From a letter by Frederick Benteen describing events at Washita River written in December 1868: ".....a squadron of cavalry is in motion.....a gray troop goes on in the direction again....."
The book Washita Memories consists of personal correspondence compiled from various people about the Washita River Battle. One thing that pops up in the various letters is the use of the words squadron and troop for bodies of cavalry. A cavalry regiment at that time officially consisted of twelve companies. But troopers, enlisted and officer alike, often spoke of their troop, not company.
Some of the verbiage might be explained by former troopers writing in the 1890s about events that occurred in the 1860s and 1870s and using the then up to date terms. But that can't account for all of it because Custer himself used the terms troop and company interchangeably in the same letter and he died 10+ years before squadron and troop became official. The terms squadron and troop did not become official for cavalry until the late 1880s but they seem to have been in common usage long before.
It sort of reminds me of Special Forces wearing the green beret. It was going on for years before it was authorized.
Last Edit: Jun 24, 2017 16:20:57 GMT -5 by sgttyree