Front Page Titles (by Subject) the step 1 - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 7
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the step 1 - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 7 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 7.
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Tacticians agree that a proper regulation of the length and speed of the step is of primary importance in a system of tactics.
Upon this depends essentially the exactness of all evolutions, the attainment of the best results with the least inconvenience to the soldier. Yet, in the theories of military writers, and in the establishments of military nations, there is great diversity in this important article. For example: while our step is two feet English, that of France (and it is believed of Russia) is two feet French, or about twenty-six inches English; that of Great Britain, two feet six inches English. There is also some, though less, difference as to the velocity of the step: that of France being 76, 100, 120 in a minute; that of Great Britain, 75, 108, and 120 in a minute.
This diversity is a reason against adopting implicitly any foreign standard, and a motive to investigation of the principles on which the step ought to be predicated. It is desirable, if possible, to find a standard in nature.
As to length, the step ought to be accommodated to men of the smaller sizes. A tall man can abridge easier than a short man extend. And yet, perhaps neither extreme ought to govern; a short man may, by habit, somewhat lengthen his usual step without fatigue, while a tall man may be too much constrained, if obliged to contract his step to the measure of a very short man. The man of middle stature may be the proper criterion, or perhaps the average of a number of men of different sizes marching together, may furnish a still better rule. In such case, a kind of compromise naturally takes place, by the mutual effort of all to move in unison.
But to arrive at a full result, it is necessary that the experiments should be multiplied, should be by individuals of different sizes, and by bodies of different numbers from few to many, and especially that they should be on different sorts of ground, rough as well as smooth, unequal as well as plain. By this diversification of the experiments, it may be possible to discover some medium which, being adopted as a standard, and made habitual to the troops, will best accommodate itself to the variety of circumstances which occur.
It is a fact which, in this investigation, demands particular attention, that the length of the step naturally increases with its speed or velocity. In a slow movement, the body is nearly perpendicular, and the leg kept back; in a rapid one, the body is impelled forward, and with it the leg, which, without effort, takes a greater distance in this than in the former case.
Hence a question whether the length of the step ought not to be proportioned to the speed, and whether, instead of that uniformity which seems to have been preferred, it ought not to be less in the slower and greater in the quicker steps. It is evident, that by lengthening the step with the speed, a greater quantity of ground will be passed over in a given time, and perhaps with less fatigue, from the men being less constrained.
The varieties in the speed of the step demand careful examination. A slow, cadenced, majestic step has been adopted, especially in reference to manœuvres of parade and the march in line. From 75 to 80 in a minute have been latterly deemed an eligible standard. For occasions which require greater celerity, about 100 in a minute has been adopted, to be increased in particular cases to 120.
These questions arise. Are all these varieties desirable as fundamental rules? If not, what ought to be substituted? Is the slowest of these steps ever useful in the actual service of the field? If not, ought it to obtain for any, and for what collateral reasons? To what kind of movements is each variety applicable? In fine, what ought to be established as to the speed of the step.
Respect for the institutions of nations who have arrived at considerable perfection in the art of war, is a dictate of good sense; but when we consider the influence of the spirit of imitation, and how liable men habituated to routine are to be trammelled by that to which they have been accustomed, we shall find good reason not to follow those institutions implicitly. In the particular affair of the length and speed of the step, there is room to suspect that principles have not been sufficiently consulted, and that real improvements may be made. This, however, is to be carefully examined, with a temper no less remote from the love of innovation than from a spirit of blind deference to authority and precedent.
This was a subject to which Hamilton gave a great deal of attention, and in regard to which he carried on an extensive correspondence, some of which is given below.