[The Richmond Daily Dispatch]
|Stonewall Jackson's "foot cavalry" were on epic marches in May-June 1862.|
Bonaparte, in his first campaign in Italy, wrote to the Directory that his troops had outdone the Roman legions. The latter, he said, marched eight leagues (twenty-four miles) a day, whereas the French marched ten, and fought a battle every day. The French are proverbially rapid marchers; but the great exploits alluded to by Napoleon in this letter extended only over a space of one week, during the time of Wurmser's first invasion, when the battle of Castiglione was fought. The General-in-Chief himself, during that time, never took off his clothes, or slept in a bed, and sometimes kept on horseback for twenty-four hours, changing only from one horse to another. At other periods the French enjoyed comparative repose, while engaged in blockading Mantna.
For rapid marching, continued steadily through a long period of time, it may be doubted whether any troops — even those of Bonaparte in Italy — ever surpassed the troops of Jackson. For a whole mouth they are said to have made twenty-five miles a day; and when we look at the ground they passed over, we are induced to believe the distance not overstated. He has discarded all suspicious baggage, has few wagons and no tents, and makes his men move with no knapsacks on their backs. They carry nothing but a haversack, in which they thrust their rations, to supersede the necessity of stopping to eat when it is not convenient. Only one blanket is allowed, and this the men tie around their shoulders. Everything is brought down to the condition which allows of most speed, and is subject to least stoppage. The men who make these prodigious marches are the healthiest in the whole service. They complained at first, and were weary and foot sore, but they soon got over it, and grew every day more and more capable of enduring fatigue, until now they can bear as much as the deer that used to feed on the mountains around them. Stone. wall has moulded them into the very form for great exploits, and great exploits we are confident they will perform. Already they see that victory seems chained to his standard.--Already his name begins to exercise over them that magical influence which is the best omen of success. They think him invincible, and they will do their best to make him so.