 102nd Cavalry act as escorts for V Corps and the 69th Infantry Division Commanders for official link-up between American and Russian Forces at Torgan, Germany.
Normandy (with arrowhead)
Southern France (with arrowhead)
French Croix de Guerre with palm for beaches of Normandy
September 23,1946 - HQ’s 102 Cavalry Group with 102nd, 117th, and 50th (M) Cavalry Recon Squadrons reorganized as the 102nd Cavalry Regiment.
October 1949 -102nd Cavalry Group re-designated HHC 102nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light), with HQ’s in Newark. 102nd Cavalry Recon Squadron is re-designated 1st Battalion, 102nd Armored Cavalry, in Newark. 117th Cavalry Recon Squadron re-designated 2nd Battalion, 102 Armored Cavalry. Regiment, in West Orange. Westfield unit remains separate as the 50th Recon Battalion.
1968 – The Essex Troop Regiment was broken up and re-organized and re- designated; HQ’s & HQ’s Troop becomes HHC 102nd Armor Group. 1st Squadron becomes 3rd Battalion, 113th Infantry. 2nd Squadron, consolidated with the 6th Battalion 50th Armor – reorganized as the 102 Armor parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System to consist of the 1st and 2nd Battalions.
1975 – Reorganized 1, 2, 3&5th Battalions, 102nd Armor, 50th Armored Division.
June 1,1989 – Withdrawn from the Combat Arms Regimental System and reorganized under the US Army Regimental System.
1991 – Reorganized 2nd & 3rd Battalions, 102nd Armor, 50th Armored Division.
1993 – Re-designated 2nd & 3rd Battalions, 102nd Armor, 42nd Infantry Division.
September 1, 1994 - Re-organized and re-designated 2nd Battalion, 102nd Armor, 42nd Infantry Division
The history of the ESSEX TROOP cavalry is the history of cavalry in Newark, Essex County and New Jersey since 1756. Captain Blanchard and Captain Marsh’s Troop of Light Horse during our colonial era, Captain Sedgwick’s Escort of 1858 which was a nucleus for Halsted’s Cavalry which became the 1st Regiment Cavalry July 22,1861, during the Civil War, Captain Francis W. Gerth’s Newark Cavalry of 1868 and Captain John E. Engel’s, Co A Cavalry, 1st Brigade, New Jersey National Guard of 1873. The history is continuous, except for 1878 – 1890. The names have changed but the spirit and service to this great nation prevails.
More than a half a century has passed now, since the former horse soldiers landed on the beaches of North Africa and Normandy, and the 102nd Cavalry Regiment (Essex Troop), an outfit credited with more days on the line than any other American Cavalry Unit, no longer exits. The Regimental Colors have been retired and even the old Essex Club, Newark, the original “Watering Hole” is gone, but today with several Historical Markers at Fort Jackson south Carolina and at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky dedicated to its memory, to the Espirit de Corps of the Regiment, and to the men who preceded the Regiment, THE ESSEX TROOP, still prevails.
The traditions are kept alive by its members of the ESSEX TROOP association at the armory in West Orange and by the members of the 117th Cavalry Association at Westfield, New Jersey. The two associations work closely together, with combined nationwide membership of over 1000 veterans of all wars of the United States as well as active members of the New Jersey National Guard.
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