Evolution of infantry


Forum Resistance Leader
So I re read for the 2nd Time Jeff Shaara's God's and Generals and came to an interesting question.

During the battle of Chalon's in 451 Roman infantry marched on foot throughout their entire order of Battle.

1864 Infantry Forces of Sherman's Army marched on foot into Savannah Georgia. Confederate forces literally on foot marched into battle in Gettysburg from Virginia all the way into Pennsylvania.

Although by this time Railroads did offer rapid movement for both sides the majority of infantry force deployment was achieved by literally hoofing it to the next theater of operations.

Even with the U.S. Navy's increasingly effective Naval Blockade of the south limiting supplies. "Such as adequate footwear" Confederate troops sometimes marched barefoot.

Fast forward to 1939 and we all have seen newsreels of German Panzer's rolling into Poland. While although the Blitz did involved mass mechanized forces. German infantry once again mainly marched to Warsaw. Even more German supplies were primarily delivered by horse as opposed to large mechanized supply lines.

Fast forward to 1943 and the Soviets first serious of counter offensives involved much of the same, troops delivered supplies via horses. Not until later in the war did the Soviets utilize large amounts of trucks delivered under Lend Lease from the U.S. and U.K. to streamline force deployment and logistics.

1967 into the Tet offensive, NVA troops marched along the Ho Chi Min trail delivering troops and supplies all along the South Vietnamese theater of operations.

Fast forward again to today, with the world's modern infantry offered a myriad of delivery methods that would have made General Sherman envious. Is the deployment and mobility of Infantry forces still the same?

Meaning does modern infantry deploy , move and operate along these same lines? Does the modern Infantryman spend most of his time on foot moving throughout the field of operations?

Or are we in new territory? Just a thought.

Any insight is appreciated.

Last edited:
It all has to do with speed of advance, mobility. When the Germans developed their panzer divisions they quickly realized that every part of that division was going to have to keep up with the tanks. They developed armored personnel carriers on the form of half-tracks and used them to transport their infantry, engineers and other essential troops. They soon saw that the artillery had to be mounted in armored vehicles and developed self-propelled guns with armor protection This was only true in the panzer and panzer grenadier divisions. The rest of the German Army relied on horse - drawn transport and on foot marches. Germany did not have the automotive resources to fully motorize it's entire army. Their panzer divisions could then advance much faster than the three mile per hour marching pace. That's how they overran so many of their opponents early in the war. They simply moved too fast for the opponents to react. In fact, they frequently moved too fast for their non-mechanized units to keep up with them. This frequently meant that they had to stop and wait for the foot-sloogers to catch up.
The British had the first fully mechanized army because they wanted to free themselves from the logistics requirements of animal drawn equipment. It's much easier to transport gasoline than hay and grain. Their armor and much other mechanized equipment was inferior to the Germans.
For the Americans, mechanization was no problem once the horse-lovers were fobbed off to a quiet corner. American industry could produce all the needed equipment. It was just a question of shipping space and that became a problem late in WWII. After D-day, there were few complete divisions shipped to Europe because their equipment took up too much shipping space, so the men were sent without the equipment.
More recently helicopters have replaced wheels and tracks to transport troops, provide airborne firepower and logistics support.
So, that's been the continuous trend; to get away from the slow pace of marching men and to be able to move combat power forward as fast as possible. So who knows what the future will bring. Read the novel "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein and maybe get a glimpse of tomorrow.
I know I did a helluva lot of "humping" on every one of my combat tours...

We still call our boots LPC's for "Leather Personnel Carriers" for a reason...