U.S. ARMY ARMOR / CAVALRY CORPS OFFICER'S CEREMONIAL BELT

The ceremonial belt, sometimes called a sabre belt, is not mentioned in either of the Army’s principle regulations regarding uniforms and clothing, AR 670-1 or DA PAM 670-1. And nowhere is it referred to the Training Circular 3-21.5, Drills and Ceremonies. Nonetheless, it is safe to assume that its wear is reserved for special ceremonies or occasions—which in the case of Cavalry units might very well include the ceremonial mixing and consumption of a mixture referred to as “Cavalry Grog.”

Like many Cavalry traditions, nailing down precisely how, when, and why Cavalry Grog came into existence is impossible, with nearly every explanation beginning with the phrase, “Legend has it…” One explanation that seems at least partially accurate is that was born in the years and decades following the Civil War, as Cavalry Troopers serving in the Western expanses would share whatever “fire water” they had on hand in order to ensure that all fellow Cavalrymen could imbibe. And the easiest way to do that was simply pour all the distilled delights into a single pot or other vessel and then portion out the concoction to all who were gathered.

Over the years, the astonishing power of Cavalry Grog, which somehow transforms into “Punch” when mixed and served at formal occasions, grew with each mixing and retelling. This indeed was a miracle formula: the same liquid that could warm a Cavalryman chilled to the bone could, in a pinch, be used to clean cannons or even lube vehicles—or at least that was the claim.

The beauty of Cavalry Grog or Punch is that each organization can tailor the ingredients to reflects its history. One of the most famous list of ingredients is found in the “Historic Regimental Punch” of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. In a monograph published by the 2nd Cavalry Association called The History, Customs and Traditions of the Second Dragoons, instructions list the order in which the spirits are to be added to the potent potable, along with the reasons for their inclusion: Kahlua, for instance, is added in recpgmotopm of the regiment’s gallant actions at the Battle of Resaca de la Palma in the Mexican-American War, while Southern Comfort is included to honor fighting in the Civil War.

After mixing a dozen liquors, wines, and even non-alcoholic beers and reliving the regiment’s storied past comes this final—and excruciatingly accurate—recitation from the master of ceremonies: “Now for the hardest part of all—to drink this punch!”
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