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Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of 36th Infantry Division, worn by soldiers of 56th Infantry Brigade.

The 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is a unit of the Texas Army National Guard and subordinate to the 36th Infantry Division.

Early history

56th Cavalry Brigade Shoulder Sleeve Insignia. Brigade included Texas units (lone star) and New Mexico units (red Zia sun).

At the start of World War I the War Department organized two National Guard Cavalry brigades as part of the Army’s wartime expansion, and assigned them to relieve regular Army Cavalry brigades patrolling the Mexico-United States border after the Pancho Villa Expedition.[1] The unit allocated to Texas was fielded as 1st Texas Cavalry Brigade, and commanded by Brigadier General Jacob F. Wolters (namesake of Fort Wolters). The War Department planned to mobilize the brigade for overseas service, but the war ended before training was complete, and soldiers were demobilized in late 1918 and early 1919.[2] The brigade was reorganized as 1st Cavalry Brigade on August 23, 1919, and General Wolters remained in command. The task organization for the brigade also included the 111th Cavalry Regiment in New Mexico.[3]

Post-World War I

In 1921 the 1st Cavalry Brigade was renamed the 56th Cavalry Brigade and assigned to the 23rd Cavalry Division as part of the Army’s post-World War I reorganization of the National Guard.[4][5]

Soldiers of the 56th Cavalry were called out several times to quell civil disturbances, including: the Longview Race Riot of 1919;[6] the Galveston Longshoreman's Strike of 1920;[7] the Mexia and Borger Oil Field Booms of 1922[8] and 1929;[9] the booms in the East Texas oil fields in 1931[10] and 1932;[11] and the response following a hurricane in 1932.[12] Wolters commanded troops on state active duty so often that he published a manual on use of the National Guard in reestablishing law and order following riots and natural disasters.[13]

In 1929 the 111th Cavalry Regiment was made a separate organization, and the newly organized 124th Cavalry Regiment was added to the 56th Cavalry Brigade, making it a completely Texas National Guard organization.[14]

World War II

In 1940 the 56th Cavalry Brigade headquarters was federalized for World War II.[15] The 56th was the last Cavalry brigade in the United States to have horses, and in 1944 the headquarters was reorganized as the 56th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized).[16] The new unit was demobilized in November, 1945, following the end of World War II. The brigade headquarters and re-organized reconnaissance troop did not deploy overseas or see combat, but the 112th and 124th Cavalry, the regiments previously assigned to the 56th Cavalry Brigade, did serve overseas.[17][18]

Post-World War II

File:49th Armored Division.patch.gif

Shoulder Sleeve Insignia of 49th Armored Division, worn from 1946 to 2004.

The post-World War II reorganization of the National Guard included the creation of several Armored divisions, among them the 49th Armored Division in Texas.[19] The 56th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop was reorganized as Headquarters, and Headquarters Company, Combat Command A, 49th Armored Division and stationed in Fort Worth.

In October, 1961 the unit was federalized for during the Berlin crisis and trained at Fort Polk and other locations before being demobilized.[20][21]

The headquarters of Combat Command A was reorganized in 1963 and the new unit was designated Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 49th Armored Division.[22][23] In 1968 the 2nd Brigade’s headquarters was re-designated as Headquarters, 49th Armored Group., and relieved from assignment to the 49th Armored Division. In 1971 another reorganization resulted in the renaming of the 49th Armored Group’s headquarters as Headquarters, 49th Armored Brigade.[24]

A 1973 reorganization re-designated the unit Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 49th Armored Division.[25]

Recent history

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, 56th IBCT soldiers and units performed extended active duty for Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

The 49th Armored Division was inactivated in 2004 and the reorganized division was fielded as the 36th Infantry Division. 2nd Brigade, 49th Armored Division was reorganized and renamed 56th Infantry Brigade, 36th Infantry Division.

The 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in 2005 and performed convoy command and control and convoy security duty as part of Multi-National Corps – Iraq.[26]

In 2008 and 2009 the 56th IBCT returned to Iraq and performed convoy and base security force duties.[27]

3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.[28]

Task organization

The Army’s conversion to modular brigades from 2004 to 2006 included the 56th Brigade’s organization as an Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Its task organization includes:


  1. Atlanta Constitution, After Looting, Bandits Fled, December 6, 1919
  2. Robert Peyton Wiggins, Jungle Combat with the 112th Cavalry: Three Texans in the Pacific in World War II, 2011, page 15
  3. New Mexico Adjutant General, History, National Guard of New Mexico, 1606-1963, 1964, page 43
  4. John B. Wilson, Center of Military History, Army Lineage Series: Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades, 1999, page 385
  5. National Guard Bureau, Annual Report, 1922, page 245
  6. Atlanta Constitution, Four Whites Wounded in Fight With Blacks, July 12, 1919
  7. Christian Science Monitor, Martial Law at Galveston, June 8, 1920
  8. Arizona Republic, National Guard Enforce Law in Texas Oil Town, January 13, 1922
  9. Associated Press, Milwaukee Sentinel, Borger Mayor Quits: Sheriff Also Resigns; Martial Law Expected to be Lifted This Week, October 15, 1929
  10. United Press International, Pittsburgh Press, Wells Shut Down by Texas Troops, August 17, 1931
  11. New York Times, STAYS TEXAS MARTIAL LAW.; Federal Court Permanently Enjoins Gov. Sterling's Oil Field Rule, February 19, 1932
  12. Associated Press, Lewiston Daily Sun, Texas Hurricane Death Toll Now 32, August 16, 1932
  13. Texas State Historical Association, The Handbook of Texas Online, Biography, Jacob Franklin Wolters, accessed July 2, 2013
  14. Gordon Rottman, World War II US Cavalry Units: Pacific Theater, 2011
  15. Associated Press, Reading Eagle, 37,000 More Guardsmen to be Called, September 19, 1940
  16. Henry Wolff, Jr., Victoria Advocate, Henry’s Journal: Retired Soldier Served in Last U.S. Horse Cavalry Unit, October 9, 1994
  17. Lindesay Parrott, New York Times, 'The Town Nobody Wants' Is Left By Foe as Bait Along Manila Route, April 5, 1945
  18. Associated Press, Spokane Spokesman-Review, 2 Yank Ground Units in China, June 5, 1945
  19. Christian Science Monitor, National Guard of 682,114 Twice That of Prewar Force, July 13, 1946
  20. United Press International, Bonham Daily Favorite, 49th Commander Says Order Means Intensified Drills, September 7, 1961
  21. Associated Press, Tuscaloosa News, 49th Armored Division Slates First Review Since Call-up, October 31, 1961
  22. John B. Wilson, Center of Military History, Army Lineage Series: Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades, 1999, page 385
  23. National Guard Bureau, Annual Report, 1922, page 245
  24. Center of Military History, Army Lineage Series: Armor-Cavalry, Part 1: Regular Army and Army Reserve, 1972, page 101
  25. United Press International, Eugene Register, 49th Reactivated, November 25, 1973
  26. Kevin Welch, Amarillo Globe-News, 56th Brigade Combat Team returns from Iraq; Ceremony Set for Dec. 10, December 1, 2005
  27. Gonda Moncada, 36th Infantry Division Public Affairs, Touch Down in Texas, August 8, 2009
  28. Chris Vaughn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fort Worth-based National Guard Unit Heading to Afghanistan, June 17, 2012

External links

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