Thursday, April 28, 2011

U.S. Remount Service

Until the early 1900's Horses and Mules for U.S. Army use was procured locally, by Army units stationed nearby, and by the Army's Quartermaster Department. In 1908, an act of Congress authorized the Remount Service and placing it solely under the Quartermaster Department to buy and train horses and mules for U.S. Army units and not just Cavalry Units, but Artillery, Medical and Supply Units as well.

The Army established Remount Depots for this purpose, the first one in Fort Reno, Oklahoma then later one in Front Royal, Virginia. Further Depots were established at Colorado Springs , Colorado ; Lexington , Kentucky ; San Angelo , Texas ; Sheridan , Wyoming ; and Pomana , California .

In 1919 the Remount Service was later directed to supervise the Army horse breeding program which was designed to raise the quality of horses. This was accomplished in many cases by providing stud horses to ranches to breed with selected brood mares so the Army could raise their own preferred stock. A Remount Board was created, comprised of civilian horseman and Army Officer to oversee these efforts. In 1921 the Remount Service assumes total control over the horse breeding program.

World War I was the last major conflict which the United States Army used horses and mules in large numbers. During World War I, the Remount Service was drastically increased to meet the requirements of the Army. More than 500,000 horses and mules were procured, trained and issued by the Remount Service for this conflict to supply for troops, hauling supplies, evacuating wounded and pulling artillery pieces. Around 571,000 horses and mules processed through the Remount system of which more than 68,000 were killed in that war. At the close of the war the Quartermaster Corps maintained 39 remount depots with a capacity 229,200 animals.

World War II saw the mechanization of the Army. The transportation of supplies, equipment & personnel was primarily conducted with motor vehicles. The horse lost its prominence as a mode of transportation, however mules continued to have great value due to their ability to negotiate rugged terrain inaccessible by vehicles. This fact was proven in the mountains of Italy and jungles of Burma .

The Remount Service was inactivated, by an Act of Congress in July 1948.

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