The Parade for Gettysburg’s 75th

As another Gettysburg anniversary passes into the background, it is worth recalling that the battlefield’s history did not stop in 1863. I recently noticed something interesting about the 75th anniversary in 1938, specifically about the parade on July 2 by then-current U.S. Army units. Most came from posts around Washington and Fort George G. Meade in Maryland.

Two units, which followed each other in the parade line, were the horse-mounted 3d Cavalry Regiment and the mechanized 66th Infantry Regiment (Light Tanks). Within five years, both units (the latter redesignated as 66th Armor Regiment) would be mechanized and involved in World War II.

The 3d’s commander was Colonel Jonathan M. Wainwright, grandson of Civil War veterans in the U.S. Army and Navy. The 66th was led by Colonel Simon B. Buckner, Jr., son and namesake of the Confederate lieutenant general. Both men were destined for prominent and fraught fates in World War II’s Pacific Theater.

Newspaper accounts I have seen make no mention of either officer’s Civil War connections, but some people in the crowd (and the officers themselves) probably noted them. In retrospect, the literal following of horse cavalry by armor offers a poetic foreshadowing of events just a few years hence.

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