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I was reading De Saxe's Reveries and some other works on Early Modern war and I noted that cadenced marching was often attributed to the Romans by authors of the period. Is there any documentary evidence the Roman actually did this, or was it just 17th and 18thc authors looking for a classical precedent? Big Grin
Boy, oh boy. You sure know how to start a war from nothing, eh?

There are two armed camps about the marching in step--opposite views, of course. For what it's worth, I don't know of any documented proof either way...OTOH, I'm no expert. Just getting an answer in before the impending battle.
None that i've ever read about or heard least not from those I'd consider scholarly. 8)
Sorry, I didn't know it was a controversial subject. Confusedhock: Thanks though, unless some widely know military manual says it happened, I suspect there is no way de Saxe and gang could have known they did. And as Roman military manuals are, in my understanding, very rare, I'll assume that if nobody here knows of such a thing, neither did people in the 17th and 18thc. Tongue ) )
I answer your question with another question: How else do you keep a formation in line during movement? Especially in the case of testudo or tight phalanx formations.

There may not be a verbal cadence. Another audio signal such as weapon haft against shield or stomping a certain foot, or visual signals, provided by the unit standard. Perhaps by the time the soldier became a professional this wouldn't have been necessary, but definitely during initial training. In the modern military there are times when the formation is allowed to move without actually marking time. When this order is given, within a few paces the formation starts looking like a jiffy pop bag as helmets begin bobbing randomly.
Logic would dictate some form of co-ordination for a highly technical method of warefare! :twisted:
Vegetius mentions that soldiers should be trained in the military step. This could be interpreted as the marching step...

The relevant passage from a translation of Vegetius found here:

Quote:The first thing the soldiers are to be taught is the military step, which can only be acquired by constant practice of marching quick and together. Nor is anything of more consequence either on the march or in the line than that they should keep their ranks with the greatest exactness. For troops who march in an irregular and disorderly manner are always in great danger of being defeated. They should march with the common military step twenty miles in five summer-hours, and with the full step, which is quicker, twenty-four miles in the same number of hours. If they exceed this pace, they no longer march but run, and no certain rate can be assigned.

That would be it in a nutshell Jef! Great info!
This isn't direct evidence obviously, but soldiers sang songs (usually dirty ones) about their generals during triumphs. If they were marching in a triumph rather than just walking along, it seems likely that the songs would naturally have had a rhythm in time with the march.
But, that's not evidence for a cadenced march at other times.
Quote:I answer your question with another question: How else do you keep a formation in line during movement? Especially in the case of testudo or tight phalanx formations.

It is possible though hard, as de Saxe points out. He says they ought to adopt it, implying it was not universal in the French army of the mid 18thc. And yet pike warfare, and straight ranks of muskets had been used prior to that for a long time. I have no idea how they did they did it though, so I can't answer your question properly. :-\\

And thanks for the info on the marching step Mr. Pinceel. Big Grin )
There is a great difference between evidence and speculation using our modern knowledge and what we 'must have' to walk together.

Vegetius talks of a military step. In the modern military the military step is not the beat per minute as much as the distance per pace. If people can walk with the same pace, they tend to stay together. you find this in parades, mass mob movement, school yards and even on the boardwalk.
After reading the passage in context, I note the following things.

1. Vegetius is talking about a hypothetical ideal formation. He mentions teaching the military step along with the ideal height for recruits, keeping weavers etc out of the army and like. This is thus not saying what is, it is saying what ought to be.

2. However, his military step was in common use at the time. If it was a term he made up himself, or pulled from a tome of the ancients, he would have to explain it. He does not. He lists its benefits in the manner of one arguing in favor of a known proposition, no of one explaining what the concept is, IMHO. From the way it is worded, I think his intended audience knows what this military step is, and he is trying to prove it is worthwhile.

3. No mention of music other sound is made. He does list long practice as a requisite however, while de Saxe noted that with music, a cadenced march is natural and easy to learn. Indeed, he claims he has seen men being to march in cadence when music is being played on the march, even without training or orders. That makes me guess that no musical aid was used, and it was simply learned by doing it over and over until you got it. That is just my guess though, feel free to criticize it. :lol:
We at Legio IX Hispana like to skip.

Our San Fransico chapter swishes.

Our "banner bearers" are taught the Sasquatch stroll.

We usually train on a hillock, only walking around the the mini-hill in a counter clockwise manner.

Though the day we did a power walk sesion at the local gym.. about 15 of us on tread mills in armor...

What more can I say?

We like to march. Sing jodies, keep step. Sure is a workable way to keep guys 3-5 abreast in full campaign kit moving well and in close order without killing or maiming each other!

Did the Romans march?? ... like other stated.. no one knows.. interpreting Ol'Vegitius to "prove" marching? Ok by me, but its still opinion and interpretation. Them's fightin' werds fer shoor!

I know how well marching works and how important it is to maintaining good battle field order.

We do it because it works for us.
Greeks used Flute players, I imagine it was possible the Romans used their Cornus and the tubba thing to play a rythemed cadance.....
Agreed, for all we (or I at least) know, it might not even have been the same in all centuries. (pun intended) :lol: Seriously, I know all my conclusions are tentative. I am hardly likely to be all-knowing, working from 5 minutes study on a translation. Tongue )
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