One photograph features the company at attention in front of a forested compound, each soldier standing at the side of his mount, rifles slung; the second pictures the soldiers in a defensive formation on an open field with trees in the background, the privates in a circle, with the officer, non-coms, and the bugler in the middle, all at the side of their bicycles, rifles still slung; the third photograph pictures the same defensive position, but has all the soldiers kneeling and having just discharged their weapons, bicycles lying at their sides. The photographs are somewhat faded, but a very good lot. Item #46843
As an experiment in replacing its cavalry, the United States Army ran a number of experiments with bicycle troopers in the 1890s. The most famous unit, Buffalo Soldiers from the 25th Infantry, bicycled from Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis and back, covering almost 2000 miles in 41 days, in1897. Shortly after that feat, which received much news coverage, the unit rejoined its regiment, eventually joining U.S. forces in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. Other countries used bicycle troopers in the two world wars and a few other regional conflicts, but tanks and other mechanized troop carriers eventually replaced horses as the preferred "cavalry." These photographs form an intriguing record of a passing military experiment.