THE HOOF BEATS OF AMA
Many years have past since anyone has heard the hoof beats of Augusta Military Academy’s horse cavalry.
From a small beginning of just ten horses, the cavalry unit at Augusta was started in 1932. It would never have started had it not been for Mr. Lyrf who paid his son Oliver’s tuition with giving AMA a good number of horses. The unit steadily grew in equipment and interest until there were thirty horses and fifty cadets.
Their drill was held during the regular drill period and cadets alternated in taking part as there were more cadets than horses. Regular cavalry drill was given and the cadets were instructed in all things that go to make up a good cavalryman such as care of the animals, equipment, ability to judge horses and all other phases of equitation.
Lt. Charles Roller III was in charge of the unit and was responsible for much of the interest in the drills and maneuvers. He was present at all the drill periods and rode with the cadets. His personal interest in the cavalry and his presence were deeply appreciated by all the cadets.
Not all of the activities of the cavalry were confined to the drill field and the ride maneuvers. They went to Staunton to ride with the members of the Glenmore Hunt Club. MAJ. Charles Roller Jr., MEH of the Glenmore Hunt Club always arranged a good hunt for the cadets.
Of the thirty horses in AMA’S stables, eighteen were thoroughbreds and the others were well bred for hunting and riding.
At garrison review it was truly a great sight to see the cavalry attached to the infantry unit executing the drills in excellent horsemanship. During athletic events many of the cadets acted as mounted guards and won admiration of the visitors by their courtesy and manliness.
After the death of Lt. Roller, the cavalry stood still and nothing was done until Lt. Worsham took over the leadership.
Another important event that the cavalry took part in was the annual Glenmore Hunt Club Horse Show and Hunter Trials. The cadets entered the special class open to AMA, SMA and FMS walking away with many prizes.
The cavalry put on their own horse show at finals. They gave some remarkable exhibitions of horsemanship and jumping plus some very entertaining exhibition classes.
Much credit for the good showing of the cavalry at finals must be given to MAJ Charles Roller who nearly every afternoon came out and gave the riders the benefit of a lifetime of riding.
A favorite of the cadets and crowds alike were the “sham battles” but on each year during commencement week. These performances recreated battles from World War I on the fields around the campus. Live (but blanks) ammunition added to the realism.
The old horse cavalry is no longer but if you listen hard you can still hear the hoof beats at AMA.
Big Sham Battle
In speaking through the megaphone always speak to the right, then to the center, then to the left. Speak slowly and distinctly and take plenty of time.
This year it will represent the storming and capture of FORT TONDO in the West Indies by a battalion of foreign troops.
The BLUE force in the attack is commanded ty Major Moreno ( Cadet Capt. Messmore.) He will be assisted and supported by Captain Carlos(Cadet Capt. Lee) Captain San Juan( Cadet Capt. Reniers) and other valiant officers and soldiers.
The RED force which will hold the fort is commanded by Capt. Gomez (Cadet Capt. Powell). He will be supported by the Artillery in command of Capt. Pedro (Cadet Capt. McClung). All of the defending troops are seasoned fighters and have shown great bravery under fire. It will be seen later that they will hold the fort to the last man.
During the action you will see the capture of an OUTPOST located near the Pike. You will see the advance held up by Machine Gun fire and it will be necessary to flank these guns and kill the gunners. The first assault wave will have many casualties. Upon being reinforced, Major Moreno will attempt to charge. This will be repulsed and it will be necessary to call his detachment of the Foreign Legion for the final charge.
The battle will begin promptly on a signal from the Commandant of Augusta Military Academy, Major Charles S. Roller, Jr.
FROM a small beginning of ten horses the Cavalry unit at Augusta started in 1932 and has steadily grown in equipment and interest until at present there are thirty horses and fifty cadets. The drill is held at the regular drill period and the boys alternate in taking part as there are more boys than horses. Regular cavalry drill is given and the boys are instructed in all the things that go to make up a good cavalry man; care of animals, equipment, ability to judge horses, and all phases of equitation.
Lieutenant Roller has charge of the unit and is responsible for much of the interest in the drills and maneuvers. He is present at all the drill periods and rides with the boys. They know that when they can ride as well as he does they will he more than qualified to join any company of horsemen. His personal interest in the cavalry and his presence are deeply appreciated by all the cadets and they consider themselves lucky to have him in charge of the cavalry.
Not all of the activities of the cavalry are confined to the drill field and the ride maneuvers. We have had at school this year several drag hunts and have been to Staunton to ride with the members of The Glenmore Hunt Club. Major Roller, M. F. H. of The Glenmore Club, always arranged a good hunt for the cadets, and it was a real diversion for the boys who took part. The Hunter trials of the Glenmore Club were witnessed by many of the members of the Augusta Cavalry. It was with real pleasure that they saw many of their horses win ribbons when showing against the best horses of this section of the country.
Our horses are well qualified to win at any meet. Of the thirty in our stables, eighteen are thoroughbreds and the others are all well bred for hunting and riding. Many of our thoroughbreds are from the stables of Willis Sharpe Kilmer, the owner of Sun Beau, Sun Briar, and the breeder of Reigh Count.
At Garrison Review it is truly a great sight to see our Cavalry attached to the Infantry Unit executing the drill in a manner that speaks of perfect training and displays excellent horsemanship in boys of their age. During the progress of athletic events many of the cadets act as mounted guards and win the admiration of the visitors by their courtesy and manliness. Informally, many of the boys enjoy rides over the beautiful countryside each holiday. At finals it is the custom to give our own horse show for the visitors and to determine the best horsemen and horses of the year.
Outstanding among the members of this year’s Cavalry are W. Miller, Jones, T. Felts, Talbott, Keane, and Zerbey. These boys have shown all the year that they possess the qualities that go to make up exceptional horseman and, naturally, are considered outstanding cadets in all the attributes that go to make up a well developed man.
Under the tutelage of Lieutenant Roller, the cavalry this year has been bigger and better than in any previous year. The cadets ride nearly every afternoon, learning horsemanship, the various maneuvers of a cavalry troop, and the care and proper handling of their mounts.
In addition to the regular riding during drill, the troop this year engaged in several fox hunts with the Glenmore Hunt Club of Staunton. At the Hunter Trials of the club, the troop entered sixteen men in a special class open to our cadets and those of Staunton and Fishburne. The class was won by Young, J., who got a silver loving cup for his superior riding. Shipplett, J., took second place, and Carver emerged with the third ribbon.
The cavalry always has a special horse show of its own at Finals, an entire morning being given to it. They show us just how to take their horses over high and difficult jumps, and the winners in the various classes are given awards. In addition, they give us a special drill, and always appear in the sham battle as a cavalry troop rather than with their companies, adding color and dash to this spectacle.
In addition, they usually go on an overnight hike once a year, riding for several hours, camping for the night, and then returning the next day.
Another of the organizations which was affected by the untimely death of Lieutenant Roller, was the cavalry. Under his leadership the cavalry has grown until there are forty horses in the barn and a full membership of cadets.
The members of the cavalry improved so fast in the ordinary drill and were far enough advanced in taking the jumps that before Christmas they rode to the hounds of the Glenmore Hunt Club. Another hunt was participated in after Christmas. Then the cavalry stood still and nothing was done until Lieutenant Worsham took over the leadership, and proved to he one of the best drilled troops in recent years.
Another important event that the cavalry took part in was the annual Glenmore Hunt Club Horse Show and Hunter Trials. Our cadets entered the special class open to A. M. A., S. M. A., and F. M. S., and we walked away with the prizes with Rust taking first, Maclntire second, and Collins third. We also entered twelve horses in the hunter trials and gave a performance which was truly good.
In addition, the Cavalry put on their own horse show at finals, and this year they gave some remarkable exhibitions of horsemanship and jumping, plus some very entertaining exhibition classes.
Much credit for the good showing of the Cavalry at finals must he given to Major Roller, who nearly every afternoon came out and gave the riders the benefit of a lifetime of riding.
The cavalry, one of the newest and most enjoyable organizations on the post, was founded several years ago by the Late Lieutenant Charles S. Roller, III. Through his careful guidance and leadership, the cavalry progressed from the modest horse troop of old to the perfected military unit that it is today.
The members of the cavalry have improved so rapidly under Captain Creel’s guidance that they have begun to resemble the United States Army Cavalry in precision and form. Too much credit cannot be given to Captain Creel and his able assistants, Lieutenants Worsham, Twombly, and Jones, who have labored hard producing the efficient horsemen that compose our cavalry.
This year, in addition to attending several of the Glenmore hunts, the cavalry enjoyed many afternoons riding with their own newly-founded hunt club. The new hunt club was organized by Major Roller and Captain Creel, through whose combined efforts the cavalry hunt club is expected to become recognized by the other hunt clubs of the state.
At Finals, the cavalry gave their annual horse show, and the members gave many fine exhibitions of horsemanship and jumping that have not been equaled since the founding of this unit.
Much credit for the remarkable showing at Finals must be given to Captain Creel, who every afternoon gave the riders the benefit of his many years of riding with the United States Cavalry. Major Roller has been very active in the progress of the cavalry, and we thank him for the part he played in making this the best horse organization among Prep-Schools in the state.
Organized a number of years ago by the late Lieutenant Charles S. Roller, III, the Cavalry has grown in numbers and interest through the years. It stages fox hunts during the fall and winter season, a hunter trials in the spring, and always sponsors a horse show at finals that is witnessed by many.
In addition to cavalry drills and sham battles, AMA often reached out to the local community, as this program for the 1941 horse show. This was perhaps the last public event held by AMA’s cavalry unit, as it was disbanded this same year, and the horses were sold off.
AMA CAVALRY HORSE SHOW
Augusta Military academy announces the program for its annual horse show Saturday, May 31.
This show will have about thirty contestants from the Augusta Military academy cavalry and the V.M.I. cavalry; also entries from the stables of James Hamilton. Lexington; Dr. Byers, Harrisonburg; Mr. Berry. Harrisonburg; Grover Van Devenater, Charlottesville, and Shipplett, Craun, and, Stoutemyer, of Mt. Solon; also probably some entries from Mary Baldwin college and Stuart Hall, Staunton, and Fairfax Hall, Waynesboro, as well as the Taylor stables and other local horse owners.
Judges will be Grover VanDevanter, of Farmington Hunt club, and Samuel McClure, of Spottswood.
Program in Detail
A.M.A. WEST CAVALRY CAMPUS
SATURDAY, MAY 31,1941; 1:30 P.M.
1:30 P.M. ADVANCED HORSEMANSHIP
CLASS FOR A.M.A. CADETS ONLY
2:00 P.M. HORSEMANSHIP CLASS FOR
A.M.A. CADETS NOT IN ADVANCED CLASS
2:20 P.M. THREE – GAITED SADDLE HORSES.
(HORSES TO SHOW THREE GAITS: WALK, TROT, CANTER.)
2:40 P.M. FIVE-GAITED SADDLE HORSES.
(HORSES TO SHOW FIVE GAITS: WALK, RUNNING WALK, TROT,
3:00 P.M. PONY CLASS.
(FOR CHILDREN FOURTEEN YEARS AND UNDER.)
3:20 P.M. OPEN CLASS FOR HUNTERS.
(HORSES TO BE SHOWN OVER FOUR JUMPS NOT TO EXCEED 3 FEET)
3:40 P.M. PAIRS OF HUNTERS.
(HORSES TO BE SHOWN OVER FOUR JUMPS NOT TO EXCEED 3 FEET)
4:00 P.M. PAJAMA RACE
4:20 P.M. COSTUME CLASS.
(ALL RIDERS MUST BE IN COSTUME.)
NO ENTRANCE FEES. FREE STABLE ROOM AND HORSE FEED ON SATURDAY, MAY 31.
DIRECT ALL COMMUNICATIONS TO CAPTAIN Wm. TROLAN OF MRS. CHARLES S.
ROLLER, III., FORT DEFIANCE, VIRGINIA
Trophy and ribbons to be awarded in each class.
Horsemanship classes to be Judged on hands, seat, and control of horse, riders to change mounts at discretion of the judges.
Conformation 40 per cent and performance 60 per cent in saddle classes.
Performance only to count in hunter classes.
Front knockdown, four faults: hind knockdown, three faults; front touch, one fault; hind touch, one-half fault; first refusal or run-out, three faults; second refusal or runout, six faults; third refusal or run out, eliminated.
AMA’s Cavalry participated in many parades in local communities, especially Staunton and Harrisonburg.
Tack and Saddlery
A saddle used by Cadet Benjamin Carlisle, ‘34, was purchased on Ebay by a Gary W. Marker. The brass plate was subsequently purchased by Jerry Wildman, ‘57. It was believed that the brass-riveted ID tags essentially tell the entire tale of how things were. “I think that saddles
and tack for the cavalry unit were provided to each of the members of the unit, chosen for appropriate sizes, and that not only was the rider given ID’d equipment but the particular horse the member mounted was used by that rider each time they functioned AND the horse’s name was also placed on the brass ID tag; i.e., “Battalion Galloper”. Ben Carlisle was “Cadet Corporal Carlisle” and his mount for that particular year of cavalry duty was “Battalion Galloper.”
1932 to 1941 – Nine years of Cavalry at Augusta Military Academy
The News Leader, Staunton, reported On June 7, 1941, the disbanding of the AMA Cavalry unit, expecting the establishment of a cavalry unit by the U.S. government.
For nine years, AMA cadets were afforded the opportunity to become equestrians. Not many schools offered their students this extra activity. For the boys, it was an incredible learning experience, and fun!
This was only possible because two individuals, Charles S. Roller, Jr., and Charles S. Roller, III, father and son, were so devoted to their love of horses, along with their love for the cadets in their charge.
Charles Jr., owned a farm just to the South of the AMA Campus, and he continued to stable his horse there, and possibly several more. These were frequently displayed at the head of the column of AMA’s cadets during parades in nearby towns.
We, the Staff of the 1938 RECALL, dedicate this publication to the memory of
LIEUT. CHARLES SOMMERVILLE ROLLER, III
Born within the limits of this Institution, reared within the shadow of its walls, he contributed to its glory as a cadet and served it honorably as a member of its faculty.
The affection of the Corps and their unquestionable confidence in his leadership bears convincing testimony to his love and his abiding faith in the present generation.
Despite the shock of his tragic death and the awe of his earthly success, we should not falter, but, conscious of his ever-present spirit, that beckons us from the Great Beyond, we should march forward to greater things for “Charlie”.
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