(New Republic) The peak Twitter moment in Monday night’s presidential debate occurred when President Obama answered Mitt Romney’s complaint that the Navy has fewer ships today than in 1916: “Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed.”
That made me wonder: When was the last time U.S. horse cavalry—I am obliged to say “horse cavalry” because today there are cavalry units with tanks or airplanes taking the place of horses–charged into battle? The answer turns out to be Jan. 16, 1942, during a retreat by the 26th Cavalry Regiment to the Bataan peninsula preceding the surrender of U.S. forces in the Philippines to the Japanese army. The charge was led by Lt. Edwin Price Ramsey. Ramsey would say afterwards that he never really expected to survive the war. “It was a very difficult war,” he said, “and I don’t know that I had constantly committed myself to the grave, but I knew that the odds were against my making it.”
As it happens, Ramsey uttered those words this afternoon. He was speaking to me by telephone from Los Angeles. He is 95 years old, and, as best I could tell by phone, he’s in terrific shape.
Ramsey watched the presidential debate last night, and, yes, he noticed Obama’s remark.