History of the Essex Troop
Compiled by Col (Ret) Frank Carlone, NJARNG
The Essex Troop was first organized as a private group under the leadership of Colonel James E. Fleming. The original purpose of the Troop was to provide a mounted honor guard for civic occasions. The Troop's first public appearance was on Thanksgiving Day in 1893, when it was reviewed by Governor Leon Abbett.
Early in the history of the Troop, it was seen that its best interests would be served by association with the National Guard. On the night of May 17, 1893, the Troop was sworn into the New Jersey National Guard and designated "Cavalry," Company A. One year later it became the "First Troop".
In 1895, Colonel Fleming was succeeded as Commander by Captain Frederick Frelinghuysen. On March 4, 1913, after having been extended and redesignated as "First Squadron Cavalry", the honor of escorting Woodrow Wilson in his inauguration as President of the United States was extended to the Troop, The Regiment.
The Troop received its baptism of fire during the Mexican Border Campaign. After serving for six months in this campaign, the Troopers had scarcely sheathed their sabers, when, on July 28, 1917, they were again called into federal service. The Troop then became Headquarters Troop and Companies A and B of the 104th Military Police of the 29th Division. Shortly after the Division arrived in France it was ordered into the Meuse-Argonne offensive, on September 29, 1918. On July 23, the 216th MP Company containing 35 of the original troopers was mustered out of service at Camp Dix, N. J.
Captain Lewis B. Ballantyne reorganized the Essex Troop as a Squadron of Cavalry in 1920. In 1921, the squadron was expanded and designated the 102nd Cavalry Regiment. Captain Ballantyne was raised to the rank of Colonel and placed in command of the Regiment. In 1937, Colonel Henry L. Moeller became the Regimental Commander.
World War II Service
On January 6,1941, under the Command of Colonel Donald W. McGowan, the Regiment was mustered into Federal Service for the third time in its history. After extensive training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the Regiment sailed for England, arriving there on October 8, 1942.
The First Squadron remained in England while the Second Squadron under the Command of Lt. Colonel Charles J. Hodge was detached from the Regiment and embarked for Algiers, North Africa. It acted as a security force for Allied Force Headquarters, and was renamed 117th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron. Elements of the Squadron participated in the Tunisian and Sicilian Campaigns. Later, as a unit, the squadron participated in the Italian Campaign and the invasion and Campaign of Southern France. The 117th fought in Italy, France, Germany and Austria. The Squadron was one of the first units to reach the Rhine in the 7th Army Sector, and has the distinction of serving with 21 divisions.
The First Squadron, redesignated 102nd Squadron was joined in England by the 38th Squadron to form the 102nd Cavalry Group. As part of the "Assault Force" in the invasion of Europe, the Group landed on Normandy Beach on Jane 8, 1944, as part of V Corps of the FIRST U. S. ARMY. The Group fought through the Campaigns of Northern France, Paris, the Meuse and the Bulge. Action in France, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg was also encountered by the 102nd Cavalry Group. Much glory was gained by the Group in all the European Campaigns. On official orders the 102nd Cavalry Group was first to enter Paris, cross the Meuse River, meet the Seigfried Line in their sector and serve as honor guard for the Corps Commander when he met the Russian forces.
During the period 6 June 1944 to 10 May 1945, the Regiment traveled 1874 miles during combat in Europe.
During the same period personnel of the Regiment received the following Decorations:
4 Distinguished Service Cross
6 Legion of Merit
51 Silver Star
732 Purple Heart
159 Bronze Star Medal
13 Oak Leaf Cluster to DSM
379 Bronze Star Arrowhead
7 Croix de Geurre
1 British Military Medal
1 British Military Cross
1 Distinguished Service Order
5 Soldiers Medal
Post War Reorganization
Headquarters. & Headquarters. Troop of the 102nd Cavalry Group was mustered into state service on September 23, 1946 by Colonel Charles J. Hodge with 9 Officers and 12 Enlisted Men, at Newark, N. J. Composed of the 102nd, 117th and 50th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadrons the Troop grew until Nov. 1, 1949, it was reorganized as the 102nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, at the same time losing the 50th Squadron. On February 13, 1951, the 3rd Battalion 102nd Armored Cavalry was organized in Phillipsburg, N.J. This Battalion was nourished and trained by the Regiment until May 1, 1954 when it was redesignated the 250th Tank Battalion of the new 103rd Armor Group. The 1st Battalion of the 114th Infantry Regiment was converted and redesignated as 3rd Battalion of the 102nd Armored Cavalry Regt. Further reorganization took place in April 1959 and the 3rd Squadron in Elizabeth was absorbed by the other two squadrons, and an Infantry Battalion of the Vermont Army National Guard was redesignated the 3rd Squadron of the Regiment. Under the command of Lt. Col. Leonard Wing, this squadron attended field training with the 102nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Colonel Robert F. J. McGarry commanded the Regiment from 1948 until 1951. In 1951 Col. Francis J. Skidmore assumed command and retained command until his retirement in January 1960. Colonel James G. Depew assumed command in 1960. Colonel James Depew remained in command until his retirement in July 1965. Lt. Col. Edward Lilley assumed command. The regiment was recently turned over to its present commanding officer Colonel William Marshall
The Regimental Insignia
The distinctive insignia for the 102nd Cavalry New Jersey National Guard was approved on May 16, 1931. The 102nd was the first Cavalry Regiment of the Guard to complete its 'ARMS'.
The CREST is a lion's head with four red diamonds in the collar. The LION'S head derived from both of the Dutch and English arms, of the original colony. The DIAMONDS from the original Proprietor-Generals arms which bore the same.
The Regiment being Cavalry dictates the SHIELD be made yellow or gold. On the shield is told the story of the life of the organization when submitted. In blue, on the shield, is the crest of the old ESSEX TROOP - (a horse's head) and in red, two fleurde-lis in commemoration of the Alsace and Argonne campaigns in World War I
The MOTTO is the old motto of the Essex Troop 'Fide et Fortitudine' or 'Faith and Fortitude'.