Marching Men HTML version
The Marching Men Movement was never a thing to intellectualise. For years
McGregor tried to get it under way by talking. He did not succeed. The rhythm
and swing that was at the heart of the movement hung fire. The man passed
through long periods of depression and had to drive himself forward. And then
after the scene with Margaret and Edith in the Ormsby house came action.
There was a man named Mosby about whose figure the action for a time
revolved. He was bartender for Neil Hunt, a notorious character of South State
Street, and had once been a lieutenant in the army. Mosby was what in modern
society is called a rascal. After West Point and a few years at some isolated army
post he began to drink and one night during a debauch and when half crazed by
the dullness of his life he shot a private through the shoulder. He was arrested
and put on his honour not to escape but did escape. For years he drifted about
the world a haggard cynical figure who got drunk whenever money came his way
and who would do anything to break the monotony of existence.
Mosby was enthusiastic about the Marching Men idea. He saw in it an
opportunity to worry and alarm his fellow men. He talked a union of bartenders
and waiters to which he belonged into giving the idea a trial and in the morning
they began to march up and down in the strip of parkland that faced the lake at
the edge of the First Ward. "Keep your mouths shut," commanded Mosby. "We
can worry the officials of this town like the devil if we work this right. When you
are asked questions say nothing. If the police try to arrest us we will swear we
are only doing it for the sake of exercise."
Mosby's plan worked. Within a week crowds began to gather in the morning to
watch the Marching Men and the police started to make inquiry. Mosby was
delighted. He threw up his job as bartender and recruited a motley company of
young roughs whom he induced to practise the march step during the afternoons.
When he was arrested and dragged into court McGregor acted as his lawyer and
he was discharged. "I want to get these men out into the open," Mosby declared,
looking very innocent and guileless. "You can see for yourself that waiters and
bartenders get pale and stoop-shouldered at their work and as for these young
roughs isn't it better for society to have them out there marching about than idling
in bar rooms and planning God knows what mischief?"
A grin appeared over the face of the First Ward. McGregor and Mosby organised
another company of marchers and a young man who had been a sergeant in a
company of regulars was induced to help with the drilling. To the men
themselves it was all a joke, a game that appealed to the mischievous boy in
them. Everybody was curious and that gave the thing tang. They grinned as they
marched up and down. For a while they exchanged gibes with the spectators but