1st Company Governor's Horse Guard
Also known as the "Troop of Light Dragoons", the 1st Company Governor's Horse Guard is the longest continuously mounted cavalry unit in the United States. The Guard was formed from Hartford, Connecticut men who were veterans of the Revolutionary War. Their duties were to serve as an honor guard for the Governor, and as a ceremonial escort for prominent visitors to the Connecticut capital. They took the place of state National Guard when they were called to arms in times of war. Today, they are mainly used in ceremony. The 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard celebrated in bicentennial in 1988.
Backstory and Context
The Troop of Light Dragoons, originally named the Governor’s Independent Volunteer Troop of Horse Guards, was formed by veterans of the Revolutionary War as a mounted honor guard for the governor of Connecticut. It was modeled after England's Royal Regiment of Horse Guards. The General Assembly of the State of Connecticut chartered the Light Dragoons on May 29, 1788 and the first commander was Captain John Caldwell.
Their first official appearance was on October 19, 1789 when President George Washington came to Hartford. They have been in every parade, inauguration, and public event from 1789 to 1835. They escorted presidents on their trips to Connecticut, including Theodore Roosevelt. They also escorted Governor Chamberlain to the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. The Guard also helped the military in the War of 1812 by supplying troops.
The Troop petitioned in 1911 to be reorganized into a troop of cavalry. "Troop B", as they were then called, was attached to the Connecticut National Guard. In 1916, they served a tour of duty on the Mexican border in response to raids on American property. With U.S involvement in World War I becoming inevitable, Troop B was dismounted and reorganized as part of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion of the 26th Yankee Division. They saw combat in seven major battles in France.
Troop B regained its status as mounted cavalry after the war when they became part of the 122nd Cavalry Squadron. During the 1920's and '30's they sponsored polo matches, mounted drills, and other shows. In the late 1930's the modernization of the military threatened the Troop, but some veterans were able to revitalize it.
Troop B was federalized right before World War II and became 208th Coastal Artillery Anti-Aircraft, who defended America's coastlines. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, they were called to active duty and served in the South Pacific.
In 1946, the company was no longer called "Troop B," and returned as the 1st Company Governor's Horse Guard and found its home in Avon, Connecticut in 1954. Since then, the Horse Guard has helped in times of state crises and its four units are still active today. The 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard gains its financial support from the state of Connecticut.
Aside from wartime duties, the Horse Guard has assisted state militia in a number of national disasters such as the 1936 flood, guarding federal property, and providing aid after the 1938 hurricane on the New England coast. They stepped in to serve when the National Guard was called out to Federal Service in 1940.
Today the 1st Company Governor’s Horse Guard’s duties remain mostly ceremonial, and focused on community service, but they can be called to action in times of emergency. Main activities of the Horse Guard include helping Boy Scouts earn their Equine Badges and working with children of National Guard members during Homecoming ceremonies. They also march in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day parades, as well as other anniversary celebrations. The Horse Guard is always looking to recruit new members, and no experience with horses or military is required.
ctfirsthorseguard.org. . Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.ctfirsthorseguard.org/about-us.
Herrick, Michael. 1st Company Governor's Horse Guards. hmbd.org. July 14, 2010. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=33060.
Fitts, John. First Company Governor's Horse Guards Begins Annual Training, Patch. April 8th 2012. Accessed May 31st 2020. https://patch.com/connecticut/canton-ct/first-company-governors-horse-guards-begins-annual-training.