The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, also known as the First City Troop, is a unit of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. It is the oldest military unit in the United States still in active service.
The First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, or "First City Troop", was organized in 1774 as the Light Horse of the City of Philadelphia, often referred to as the Philadelphia Light Horse, one of the first patriotic military organizations established in the American Revolution. It is the only military unit in the US that owns its own armory building, built with private funds in the Rittenhouse section of Philadelphia.
Early members came from a number of local social organizations, including the Schuylkill Fishing Company, the Schuylkill Company of Fort St. Davids, the St. Andrew's Society of Philadelphia, the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the Society of the Sons of St. George, and especially the Gloucester Fox Hunting Club. Captain Samuel Morris was Gloucester's first president and Captain Robert Wharton its last. During the Revolution, the troop fought in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, and Germantown. It often served as George Washington's personal bodyguard. The unit also saved James Wilson at the "Battle of Fort Wilson" riot.
During the American Civil War, the First City Troop was called into active duty several times, beginning with the 1861 Campaign that led to the First Battle of Bull Run. During the Gettysburg Campaign, the company, under the command of future U.S. Speaker of the House Samuel J. Randall, performed scouting duties around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in late June before fleeing to neighboring York County following a brief skirmish on June 26, 1863. The company later helped defend the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge against the Confederate forces of John Brown Gordon.
Today, the First City Troop deploys overseas with the Pennsylvania National Guard in support of Army operations. Recent deployments have been to Bosnia, Iraq, and Egypt. Membership is by election. Soldiers on the active roll continue to donate their drill pay back to the unit, in order to maintain a tradition of voluntary service. The troop draws its membership from Troop A, 1st Squadron, 104th Cavalry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division (United States), Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
- Hudson, Richard L. 1980. "At Ease, Troopers: Fall Out for Caviar and Pickled Herring. That's the Order Often Heard at Elite Philadelphia Club, A Unit of the National Guard." Wall Street Journal. February 29, 1980. Page A1
- Brooke, George, III. With the First City Troop on the Mexican Border. Philadelphia: 1917.
- Clark, William P. Official History of the Militia And the National Guard of the State of Pennsylvania from the Earliest Period of Record to the Present Time. 3 vols. Philadelphia: 1909-1912.
- First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. By-Laws, Muster Roll, and Papers Selected from the Archives of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry, 1840.
- First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry. History of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry; From Its Organization November 17th 1774 to Its Centennial Anniversary .... Philadelphia: Hallowell, 1875.
- Hendler, Charles J., compiler. Official History of the Militia and National Guard of the State of Pennsylvania. 4 vols. Philadelphia: 1936.
- Hudson, Richard L. 1980. "At Ease, Troopers: Fall Out for Caviar and Pickled Herring- That's the Order Often Heard at Elite Philadelphia Club, A Unit of the National Guard." Wall Street Journal. February 29, 1980. Page A1, A26.
- McBarron, H. Charles, Jr. (March 1951). "First Troop Philadelphia Light Horse, 1809-1815". Military Collector and Historian. pp. 14–16.
- Risley, Clyde A.; James P. Simpson; and John R. Elting. "Light-Horse of the City of Philadelphia, 1776-1777." Military Collector and Historian, 23 (Winter 1971), pp. 121–122.
- "A Return of the First City Troop, 1799." Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 23 (1899), p. 127.
- Scharf, John Thomas; Thompson Westcott (1884). History of Philadelphia, 1609-1884. Phila.: Lippincott.
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