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Subject History » Military History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631168485.1994.x


Until the eighteenth century, the weight of horse fodder needed by an army outstripped that of supplies to the men. A soldier's total requirements were 3½lb per day, including his drink, and that of a horse 20 lb, without counting its intake of water. The introduction of firearms and the internal combustion engine (with its need for fuel) caused a huge increase in weight. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the average daily scale of maintenance for a man and for a horse which needed to be provided by army transport was 9 lb, in 1870 it rose (per day in action) to 17½lb (30 per cent in hardware and 70 per cent in provisions), in 1918 it was 28½lb (39 per cent foodstuffs and forage, 19 per cent ammunition, 42 per cent hardware and fuel), in 1943 66 lb (5 per cent provisions, 48 per cent ammunition, 25 per cent fuel and the remainder hardware and other equipment) and in 1960 154 lb. A Roman legion required c .50 tons a month; in 1870, a division needed c .50 tons per day, and in 1944 1,200 tons. In the armies of Antiquity, transport was only employed to convey the equipment for camps, arrows and spare weapons, and also the sick and wounded. Generally, pack animals were used and, more rarely, carts. The Greek hoplite and cavalryman carried just their weapons; foodstuffs and the remainder of their gear were carried by servants ( skeuophoroi ) and pack animals. In the Spartan ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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