HISTORY OF THE
During the 19th
Century, most American cities had an elite cavalry troop that
escorted high government officials, presidents and other visiting
personages. While part of the state militia with the mission
defending the state from invasion or putting down insurrection,
the cavalry’s first obligation was to wear resplendent uniforms
mounted on well-groomed horses. Some of these units, such as the
1st and 2d Companies, Governor’s Horse Guard of Connecticut; First
Troop, Philadelphia City Cavalry still exist. Many units such as
Squadron A of New York; the Essex Troop of Newark; and the
Charleston Dragoons have faded into history.
Boston had several
elite cavalry troops. Prior to the Revolution, the royal governor
was escorted by the Governor’s Horse Guard; the unit disappeared
in 1775 and reorganized in 1787 only to disband two years later.
The Boston Dragoons were organized in 1802 and were joined by the
Boston Hussars, composed of Boston’s richest gentlemen, in 1810.
The Hussars wore elegant Napoleonic hussar uniforms which proved
to be extremely costly leading to the troop’s demise in 1818. The
Dragoons disbanded in 1833.
For several years
there was no cavalry in Boston. The enrolled militia, composed of
all men between the ages of 18 to 45, was disbanding due to a lack
of interest. In its place were companies and battalions of
The volunteer militia
was a popular organization in American towns and cities in the
first part of the 19th Century. These companies were
made up of men in the 20s and 30s with the means and time to
purchase uniforms and to drill and parade several times a month.
While the ostensible mission was to take the field in case of
invasion or insurrection, its raison d’etre was to function as a
military unit-social club that wore ornate uniforms, took part in
patriotic and civic ceremonies and maintained a busy social
calendar with meetings, dinners and balls. The volunteer
militiaman was part soldier, part policeman and a fulltime social
governor of Massachusetts from 1836-1840, was the founding father
of the National Lancers. In early 1836 he was seated next to
Thomas Davis, a former militia brigadier general, at a dinner. The
governor raised the issue that there was no elite cavalry troop in
Boston to provide escorts for him to important civic and patriotic
events such as the Harvard Commencement. Davis liked the idea so
much that he promised the governor to raise a cavalry troop.
General Davis spoke
with several friends who had contacts in the teamster business in
Boston. During the summer of 1836 Davis and others approached
stable owners, teamsters, and young men who had an interest in
horses and by October had recruited 58 men who signed a petition
sent to the Governor’s Council requesting permission to organize a
cavalry troop with admission into the militia. The Council and
governor quickly approved the petition and on 31 October BG Henry
Dearborn, The Adjutant General, authorized the troop’s
The new troop met the
next day on 1 November and organized itself as a militia unit and
social organization that, according to the unit constitution,
promised to maintain the law by strengthening the security of the
state by forming a cavalry troop in order to “form a more perfect
union, to better our common purpose and to promote our own common
welfare.” Davis was elected captain; Louis Dennis was elected 1LT;
Peter Dunbar as 2LT; Gervis Monroe as cornet by the 64 men
present. The new unit voted to designate itself as the National
The new organization
was officially part of the Massachusetts Militia (redesignated as
in 1840 as the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia) and was attached
for administrative purposes to the 2d Regiment of Infantry, 3d
Brigade, 1st Division. CPT Davis and his officers spent
the winter of 1836-1837 training the troop in the rudiments of
mounted drill and school of the soldier. The troop was busy
organizing, training and equipping in preparation for its first
inspection in 1837.
It is unclear as to
why the new troop voted to call itself the National Lancers. It
was not unusual for militia units to call themselves the National
Greys, National Rifles, etc. The designation of lancers, however,
is interesting. The troop elected to be uniformed, trained and
equipped as lancers.
National Lancers with Reviewing Officers on Boston Common 1837 by
Fitz Hugh Lane
Lancers were light
cavalry that carried a nine-foot lance with a sharp finial
designed to kill infantrymen. Lancers were the elite Polish and
French cavalry who earned a reputation in Napoleon’s army as shock
troops. The British were impressed enough that they converted five
light dragoon regiments as lancer regiments beginning in 1815.
Other European armies soon followed suit.
By definition, lancers
were uniformed in the Polish fashion with distinctive uniforms,
the traditional square-topped shako called a czapka, and carried a
lance with a pennon. Lancers were the height of military fashion
in Europe and their fame spread to the United States. The National
Lancers were the first lancer unit in the United States and one of
the few in American military history.
The state issued the
troop Model 1833 light cavalry sabers and horse pistols. Each
trooper provided his own mount and purchased his own uniform. The
uniform consisted of a green lancer tunic which could be buttoned
to show a red plastron. The distinctive troop button, N.L. in Old
English, was adopted and is still worn today. The breeches were
scarlet with gilt braid. The czapka was red and blue, embellished
with gold lace, cords and tassels; the helmet plate was a
sun-burst insignia, and topped by a plume of swan feathers. This
style czapka was worn into the early 1960s. The Lancer uniform was
intended to give the wearer an imposing martial appearance on
While the uniform made
the troop appear to be an elite volunteer unit; it was not made up
of the Boston’s elite. From the beginning, the Lancers were open
to all classes in all trades. Most troopers were connected to the
large horse business in Boston and were teamsters, hostlers,
carriage and harness makers with the means to purchase uniforms.
Others were merchants, clerks and artisan “mechanics.”
The National Lancers
functioned both as a militia cavalry troop and social organization
which was typical of volunteer companies. The captain was the
troop commander and president of the club. The militia unit
carried out military duties. The club planned social events such
as dinners, balls and outings. The first headquarters was the
fourth floor armory of Faneuil Hall where most of Boston’s
volunteer companies were stationed.
CPT Davis was informed
by BG Dearborn that the National Lancers would be reviewed by
Governor Everett and his military staff on 14 June 1837 on Boston
Common. The Lancers were making preparations for the review when
on the night of 11 June the city alarm system summoned the militia
to duty. Troopers quickly reported to Faneuil Hall and were issued
weapons and ball ammunition. They mounted and rode to break up
what was later called the “Broad Street Riot,” a street clash
between an Irish funeral procession and a Yankee fire company. The
troop was on duty until the morning of the next day.
In the morning of 14
June, the troop assembled and rode to the Common. Several thousand
spectators watched as a mounted band and the National Lancers did
a slow trot. The scene was captured in a painting by Fitz Hugh
Lane with 64 Lancers in formation in line before the governor and
his staff, also mounted.
Orders were read and
the troop was formally inducted into the Massachusetts Militia.
That evening there was a sumptuous banquet attended by all Boston
civic and military officials and the Lancers. This day has been
observed by the National Lancers as their Organization Day at the
annual dinner. In peacetime the dinners were held in Boston but
when the Lancers were on active duty, dinners have been held in
South Carolina, Virginia, France, and in the Pacific.
The Lancers drilled
several times a month and held weekly social meetings. On 30
August 1837, the Lancers were ordered to escort Governor Everett
to the Harvard Commencement. At the state house, the governor
addressed CPT Davis stating “I congratulate you sir on the success
of the efforts made by yourself in raising this handsome troop.”
The governor then presented CPT Davis with the Lancers’ first
color. CPT Davis accepted the color and pledged that the sacred
cause of the National Lancers would be “Liberty, Union and the
Laws.” This became the unit motto and is embroidered on the
Lancers present unit color and on its distinctive insignia worn on
the uniform. (The motto comes from the speech given by Senator
Daniel Webster in the Senate on 27 January 1830. He ended the
speech with “Liberty and Union now and forever and inseparable.”)
From 1837 through the
early 1960s, the National Lancers escorted the governor to Harvard
Commencement exercises. The Lancers continue to serve as the
governor’s mounted escort and, over the years, have escorted
presidents and other dignitaries.
The Lancers through
the 1840s and 1850s consisted of some 80 officers and troopers.
The troop took part in many inspections, summer camps and parades.
Also important was the troop’s social activities such as dinners,
dances and beginning in 1850 with a trip to Brooklyn, NY, exchange
visits to other volunteer militia units.
National Lancers 1850
In 1845 the National Lancers adopted a new uniform that consisted
of a red swallow-tail coat trimmed in blue; enlisted men wore red
and blue epaulets, a white belt, and light blue breeches with a
yellow stripe. Officers were identified by their gold epaulets.
They continued to wear the distinctive lancer shako. The Lancers
elected to wear a red uniform which made a distinctive military
fashion statement. The 1845 uniform, with minor modifications, was
worn until 1935.
Officer, National Lancers 1850
Police duties were
always part of the Lancers mission. In 1842, the Lancers dispersed
a mob. In 1850 the troop was called up to raid illegal gambling
houses. In February 1852 the Lancers were assigned to the newly
organized Battalion of Dragoons and designated as Company A. The
Lancers kept the designation of either Company A or Troop A for
many years but also retained its traditional designation of
In 1857 the troop
moved out of Faneuil Hall to its new armory at 71 Sudbury Street.
The noted American composer and military bandmaster Patrick
Gilmore joined the Lancers as the troop trumpeter.
When the Civil War broke out in April 1861 the Lancers waited for
an opportunity to serve.
Initially, the War
Dept. refused to call on the states for cavalry. On 27 August 1861
the troop sent a letter to Governor John Andrew tendering their
services for three years provided that the state accept its
officers and organization. The War Dept. requested that
Massachusetts provide a three-year cavalry regiment. Rather than
accepting the Lancers’ offer as an entire unit, the Lancers were
authorized to organize Troops C and D of the 1st
Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The Lancers provided the
cadre who recruited and trained new troopers. In effect there were
three National Lancers troops during the war; the militia troop in
Boston and two war-service troops.
Troops C and D were
mustered into Federal service on 17 September 1861 at Readville,
Mass. There the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry trained for
three months under the supervision of former militia cavalry
officers now on active duty. On 19 December, the National Lancers
escorted the 1st Cavalry from Roxbury to Boston as the
regiment rode through the city prior to its deployment to Hilton
remained on occupation duty until the regiment was transferred to
the Army of the Potomac in Virginia in September 1862. Elements of
the 1st took part in the Antietam Campaign in
September; and the Fredericksburg Campaign in December.
The active duty
Lancers saw some action at Brandy Station, VA on 9 January 1863.
The 1st Cavalry saw the heaviest action of the war at
Aldie, VA on 17 June. Union cavalry were attempting to locate the
Confederate Army which was marching north into Maryland. The 1st
Massachusetts and 4th New York charged into the 5th
Virginia. The ensuing battle cost the 1st some 200
screened the Union left flank at Gettysburg and took part in a
number of skirmishes in the fall of 1863. The Lancers of Troops C
and D performed reconnaissance missions during the 1864 campaigns
of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg. The
two troops served as military police in the spring of 1865.
The 1st was
mustered out of Federal service in July 1865. In accordance with
Army lineage and honors policy, the National Lancers were granted
the right to carry the 11 campaign streamers earned by Troops C
and D on its squadron colors by The Adjutant Generals’ Office.
Back in Boston the
National Lancers were issued state regulation blue uniforms which
were worn during drills and on active service. From then on the
Lancers have worn its unique full dress uniform and Army uniforms.
During their annual summer camp in Medford in 1862 the troop
mustered 100 men. The Lancers performed escort duties for the many
regiments going to the front.
The Lancers were
relegated to home guard duties since most of the troop was made up
of older men. They were ordered into active state service in July
1863 when Irish American mobs began rioting in Boston after
learning about the draft riots in New York on the night of 14
July. Lancers were ordered to report to the armory and by 7 PM
some 100 troopers were mounted and ready.
At 8 PM CPT Lucius
Slade ordered the troop to load ball ammunition and then ordered
the troop to ride to Faneuil Hall Square. There the troop
confronted the mob and were able to disperse it without casualties
to either side. Later that night, the troop rode to the North End
where the mob was preventing firemen from dousing the fire at the
armory of the Boston Light Artillery on Cooper Street. The mob
attacked the troopers who fired their pistols in self-defense.
After the melee, the mob dispersed and the troop rode back to its
armory but remained on duty until 16 July and on call for several
With the end of the
Civil War, the National Lancers renewed its ties with elite
militia units in other cities. In October 1865, the Lancers
visited Chicago where it was hosted by Ellsworth’s Zouaves. On 22
June 1867 the troop escorted President Andrew Johnson from the
train depot to the State House. Annual inspections were held every
May on the Boston Common and the troop attended five-day camps
every summer. The annual celebration on 14 June was the highlight
of the year with a ride through the city and a banquet in the
evening attended by the governor, his military staff, the mayor
and other political and military officials.
The Lancers escorted
President Ulysses S. Grant several times. He usually came to
Boston every year and in 1875 the Lancers escorted him during
ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Battles
of Lexington and Concord and the unveiling of the Minuteman statue
in Concord on 19 April.
The Lancers dedicated
their own armory on 18 December 1872 at 1 Bullfinch Street with a
ceremony and a ball. The Harvard Commencement escort detail
continued every year. In June 1877 the troop escorted President
Rutherford B. Hayes and President Chester A. Arthur in October
The troop attended
Mardi Gras in New Orleans in February 1881. The troop chartered a
train that transported the unit to New Orleans. The Lancers were
hosted by the Continental Guards and attended a banquet hosted by
the Louisiana Division, Veterans of the Army of Northern
Virginia. This was a time that Northern militia units, now
increasingly called National Guard, visited Southern militia units
as part of the effort to renew ties and heal the rift created by
the Civil War. In June 1883 the Continental Guards visited Boston
as guests of the Lancers.
In 1886 the Lancers
visited units in Washington, DC, Richmond, VA and Charleston, SC.
While in Washington, the Lancers visited the White House where
they met President Grover Cleveland. In Charleston the Lancers
were royally feted by the elite city militia units such as the
German Artillery, Charleston Dragoons and the Washington Light
Infantry. In recent times the National Lancers have renewed their
friendship with the Washington Light Infantry.
The Lancers marched
through the streets of Charleston onto the parade ground at The
Citadel where the Lancers were formally greeted by the Corps of
Cadets. (In 2010 a National Lancer officer, in formation with the
Washington Light Infantry, reviewed the Corps of Cadets on the
parade ground at The Citadel)
available in the archives of The Adjutant General’s Office give us
a snapshot of the membership of Troop A in the 1880s and 1890s.
troopers enlisted for three years and most reenlisted. Thirty
troopers were in their 20s, 50 in their 30s, and 30 in their 40s.
The troopers were from Boston and surrounding communities. While
most were engaged in horse-related businesses, there were
professionals such as businessmen, insurance salesmen, lawyers,
merchants and other professions.
Mounted Lancer in state
issue uniform, dismounted Lancer in troop full dress
In October 1891, the
Lancers travelled to Washington, DC where they were hosted by the
National Rifles. The group photo and presentation certificate are
on display in the National Lancers Museum. The troopers visited
the White House where they were received by President Benjamin
Troop A concentrated
on its military duties in the period between the Civil War and the
Spanish American War. There was an emphasis on marksmanship in
the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia as well as in other state
National Guards. Both drill and tactical skills were stressed.
Curtis Guild, Jr. joined the Lancers and became a skilled
marksman. In 1897 1LT Guild was appointed Inspector General of
Rifle Practice in the grade of brigadier general. He served on
active duty during the Spanish American War and in 1906 was
elected governor. Guild’s contribution to the marksmanship program
was honored in 1926 when the new state marksmanship center was
designated as Camp Curtis Guild.
and social events were suspended on 26 April 1898 when the United
States declared war on Spain. A detachment from Troop A was
ordered to state active duty on 3 May and assigned as military
police at the state mobilization center at Camp Framingham.
Massachusetts was not tasked to provide cavalry for the war so
Troop A remained on alert but was not called into Federal service.
The troop wore the Army blue uniform instead of the red full dress
uniform when it escorted the governor to the Harvard Commencement
indicating that the troop was prepared for active service.
After the war, the
Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (redesignated as the Massachusetts
National Guard in 1907) made strides toward becoming a
professional military force. The Militia Acts of 1903 and 1908
gave the War Dept. greater supervision over the National Guard in
return for increased Federal funding.
Military training for
Troop A, 1st Squadron Cavalry took priority over escort
duties and social events. The social side of the Lancers was
formally incorporated in 1903 as the National Lancers, Inc. The
troop commander remained as president, however, officers and
members were current, former or invited members. The club took
over responsibilities for the social events so that the officers
and NCOs of Troop A focused on their military duties.
Both club members and
Troop A cavalrymen wore the red full dress uniform during escort
duties so that the National Lancers turned out 60 mounted riders.
In September 1909 the troop escorted President William H. Taft
during a visit to Boston.
As part of the
supervision of the Guard, Troop A was inspected annually by a
Regular Army officer. In 1911 all three Troop A officers were
placed on Federal active duty to attend the Cavalry School at Fort
Riley, KS. In February 1912 Troop A was called into state active
duty during the Lawrence Mill Strike. It was unpleasant duty as
many of the strikers were women. Nonetheless, troopers had to
perform their duty.
The two mounted
organizations of the Massachusetts National Guard, the 1st
Squadron Cavalry and the 1st Field Artillery, had
advocated for a large armory specifically designed for
horse-mounted organizations to be built. Their efforts
successfully culminated on 30 December 1915 when the Commonwealth
Armory was dedicated. It was the largest armory in New England and
served both organizations for many years Both Troop A and the
National Lancers, Inc. had excellent quarters in the new armory.
The Bullfinch Street Armory, the Lancers’ home for 44 years, was
vacated in March 1916.
came to abrupt end on 19 June 1916 when CPT John Kenney received
orders at 2400 hours to mobilize Troop A for duty in Texas. This
was the first Federal mobilization of the National Lancers in its
history. The entire National Guard, except for coast artillery,
was ordered into active Federal service by President Woodrow
Wilson as a precautionary measure after the raid on Columbus, NM
on 9 March 1916 by the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. To
prevent the Mexican revolution from spilling over into the United
States, President Wilson decided to seal the border with the
National Guard. Massachusetts fielded a brigade with supporting
arms including the 1st Squadron Cavalry.
rode to Camp Framingham and departed for Texas by train on 28
June. The 1st Squadron arrived at El Paso, TX and
occupied tents at Camp Pershing which was adjacent to Fort Bliss.
The squadron began a rigorous training schedule which proved to be
hard on trooper and mount. Heat, wind and sand added to their
misery. The Lancers, who have always prided themselves on their
horsemanship, proved themselves ready to take the field and
conduct patrols in New Mexico and Texas. In a sign of
modernization, the National Lancers Assoc. sent a check for $500
to Troop A to purchase a Ford truck which was used to pick up
The Troop A Lancers
continued to train and conduct patrols until November 1916 when
they received orders to return to Boston where they mustered out
on 18 November. Troop A returned to weekday drills through June
when orders were issued for its second Federal mobilization.
After the United
States declaration of war against Germany on 6 April 1917, Troop A
was authorized to recruit to war strength of three officers and
105 enlisted men which it achieved within days. On 13 May 1917 the
troop wore olive drab uniforms instead of the customary red full
dress when it escorted Marshal Joseph Joffre, Chief of the French
Military Mission to the U.S. during his visit to Boston. The troop
was on unpaid fulltime duty while it ordered uniforms and
equipment and trained recruits.
On 25 July Troop A
was ordered into active Federal service under the command of CPT
Kenney at Commonwealth Armory. The troop was busy taking
physicals, filling out forms and taking care of their mounts. The
troop went by train to Camp Framingham on 18 August and four days
later found out that the 1st Cavalry had been
reorganized and redesignated as the 102d Machine Gun Battalion, an
element of the 26th Division.
It was a shock for
the Lancers to find out that they had been dismounted and
transferred to the infantry. Company A, as it was now designated,
consisted of six officers and 172 enlisted men. A detail of 61 men
from the 1st Vermont Infantry brought Company A up to
Soldiers of Company A
(National Lancers), 102d Machine Gun Battalion changing
positions near Chateau Thierry, France on 19 July 1918
The 26th Division, composed of units from the National
Guards of the six New England states, was the first infantry
division to deploy to France. Company A left on 22 September and
landed in France on 7 October. The 102d Machine Gun Battalion
trained until 1 February 1918 when the 26th “Yankee”
Division went into the front lines. The 102d was assigned
to the 51st Infantry Brigade of the 26th and
supported operations of the 101st and 104th
Infantry Regiments by providing heavy machine gun support. Company
A and the 26th were transferred to various sectors as
part of the acclimation to trench warfare. Company A helped repel
the surprise German attack on the 26th on 20 April at
Company A was
credited with six World War I campaigns as part of the 26th.
The company saw heavy action in July, September, October and
November. It returned to the United States on 17 April 1919 and
demobilized at Camp Devens on 29 April.
The company fought
with great courage and distinction during the war. But it came
with great cost; 27 Lancers died and 62 were wounded. Virtually
everyone was gassed. Three troopers were awarded the Distinguished
Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award for gallantry in
action: CPL Harold Batten, SGT Cola Gray, PVT Charles Toy.
While the active duty
Lancers were in France, National Lancer veterans organized the 1st
Provisional Cavalry Troop, Massachusetts State Guard in May 1918.
The State Guard was the replacement militia formed for state
service while the Massachusetts National Guard was in Federal
service. The 1st Troop was called into active state
service in September 1919 during the Boston Police Strike. The
troop remained on duty for several weeks.
Prewar Lancers of
Troop A and Company A, a few young troopers from the 1st
Troop and new recruits reorganized Troop A, 1st
Squadron Cavalry in March 1920. In November 1921 the 1st
Squadron was reorganized and re-designated as the 110th
Cavalry Regiment. Troop A was issued surplus Army uniforms,
saddles and Federal horses. There were not enough red full dress
uniforms so the dress uniform was the olive drab blouse. Troop A
did have a few red full dress uniforms for special occasions. At
this point in its history, the National Lancers split into two
Troop A, the National
Guard unit, concentrated on its military duties. While it took
part in 110th Cavalry social events and fielded a polo
team, the troop was first and foremost a military unit. The Lancer
heritage was heraldically displayed on the 110th
uniform in 1930 when the Army authorized a distinctive unit
insignia that displayed crossed lances with red pennons and the
motto “Union, Liberty and the Laws.”
The National Lancers
Assoc. wanted to retain the social and ceremonial side of the
Lancers. There were enough red uniforms in their possession so
that they could carry out escort duties for the governor and VIPs
but with fewer Lancers. For the next 25 years there would be two
National Lancers: Troop A and the National Lancers Assoc. which
began calling itself simply the National Lancers.
The National Lancers
took part in parades and provided the mounted escort to Vice
President William Dawes, a descendent of the 1775 dispatch rider
William Dawes, and General John J. Pershing in 1925. In 1926 the
escort to the governor for the Harvard Commencement was
reinstituted. In 1936, just before the centennial observance, the
Lancers modified their full dress uniform which remained largely
the same since 1845.
Instead of a
swallow-tail coat, a red tunic with a blue plastron was adopted.
Officers wore gold shoulder knots with a gold cavalry officer’s
belt. Enlisted men wore red shoulder knots with the traditional
white leather belt. Both wore the cipher N.L. on the collar. The
blue britches and lancer czapka were retained.
A grand banquet was
held on 14 June 1936 marking the Lancer’s 100th
anniversary. Times had changed and so had the Lancers.
The heyday of the
horse cavalry in the US Army was over. As World War II approached,
the Army began converting cavalry regiments to other branches. In
May 1940 Troop A turned in their mounts, saddles and cavalry
equipment when it was reorganized as Battery A, 180th
Field Artillery Regiment, 26th Division. The 110th
Cavalry was no more; it was now a 155mm artillery regiment. It was
a sad day in the history of the Lancers. In January 1941 the
26th was ordered into active Federal service and
stationed at Camp Edwards. In January 1942 the 51st
Infantry Brigade with supporting units was detached from the 26th
Infantry Division, designated as Task Force 6814 and shipped to
the Pacific Theater. The 180th Field Artillery was
redesignated as the 200th Field Artillery in February
1942 and in August as the 221st Field Artillery
Battalion, an element of the Americal Division. The former Troop A
was redesignated as Battery A, 221st Field Artillery
Battalion and landed on the island of Guadalcanal where the
Americal reinforced the 1st Marine Division in its epic
battle against the Japanese. The 221st took part in
campaigns in the Northern Solomons, Leyte and the Southern
Philippines as well. The Lancer lineage
continued after World War II in the National Guard when Battery A,
180th Field Artillery Battalion was reorganized at
Commonwealth Armory in 1946. Few if any of its soldiers knew
anything about the Lancers. In 1959 the 101st Field
Artillery and 180th Field Artillery Battalions were
consolidated to form the 101st Artillery Regiment.
Battery A lost its identity in this reorganization.
The National Lancers
had completely assumed the identity of the troop organized in
1836. To themselves and the public they were the National Lancers.
They inherited the historical objects and lineage as well. During
World War II they were somewhat inactive; a number were serving on
active duty. They had a room in the Commonwealth Armory where they
maintained a small museum and meeting area.
After the war the
organization revived with new members many of whom had served in
the war. The Lancers started taking part in patriotic events and
parades. Sometime in the early 1950s the Lancers began reenacting
the rides of Paul Revere and William Dawes on Patriots Day. The
ride of Paul Revere had been performed before the war but not a
regular basis; now it became one of the Lancers’ important annual
New uniforms were
purchased; horses acquired and equipment and tack was purchased so
that the traditional mounted escort for the governor to the
Harvard Commencement was also renewed. In 1952 the Lancers moved
to Littleton where they maintained their own stables and horses.
CPT Dino DiCarlo who
had joined in 1948 was elected commander in 1956. For the next 40
years, with some time off, he served as commander and the driving
force to place the Lancers on a more permanent basis. Due to his
political connections, DiCarlo was able to negotiate a 99 year
lease with the Department of Corrections for the diary farm at the
state prison for women in Framingham.
The Lancers acquired
the barn, pastures and auxiliary buildings for their use in 1964.
The herd consisted of 20 horses. With the Lancers firmly
established, the organization’s strength increased to 40-50 men
during the 1960s and 1970s. The Lancers rode in the inaugural
parade for President John F. Kennedy in January 1961which was a
great honor for the unit.
As COL DiCarlo, his
next mission was to give the National Lancers formal military
status in the organized militia. This took an act of the
legislature which was passed in 1964. Paragraph 4A, Chapter 33
Militia, Massachusetts General Laws made the National Lancers a
unit in the Massachusetts Organized Militia with the right to
select its own officers and to govern itself.
Peabody, mounted on horseback, administered the oath to the
officers and troopers also mounted on 18 October. The year 1964
was probably the most important year in the Lancers’ history since
The National Lancers
expanded their participation in parades and patriotic events. They
rode in the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA. The parade season
began with Patriots Day in April and usually ended in October.
The Lancers also trained the State Police Mounted Unit when it was
organized in 1977. The State Police Mounted Unit was stationed at
the Lancers’ facility for a year before it acquired stables in
COL DiCarlo was
promoted to brigadier general with the additional duty as Chief
Aide de Camp to the Commander-in-Chief. For his many years of
service to the state and the Lancers he was later promoted to
major general. General DiCarlo had the honor of enlisting his
daughter Helen as the first woman to serve in the Lancers. Upon MG
DiCarlo’s death in 1997, his brother, COL Mario DiCarlo assumed
command of the Lancers.
Endicott Peabody administers oath of office to COL Dino DiCarlo
and the National Lancers on 18 Oct 1964
COL DiCarlo spent a great deal of time and energy in repairing the
stables, barn extension and headquarters building. He also
enhanced the status of the National Lancers within the state and
with the Massachusetts National Guard. For his efforts and career
achievements, he was promoted to brigadier general in 2002.
BG Mario DiCarlo
In 2003 the Lancers
facility at 1 Merchant Road, Framingham was designated as Camp
Dino DiCarlo in honor of the longest serving commander of the
Lancers. A derelict building was rebuilt as the new headquarters
and museum building. The former barn extension was rebuilt as
multi-use hall and designated by the Lancers’ officers and
troopers as BG Mario
On 23 July 2004, the
National Lancers was ordered into active state service during the
Democratic National Convention in Boston. As part of the force
protection plan for Camp Curtis Guild, the Lancers patrolled the
perimeter of the installation for seven days. This allowed
additional Army National Guard soldiers to guard the Boston
Garden-North Station area in Boston where the convention was
National Lancers passing
in review, Salem Muster, 16 April 2004
In 2012 a new
squadron color was authorized, and affixed to the color were 17
campaign streamers awarded to the National Lancers for service in
the Civil War and World War I.
National Lancers 2012
Organized 31 October 1836 in the Massachusetts Militia at Boston
as the National Lancers
redesignated 5 October 1852 as Troop A (National Lancers), 1st
Battalion of Dragoons
(While remaining in
state service additionally organized Companies C and D, 1st
Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry; mustered into Federal service 1
November 1861 at Readville, Massachusetts; mustered out of Federal
service 26 June 1865 at Washington, D.C.)
redesignated 20 August 1864 as Troop A
redesignated 27 March 1865 as Troop A, 1st Battalion of
redesignated 19 March 1906 as Troop A, 1st Squadron of
Volunteer Militia redesignated 15 November 1907 as the
Massachusetts National Guard)
Federal service 22-27 June 1916 at Framingham, Massachusetts;
mustered out of Federal service 18 November 1916 at Boston
Federal service 25 July 1917 at Boston; drafted into Federal
service 5 August 1917
redesignated and converted 18 August 1917 as Company A, 102d
Machine Gun Battalion and assigned to the 26th Division
Demobilized 29 April
1919 at Camp Devens, Massachusetts
1st Provisional Cavalry Troop, Massachusetts State
Guard 4 September 1917; disbanded 23 November 1920)
Reorganized 24 June
1920 as the National Lancers, an independent unit, and Troop A, 1st
Separate Squadron of Cavalry (hereafter separate lineage)
October 1964 in the Massachusetts Organized Militia at Framingham
as the National Lancers
Ordered into active
state service 23 July 2004; released from active state service 30
South Carolina 1862
World War I
Ile de France 1918
NATIONAL LANCERS 2013
BG Mario DiCarlo
BG Leonid Kondratiuk
COL Richard Reale, Jr.
LTC Karen MacNutt
MAJ James DiCarlo
MAJ Elias Dow, MD
CHAP(MAJ) Peter Preble
MAJ Darin Reale
CPT Richard Reale
2LT Andrew Tobin
MSG Paul Tobin
SFC Mathew Johnson
SSG Christopher Tobin
SGT Elaine Corda
SGT Dennis Williams
CPL Michelle Domey
PFC Eric Gallant
PFC Donna Harmon
PFC Christina Leboeuf
PFC Christine Sturniolo