Fort Hood, Texas

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The Caltrop Arrives at Fort Hood

Editor’s Note: This article ran in the 50th Anniversary issue of the Fort Hood Sentinel, July 2, 1992.

The III Corps insignia features the caltrop shown as a three-sided pronged figure. The three prongs are usually blue, and the center triangle white.

The caltrop was approved for the III Corps as a shoulder patch Jan. 30, 1919. When originally manufactured, patches were a solid dark color with no white center. White cloth was not available due to wartime shortages.

For information on the early uses of the caltrop, we can turn to Farrow’s Military Encyclopedia, printed in 1885:

“Calthrop, Calthrop or Caltrop, an obstacle in military warfare consisting of a four-pronged piece of iron, each prong about four inches in length. When it is wished to check the approach of the enemy’s cavalry over a plane or of besiegers in the ditch of a fortification, caltrops are sometimes thrown down. From their shape, two prongs are sure to stand upright and may work terrible mischief to the enemy’s horses or men.”

It was the cluster of four devastating points arranged to point four evenly spaced directions like a tetrahedron, that worked so well obstructing horses, vehicles and soldiers on foot.

Caltrops designed to trap armored vehicles measure much larger. The same device was used in Vietnam as an effective weapon against food soldiers and wheeled vehicles and was used in beach defenses.

(Information from Curator Michael Wisney, U.S. Army History Collection, Carlisle Barracks, Pa.)

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