A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men.
The Last Full Measure; The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers, Richard Moe, 1993
After a series of false starts, the First Minnesota began its march back down the Peninsula on 16 August. An account of just how tedious the trek was came from a member of Company B, who sent the following description of the march to the Stillwater Messenger under the pen name "Saint Croix." It could have described almost any march any time:
Our first orders came to be ready to move in light marching order on Monday, August 11, but owing to change of programme, or some other cause, we were kept in camp constantly on the qui vive until Saturday the 16th, when we finally got under way and dragged our slow length along out of the fortifications and over about four miles of road, and encampt for the night within a mile or two of Charles City Court House. In civil life we do not regard a walk of ten or twenty miles in one day as anything very arduous. A good traveler will make his forty miles a day without any great effort. But a march of an army is quite a different affair. An unskilled general will manage to make a march of five miles in one day by an army corps a very exhausting day's work for the men. The reveille will sound at half past two in the morning, and every man must get his coffee and gird on his armor. One hour later the bugles sound "attention" and the men fall in, all strapped up and loaded down. Here they wait under arms right in their tracks one hour and a half—this a moderate statement—when the welcome "forward" is sounded, and your regiment marches off promptly for ten or twenty rods and halts to let by a long column of cavalry, or infantry, or a wagon train. This occupies from fifteen minutes to three hours, according to the brilliancy and magnitude of the movement. By this time the sun is high and the heat is great. Dust ditto. Finally the regiment will get out of sight of camp, and it is time to take a lunch. No sooner has the whole corps got stretched out on the road, than the hateful, but inevitable order comes to "closeup," and the poor devils toward the rear are compelled to take up a sort of double quick step until some obstruction delays the head of the column, and they come slap up against their file leaders. Then a long halt and another weary stand-up ensues, to be followed by another double quick to make up for the accumulated time and distance lost by all the men and trains in front. And thus we march and stand. No matter how great the heat, how thick the dust, or how heavy the loads on our shoulders … By this style of marching, when five miles are made, the men are very much fatigued, while a march of ten or twelve miles is a serious affair.'