KBR Equine Heroes Series

Horses of the
Commanding General's Mounted
Color Guard

Established in 1992, the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard provides a link to Fort Riley's historic past. Troopers and horses of this unit are outfitted in the uniforms, accoutrements, and equipment of the Civil War period. Soldiers are detailed from the ranks of units assigned to Fort Riley and receive instruction from manuals used by Civil War cavalrymen.

From Privates to the First Sergeant, these men recreate the colorful spectacle of the American Horse Soldier. They demonstrate their horsemanship for school groups and perform at parades, re-enactments, official ceremonies on post.

Reflecting this heritage and commitment, the Commanding General's Mounted Color Guard lives up to a description of mounted troops written after the Civil War: "The cavalry is the hardest branch there is in the service. A cavalryman is kept busy all day long."


Like most cavalryman of the American Civil War, the Color Guard wear the 1854 pattern uniform jacket. Trimmed in yellow - the cavalry branch color - this wool/cotton uniform provides degrees of warmth as well as coolness. While in camp or garrison, the sack coat and muslin shirts were the common attire.

The trousers are kersey blue in color and are reinforced in the seat to extend wear. The wider the yellow stripe, the higher the enlisted rank. Officers trousers have only an 1/8 inch welt of yellow cord down the outside seam.

Headgear includes a forage cap, copied from a style popular in the French Army. Slouch hats, or campaign hats, are occasionally worn by enlisted men but do not have yellow hat cords.

Boots and brogans, or short ankle boots, are the standard issuance for footwear.


The Civil War cavalryman used a variety of weapons. Handguns included the 1858 Remington New-Model Revolver and Colt Army Model 1860 - both .44 caliber; and the Colt Navy Model 1851 which was a .36 caliber weapon. The Model 1863 Sharps Carbine was one of the more popular firearms carried by the cavalry, although like the side arms, numerous types of shoulder arms were used.

The cavalryman might also carry a saber. The Model 1861 Light Cavalry Saber was the standard pattern issued. However, the saber was a cumbersome piece of equipment, rarely needed in the field and often left back in camp. Nevertheless, the saber gave the horse soldier another weapon in his arsenal - if the situation required.


The standard saddle used was the 1859 pattern McClellan. Captain George B. McClellan developed the saddle's design as a result of his travels on the frontier, in Mexico and Europe in the 1850s. A distinctive feature of the saddle was the rawhide seat which was adopted as an economy measure. The McClellan saddle, which weighs approximately eighteen pounds, was designed for the comfort of the horse. This saddle, with certain modifications, continued to be used by the Cavalry until World War II.


The Mounted Color Guard Stable is housed in the last cavalry training stable building which still has a cobblestone floor. This building was built in 1889 with a capacity for seventy-six horses. Rooms were set aside for the Stable Sergeant and Tack Room. Today, the building is home to the Mounted Color and is staffed by a First Sergeant and special duty soldiers from units assigned to Fort Riley.
1SG Mark Atwood and Riley


PFC Gabriel Tervino & Trooper

Play Time

Introducing the Jumps

New arrival- Ranger

When acquiring horses, the Mounted Color Guard typically looks for 5 year old or older dark geldings, black, bay or brown, with few or no white points. The original cavalry horses were dark with few if any bright markings so that they would be less visible to the enemy.

The unit strives as much as possible to use animals which will provide for authentic recreations during battle reenactments and other historic activities.

Continue to Part 2

We thank the Ft. Riley Public Affairs Office for the accounts and photos presented in this web document. Color Ft. Riley photos by Gary Skidmore.


The History of the Ft. Riley Wild Horse Project

Mustangs of the Mounted Color Guard

Equine Heroes: the US cavalry

The Soldier who Trains Wild Mustangs

US Army "Soldiers" feature on the Mounted Color Guard

Return to KBR World of Wild Horses & Burros

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