How did they march 12-18 miles per day?

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#1
The average intake for a normal man is around 2400 calories a day that's without strenuous exercise.

Being ex army the hardest test we had to go through was a force march of around 8 miles with rifle and kit around 50IBs with a time limit of 1 hr 55 mins it was called the CFT.
We were fit lads and completed it always on time but are legs ached and the next day you were stiff as a board.

How the heck did these ACW lads march sometimes for a week of more with pack and rifle and weighing 10 stone wet through what was the average intake of calories? The North was better fed but how did the South get the calories to do these epic marches.

Just amazes me the more you read about these soldiers how tough they really were.
 

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#2
Marching is what they did on many a day, and at route step. It was they way they travelled every day. You became used to it, and were toughened by it. No other transportation for the infantry at that time. Even leg infantry in WWII mostly walked, except when they need to go a long distance in a hurry, then it was trucks. You lightened down your gear until it was what you needed to survive. They threw away what they didn't need.
 

Legion Para

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#3
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#5
Marching is what soldiers did back. You lightened your load and walked. The feet toughened up after blisters, and you put one foot in front of the other. Unlike the Romans at least you didn't have to make camp and fortify it at the end of a days march, which was from 15 to 18 miles a day.
 

Borderruffian

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#6
Marching is what soldiers did back. You lightened your load and walked. The feet toughened up after blisters, and you put one foot in front of the other. Unlike the Romans at least you didn't have to make camp and fortify it at the end of a days march, which was from 15 to 18 miles a day.
I still have callouses on my feet from humping a ruck . You're exactly right conditioning tells.
 

AUG

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#7
They built up stamina over time but on a long march it wasn't unusual for a lot of men to straggle behind or fall out due to fatigue or heat exhaustion, even experienced troops. Regiments might lose a number of men before even going into battle. However, short halts to rest and to allow stragglers to come up were usually also made throughout the march.

Unlike the Romans at least you didn't have to make camp and fortify it at the end of a days march
Not always in the earlier campaigns, but later on like in the Atlanta or Overland Campaign they usually had to dig in and construct earthworks every time they stopped.
 
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#9
These men were toughened, by walking everywhere, from the time they were toddlers, unlike today's coddled generations. Try walking hungry AND barefoot, in the snow, as did some men of the 27th Alabama Regiment in Hood's Army during the Battle of Nashville. No wonder many regiments were nearly wiped out.
These men were mostly country boys, particularly the Confederates. They grew up on farms and learned to work long hard hours at an early age. I doubt our typical modern man could replicate the natural toughness they achieved with fitness and weight training.
 

Saphroneth

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#10
Fundamentally, they were drilled in it.
It's a fair question, believe me, and it's one of the big differences between properly drilled troops and recently raised "levies" - the ability to march. ACW armies were all right at it (though not the best, units required to march hard did tend to shed troops and need a rest at the end to reform - Antietam is a good example of this) but it was such a fact of life that well drilled troops marched better that in 1866 the Austrians confidently expected to beat the Prussians on the grounds that the Prussian plans asked too much of their reserves (who hadn't been under the drum recently).
The Prussians solved this problem by moving their reserves around by train, but it should be emphasized that this was a massive problem.

On a broader biological scale, humans are built for endurance rather than sprinting - we have little hair and sweat a lot, so we can stabilize our core temperature.
Roman armies went even further, managing 18 modern miles in about 6-7 modern hours and then building a fortified camp at the end of it every day... and that's the recruits, with standards rising to 22 modern miles in the same time by the end of training. The record, meanwhile, is quite possibly the Marathon march, which was from the beaches of Marathon to Athens (about 24 miles by the longer, flatter route; less by the more mountainous route) and was conducted by the full Athenian army in less than a day in their armour after having fought a battle that morning!
The constraint on the movement speed of a well trained army is almost always the transport elements rather than the infantrymen themselves, as horses tire more easily than humans. (Yes, really. It's just that most horses you run into are really well trained, and most humans you run into aren't...)
 

67th Tigers

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#11
The average intake for a normal man is around 2400 calories a day that's without strenuous exercise.
Did you never do an ACFT or an arduous course that included more difficult tests like EX STEEL BAYONET or EX LONG HAUL? Or the CFT at the Infantry Battle School, which had an extra 2 miles added for fun but no extra time. There are plenty of harder tests than a CFT, but they're reserved for commanders and special troops.

Something you have to remember is that ACW troops did not march 15 miles a day with 50 lb loads. Typical loaded movements were around 6-8 miles a day, and long movements or "forced marches" would see the troops marching in fighting order only, with their knapsacks etc. backloaded to the wagon train. My memory is that specification weapon and CEFO is 22 lbs, and an ACW soldiers equivalent (weapon and belt kit) is similar.

If you look at marches you'll never find extended periods of really long marches.

The longest sustained period of hard marching was probably Jackson's Shenandoah operations. Jackson at one point marched ca. 110 miles in 19 days, with each division fighting 3 battles in that time both of which consumed a day, so 110 miles in 16 days of actual marching for a rate of ca. 6 miles/day. This rate was killing, and Jackson's division was seriously damaged by the rapid movements. This was assisted heavily by the macadamised road he used.
 

Saphroneth

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#13
Walking speed is bout 3 mph, 12-15 miles is only 4-5 hrs.....could take alot of breaks and still only do a 8 hr day
The difficult thing is to manage that kind of walking speed while wearing fighting order (hard) or marching order (very hard). If you're not used to hiking, you'll need the training.

(This is incidentally why the silly-sounding bicycle infantry regiments actually had a period of effectiveness, the bicycle is an excellent way to allow an infantryman to move faster over flat ground with the same amount of effort and the same load.)
 

archieclement

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#14
The difficult thing is to manage that kind of walking speed while wearing fighting order (hard) or marching order (very hard). If you're not used to hiking, you'll need the training.

(This is incidentally why the silly-sounding bicycle infantry regiments actually had a period of effectiveness, the bicycle is an excellent way to allow an infantryman to move faster over flat ground with the same amount of effort and the same load.)
However this was a time when even women and children would mainly walk on Oregon, California, Mormon, Sante Fe trail. Mormons even sent groups with handcarts, who made the 1300 mile trip to Salt Lake, If could do it pushing a 3-500 lb cart, a 50lb pack wouldn't be harder

Because mainly we dont walk a lot today because theres no need, doesn't mean we are incapable. People were hardy back then, and for the most part already conditioned
 
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Saphroneth

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#15
However this was a time when even women and children would mainly walk on Oregon, California, Mormon, Sante Fe trail. Mormons even sent groups with handcarts, who made the 1300 mile trip to Salt Lake, If could do it pushing a 3-500 lb cart, a 50lb pack wouldn't be harder

Because mainly we dont walk a lot today because theres no need, doesn't mean we are incapable. People were hardy back then, and for the most part already conditioned
Though as 67th notes actual long periods of marching 12-18 miles a day are quite rare in the ACW.
People didn't tend to walk about with 50lbs on their shoulders because they had horses and carts for that in civilian life - that's why marches tended to be shorter, and it's why lots of straggling took place on high-speed marches like the ones to Antietam.
 

Viper21

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#16
Walking speed is bout 3 mph, 12-15 miles is only 4-5 hrs.....could take alot of breaks and still only do a 8 hr day
We did a 15 mile march in boot camp (Ft Dix), iirc we completed it in about 4hrs or so. That was with a couple of pseudo attacks, & being gassed along the way. Keeping in mind we were all green at the time, & far from hardened infantrymen. That was 30yrs ago.
 
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#17
Did you never do an ACFT or an arduous course that included more difficult tests like EX STEEL BAYONET or EX LONG HAUL? Or the CFT at the Infantry Battle School, which had an extra 2 miles added for fun but no extra time. There are plenty of harder tests than a CFT, but they're reserved for commanders and special troops.

Something you have to remember is that ACW troops did not march 15 miles a day with 50 lb loads. Typical loaded movements were around 6-8 miles a day, and long movements or "forced marches" would see the troops marching in fighting order only, with their knapsacks etc. backloaded to the wagon train. My memory is that specification weapon and CEFO is 22 lbs, and an ACW soldiers equivalent (weapon and belt kit) is similar.

If you look at marches you'll never find extended periods of really long marches.

The longest sustained period of hard marching was probably Jackson's Shenandoah operations. Jackson at one point marched ca. 110 miles in 19 days, with each division fighting 3 battles in that time both of which consumed a day, so 110 miles in 16 days of actual marching for a rate of ca. 6 miles/day. This rate was killing, and Jackson's division was seriously damaged by the rapid movements. This was assisted heavily by the macadamised road he used.
Knapsacks were only offloaded to the baggage train early in the war, when army logistics were in their infancy and there was no specification as to how many wagons a regiment was required to sustain. The Peninsula campaign proved that it was extremely unwieldy to maintain trains that had as many as 26 wagons per regiment, McClellan lost one half of his train on his retreat to the James, over 2,500 wagons. After that campaign there was a limit imposed of 6 wagons per regiment, this was to provide for the HQ, officers, regimental food and grain for horses of the regiment, this also coincided with the move from the Sibley tent to the shelter half. There was absolutely no manner in which an infantryman or men could carry the Sibley on foot. There was now no room for packs, this went down to one wagon per regiment in Halleck's General Order 274.
"We must reduce our transportation, or give up all idea of competing with the enemy in the field." Halleck commented to Meade
 

Waterloo50

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#18
The average intake for a normal man is around 2400 calories a day that's without strenuous exercise.

Being ex army the hardest test we had to go through was a force march of around 8 miles with rifle and kit around 50IBs with a time limit of 1 hr 55 mins it was called the CFT.
We were fit lads and completed it always on time but are legs ached and the next day you were stiff as a board.

How the heck did these ACW lads march sometimes for a week of more with pack and rifle and weighing 10 stone wet through what was the average intake of calories? The North was better fed but how did the South get the calories to do these epic marches.

Just amazes me the more you read about these soldiers how tough they really were.
CFT!... back in the day when I was a lad, we called it ‘BFT’, Battle fitness test, that forced march wasn’t so much a march as a run and we did part of it with resporators on whilst carrying the SLR and fully loaded webbing, a part of the BFT was carrying another soldier, fireman’s lift style and running about 200ft (75 yards) we had to face an assault course at the end of it. Fail that and you got the pleasure of running the whole thing again. I only mention that because a reasonably healthy/fit soldier can achieve incredible distances when placed under a time limit, those confederate boys would have the motivation to move quickly, their lives depended on it.
Epic marches are nothing new to the infantryman, even Roman soldiers were expected to march great distances, something like 20 miles in five hours and they were expected to carry a weight of nearly
100Ibs.
Also I think it’s worth remembering that during the CW, food was often scarce and people had to make do with whatever came to hand, those CW soldiers were a tough bunch and they were used to going without, they were a different breed compared to today’s snowflake generation.:thumbsup:
 
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#19
CFT!... back in the day when I was a lad, we called it ‘BFT’, Battle fitness test, that forced march wasn’t so much a march as a run and we did part of it with resporators on whilst carrying the SLR and fully loaded webbing, a part of the BFT was carrying another soldier, fireman’s lift style and running about 200ft (75 yards) we had to face an assault course at the end of it. Fail that and you got the pleasure of running the whole thing again. I only mention that because a reasonably healthy/fit soldier can achieve incredible distances when placed under a time limit, those confederate boys would have the motivation to move quickly, their lives depended on it.
Epic marches are nothing new to the infantryman, even Roman soldiers were expected to march great distances, something like 20 miles in five hours and they were expected to carry a weight of nearly
100Ibs.
Also I think it’s worth remembering that during the CW, food was often scarce and people had to make do with whatever came to hand, those CW soldiers were a tough bunch and they were used to going without, they were a different breed compared to today’s snowflake generation.:thumbsup:
BFT was 3 miles 1.5 in Squad 1.5 solo in 11.30 mins but no packs just boots and work pants.

CFT was 8 miles full pack in 1 hr 55 mins with a fireman's lift of 200 yards at the end , I always seem to get the biggest guy just my luck , You must be as old as me if you had the SLR as well I was 2472 joined in 83 left in 93 did a years juniors as well.
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Did you never do an ACFT or an arduous course that included more difficult tests like EX STEEL BAYONET or EX LONG HAUL? Or the CFT at the Infantry Battle School, which had an extra 2 miles added for fun but no extra time. There are plenty of harder tests than a CFT, but they're reserved for commanders and special troops.

Something you have to remember is that ACW troops did not march 15 miles a day with 50 lb loads. Typical loaded movements were around 6-8 miles a day, and long movements or "forced marches" would see the troops marching in fighting order only, with their knapsacks etc. backloaded to the wagon train. My memory is that specification weapon and CEFO is 22 lbs, and an ACW soldiers equivalent (weapon and belt kit) is similar.

If you look at marches you'll never find extended periods of really long marches.

The longest sustained period of hard marching was probably Jackson's Shenandoah operations. Jackson at one point marched ca. 110 miles in 19 days, with each division fighting 3 battles in that time both of which consumed a day, so 110 miles in 16 days of actual marching for a rate of ca. 6 miles/day. This rate was killing, and Jackson's division was seriously damaged by the rapid movements. This was assisted heavily by the macadamised road he used.
Cant say I've heard of the ACFT Tigers , BFT and CFT but then I was just an average Grunt.

What I find amazing is that Southern soldiers didn't get a lot to eat in the later stages of the War how on earth did they keep their energy levels so high?.
 

jackt62

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#20
I've been walking as exercise for many years and figure a moderate pace is about 1 mile/20 minutes or 3 mph. Given that I am somewhat older than the average trooper (ha ha) and am certainly not carrying a fully loaded pack and rifle, nevertheless, I never really questioned the figure of 12-18 miles per day for the Civil War trooper, which seems realistic.
 



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