MARCH (i) (from Fr. marcher, to walk; the earliest sense in French appears to be " to trample," and the origin has usually been found in the Lat. marcus, hammer; Low Lat. marcare, to hammer; hence to beat the road with the regular tread of a soldier: cf. " beat," of a policeman's round), the movement of military troops with regular rhythmical steps, often with the time marked by the beat of drum, the sound of pipes or bugles or the music of a military band; hence the advance or movement of a body of troops from one point to another, and the distance covered in so doing. The word is also naturally applied to the music composed for marching to, and to the steady regular advance or progress of non-military bodies or persons, or of events, etc. In the military sense, " marching " is walking in formed bodies of troops, either during drill evolutions on parade or on the " line of march " from one place to another. In both senses the word is used with mounted troops as well as with dismounted men. Formerly all evolutions were carried out at the so-called " parade-march " pace of about 75-80 paces to the minute, and in one or two armies of the 18th century the parade step cadence was as slow as 60. These cadences are now, however, reserved in all armies for ceremonial occasions, and the usual manoeuvre and marching pace (" quick march ") is about 120, the "double" march pace (pas gymnastique) about 180. The " quick " march, translated into miles and hours, is about 3$ or 3! miles an hour in all armies, though a few special bodies of light troops such as the Italian Bersaglieri are trained to move at a much faster rate for hours together, either by alternate " quick " and " double " marching or by an unvarying " jogtrot." The paces recognized for cavalry are the walk, the trot, the canter and the gallop; the usual practice on the line of march being to alternate the walk and the trot, which combination gives a speed of about 5 miles an hour for many hours together. A " day's march," or more simply a " march," is usually reckoned to be 15-16 miles for a large body of troops, a " forced " march being one of 20 miles or over, or one in which, from whatever cause, the troops are on foot for more than about seven hours. For large bodies of troops the rate of movement on the line of march rarely exceeds 3 miles an hour. The immense assistance afforded by music to marching troops has been recognized from the earliest times of organized armies, and a great deal of special march-music has been written for military bands, formerly often in J or time (one bar representing one pace with the foot), but now almost invariably in common or \ time, which is more suitable for the " quick march." The music itself is usually a combination of simple, lively melody and well-marked accents for the drums, with little attempt at contrapuntal writing. The fife or piccolo, the natural bugle (in Italy and elsewhere the chromatic key-bugle is used), and the drum are the principal instruments, the " band," as distinct from the "drums " and " bugles," having in addition to drum and fifes clarinets (saxophones in France and Belgium) and saxhorns of all types. In Scottish regiments, and in a few isolated cases elsewhere, bagpipes provide the marching music. The importance of music on the march is attested further by the almost universal practice of singing or whistling marching songs, and even playing them on concertinas, etc., in the absence of the band and drums.
2. From marche, the French form of a common Teutonic word represented in English by " mark " (?..), a boundary or frontier region between two countries or districts. The word appears to have been first used in this sense in the 8th century, and the earliest " mark " or " march " districts were tracts of land on the borders of the Carolingian Empire. Wherever Charlemagne pushed forward the frontiers of the Prankish realm he provided for the security of his lands, new and old alike, by establishing mark districts on the borders. The defence and oversight of these were entrusted to special officers, afterwards called margraves, or counts of the mark, who usually enjoyed more extensive powers than fell to the lot of an ordinary count. It is at this time that we hear first of the Spanish mark (marca hispanica) and the Bavarian mark (marca bajoariae). These mark districts were practically obliterated during the reigns of the feeble sovereigns who succeeded Charlemagne, but the system was revived with the accession of Henry the Fowler to the German throne early in the 10th century and with a renewal of the work of conquering and colonizing the regions east of the Elbe, and in eastern Germany generally. Under Henry and his son, Otto the Great, marks were again set upon the borders of Germany, and this time the organization was more lasting. The mark districts increased in size and strength, especially those which fell under the dominion of an able and energetic ruler, and some of them became powerful states, retaining the name mark long after the original significance of the word had been forgotten. It is interesting to note that the two most important of the modern German states, Austria and Prussia, both had their origin in mark districts, the mark of Brandenburg, the nucleus of the kingdom of Prussia, being at first a border district to the east of the duchy of Saxony, and the east mark, or mark of Austria, being a border district of the duchy of Bavaria. In Italy march districts made their appearance about the same time as in other parts of the Prankish Empire. The best known of these is the march of Ancona, which with other marches and adjoining districts, was known later as the Marches, a province lying about the centre of Italy between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea. After forming part of the states of the Church the Marches were united with the kingdom of Italy in 1860 (see MARCHES, THE).
In England in the same connexion the plural word " marches " was the form commonly adopted, and soon after the Norman Conquest the disturbed districts on the borders of Wales began to be known as the Welsh marches. Lands therein were granted to powerful nobles on condition that they undertook the defence of the neighbouring counties of England. These lords of the marches, or lords marcher, as they were often called, had special privileges, but they were generally so fully occupied in fighting against each other and in seeking to increase their own wealth and power that the original object of their appointment was entirely forgotten. The condition of the marches grew worse and worse, and during disturbed reigns, like those of Henry III. and Edward II., lawlessness was rampant and rebellion was centred therein. A more satisfactory condition of affairs, however, prevailed after the conclusion of the Wars of the Roses; and the establishment by Henry VIII. in 1542 of a council of Wales and the marches was followed by a notable diminution of disorder in this region. About the time of Elizabeth the Welsh marches ceased to have any but an historical importance. In 1328 Roger Mortimer, a member of one of the most powerful of the marcher families, was created earl of March (comes de marchia Waliae), and in the reign of Edward III. (1354) the marches were declared to be no part of the principality, but directly subject to the English crown. It is difficult to define the boundaries of the Welsh marches, as their extent varied considerably from time to time, but under Edward I. and again under the Lancastrian kings the marcher lordships included more than half of the area of Wales; they embraced practically the whole of the principality except the counties of Anglesea, Carnarvon and Merioneth in the north and Carmarthen and Cardigan in the south, together with parts of the English border counties, Monmouth, Hereford and Shropshire.
The debateable ground between England and Scotland was also known as the marches, although its condition began to attract the attention of the southern kingdom somewhat later than was the case with Wales. Arrangements were made for garrisoning them and at one time they were divided into three sections: the east, the west, and the middle marches, the oversight of each being entrusted to a warden. Roughly speaking, they embraced the modern counties of Northumberland and Cumberland, together with a tract on the Scottish side of the border. The need for protecting them ceased soon after the accession of James VI. of Scotland to the English throne, and they have now only an historical and legendary significance. About 1200 Patrick de Dunbar, earl of Dunbar, called himself earl of March, taking the name from the merse, or march, a tract of land in Berwickshire.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)