A Company "On the March"

Posted by Todd Miller on 6/21/98 on a CW discussion forum when I was planning a march to Gettysburg in 1998:

With some of you thinking of doing a march to Gettysburg in a couple of weeks, I thought you might enjoy the following quote. It is from John Q. A. Campbell of the 5th Iowa. It was written on Dec. 24, 1862 outside of Memphis.

On the march. Who, that never marched, knows the meaning of that phrase? What an interesting thing a regiment, a company is, when 'on the march.' Watch a Company, see its characters, hear them talking, laughing, and joking -- and catch their spirit. There they go, merrily, joggin along --some laughing and joking at each other, at everybody and everything they pass -- others spouting politics, talking of the elections, of the probablilities of war and the posssibilities of peace -- others singing -- others looking about, eyes wide open, 'viewing the landscape o'er.' Here you have a man laughing, 'fit to split his sides,' at the humor of his file leader. At his side, some mischief is relating his adventures while pursuing butternut hogs and digging for rebel potatoes. There you see a man, plodding along, with his head down, brooding over the reverses of our army, and muttering 'good for my three years, ' while by his side his more hopeful comrade is singing 'Hail Columbia' or 'There's a good time coming.' Just behind him a pensive lad is humming the air of 'Home Sweet Home, ' while his 'right hand man' is munching a hardcracker and greasing his throat with a piece of rusty bacon. there you see a man whose ideal is a good Iowa farm, laughing at the farms and farming of the southern nabobs, occasionally joining an ex-Supervisor in the imprecations on southern roads and southern mud-holes. So they go. 'A company on the march.' Look on them and you see, in reflection, the human race on the journey of life.


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