The Minute Book
Thursday, 29 June 2017

When on the March; Actual Service (1870)
Topic: Marching

When on the March; Actual Service (1870)

The subaltern officers should personally see that the men wash their feet on arriving at a halting place for the night, and should satisfy themselves by personal inspection that the nails are properly cut. A good officer will attend to this injunction; a careless officer will probably turn it into ridicule to cover his own laziness.

Regulations and Orders for the Active Militia of the Dominion of Canada, 1870

The men composing any column of march, to march at attention when passing through town and villages; at other times, although marching at ease, they will strictly keep their ranks. A party on proportion to the strength of the column to be detailed invariably as an advanced and rear guard. An uniform steady pace, about three miles an hour to be kept up; the column to halt for five minutes at the end of the first half hour; and after that at the end of every hour's march.

An officer or non-commissioned officer with a party of one man per company to be sent in advance to choose a convenient spot at which to halt for meals, and to light fires for cooking if necessary. An intelligent officer with party similarly to be sent in advance to select a spot for camp or bivouac if necessary. Under no pretense are the men to be allowed to enter taverns to drink on the line of march. No man is to fall behind during the march but by leave of the captain of his company, and then always to have a non-commissioned officer left with him to bring him on.

If the march is to extend beyond one day, officers shall pay particular attention to the condition of the feet of their men. The subaltern officers should personally see that the men wash their feet on arriving at a halting place for the night, and should satisfy themselves by personal inspection that the nails are properly cut. A good officer will attend to this injunction; a careless officer will probably turn it into ridicule to cover his own laziness. It is impossible for men to march for many days consecutively without following this prescription, and the fate of a battle may very easily depend on the men being in good marching condition. Every man should have in his possession a piece of soap, and should soap the inside of the heel of his stocking before commencing each day's march, and the officers should see that this is done by every man. The men should be cautioned to drink on the march no more than is necessary to satisfy thirst, as over indulgence in this respect increases the craving it is intended to allay.

The men on arriving at the night's halting place should never be kept waiting. The camp or bivouac or the billets should be already prepared for the, and they should be dismissed to their rest with the least possible delay consistent with discipline. If the men are to be in billets, every man must be acquainted with the locality of the alarm post before being dismissed to his billet. The alarm post of each company should be the captain's billet, from whence it should be marches by the captain to the general rendezvous. A guard is to be established on arriving at the halting place for the night. All men required for duty to be warned before they are dismissed to their billets or camp.

The officer in command of a column will, on arriving at any post where a senior officer may be stationed, report to the senior officer for orders---and the billet party sent on to provide billets at such a post will in the first place report to the senior officer, on whom will devolve the responsibility of making requisitions for billets on the chief magistrate, or of superintending the arrangement of billets by agreement with the householders.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 5 June 2017

German March Discipline (1942)
Topic: Marching

German March Discipline (1942)

German Tactical Doctrine, Special Series No. 8, Prepared by [the US] Military Intelligence Section, 20 December 1942

Rates of March

Since it is important to provide conditions which permit an even rate of march, the mixing of different sorts of troops should be avoided as much as possible.* On good roads and under favorable conditions the following average speeds can be accomplished:**

 Per hour
Foot troops5 km (3 mi)
Foot troops (small units)6 km (3 ½ mi)
Mounted troops (trot and walk) 7 km (4 mi)
Mounted troops (trot)10 km (6 mi)
Bicyclists12 km (7 ½ mi)
Motorcyclists40 km (25 mi)
Large organizations with all weapons: 
(1) Including rest periods km (2 ½ mi)
(2) Under stress, without rest periods5 km (3 mi)
Motorized units30 km (18 mi)

* Pack animals are one disturbing factor in maintaining an even rate of march.

** For foot troops under ordinary conditions the distance prescribed as a "buffer" between companies, or similar units, is 10 paces; for mounted troops and trains, 15 paces. Such distances do not apply, of course, when air defense depth has been ordered.

Intense heat, poor roads, snow, ice, absence of bridges, and other local conditions greatly influence the march rate and the travel distance accomplished. The rate for foot troops on a cross-country or mountainous march decreases from the normal hourly rate by as much as 2 or 3 kilometers.

When great distances must be covered rapidly, motor and rail transportation can be used to expedite marches; for distances under 150 kilometers (93 miles) the use of motor transportation is recommended. When circumstances require foot or mounted troops to make forced marches, every effort is made to assist the accomplishment. Strict march discipline is preserved, and severe measures are meted out against malingerers. The men are told why the particular march is being made, and arrangements are made for rests where refreshments such as hot coffee or tea will be served. Their packs are carried, if possible, in trains.

March Rests

The commander should indicate in the march order all the necessary information concerning the duration and other conditions of the march. An officer should be sent forward to reconnoiter suitable areas for rests. Arrangements should be made for a short halt, not longer than 15 minutes, to begin after the troops have marched about 2 kilometers (1 ¼ miles) so that equipment and clothing may be comfortably readjusted on the men and animals. The troops remain near the road during such short periods, spreading out only a sufficient distance to secure cover from hostile air observation. When a long march is made, halts are ordered about every 2 hours. Rest periods are utilized for eating, drinking, feeding animals, and checking vehicles. The stopping places should be near water and not too restricted. In summer a rest should be prescribed during the hottest time of the day. During long rest periods the troops are arranged in groups; and when hostile airplanes approach, the air guards sound the warning and the troops take cover, remaining motionless.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:20 PM EDT
Friday, 21 April 2017

Speed Marching
Topic: Marching

Speed Marching

Combat Lessons, Number 2, September 1946

Report of Commanding General, 3d Division, on its landing in SICILY:

"The importance of physical condition cannot be over-emphasized. Speed-marching proved of great value in developing physical condition, eliminating the unfit, and instilling confidence and pride in the individual. Asa general training objective, all units prepared for a landing on defended beaches and an advance inland of about 5 miles. Speed-marching continued, each unit being required to complete 5 miles in 1 hour, 8 miles in 2 hours, and 20 miles in 5 hours once a week. This training was largely responsible for the speed with which the assault of this Division was executed."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:19 PM EDT
Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Marching and Care of Feet
Topic: Marching

Marching and Care of Feet

Home-Reading Course for Citizen Soldiers (Lesson No. 8, of 30)

Another sign of a green soldier is a carelessly adjusted pack or any other equipment not neatly and securely fastened.

Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 4 September 1917

The new soldier seldom understand how important it is for him to learn to march and to develop his muscles so that he can easily carry his arms and equipment. "marching constitutes the principal occupation of troops in campaign." (Infantry Drill Regulations, paragraph, 623.)

In order to march for long distances the soldier's feet must be in good condition. Marching shoes should be quite a little larger than shoes for ordinary wear. "Sores and blisters on the feet should be promptly dresses during halts. At the end of the march feet should be bathed and dressed; the socks, and if practicable, the shoes, should be changed. (Infantry Drill Regulations, paragraph, 627.)

Rules for Infantry

You will learn in time the practical rules for taking care of your feet that are followed by experienced soldiers. You will avoid considerable discomfort, however, if you learn some of these rules now and put them into practice from the beginning:

1.     See that your shoes are large enough. They will at first look and feel unnecessarily loose. This is needed because if has been found that feet swell and lengthen on marches, especially when carrying packs. But shoes fitted this way will give you no corns, blisters, or other foot ills.

2.     Take pains to keep your shoes in good condition. It is a good idea to apply a light coat of neat's foot oil, which will both soften the leather and tend to make them waterproof. Don't neglect to smooth out wrinkles in the lining of the shoe. "Break in" new shoes before wearing them on long marches.

3.     Wear light woolen socks, such as will be issued to you. See that you have no holes or wrinkles in them.

4.     Keep your feet, socks, and shoes clean. When on the march try to wash your socks at night and put on a clean pair every morning. Bathe the feet every evening, or at least wipe them off with a wet towel.

5.     Keep your feet scrupulously clean. A foot bath can be taken, when other facilities are not at hand, by scraping a small depression in the ground, trowing a poncho over it and pouring water into this from your canteen. Even a pint of water will do for a foot bath.

6.     Keep your toenails trimmed closely and cut them square across the ends. This will tend to prevent ingrowing nails. By all means avoid the common error of rounding the corners of the nail and cutting it to a point in the centre.

7.     In case a blister is formed while on the march, open the edge of the blister with the point of a knife or a needle that has been heated in a match flame. Then put on an adhesive plaster, covering the skin well beyond the edges of the blister, putting it on as tightly as as possible without wrinkles. In the same way put an adhesive plaster over any red or tender spots.

8.     In case any tendons become inflamed or swollen (usually due to lacing the leggings or show too tightly or to some other unnecessary pressure), soak the foot in cold water, massage the tendon, and protect it as much as possible by strips of adhesive plaster. You should report to a medical officer as your first opportunity, to make sure that the trouble does not grow worse.

Hints on Marching

After you have arrived in camp and have cooled off you can drink slowly as much as you desire. It is, of course, unwise to eat fruits, candy, soft drinks, ice cream and the like while on the march.

Another sign of a green soldier is a carelessly adjusted pack or any other equipment not neatly and securely fastened. Your comfort on the march depends very largely on the care and judgment used in getting ready. You will march most easily if you keep your body erect and do not permit yourself to slouch or sway from side to side.

When the command is given to halt and fall out for a few minutes, loosen your pack and rest back on it in a sitting position. If possible, lie with your feet higher than the head, so as to let blood flow out of your legs into the body and rest your heart.

elipsis graphic

A cheerful attitude is one of the best aids to a soldier on a trying march. Singing and whistling on the march is usually not only allowed, but encouraged. They help wonderfully to make the long road seem shorter.

These are all very simple rules, but none the less important. Keep them in mind. Some men never learn except from their own hard experience, but it is expected of the men in the national army that they will have the good sense to see the value of these suggestions and to apply them from the very beginning.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:19 PM EDT
Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Battalion on the March (1922)
Topic: Marching

The Battalion on the March (1922)

A battalion which is slack in march discipline is generally slack in battle.

Infantry Training, Vol. I; Training, 1922, Provisional

1.     Before commencing a march platoon commanders should inspect the men's feet as well as the fit of their boots. Equipment should also be fitted to prevent discomfort and chafes. Water-bottles should be examined and cleaned. Platoon commanders will arrange for short lectures to their men on the importance of march discipline, the orders to be observed during the march, how smoking affects endurance and how thirst is aggravated rather than reduced by frequent recourse to the water-bottle. Every endeavour must be made to develop self-discipline in the men. The success of this training will depend on the efforts and preparations made by platoon commanders as well as on the example they set themselves. March discipline is the ceremonial of war. A battalion which is slack in march discipline is generally slack in battle. Want of march discipline has been the cause of battalions being unable through fatigue to take part in a battle after a march. The strictest march discipline will be enforced at all times, especially when marching to and from the range, when working parties are marching to and from work &c., &c.

2.     The following rules will be observed by infantry on the march:—

i.     Fours [i.e., files] will be kept dressed, closed up and covered off. No officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer will march outside the column.

ii.     An officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer will march in rear and another at the head of each platoon.

iii.     Halts will be made for ten minutes at ten minutes to every hour, irrespective of the hour of the start or the nearness of the end of the march.

iv.     Every man in a four will change places after each ten minutes halt.

v.     A battalion should start and halt by companies by whistle or signal, or by both. The battalion as a whole should be warned by whistle one minute before each halt or start.

vi.     Troops will march at attention when the warning signal to halt is given. They will wait for orders from platoon commanders before falling out after a halt is signalled. Troops will fall in when the warning signal to start is given. On the command Advance they come to Attention, Slope and march off, then march at ease without further orders.

vii.     During halts cross roads and road junctions will be left clear for traffic.

viii.     Every man will take his equipment off during each clock hour halt and put it on again one minute before starting. Men should be practised in taking off and putting on equipment quickly. They should be made to lie down during halts and, if possible, raise their feet so as to relieve them of pressure and allow the blood to circulate.

ix.     Medical officers should spend most of their time looking after the rear, not the front, of their units and should regulate the pace to avoid distress behind.

x.     Men should never be allowed to double. If distance is lost it will be picked up gradually. If this fails word should be sent to the head of the column to march slower. Mounted company commanders can see to this.

xi.     Organized singing on the march should be encouraged in every battalion. It helps men to march well even when fatigued.

xii.     The more tired the men are at the end of a march, the more strictly must march discipline be enforced.

xiii.     Men unable to keep up until the next halt should be instructed to fall out and follow in the rear of the column. Written permission to fall out should be given them by an officer. Section commanders will remain with their sections and not fall out to take care of sick men.

xiv.     Men's feet will be inspected by platoon commanders immediately after every march.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:18 PM EDT
Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Topic: Marching

A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men.


The Last Full Measure; The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers, Richard Moe, 1993

After a series of false starts, the First Minnesota began its march back down the Peninsula on 16 August. An account of just how tedious the trek was came from a member of Company B, who sent the following description of the march to the Stillwater Messenger under the pen name "Saint Croix." It could have described almost any march any time:

Our first orders came to be ready to move in light marching order on Monday, August 11, but owing to change of programme, or some other cause, we were kept in camp constantly on the qui vive until Saturday the 16th, when we finally got under way and dragged our slow length along out of the fortifications and over about four miles of road, and encampt for the night within a mile or two of Charles City Court House. In civil life we do not regard a walk of ten or twenty miles in one day as anything very arduous. A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men. The reveille will sound at half past two in the morning, and every man must get his coffee and gird on his armor. One hour later the bugles sound "attention" and the men fall in, all strapped up and loaded down. Here they wait under arms right in their tracks one hour and a half—this a moderate statement—when the welcome "forward" is sounded, and your regiment marches off promptly for ten or twenty rods and halts to let by a long column of cavalry, or infantry, or a wagon train. This occupies from fifteen minutes to three hours, according to the brilliancy and magnitude of the movement. By this time the sun is high and the heat is great. Dust ditto. Finally the regiment will get out of sight of camp, and it is time to take a lunch. No sooner has the whole corps got stretched out on the road, than the hateful, but inevitable order comes to "closeup," and the poor devils toward the rear are compelled to take up a sort of double quick step until some obstruction delays the head of the column, and they come slap up against their file leaders. Then a long halt and another weary stand-up ensues, to be followed by another double quick to make up for the accumulated time and distance lost by all the men and trains in front. And thus we march and stand. No matter how great the heat, how thick the dust, or how heavy the loads on our shoulders … By this style of marching, when five miles are made, the men are very much fatigued, while a march of ten or twelve miles is a serious affair.'

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 5 May 2017 7:16 PM EDT

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