Though we have imagined a force of a thousand, it must not be lost sight of that the same kind of precautions should be employed for very much larger numbers; indeed, you need only alter the scale of the map, imagine additional roads, a railway line or two, increase to thousands, if necessary, the fifty of our vanguard, and the result is but an application of the very first principle of warfare: Eternal vigilance is the price of safety as well as of liberty.
The troops have been in camp for some time; their condition is excellent for a long march. As the corn and rye are not yet gathered, the time is early summer. The roads are in prime condition. They set out by sunrise and halted for perhaps two hours at noon. It is by thus sparing his troops during the heat of the day that the colonel will have a body of men fresh enough at nightfall to march, if necessary, all night. But no such urgency exists; it is nearing sunset, and preparations are now being made to encamp. By his map the colonel has informed himself in the matter of distances, and has decided that they shall pitch their tents somewhere in the vicinity of the village ('F'). The scouts report an eligible location for camp at 'S', and this is finally chosen. It has several advantages, being comparatively level, and yet upon high ground, and has in close proximity several wells of good water. The train containing provisions and ammunition is parked in the safest locality, the horses picketed, and the guns—perhaps two or three field pieces and machine guns—placed where they can be most easily handled.
By all means, give the men as good a supper as the neighborhood affords. It will be wise not to encroach upon the rations, but rather draw supplies from the village; there are, no doubt, purveyors of one sort or another to be found ready enough to supply us, the more so that they will be amply paid.
Refreshed by their supper the men are ready to turn in at tattoo; by the time 'taps' have sounded most are soundly sleeping. But some are awake; if doing their full duty, wider awake than ever they are likely to be in times of peace. The same attention to the bodily comfort of his men which impelled the colonel to give them a long rest at mid•day and a comfortable meal, applies with increased force to those detailed early in the morning for the night's guard; during the march these have been spared as far as possible, even being allowed a lift now and then in an ambulance. Such privileges are not granted by a commander who knows his craft as a concession to the laziness, but rather as a preparation for the effectiveness of his men. This is a principle of action, and may apply to business as well as war, that the strong head never withholds reasonable and proper indulgence; the better, it may be said, to enforce at needful times reasonable and proper exertions.
As soon as the camp is established the guards are posted. If great precautions were needed during the day, much more are they by night.