Front cover

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Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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p. vii

List of Illustrations

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p. viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xii

Bill Nance begins with a bold statement: “Much of what we know about American operational art in the Second World War is incomplete or wrong.” It is hard not to smile when reading that line: a bold declaration of independence and purpose by a younger scholar. For someone who has been in the field for a while, such a sentence invariably provokes a defensive reaction. After all, Nance is challenging those of us who have been researching and writing on this topic for decades. Can he back it up?...

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-8

Much of what we know about American operational art in the Second World War is incomplete or wrong.1 While the actions of divisions, corps, and field armies have been chronicled extensively throughout the past seventy years, the contributions of the corps cavalry have largely been forgotten. American corps cavalry filled their long-held doctrinal niches of reconnaissance, security, economy of force, and coordination/liaison on the operational battlefield, allowing their corps and...

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2 Background

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pp. 9-36

The American cavalry groups of the European Theater of Operations, as opposed to the new armor divisions, were not new organizations.1 Rather, they were heirs of a unique and proud heritage and tradition that the army leadership had subjected to massive revision in a very short period of time. The history of how the army viewed cavalry and the horribly confusing doctrinal shift concerning cavalry in the early 1940s sheds a great deal of light onto the challenges of corps cavalry during World War II. Significantly, commanders from the regimental...

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3 Cavalry in the Bocage

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pp. 37-50

The Normandy campaign provided the mechanized cavalry groups (MCGs) of the U.S. Army with their first test of combat. While some individuals may have possessed combat experience, an overwhelming majority of the cavalrymen arriving in France were green, much like most of the rest of the army in Normandy. This uniform inexperience contrasted sharply with some of the polyglot German forces in France, which consisted of everything from war-weary but veteran formations to raw recruits.1 Both sides quickly gained the measure of the other in the ensuing two months of combat....

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4 Race to Glory

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pp. 51-104

The campaign that encompassed the Allied advance across northwestern France proved to be very different from the fighting in Normandy. Whereas the Norman battlefields had been typified by nearly static, claustrophobic fighting with little chance for maneuver, the fighting across northern France became almost the polar opposite. The broad, sweeping countryside of the western end of the North European Plain is the dominant terrain feature. Several large rivers cross the area, but...

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5 The Bitter Fall

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pp. 105-142

During the fall of 1944, the Allied armies slowed and then stopped on a line from southeastern France to the Netherlands. German resistance had finally stiffened to the point that they were able to achieve limited successes. The terrain in this part of Europe also aided the German efforts. In the south, General Alexander Patch’s Seventh Army faced the daunting Vosges Mountains, considered a major military obstacle since Roman times.1 Farther north, General George S. Patton’s Third Army first had to fight through the German defenses near Metz along...

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6 A Desperate Winter

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pp. 143-178

The German offensives of December 1944 and January 1945 placed the U.S. Army in a position that it has not often held—that of the operational defense. Known as Operation WACHT AM RHEIN (the Bulge) and Operation NORDWIND (the offensive into the Seventh Army), both operations occurred in heavily broken terrain and bad weather. The corps cavalry played important roles in the fighting over these two months, figuring prominently in some of the most famous and infamous actions of this extremely difficult time for the army....

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7 To the Rhine

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pp. 179-216

The two months after the close of the Battle of the Bulge would witness the destruction of most of the organized resistance the Germans could muster on the Western Front. However, despite the impending demise of the Nazi state, the remaining forces of the SS and Wehrmacht continued to put up fierce, often fanatical resistance.
The Allied armies on the continent, refitted after the grueling fighting of December and January, stood poised to make the final drive to the Rhine River, the last natural obstacle defending Germany’s western frontier. The Commonwealth 21st Army Group in the...

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8 Sabers through the Reich

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pp. 217-262

By the middle of March, the Allied armies stood poised along the Rhine River, ready to launch the offensive that would end the war in the west. The Ninth Army, still attached to Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s 21st Army Group, stretched from a point between Düsseldorf and Cologne in the south to the town of Wesel in the north. Lieutenant General Courtney Hodge’s First Army, with a foothold already across the Rhine at Remagen, would use the middle of the...

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9 Conclusions

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pp. 263-270

On 19 May 1945, the 3rd MCG celebrated the ninety-ninth anniversary of the regiment.1 In a letter addressed to the officers and men of the group, Lieutenant General Walton Walker praised the cavalrymen: “The ‘crossed sabers’ you wear bear a new luster due to your deeds in the present campaign. When the history of the present War in Europe is written, no narrative could be complete, no account could be either adequate or accurate unless it told, and told at some length, of your achievements.”2...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 271-272

Notes

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pp. 273-312

Bibliography

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pp. 313-332

Index

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pp. 333-354