The Load Carried by the Soldier (1921)

By Major N.V. Lothian, M.C., R.A.M.C., Army School of Hygiene
Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps, Vol. XXXVII, No. 4, October, 1921

I.—General

Strategy is the science of War, and, like all sciences based on immutable principles, demands precision in the working out of its conceptions. Inevitably therefore the logistics of war, defined by Colley as "the scientific combination of marches, the calculation of time and distance, and of economy of men's powers," stand out as perhaps the most important subject of study for the military student anxious to appreciate the lessons of past wars. And yet there is less exact literature on this very matter than on any other branch of military history. The question of "the economy of men's powers" is so vital that an inquiry into the question of how it can best be assured is of the most pressing nature. In this memorandum an attempt has been made briefly to consider the question of the load which has actually been carried by the organized soldiery of different nations through the ages, so that we may judge and assess, the question in the light of actual experience. The question of the load carried cannot of course be considered entirely apart from other closely associated questions; and while peace-time conditions are of some value (and peace training is essential), the modifying factors inevitable under war conditions make it necessary to consider the question from all angles; and to allow for the interaction of the various factors involved.

In war, matching is unquestionably the military operation of first importance, involving as it does the transference of troops to the point where the Commander decides to strike with maximum effect; in other words, while fighting is the luxury of the soldier, marching is his daily bread. But if the stroke is to be delivered effectively, the troops must still—after the march—be in condition to continue great physical exertion, and perhaps to repeat the march for an indefinite period. In other words, the march must not involve complete exhaustion, and therefore justifies close scrutiny of all those factors which make for the production of fatigue. Of these, the principal are the length of march, the time taken to cover it (i.e., the rate, and the halts), the load carried and the men's physical condition, the latter factor in itself complicated by questions of dietary, clothing, climate, disease, and "the psycho-physical state of morale." It has appeared therefore most convenient for the purpose of the present inquiry to scrutinize primarily the question of load, noting however those other factors which necessarily enter into consideration, and examining the effect of reduced load as in itself favourably affecting the mobility and combatant value of troops. It will be seen, I think, that history bears out the thesis that, ceteris paribus, reduction of the soldier's load favours the troops whose powers are so husbanded, when meeting others normally bearing a heavier weight. It is essential to qualify by the words "ceteris paribus" inasmuch as load is only one factor involved; and obviously the physique or build of the troops dominates the question of load—matter worthy of notice where data are obtainable. By reason of the scanty references to the "Q" branch of wars in the past, a very moderate amount of exact detail only is available, but perhaps the following outlines may throw some light on this, at present, dark subject.

II.—The Effect of Load on the Rate of March

The speed of the march bears an intimate relation to the load, and to the effects on the men's fitness. Analysis of speed converts it into the two component factors of length of pace, and rate (usually given as the number of paces per minute). As to the length of the pace that must necessarily diminish with a heavy load. It is usually accepted that the natural pace is 6/7 of the height of the limb, and this averages some twenty-seven inches. Lemoine (Tr. d'Hyg. Mil.) states that the French average pace works out at twenty-five inches. Nevertheless we find the regulation pace of the British Army is 30 inches, and of the French 29 ½ inches (pas-de-route works down to 26 inches—Parkes). The Russian pace is 27 ½ inches, and the German thirty-one inches. (Regs. de l'Infanterie, 1905). With a 60-pound load, Parkes decided 30 inches was quite long enough, if not actually too long, and showed that the pace usually shortened after a march of about 6 miles. Jackson independently advocated 27 inches as the regulation pace.

As regards the rate, Marey showed that with rates up to 130 paces per minute, there was no appreciable alteration in the length of each pace, i.e., the faster the rate, the quicker proportionately would any set distance be covered: but that a rate of over 130 to the minute involved a reduction in the length of each pace. He recommended, for a loaded man, a rate of 105 to 125 paces per minute. The standard British and German rates are both 112 to the minute, and the French 120 (pas-de-route 100, rising to 110); these data as to pace and rate are however to some extent academic and apply to training and formal drill more than to the march, where indeed the men usually fall into their own pace and rate. The resultant optimum speed of loaded troops is usually estimated at about 2 ½ miles per hour, allowing for the very necessary hourly halt, but may be less with long columns. Stonewall Jackson laid down two miles per hour and a ten minutes halt. The French, according to Lemoine, average about 2.7 miles to the hour including the halt. It appears that for troops of the Western nations, loaded with kits averaging fifty to sixty pounds 2 ½ to 2 ¾ miles per hour is the optimum speed, and this has received a measure of scientific corroboration. It has been found that men carrying such a load march at the least cost to themselves at a rate comparable in most cases to the above; and that if the pace is slowed down (as in checks) it actually involves a higher energy output, just as does any acceleration (vide the paper by Cathcart, Lothian and Greenwood, Royal Army Medical Corps Journal, 1920). The practice of allowing men to regulate their own pace and speed, when they will march most economically, is thus apparently justified and such conservation of energy on the march will often balance the lack of military precision which results. When the kits are excessively heavy, or the ground unusually difficult, the rate is reduced accordingly. One finds that Napoleon's troops commonly took eight hours to struggle along as many miles in Poland. The Prussians moved from Wavre to Waterloo at a rate of some 1 ½ miles per hour only. The Austrians at Sadowa took twelve hours to cover fourteen miles. While so recently as the Russo-Japanese War our "Officers Joint Report" informs us that one mile per hour was all the Russians could calculate on in moving their troops. Such figures indicate the effect of load on rate of march.

III.—Effect of Load on the Length of March

As regards the length of the march, one must distinguish between normal marches, and those occasional marches when every mile counts, and troops are kept going near to the limit of exhaustion by reason of the urgency of some great crisis. Dealing with normal marching, the "distance covered before the onset of exhaustion is inversely proportionate" to the load carried," and "all long marches of our own and other armies have been made by men carrying only small loads such as arms and a portion of ammunition" (Notter and Firth, Hyg.). Generally speaking, with the average load of fifty to sixty pounds with which the infantry of most modern armies are cumbered, about twelve miles in the day (of say eight hours march including long halt): appears to be the limit beyond which exhaustion supervenes; if we reckon on a halt every fourth or fifth day, the daily average reduces to about ten miles. This is below the estimate of some writers (e.g., Schellendorf postulates fourteen miles), but agrees with Colley's and with Rustow's (L'Art de Guerre), and, more important still than opinions, agrees with the findings of history. Careful calculations show Xenophon's march of the Ten Thousand to have averaged about this figure, although somewhat higher figures are often claimed on insufficient evidence, vide the lecture by Sir G. Wolseley, Journal, Rl. U.S.I., 1873, and a study of European campaigns bears out the same truth—(see the excellent chapter in Furse's Art of Marching). Even the iron troops of Cromwell only averaged the same (Anglia Rediviva); Marches of this length (occupying, at 2 ½ miles per hour, and with an hour's midday halt, some six hours daily), can be sustained over considerable periods, provided that in the second or third week a mid-week rest day is allowed. When longer distances are covered the strain proves too great for continued effort, and involves straggling and exhaustion, Here the influence of load is marked and the lesson obvious, that if longer marches are to be obtained, with troops who will still be fit for fighting, the load must be reduced. When this is done the marching power of troops increases markedly: it is clear that, a man of a certain potential energy will have more of that energy available for marching according as the amount he has to spend on carrying dead weight is reduced. And history demonstrates clearly how effective such reduction proves. De Chaumont held that while in India a man could do twenty miles without load with fair ease, twenty miles loaded is too hard a march to repeat for any length of time. The famous march to Candahar was made possible by reducing the load to thirty-four pounds (Crawford, A.M.D; Report, 1880). Osman Pasha's march to Plevna will be referred to later; it averaged over fourteen miles a day and was made possible only by the light load carried by his men. Jackson's Shenandoah Valley march (q.v. later), covered 670 miles in forty-eight days; while many other examples will rise to mind. The converse is equally true: by increasing the load the length of march is reduced at an increasingly marked rate, as witness our own troops in the late war. In the Russo-Japanese war, General Stakelberg, "who was given to getting the most out of his men," found that he could not allow a greater average day's march than four miles, his men bearing a weight of sixty-eight pounds kit plus addenda, the total sometimes approximating to eighty pounds (British Officers Joint Reports). The moral is apparent, and need be stressed no further, but detailed examples of the effect of load will be given in the more purely historical sections following.

IV.—The Mode of Carriage of the Load

The way in which the load is carried on the man's body would appear to be the next point to discuss. It has long been, recognized that

the load should be so disposed over the body as to cause the least restriction of action not only of the limbs but also of the internal organs; and so balanced as least to disturb vertical equilibrium. These requirements have been variously met in different forms of equipment. As a rule the smaller accoutrements balance each other, and the main difficulty is the pack. This cumbersome load could in theory be taken either (i) on the head, after the fashion of the native carriers of many parts of the world, a situation giving excellent vertical balance, but impracticable for troops; or (ii) on the shoulder blades, and so widely diffused over the ribs; or (iii) on the small of the back, where there is a strong bony arch to support it. The great majority of armies have adopted the second alternative—the dorsal position; although as Colonel Mareschal has pointed out (article translated in the Military Surgeon, vol. xxi), this has three notable defects, namely a static error, in that the centre of gravity is displaced backwards and causes stooping; a physiological error, in that it reduces the respiratory capacity considerably (Zuntz and Schumberg showed a reduction in the vital capacity of the chest of eleven per cent under the load of our pre-war kit, fifty-nine pounds); and a military error, in that it interferes with the handling of the rifle. Such being the case it is not surprising that many armies are considering—and some have adopted—the lumbar position. Our own army has always kept to the dorsal position and has to a large extent eliminated the faults of earlier equipments, wherein the chest was compressed by cross belts, bandoliers, etc. Even so, the 1908 web equipment, excellent as it was in many ways, was far from perfect and induced considerable fatigue.

Experimental work in 1919 by Cathcart and Lothian (Report to War Office on The Soldier's Equipment in Relation to Energy Expenditure) indicated the lines on which a definite improvement in comfort and economy in energy expenditure could be affected. This modification involves the alteration of the pack support straps from the corners of the pack to the centre, after the fashion of a rucksack, thus enabling the weight to be taken by the large relatively immobile and solid muscles of the base of the neck, and avoiding the outwards displacement consequent on the swing of the arms, which formerly brought the weight bearing straps on to the thinly covered head of the humerus, and resulted in the sense of drag. By the adoption, further, of support straps from the front braces to the base of the pack, the latter has been really supported (after the fashion of a "couple") instead of, as before, merely suspended; and a very great and real improvement in comfort assured, with entire elimination of upward pull on the waist belt, or of constriction of the chest. Numerous investigations showed, moreover, that not merely does the new equipment have a more comfortable "set," but is carried much more economically as regards expenditure of energy on the march. Without going into details, it was estimated that a saving of seventeen per cent of the cost of carrying the 1908 pattern was effected. For a division on service, marching say for two hours a day only, this is a saving equivalent to the potential energy contained in over 8,000 pounds of food, or over 1,900 field rations. Otherwise, where a man could march three miles with the former equipment, he can cover three and a-half miles with the new pattern for the same expenditure of energy. But it would be rash to say that the perfect equipment has yet been, discovered.

As to the Question of a system dependent on better balance, it is interesting to find Parkes' observation that the old English packman could do thirty miles a day with ease carrying a pack of, often, over forty pounds, slung fore and aft. The milkmaid employs a similar device but with a lateral, right and left side, balance (vide Swiss milk advertisements). A study of the practice of native carriers has here a certain interest, but is not too applicable to military conditions. The natives of Baltistan (Lesser Tibet), the males of which are mostly professional carriers, carry a standard load of 60 pounds and frequently do their 12 to 15 miles a day over country of all gradients and up to 3,000 feet. They march stooping, the weight poised on the shoulders, and employ a wooden apparatus not unlike a pickaxe with which to help themselves along, and on which the load is rested in situ to ease themselves every quarter of a mile or so. The Turkish hamal (porter) exaggerates this marching attitude, carrying immense loads, but attempting no great distance. In such cases, however, the march is the chief work of the day and rest is assured on its completion.

In general the soldier must assume an upright carriage on the march (other than the slight stoop of fatigue and compensatory stoop inevitable with a heavy dorsal load), but it is not yet proven that this is the most economical means of covering the ground. The French marche-en-flexion has much to recommend it, and an army of fine marching troops, namely the Turkish, have a peculiar loping action which is not far removed from it, and which called for the attention of the Times Military Correspondent (October 22, 1912).

The other factors affecting the march, important as they are in a complete analysis of the subject, hardly call for comment here, but it can never be forgotten that each of them plays its part. The halts to be taken—their frequency, duration, etc.—fall to be worked out scientifically; the questions of food and water supply, of clothing—its nature and cut—and footwear; of climate, and of the position of men as regards the column in which they are marching; the hours of the day in which the march is carried out; and, not least, the nature of the terrain over which the march is conducted; all of these have a bearing, on the systematic study of the march in relation to health, but are hardly so intimately related to the question of load as to be worthy of present discussion.

V.—The Effect of the Load on Health

By the middle of the nineteenth century, the growing habit of scientific inquiry among all men, and not least among the army doctor of the period, had reached a stage when definite opinions on questions of the soldier's fitness, based on careful observations, could be offered for mature consideration and review. From this time we have a wealth of data as regards the soldier's load and its effect on his health, and in reality the first efforts to reduce to a sensible figure a load which was really unhygienically heavy. These matters, freely discussed after the Crimean war, merit brief notice.

It is to be recalled that the armies were no longer recruited to the same extent from sturdy yeomen, but more and more from the less physically fit urban communities which grew up as a result of the industrial revolution of England in the nineteenth century. The rigid oppression of the accoutrements and the compulsory carriage of a heavy total load resulted in heart and lung lesions among the less resistant soldiers, whose case was now brought more to notice than previously by reason of the growth of a national conscience, and a sense of responsibility towards soldiers broken in the wars. We are not surprised, therefore, to find the French army ascribing to their heavy accoutrements the high incidence of emphysema of the lungs, which had for some time been a matter of comment; and as a result an investigation and re-organization which reduced their equipment after the Crimea by some twelve pounds (Ressignol). (Experiment showed that over seventy percent of men suffered from dullness over the base of the lungs after a heavy march.) In our own army similar observations led Dr. McLean (Professor of Military Medicine, Army Medical School, Netley) to investigate the frequency of heart and lung lesions among the troops with whom he was stationed and to announce the facts he elicited in a lecture to the Royal United Services Institution, and later before a Royal Commission appointed to investigate the whole question. McLean showed that of the discharges from the army of men under 20 years of age some 14 per cent were on, account of heart lesions, a figure not increasing proportionally among men discharged over 20, although it is notable that heart conditions are more prevalent in proportion with age; while under 20, one man discharged in every three was on account of lung disease. These figures do not stand comparison with the civilian populace; one can exclude rheumatism and other contributory factors and still find a very high incidence of chest and lung disease among the more immature soldiers. This is not on account of their net exertion, which is no greater than a navvy's, but from the fact that their exertions are maintained not with open necks and rolled sleeves like the navvy, nor in specially adapted costume like the sportsman, but at the utmost possible disadvantage as regards the weight carried and the entire arrangement of dress and equipment. These facts dominated the minds of the members of the Commission, who laid down what they considered a standard kit for the soldier, and whose views may be found summarized in one sentence: "The conditions of war demand that the marching powers and endurance of the soldier must not be lessened by unnecessary weight or a defective mode of carrying it. Ceteris paribus, the army that is least weighted, and can move with the greatest rapidity, must have the advantage."

The amount of sickness in South Africa, much of which we now recognize as preventable, tended to obscure the extent of heart and lung disease in the troops who took part in that war; but the well recognized "soldier's heart" remained prevalent, and alteration in the equipment was again considered advisable.

When further we come to examine the results of the huge load carried in the recent war on the physique of the troops engaged, We find a tragic tale of wastage. From the earliest months of the war, the medical press was regularly exercised with the extent of heart lesions in military hospitals, not only among our own troops but almost equally among our allies (vide, for instance, the numerous articles in the French Archives des Maladies du Cœur relative to cardiac overstrain in soldiers, consequent on overwork attributed to marching with an over-heavy pack). Without going into detail, it may suffice to indicate the extent of such conditions by referring to the 120,000 pensioners on the books of our Ministry of Pensions on account of pure heart conditions attributable to the war, quite apart from those others attributable to or complicated by definite epidemic or infectious disease. The close connexion between the work involved in carrying the weighty equipment and heart conditions was obvious to any careful observer in the war. It was peculiarly evident in Macedonia, where men, debilitated by malaria and involved in marching in irregular mountainous country, developed heart lesions to such an extent as to call for remark and comment among the hospitals at Malta. The probability that the strain on the vascular system was also responsible for much of the so-called trench nephritis adds still further to the tale of broken men resulting from consistent overloading. In any case, such a state of affairs is obviously no economy, and justifies the careful attention that is now being paid to the whole subject of the military equipment, its weight and mode of carriage.

While in the ordinary way the march should not affect fit men injuriously, under certain circumstances it does, usually either (i) where troops are overloaded and undertake a single long march, especially if the contributory factors of adequate food and water supply are defective; such a forced march in hot weather has proved again and again a costly movement; (ii) where marches not in themselves unduly long are repeated for a considerable period without adequate rests; (iii) where special conditions of climate or pre-existing disease are found, e.g., in warm humid countries, or with troops weakened by disease, e.g., malaria. As instance of the latter case, instructive figures bearing on this question are given in the Malaria Report of the British Salonika Force for 1918. In this Report is described how during a period of four weeks of marching, the troops of certain brigades were studied as to the casualties on the march. The majority were infected with malaria, some highly so, and the latter were marked off as "Y personnel." Some 9 per cent of the troops engaged became casualties during the period in question (as contrasted with 5 per cent during the preceding four weeks), but of the Y men no less than 22 per cent were affected; and the latter, although forming some 11 per cent only of the total personnel involved, Contributed 25 per cent of the total casualties.

Apart from actual acute ill effects, such as heatstroke and derangement of the heat-regulating system, such hurtful conditions as the above may cause a lot of inefficiency not perhaps so noticeable at the time, but tending to cumulative injury as well as immediate exhaustion. The effects are mostly on the circulatory system and the lungs, and are provoked by the partial limitation of movement in the chest at a time when it requires all its freedom. We have already referred to the frequency of emphysema in old soldiers. More important probably are the effects on the heart and circulation, and the augmented blood-pressure. Lian and Binet (Arch. des Mal. du Cœur) have described well the typical overstrained heart case with rapid palpitating action, shallow and difficult respiration, and chest oppression. If such cases do not immediately break down, to add to the list of war cripples, the effects may wear off after a time, but the heart commonly shows the results; and the "soldier's heart" is a recognized clinical entity of long standing. Further, the probability is that deficient arterial circulation to the kidneys, and back pressure on these organs from the overloaded right heart and liver, are accountable for much of the nephritis which was so marked a cause of inefficiency in the war. Suggestive indication of the effects on the kidneys is given by a German observer, Rumpel (Verh. Deutsch. Kongr. Med., Warsaw, 1916) who found the urine of over eighty per cent of men affected after a forced march under a load of eighty-eight pounds. The observation, of course, is no definite proof as to the cause of war nephritis, but indicates the physiological relationship between load and vital organs. Medical grounds thus confirm the need for a reduced load, and there is no need to back the statement with more detailed medical facts or statistics, which are out of place in this memo.

VI.—The Load to be Carried

The soldier's load may be said to comprise (a) his clothing; (b) his offensive arms; (c) his defensive armour or equipment; (d) essential accoutrements; (e) "necessaries"; (f) personalia. These have all varied considerably according to the mode of warfare of the age, and will be discussed in the following sections: but in general we recognize that while certain offensive and defensive equipment, clothing and personalia have been common to all armies of all ages, the uniform and accoutrements have only been standardized for some two and a half centuries, the "necessaries" for about one century, while the item personalia has consistently diminished with improved regimental discipline and organization of the train.

There has been in the past pretty general agreement with Napoleon's dictum (originally delivered from St. Helena in criticism of Rogniat's Consideration of the Art of War) that the essentials of the fighting man comprise his arms and ammunition, trenching tool, knapsack, and four days' rations. Nowadays, however, there is a tendency to question the necessity of some of these items; and in estimating total load we must include the uniform and underclothing actually worn (one set) also as essential.

As regards the arms, no one would quibble, The amount of ammunition to be carried on the man, however, and the amount relegated to 1st line transport is a question which has been raised in many armies. While some would put 200 rounds on the man (Russo-Japanese War, 1904), others would reduce the number to eighty-eight (New trial French Equipment, 1908—v. Jahres-berichte uber das Heer, xxxv). This is actually a question primarily for the General Staff, but the fact remains that the principle of the carriage of a certain ammunition reserve in 1st line transport exists in many armies, and a further reduction of that carried by the soldier is, I understand, not unfavourably considered by others to-day, Of course, further relief of the individual soldier involves inevitable increase in transport, and this question of transport really dominates the whole situation.

As to the knapsack two schools of opinion exist; some consider that a man separated from his knapsack is little likely ever to see it again, and some would chance that as merely a casual misfortune. It largely depends on the contents and how far they are essential. A variety of campaigns has shown that troops are actually quite capable of doing without their knapsacks for periods of even weeks on end, as did, for example, the Prussian troops in the wars of 1866 and 1870 (vide the march of the 8th and 10th Corps on Paris), and as both Russians and Japanese did in 1904 (British Officers Reports on the Russo-Japanese War). In the case of the Japanese, coolie transport was used to forward packs after the advancing troops, and if there were occasional periods of inconvenience from lack of them, it was considered a lesser evil than being700px_2_KSLI_at_Paardeberg_Feb_1900.jpg handicapped by their weight in action. The Russians soon found that their load of fifty-six pounds "greatly reduced the mobility of their troops," and that "the men were unable to carry it, and march and fight" (Colonel Waters Report); this fact caused the Commander-in-Chief to direct that either greatcoats or kitbags should be carried in carts. In many instances, too, they were compulsorily left behind under the care of a small guard. In the later Ashanti Expedition also we wisely carried men's kits, and achieved rapid success. Wherever discipline permits of it, men tend to eliminate the pack of their own accord even without official order, as, for example, did the Confederate troops, vide the extract from Stonewall Jackson, quoted at a later part of this paper. Again, one might refer to the Turks who, commencing the war with Russia with a cumbersome official equipment, had by the time of Plevna come down merely to a single large haversack capable of taking all that the owner thought necessary to take with him (von Herbert, Defence of Plevna). Under such circumstances, carrying only the haversack with eighty rounds, a water-bottle and a week's biscuit ration, one is not surprised to hear of their excellent march from Widdin to Plevna in eight days, an average of 14 ½ miles per day. It may be argued that undisciplined armies do not afford a just basis for comparison; but it should be recalled that in such armies the circumstances are usually less satisfactory and certainly less rigid than in disciplined forces, and work in the direction of the evolution of a sane and practical equipment.

On the other hand, however, it has long been contended that the risks of separating a man from his knapsack and small kit are unjustified; and that troops are more independent of the auxiliary services if fully self-sufficient. A favourable picture of troops serving in such conditions is painted by Ranken (In Morocco with General D'Amade), who ascribed the physical quality and high spirits of the French troops to the fact that they were independent of transport for their needs, carrying each a complete home on his back, and therefore avoiding the delays in feeding and housing so common on arrival of troops in camp. The question is one open to discussion. It may be that its solution will lie in the direction of assistance in transport of the pack during the earlier stages of the campaign, ere yet reservists and young soldiers have hardened to the physical ordeal of the march; and that a more easily detachable pack, such as, for instance, the admirable rucksack of the Gurkhas, may meet the case. The pack is the dominating item of the kit; the question of its necessity hinges on the amount of small kit, spares, and so-called necessaries to be carried.

Coming now to the rations we find another subject of controversy. Commencing the late war with one day's rations in reserve only, we soon found it necessary to add a second, in spite of the excellence of our supply services. Whether Napoleon's four days supply will ever again be necessary owing to the drawing out of battles is uncertain, but the improvements of modern transport render it doubtful. It is, further, a common failing of soldiers to limit the rations carried in this way to a minimum. For instance, Stonewall Jackson's men were presumed usually to hold three days reserve rations; but Henderson (Stonewall Jackson) affirms that they were consumed as soon as possible after issue; and the experience of many officers in the Great War will confirm that in this particular minor failing human nature has changed but little. Comparison with the past is not altogether fair inasmuch as the "ration" referred to has usually concerned the staple article only, viz. rusks (Romans, three to thirty days), oatmeal (Scots, one week), or biscuit (one pound per day, Cromwell, seven days) (see Firth's Cromwell's Army); whereas to-day an iron ration weighs almost 2 ½ pounds. Furthermore, the general and growing employment of field cookers makes it a matter open to consideration whether much of the reserve insisted on by Napoleon cannot be carried by the regimental transport, and whether, indeed, there is still the same necessity for the individual soldier's canteen. "The latter may often be useless on account of lack of fuel, and absorbs time and energy; the cooker, on the other hand, keeps a company together by attracting stragglers and economizes energy; while if a detachment does get separated from it the men are no worse off than if they have canteens, but no fire. Single men always find something to eat, and, if not, that cannot come into consideration in so important a matter as lightening the infantryman's load." (Krauss, "Bekleidung der Infanterie," Mil. Zeitschr., 1907, q.v., for full discussion; see also articles by Captain (now Lieutenant-Colonel) Dunbar Walker on "Mess Tins and Field Kitchens," Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps, 1912).

So much for Napoleon's dictum; but that great commander did not know a war of high explosives and chemicals; and to-day we must add to the essentials a steel helmet, a box respirator, and, I should most decidedly say, a water-bottle. The latter item has long been a part of our British equipment, and, considering the variety of climates in which our army fights, a very necessary one; Cromwell's troops in England did not have one, but we find a general demand for them beginning about this time (vide the Narrative of General Venables and his call for them in the West Indies, 1655). It is evident, then, that the essentials alone reach a weight of about forty pounds.

In addition to these essentials, clothing, arms, and accoutrements, the soldier is equipped with a certain number of what are called necessaries. The term may for convenience be held to include spare clothing and extra small kit. It is here that there has always been the greatest loading up of the soldier's kit, and here, that the greatest opportunity offers for cutting down his total load; but the very causes, social and hygienic, which led to its cumulation, will doubtless tend to resist its reduction. It is a remarkable thing that auxiliary troops, always less luxuriously outfitted than regular troops, have been as free from sickness as they have from load, and their flexibility and successful employment in the past has been a resultant of these two facts, despite the paucity of their "necessaries." Until the early nineteenth century it appears that the necessaries of a soldier were left to his own discretion and provision, but were first standardized by Napoleon (vide the article in Jahrbucher d. Deutsche Armee, 1910). Early Clothing Warrants give indications of fairly liberal supplies of standard underclothing, e.g., the Warrant of 1844 allows three shirts and three pairs of socks; but this would appear to have been augmented considerably during the Crimean War owing to the sufferings of the Army from cold and exposure. (It was not quite so clearly realized then that ample body heat can be assured by a liberal and balanced ration, and that its free supply is at least as important as its banking-up underclothing.) The Royal Commission on Accoutrements went into the question and suggested the following list, viz., 1 shirt, 1 pair of socks, 1 towel, 1 pair of boots or shoes, 1 soft cap, 1 holdall and 1 brush. We would now add to this list a toothbrush—and perhaps it would be as well to include a razor—although not truly an essential. The Greek troops have but one razor per Company; and our bearded troops after the Retreat from Mons neither looked nor fought any the less well by reason of their beards: (cf. also the French). Von Moltke, who advocated total abolition of the pack in favour of a lighter container, and who recognized as essential only the rifle, bayonet and 200 rounds, trench tool, water-bottle, and two days rations, considered the following as necessaries: a light easy fitting uniform with open throat and a sleeved poncho cape; a spare pair of socks or footcloths and a pair of light shoes, an abdominal belt and spoon. His suggestion involved, of course, sending up warm underclothes or furs in winter.

There is much to, be said for such reduced lists of necessaries. With improved communications and increasing rapidity of movement and transport it is probable, that soldiers really would suffer far less from occasional and temporary shortage of any two or three articles than their health and efficiency actually do suffer from carrying too many things. It is beyond the scope of this paper, and is no business of the writer's, to go into a discussion of what the present-day soldier could actually get along with without detriment to his health, but it is fair to assume that much of what he carried in the late war could be kept in reserve behind him to be sent up as required. The genius for organization which made it possible for men to renew their clothing regularly at bathing and disinfestation centres, and with promptitude after mustard-gas attacks, should surely be able to cope with such a problem, more especially as mechanical transport multiplies from day to day its speed and forms. To give a man too many articles is often merely to let them accumulate dirt; and the scheme for regular bathing of troops in future wars might well be utilized to afford collateral assistance in cutting down much of the underwear the soldier actually carries on his person as spare. The general question of his hardihood is also involved, and many will agree that the soldier should be steeled and trained better to withstand the hardships and contingencies of war rather than that he should be overclothed in an attempt to give him greater bodily comfort. Not for nothing were the Spartans victors of old. In passing from the subject one may just mention that references in all literature point to the greatcoat as being one of the first articles to come under revision. As already stated, v. Moltke advocated a poncho; Jackson's men took to a blanket and waterproof sheet in lieu; our own Jackson (The Formation and Discipline of Armies) recommended a cloak as a substitute both for the greatcoat and the blanket, "giving a covering for the night," and being "all that a soldier requires for his comfort and the preservation of his health." Many of our own soldiers prefer the "Coat British Warm" pattern, while the Swedish "sweater" and sleeping bag suggest an entirely different protection. Here we have a subject ripe for present experiment and trial.

In this section we must also include mention of the personal in belongings of the soldier. This is, among the Infantry of to-day, usually of comparatively low weight, and does not compare with the loot and personal belongings of soldiers of ancient armies. One may generalize by saying that the accumulation of souvenirs, etc, is in inverse proportion to the rigidity of regimental discipline; and in any case any excessive quantity is discarded when active movement compels reduction of the load. For the modern soldier some five pounds would appear to be an average maximum figure for this extra personalia, beyond which few would care to load themselves. Of this, probably ½ pound is smoking materials and accessories, and three pounds clothing and toilet accessories—the remainder usually printed or writing matter, souvenirs, and so forth.

But in ancient armies the personalia often bulked largely in the soldier's load. In the Napoleonic wars, for perhaps the last time, the soldiery still lacked that rigidity of discipline which nowadays prevents the free "acquisition" of non-military articles of value, and to an extent comported themselves, when facilities offered, after the fashion of the older armies, who were frankly encouraged to recruit and to conquer for the perquisites which would follow. Even in Puritan Cromwell's time we find that although he selected for his Ironsides primarily "freeholders' sons with consciences" (Clarendon, Hist. VI), nevertheless Sir P. Warwick was sufficiently cynical to note that "good pay and plunder constituted a natural member of Godliness."

In the Napoleonic were we find frequent reference to the souvenirs, or, frankly, loot, which was so commonly an additional burden. The classic case of Serjt. Bourgoyne's knapsack is usually referred to as indicative of this extra load. Inclusion of the reference may perhaps be justified here by its general interest. In his Memoirs the Serjeant writes, on the occasion of his leaving Moscow on October 19, 1812: "I spent the time in making an examination of my knapsack, which seemed too heavy. I found several pounds of sugar, some rice, some biscuit, half a bottle of liqueur, a woman's Chinese silk dress, embroidered in gold and silver, several gold and silver ornaments—amongst them a bit of the Cross of Ivan the Great—at least a piece of the outer covering of silver gilt, given me by a man in the Company who had helped in taking it down. Besides these I had my uniform, a woman's large riding cloak (hazel colour, lined with green velvet; as I could not guess how it was worn, I imagined its late owner to be more than six feet high), then two silver pictures in relief, a foot long and eight inches high; one of them represented the judgment of Paris on Mount Ida, the other showed Neptune on a Chariot formed by a shell drawn by sea horses, all in the finest workmanship. I had, besides, several lockets and a Russian prince's spittoon set with brilliants. These things were intended for presents, and had been found in cellars when the houses were burned down." This famous pack was carried for a month, and only lost the day after the battle of Krasnoe. It is evident that it contained all the spare clothing and rations and ammunition that the Serjeant possessed, and that the latter was of limited amount only (sixteen rounds). In other words, the extra load of unofficial articles was compensated for by a reduction of the official articles and "necessaries."

Similar references abound in the literature of the time, though few give such detail. Despite the improving discipline and control over the soldiery, plunder seems to have been still regarded as their fair perquisite, thus Scott (British Army) quotes the following description of the aftermath of Vittoria: "The booty captured was immense. Besides the baggage, horses, and other articles taken in the field, the value of the specie, plate and jewels was estimated at 6 millions of dollars: of this sum, only 100,000 dollars came to the military chest; the rest was divided by the troops on the spot."

The subject need be carried no further; the practice is not now recognized, and we may now proceed to examine the load and armies of the past, to discover what was actually carried, and, where possible, how the load was borne.

VII—The Greeks

The Greek armies may be taken as examples of organized forces of the classical age, whose feats and records merit examination. With minor differences in equipment and in tactics, there was nevertheless considerable uniformity in the Greek armies; but of them all, the Spartans devoted the greatest attention to ensuring an A1 physique and a thorough training both physical and moral, for their soldiers. In the earlier Achæan armies there was little organization, the whole tribes served together, and their camps were like villages (Iliad XIV, 30). In the historical period, however, the typical organization of cavalry and infantry gradually appears, the cavalry in turn disappearing (by the time of Marathon) and leaving infantry as the chief national arm. The most prominent type of Greek infantryman was the hoplite (fig. 1), a heavily armed and accoutred warrior whose peculiar genius was infighting, and who, from all accounts had not, nor was expected to have, any great mobility in battle; the phalanx did not depend for its success on mobility. As to the question of load, attention should be given to some of the less often quoted references if one is to ascertain the truth as to the weight normally carried by the man. Reference is often made to the load of the hoplite, on the assumption that his equipment was always carried by him, and that several centuries of war showed this could be done. Actually the case was very different, and the misconception has arisen through the prominence devoted to the hoplites in battle. Naturally, as the "Old Guard" in all major battles, and as the select representatives of their country, the interest of contemporary and later historians was chiefly directed to them: but it is commonly overlooked that, on the march and when not actually fighting, every Spartan hoplite was accompanied by a helot who carried his shield and served him as attendant (Xen. Hell. IV). Historians describe, further, how the Athenian hoplites had each an attendant (therapon) who carried his arms and three days rations (Thuc. III, 17 and Ken. Anab. IV, 2.) The necessity for this is easily understood on detailing the arms referred to. In the case of the Athenian hoplite, the defensive armour comprised a casque, tunic, leather cuirass with imbricated metal leaves, leggings, and a large shield, while the offensive weapons included chiefly a lance and short sword; the whole estimated to weigh up to some thirty-five kilograms or eighty pounds (Aristoph., Acharn., etc.). That it required fully adult men and not immature lads to wield this equipment, let alone carry it on the march, is clear from the facts, reported by Thucydides, who described the Theban and other troops of the Bœotian Confederation as wisely posting the young soldiers of 20 as archers, slingers, etc., and only some years later passing them into the ranks of the hoplites.

This leads us to mention the light infantry, which gradually assumed an increasing importance in the Greek forces. The Spartans gradually realized the value of arming their helots as slingers, javelin throwers and archers, and utilizing them as sharp shooters, scouts, and light infantry generally, but it was left to the genius of Iphicrates of Athens in the fourth century to revolutionize current ideas of the equipment and practice of war by his army of light infantry, who so heavily defeated and almost destroyed a Spartan force. This new infantry was equipped with a light leather-covered wicker or wood shield, a linen corset only, a lance and a sword; and by their economy, suppleness and mobility gave a new significance to the value of light infantry (Xen. Hell. I). These men, we are told, were eminently useful as scouts, on the march, and were able to undertake duties hitherto impracticable for the weightier hoplites. From this point, lightly armed and defended infantry became generally organized, and one finds many references to the peltasts, corps of slingers, etc., who, by the time of the Peloponesean War, had become the recognized types of infantrymen, defended only by a light shield, and armed with their special forms of offensive weapons (Thuc. III). The weights they carried were apparently not great; the archers carried some twelve to fifteen arrows, the slingers a "pocketful of projectiles," etc. (Xen. Anab. V).

By this time, too, we learn of the very considerable baggage trains accompanying the armies, on the carts and led beasts of which were piled the cooking utensils, clothing and blankets, tents, rations and spare arms of the force. With the train went the numerous body of batmen, attendants, valets, etc.—a picture clearly drawn by both Xenophon and Thucydides of an army in which each individual soldier was not heavily encumbered with his own possessions, or even arms. Each day's march was normally followed by a day's rest, and the individual man was expected to forage for his own rations, with the aid of his ration allowance. Philip of Macedon, like Iphicrates, attached great importance to rapidity of marching and manœuvre; and to this end did much to make his army mobile by embodying not only heavy infantry, with long pike-lances, but a considerable force of light infantry (the hypaspistes). Indeed to his many corps of light troops must be ascribed much of his success. Still further to disencumber his army he reduced the baggage considerably (having learned how frequently the Greeks were paralysed by their trains), and allowed one attendant for each ten infantrymen only. At the same time he organized his commissariat on the expectation of living as far as possible on the country, and rarely carried much food (Arrian III; Front. IV).

The Roman Army stands out as one whose exploits have been chronicled in considerable and meritorious volume; yet even here we find but parsimonious detail in the hard facts of internal economy. For the most part we are indebted for occasional references to Caesar and other contemporary writers, and to the late Epitome Rei Militares of Vegetius A.D. 395—(in reality an appeal for the re-organization of the army of that date). From first accounts it appears that the Roman soldier of the Republic carried a weight in battle considerably in excess of what would nowadays be expected of a oldier. Statements as to the legionary's load are often, however, loosely made, and transcribed without examination; nor has attention been given to verify whether indeed in some of the more outstanding marches he actually did carry it all. One must frankly admit that he showed extraordinary powers of endurance, powers frequently alluded to with pride by contemporaries, and contrasted favourably by Polybius with the less distinguished energy shown by the Greeks.

To the critical eye of competent judges there was "little to distinguish the Roman infantry from mules of burden" (Josephus), While even Vegetius' description recalls—

"The Roman Soldier bred in War's alarms Bending with unjust load and heavy arms."

(Verg. Georg. III.)

That the Romans were able, in their palmy days, to carry considerable loads, and to march quickly and well, was due principally to their mode of selection of recruits; and to training, more training, and still more training.

In the early days of the Republic, recruits were classed and armed according to a property qualification, only the first class being accoutred in what we now regard as the standard Roman equipment, the two lowest classes having; no defensive armour at all. Later, Marius reorganized the whole army and armed all his legionaries alike. Augustus finally adopted the standing army of volunteer soldiers, thus overcoming the growing dislike of the Roman bourgeois for compulsory service; from this time the army gradually lost its distinctive Republican character and was recruited more from the provinces than from Italy itself. In the earlier days recruits joined most commonly at the age of 20 (Corp. Inscript. Lat.) and were selected from among the brawny peasantry primarily on a basis of sturdy strength rather than of statute (Vegetius). This point is of interest in view of the rigid recruiting regulations of our own times which base selection primarily on stature, and pay comparatively less heed to the general physique or body-weight.

The Romans chiefly relied on four months training for transforming the recruit into a good soldier, and a hard and testing training it was. Detail is hardly necessary here (Vegetius gives it fully) but attention must be called to the importance laid on marching, as well as on all other forms of physical exercise. Realizing the value of a just correspondence of movement, the Romans insisted on an exact and vigorous cadence of steps in the march, such a step as would cover twenty Roman miles (each 1,666 yards) in five summer hours (i.e., 5/12 of the hours of daylight in summer)—the ordinary march step or militare gradu: while for speeding up, twenty-four Roman miles had to be covered—the forced march or pleno gradu. I estimate these rates at some three and 3 ½ miles per hour respectively. During his training the recruit was exercised with weapons weighing double the usual weight, and to prepare him for the burden of his eventual marching lead, was "constantly exercised" in marching with a load up to a maximum of sixty Roman pounds, i.e., forty five pounds in present day units (a libra = twelve ounces). This is important, and suggestive of its being at least as great as that he was destined to carry when embodied (cf. his weapons). Furthermore it is the only reference. I can find to justify the very frequently quoted and misleading statement that the Roman legionary constantly carried a sixty pounds pack! The legionary's load will be discussed below, but the point is important. The training load in an army which purposely stressed the rigours of the recruit is no sure criterion on which to base statements as to the regular soldier's pack, but is admittedly suggestive.

After his training the recruit was embodied in the legion, and posted according to his physique and aptitudes. He was still "constantly exercised." Vegetius tells us that thrice every month the legions were required to march ten miles out and back at the regulation pace, with intervals of quick marching, across broken and irregular country and in full kit (although it is questionable if the rations required to be carried in war were included in the kit). So trained and maintained, one gives willing credence to the many tales of fine marches by Roman troops. We may note that a soldier who showed special keenness in his work was promoted and given a double ration of wheat—a sure incentive to enthusiasm.

The clothing and equipment of the legionary comprised a woollen tunic, a leather doublet (often with metal facings), heavy sandals and a russet cloak. In cold countries he wore fasciae (puttees), otherwise his legs were bare. For defensive armour he had a metal casque, a greave on his right leg, and a large half cylindrical shield of leather tipped with metal; and for offence, his sword (two feet) on the right side, dagger on the left, and two six feet javelin-pikes (pila) carried usually in the right hand. Apart from his arms, however, each soldier was, we are told, required to carry a certain equipment and rations for so many days. The equipment included variously a saw, spade, hatchet, cooking vessel, basket, chain, and stakes, and formed a bundle of awkward and cumbersome nature. A device in the nature of a forked supporting stick to be carried on the shoulder, (like a tramp), and nicknamed after the originator Marius mule was standardized to carry the personal equipment, which with the rations and other articles carried is often referred to comprehensively as the "sarcina" (cf. our pack). As to the weight of all these articles we have no exact knowledge. The two pila would certainly weigh 12 pounds, the shield and sword 10 pounds, the clothing, etc., 15 pounds, and the "pack" say as a maximum 45 pounds. Total sum, say eighty pounds. This is a very high figure, comparable to that carried by our infantry in France in winter during the later stages of the recent war, but it is quite credible and compatible with fairly effective short marches, in the case of a very well trained and hardy soldiery.

The figure is, however, open to criticism along several lines. The first is the ambiguity as to whether every soldier carried all of the axe, saw, etc., group quoted above, or only a selection. In view of the elaborate technical and engineering staff of the legion it appears more than doubtful; and I find myself completely in accord with Mommsen's view that they were distributed here and there. As to the rations carried, very considerable differences are noted, depending naturally enough on the local circumstances—possibility of local purchase from friendly inhabitants, etc. The standard usually believed to have been laid down was seventeen days rations (Sandy s, etc.), but others agree to three days supply being the usual (Smith's Dictionary of Aiztiq.), while we know that Julian's men had twenty days , and Livy informs us that in his time thirty days stock was carried. Here obviously there is a great margin of error. The basis of the Roman ration was wheat, issued at the rate of about thirty litres per month, say fifty-five pounds weight. Later on this was issued not as wheat but as rusks, weighing only three quarters of the weight of wheat. (Calculations in Daremberg's Dict. des Antiq. show that the daily bread equivalent was identical with that of the present day French infantryman.) Assuming a fourteen days supply of such rusks to be carried, twenty-four pounds would be definitely included in the sarcina, while with a three days supply some five pounds only are accounted for. I cannot find it agreeable to accept a forty-five pounds "sarcina" (and no other figure is ever quoted) with the most prominent content varying in such a way; and am inclined to reduce the eighty pounds total accordingly" Probably the forty-five pounds to which the recruit, was trained was, a more accurate figure of the total load (but see below). As a matter of interest it may be noted that while cereals comprised the stand-by of the ration, the soldier had meat as often as possible ("at least once a day"—Strabo. VIII), usually pork. Lard, salt and oil are frequently mentioned in lists of military stores, and we know that they were carried on the train. Such being the case it is a fair assumption that a very large part of the soldier's rations were also carried in bulk on the train. Vinegar and Water (posca) formed the universal drink, a peculiarly interesting empirical use of anti-scorbutics, the use of which appears on occasion to have been much needed after a prolonged period of living on rusks only (vide Seneca's description, Ep. 83, of getting sick and losing his teeth).

Mention of the train, however, leads us to the most interesting commentary on the fabled strength of the Roman soldiers, and leads to a revelation of the fact that—as in the Greek Armies—there was a very considerable assistance given in the carriage of heavy articles by the transport and personnel of the train. Why this is often overlooked is doubtless because the Roman historians, regarding the non-combatant train as of secondary interest only, but rarely mention it in detail, and concentrate on the feats in battle of the legions. That carts and pack animals were used in this way to relieve soldiers on the march (in addition to their proper functions) we know from various sources (Vita; Alex. 47, Suet. Calig. 43, etc.). Even in rigid Caesar's time we have reference (Bell. Gall. VII, 47) to the magnum numerum impedimentorum et muliorum. Not less important than this assistance from animal transport however was that afforded by human assistants, the calones (attendants), slaves, and others referred to by Caesar (Bell. Gall. II) occasionally becoming so numerous a swarm (multitudo servorum—Bell. Afr. 74) as to outnumber the legionaries (Tacit. Hist. II 87). To deal with these individuals they were organized in groups of 200 under non-commissioned officers and marched with the train. Many being slaves, can there be any doubt as to their masters utilizing them to carry at least the non-effective portions of their equipment on the march (vide Cæs., Bell; Civ. III)? When Sulla besieged Athens, to such an extent had this portion of the army grown that 20,000 muleteers are recorded as following the troops (Pluto, Sulla, 12) Finally, one must not omit mention of the women, who followed their soldiers (Appian. Hist. 85, etc.). It will be seen then that, while exact data are lacking, evidence exists to Show that (1) the Roman soldier was equipped with a fairly weighty and exhausting kit, but that (2) there is reason to suppose that he himself rarely carried it all on the march.

Confirmation of these ideas is obtained by a careful study of Roman sculpture, best of all from the reliefs on the magnificent Column of Trajan, also from that of Marcus Aurelius, the Arch of Severus and others. (Vide the photographs (by Fröhner and Cichorius, whose monographs may be seen in the British Museum.) We find the carts and led beasts of the train-loaded with warriors, shields and warlike gear; while a critical review of the 113 odd plates reveals only two occasions on which the legionaries carry anything other than their arms and armour. In one plate, among a section of twenty-five men on the march, one only carries a pick and one an axe. In the other, showing troops on the march, the men are carrying their "Marian Mules"—the forked support—on the end of which are their sarcinae, or bundles of personalia. These bundles—principally food and utensils connected therewith, comprise the reserve stock of rusks, canteen, small pot, water bag, etc., and obviously do not weigh over fifteen pounds at the outside. The assistance given in carrying the sack of spare clothing, and loot, shield, etc., by the personal attendants or calones is also evident in a fragment preserved in the Louvre (Paris). Rough sketches of these reliefs are appended—fig. 2. From the combined evidence of writings (e.g., Martial, IX, 51 and even St. Paul, Eph. VI) and of the existing reliefs we may therefore assess the Roman's load, on the march, as about 50 pounds (35 pounds for clothing, arms and armour, and 15 pounds sarcina).

Those occasional examples of forced marches by the Romans, so often referred to as the normal, do not stand close analysis. For instance, the much quoted march of Glaudius Nero (6,000 infantry), who covered 240 miles in seven days, was organized by messengers in advance in such a way that all the available animal transport of a friendly and enthusiastic populace was at his disposal. Under such circumstances an army may, double its normal march, as for example did Napoleon's Imperial Guard on the march from Paris in 1806; in this case, by the use of carts in which half the men rode while the others walked, 435 miles were covered in thirteen days, a rate and distance rarely equaled. On the whole the Roman system—inevitable with their equipment and easily understood—very wisely was festina lente. In the ordinary way the Romans do not appear to have made notably striking marches, and we learn, for example, that even the veteran force which invaded Britain covered only some seventy miles in the first seven days marching, a figure comparable to "standard" marching but in no way extraordinary. These soldiers were quite unable to pursue their lightly armed opponents, clad-only in skins and stripped for the fray, by reason of their heavy armour (Cæs, Bell. Gall. V.); and from this time onwards we find the Roman soldier gradually less able to withstand the more mobile barbarian hosts and finally succumbing before the Goths and Huns, against whom; Vegetius states, they were almost defenceless. The necessity for lightening the equipment of the troops was in this way borne in on the Romans themselves; the soldier apparently refusing to carry such loads and requiring finally in Valentinian's time a reorganization of the whole military fabric. But more important still was the increasing employment by the Romans of light infantry, unencumbered with heavy defensive armour, and able to act as skirmishers; scouts, and pursuit/troops. These-light troops and auxiliaries were evolved in like manner to the Greek peltasts and appear to have been equally efficacious; but could not of themselves do more than stave off the gradual deterioration and disorganization of the army. The contrast between the legionary and one of the light troops is indicated in fig. 3.

(To be continued)

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