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Soldier's Foot 

and the Military Shoe 

The Soldier's Foot 
and the Military Shoe 




Major, Medical Corps, United States Army. 

President, Army Shoe Board; Director, Field Service 

School for Medical Officers, The Army Service 

Schools, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 


Approved by the War Department. 









In the investigation of the Army Shoe Board, which ex- 
tended over four years and included the critical study of the 
feet of some two thousand soldiers, the fitting of many thous- 
ands of pairs of shoes, and many months of direct inquiry 
into the causes affecting the shoeing of the United States 
soldier, it became evident that in very many instances the 
faulty conditions found were due to lack of information on 
this important subject on the part of the officers and noncom- 
missioned officers of the line concerned. 

The purpose of this, book is to supply the practical infor- 
mation on this subject which has not heretofore been available, 
and without which it cannot be expected that the several fac- 
tors which must correlate in order to produce the best foot 
conditions and marching capacity among American troops 
will be suitably recognized and satisfactorily coordinated. 

To Captain William J. Glasgow, General Staff, and First 
Lieutenant Benjamin F. Miller, 27th Infantry, who, with the 
author, composed the Shoe Board, and to Captain John R. R. 
Hannay, 22d Infantry, later added as an additional member, 
very many of the new points here brought out on the sub- 
ject of the military foot and footwear must be attributed. 


JULY 31, 1912. 









THE SOCK . 137 



It will not be disputed that the marching powers of foot 
troops are a most important factor in the conduction and suc- 
cess of battles and campaigns, and that the army which marches 
best, other things being equal, is the, successful army. Mobi- 
lity is the key of military success, and troops which cannot 
march will not be given, by a more vigorous enemy, oppor- 
tunity to fight except under what may prove to be decisive 
military disadvantage. History is full of instances where mili- 
tary success has been won more by marching than by fighting, 
and as time goes on rapidity of movement will probably be an 
even greater element in military strategy in wars of the future 
than it has been in the past. The advantage of position, by 
which both the disadvantage of inferior force may be mini- 
mized and the power of superior strength still further en- 
hanced, is the object of every commander. 

Furse, in his "Art of Marching" says: "Marching is the 
foundation of all operation in war. An army below the stand- 
ard in marching power is at the mercy of a more mobile 
force. Actual battle consumes but a fraction of the time spent 
in marching. The most brilliant plans fail if the troops do not 
inarch the distances calculated upon. Mobility is the first 
requisite of the soldier". 

Napoleon is reported to have said that he made war not 
so much with the arms as the legs of his soldiers, while For- 
rest defined the art of war as "getting there first with the most 
men". Many examples could be given where battles have 
been lost and won by marching capacity. Waterloo was lost 
and history changed because of delay in the arrival of the 
expected French reinforcements while the march of Jack- 
son's socalled "foot cavalry" in the Manassas campaign of 
1863 turned Pope's anticipated victory into the defeat of the 

2 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Second Bull Run. War has become a business in which each 
unit has its part to play ; and the soldier whose badly shod feet 
are unable to carry him into battle fails at the critical moment 
of the purpose for which he was trained, and instead of 
being an added strength he becomes an incumbrance. 

The effect of badly fitting shoes upon the psychology of 
war is very great. Even where the soldier is able to continue 
the march, the discomfort produced at every step soon redu- 
ces buoyancy of spirit, causes mental irritability and mater- 
ially diminishes fighting capacity. As the attention and inter- 
est of the soldier is focussed upon his own personal condition 
and withdrawn from matters relating to the success of the 
military enterprise as a whole, the mental force which in- 
spires the command to military achievement is dissipated and 

Some foot defects are in the nature of deformity in the 
anatomical relations of the foot structures. These mechani- 
cally weaken the foot and prevent it from exerting its powers 
to best advantage in the propulsion of the body in marching. 
Pain, also, may accompany these foot deformities and ser- 
iously interfere with marching power. Blisters and other 
injuries of the feet, which in themselves may be of no import- 
ance, require rest for their recovery. For this reason, they 
possess a very great practical interest from the military point 
of view, since they rapidly render a large number of men 
unfit for service and so diminish in large proportion the effect- 
ive force relied upon at the beginning of a campaign. 

The amount of disability from foot injury in modern 
armies is enormous. Brandt calculated that seven per cent 
of conscripts annually drafted for the German army are 
found unfit for military service by reason of foot defects due 
to bad shoeing. Lindau found that of ten thousand men dis- 
charged annually from the German army for physical dis- 
ability in time of peace, four hundred were for affections of 
the feet a proportion which he states would be tremendously 
increased in time of hostilities. In the early part of the Franco- 
Prussian War, in the Tenth Army Corps, the constant inef- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 3 

fectiveness from injury to the feet as a result of marching 
ranged from eight to ten per cent; and it is said that at one 
time not less than thirty thousand German soldiers were, from 
this cause alone, incapacitated for field service. 

Leques found that excoriations of the feet figured as one- 
third of all the causes of exemption from active service among 
young French soldiers in campaign. In our Civil War, whole 
brigades were said to have been temporarily disabled and pre- 
vented from marching from this cause. Germaine has esti- 
mated that, after several days marching, about one-fourth of 
an infantry command would present excoriations of the feet 
and not less than ten per cent of the command would be in 
the hands of the surgeon; while military statistics in general 
show that from one-fourth to one-third of a command sus- 
tains foot injury in the first few days' marching. It has been 
estimated that for European armies an average loss of ten 
per cent must be expected from this cause among unseasoned 
troops on taking the field. 

Examples of such incapacity and losses in our own army 
in more recent times are not wanting. Probably not an indi- 
vidual of any extended military experience but can recall in- 
stances in which the capacity of his command for marching 
was greatly diminished, and its effectiveness as a fighting force 
materially impaired, as a result of foot injuries. Many exam- 
ples might here be cited, but the following instance which 
occurred in the experience of the Shoe Board is sufficiently 

In 1908, a battalion of United States infantry took a prac- 
tice march in shoes which the men had themselves selected. 
It marched eight miles, went into camp for twenty-four hours, 
and then returned by the same route to the post. The mem- 
bers of the board examined the feet of all the men of the 
battalion at the end of the first day and again on their return. 
On the first day, 30 per cent, and on the last day 38 per cent, 
of the command were found to have severe foot injuries, some 
requiring hospital treatment. The feet of many others were 
reddened and sore from this short march, and a few more 

4 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

miles of marching would have converted these painful areas 
into blisters, and small blisters into large ones. This march 
is illuminative of what may be expected in our service if the 
matter of shoes and shoe fitting is turned over to the men and 
the matter of shoe supply is not given the attention its im- 
portance deserves. 

But because foot injuries have usually been so common 
among soldiers of all armies is no reason for our accepting 
them with patient resignation as one of the inevitable con- 
comitants of field service. The opposite is in fact the case. 
It is of grave military concern that the mere act of mobilizing 
a large military force by marching may require the immediate 
temporary discount of some ten per cent, of those previously 
effective, from foot injury. A cause which operates without 
any possible compensating results in practically every com- 
mand at the beginning of a campaign to bring about the absence 
on the firing line of as many men as would be lost to that 
command as the result of a pitched battle is worthy of far 
more careful and thorough investigation than it has heretofore 
received. Inquiry shows that the armies of different countries 
are not alike and within the same army its various component 
organizations may be quite dissimilar in this respect. More- 
over, it has happened that troops have been put into proper 
shoes and marched under field service conditions over long 
distances without the slightest loss from a cause which usually 
operates so severely. These exceptions, few and isolated 
though they may be, are proof positive that the general rule 
is the result of conditions which are unnecessary or removable. 
It thus becomes evident that proper care relative to the feet and 
shoes of infantry soldiers will be well recompensed by the in- 
creased efficiency of the latter. Since it appears that disability 
from foot injury can be prevented, it becomes a military duty 
to apply at all times the measures which it can be demonstrated 
will accomplish prevention. 

In this connection, a brief summary regarding a recent 
march by regular infantry will be instructive. In this test 
march, which was conducted by the Shoe Board to try out the 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 5 

several military shoes, three types of the latter were employed, 
viz: the garrison tan shoe, the marching shoe of 1912 con- 
tracts, and the military shoe devised by the board. Enlisted 
men were fitted with a pair of one of these types in regular 
sequence and irrespective of their preferences or desires, as 
the purpose was to determine and compare the respective 
effects of these different shoes upon the foot of the soldier 
class as a whole. But within each class, fittings were made as 
accurate and comfortable as possible. A full supply of all 
sizes and widths of each of these varieties of shoes was avail- 
able for fitting. Eight companies participated in the march, 
and in each company about one-third the men had the same 
kind of shoe. The latter were worn by the men from twelve 
days to two weeks before the march, so as to get the feet rea- 
sonably habituated to the shape of the shoe supplied. Light 
wool socks were used for fitting and marching. The march 
included nine marching days ; while the distance covered 
scaled 117^ miles but was probably at least 120 miles from 
bends and inequalities of the terrain. The shortest march 
was 8 miles; the longest 21 miles. A total of 379 officers 
and men, of whom 44 per cent were recruits of less than six 
months service, started on the march and 352 completed it. 
The full equipment, with ammunition, was carried. Not a 
single man failed to complete each day's march as a result of 
foot injury; losses from the command being due to a few 
cases of illness and accident and detachment for other duty 
on orders from higher authority. The feet of each man were 
inspected by the board after each day's march, and even the 
slightest pinhead blister was noted on the man's record card. 
Many of the injuries so reported were so trivial that at in- 
spection on the following day they were not apparent and 
even their former location could scarcely be determined. This 
demonstration of the fact that it is quite possible to march 
American troops long distances without appreciable loss from 
foot injury is in marked contrast with the heavy loss which 
has habitually occurred under similar conditions in our own 
and other armies. The result justified the belief long held by/ 

6 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

the board that any of the shoes as furnished by the Quarter- 
master's Department were fairly satisfactory, and that shoe 
difficulties and foot injuries heretofore obtaining in our army 
were chiefly due to shortage in the supply of sizes and widths 
of shoes available to troops through post quartermasters, and 
to ignorance, indifference and neglect on the part of company 
commanders in respect to the fitting to the feet of their men 
with such shoes as were available. Only such personal attention 
was given by the board to fitting as might reasonably be re- 
quired of organization commanders and only such simple 
measures of foot cleanliness and care were carried out as 
could be enforced by the latter. Such trifling injuries as 
occurred, chiefly developed during the first few days when 
the men's feet were tender; and after the long 21 mile march, 
which was quite a severe test of the feet and endurance of the 
command. The percentage of recruits who developed foot 
injury was slightly less than that of the old soldiers, showing 
that length of service is not necessarily the important factor 
that it has heretofore been generally regarded, and that the 
higher proportion of recruits who in the past have probably 
had foot injuries was probably due to the difficulty in fitting 
themselves, with shoes of a new shape, in the sizes and widths 
to which they had been previously accustomed. In the entire 
march, 190 men, or 56.5%, never at any time suffered the 
most trifling injury of the feet; while 43.5% at one time or 
another suffered an appreciable lesion ranging from a pinhead 
blister undiscernable the next day to those of slightly larger 
size. Practically not a single injury of those which occurred 
was either large or severe. It thus appears that a very large 
proportion of the foot injuries common to marching troops, in 
number, extent and gravity, are unnecessary, are preventable 
by simple measures, and should be so prevented. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe J 


The human foot is not to be regarded, as seems almost to 
be the idea with many, as an incoordinating mass of flesh, 
bone and gristle which may with impunity be crowded into 
almost any sort of protective covering to form a fleshy peg, 
more or less similar to a horse's hoof, on which to walk. It 
is, on the contrary, one of the most intricate anatomical struc- 
tures of the human body. Every one of its parts has a definite 
function, and interference with its normal anatomical rela- 
tions and development produces a corresponding structural 
defect or weakness which will always to some extent dimin- 
ish and not rarely is completely destructive of the capacity 
to accomplish military marching. 

Officers of the mounted branches are carefully instructed in 
the anatomy of the horse, with special attention to the hoof, 
foot and their related structures. For the cavalryman, it is 
appreciated that a competent knowledge of the inter-relations 
and coordinate functions of bone, muscle and sinew form an 
essential to the proper care and shoeing of the feet of his 
mount. This truth applies with even greater force to the sol- 
dier's foot; which in its structural anatomy is far more 
complex and delicate than that of a horse or mule, and in addi- 
tion is compelled to wear a protection which, if poorly fitted, 
is much more liable to produce marching disability in the 
man than it is in the animal. It is impossible to effectively 
select and adapt a proper military shoe without a sufficiently 
comprehensive and intelligent knowledge of the integral and 
coordinating structures of the soldier's foot which is proposed 
to cover ; yet study of the elementary regional anatomy of the 
human foot by all officers including those specially concerned 
with dismounted troops seems to have been practically dis- 
regarded in our service. It is of course not necessary that 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


Skeleton of right foot, seen from above. (From Gray's Anatomy.) 

The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 2 

Skeleton of right foot, seen from below. (From Gray's Anatomy.) 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

line officers should go into minor details in this respect, or 
learn confusing medical terms ; but it is not too much to expect 
that they should at least gain and carry in their minds a gen- 
eral idea of the nature of the more important structures of 
the foot and ankle, with the individual and collective purpose 
and use of these parts. Indifference is probably not so much 
the cause of the lack of proper knowledge in this respect, as 
is the fact that appropriate attention has not been directed to 
the matter and the necessary information has not been readily 
available in suitable form. The foot has two functions : That 
of passive support of the body in standing, and use as a lever 
to raise and propel the body in walking. 

The human foot has as its general basis a framework or 
skeleton, composed of twenty-six bones (See Figures I and 
2). Of these, nineteen are the so-called long bones, composed 
chiefly of -hard, firm bony tissues, of smooth surfaces and 

Fig. 3 


Section through foot on line of great toe. (From Volsz.) 

various sizes, and joining with other bones at their ends 
only. The remaining seven bones, of various sizes, are com- 
posed of bone which is loose and spongy in texture; these 
bones have the appearance of irregular pebbles, and have 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


Fig. 4 

many smooth facets forming surfaces for joining with ad- 
jacent bones, by which each bone is in contact with from 
four to six others. Fourteen of the long bones above men- 
tioned are small and belong to the toes, while the other five 
are much longer and form the metatarsus or ball of the foot. 
The seven irregular and spongy bones form the basis of the 
foot arch and heel (See Figs. 3 and 4). One of these the 
astragalus articulates with the leg bones to form the ankle 
joint (See Figs. 3 and 4). 

The heel is obviously intended by nature, through both 
position and structure, to receive the shock of impact of the 
foot against the ground and support the greater part of the 
weight of the body and burden in standing and at the be- 
ginning of a new step. (See especially Figs. 3 and 4). The 
os calcis, or heel bone, lies almost in prolongation of the line 
of the center of gravity of the body as represented by the leg 

bones. It is the largest bone of the 
foot, is broad and strong, and arti- 
culates closely with the astragalus 
which lies above and in front of 
it and forms the keystone of the 
foot arch. The rear prominence 
of this heel bone is the point of 
attachment of the tendon of pow- 
erful muscles of the calf of the leg, 
which by their action lift the heel 
and rear of the foot off the ground 
and thus accomplish the first move- 
ment of the foot in walking. ( See 
Fig. 3). This heel bone is guarded 
against injury by an especially thick 
layer of skin, fatty and fibrous tis- 
sue and muscle (well shown in 

Transverse vertical section 
through ankle joint. (From r'lgS. 3 and 4), Which SCFVe as an 

efficient cushion between it and the 

ground. It is held firmly in position and attached to the bone it 
articulates with (the astragalus), and with other bones anterior 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

to it, by numerous strong ligaments and fibrous tissue (See 
Figs. 6 and 7). These attachments and the nature of the 
articulations of this bone permit of a certain degree of elasti- 
city without true joint motion. The foot articulates with the 
bones of the lower leg, forming the ankle joint, through the 
astragalus. The latter also forms the keystone of the foot 
arch (See especially Figs. 2 and 7), as it is wedged between 
the heel bone and the scaphoid bone. It is a large, strong 
bone, with broad articulating surfaces, in contact with those of 
the leg bones, which embrace it on each side and support the 
entire weight with every step. From its position in the foot, 
its direct ligamentous attachments to other bones are relatively 
weak, but it receives additional support from the strong liga- 
ments attached to other bones at the ends of the foot arch by 
which the latter are held together and prevented from spread- 
ing and the astragalus from being thereby forced down 
under the body weight. (See Figs. 6 and 7). 

The front of the foot arch is formed by the five small 
bones, viz: the scaphoid, the cuboid, and the three cuneiform 
bones, together with the five metatarsals. The first five small 
foot bones are so closely articulated with each other by irre- 
gular surfaces, and are so firmly bound together by numer- 
ous small liga- 
ments, as to form 
a compact bony 
mass, which is, 
however, capable of 
a certain limited 
amount of yielding 
under pressure 
which materially 
assists in lessening 
the shock to the foot 
and body which ac- 
companies each 
step in marching. 
(See Figs. 6 and 

Fig. 5 

dorsal is pcdis artery middle cuneifonu bone 
external cuneiform 
extensor brevis digitor 

cuboid bon 

i internal cunei 
form bone 

1 internal muscu- 
1 lar group 

external muscular group 

plantar fascia 

tendons of flexors 
middle muscular group 

The Transverse Arch of the Foot. Section through 
the anterior row of tarsal bones. The line A B 
represents the surface upon which the foot rests when 
the individual stands erect. (From Gray's Anatomy.) 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 13 

7). It will also be seen (Fig. 5) that the bones of this region 
not only form part of an arch extending from front to rear but 
also are so disposed among themselves as to form a secondary 
foot arch from side to side, thereby materially adding to the 
strength of the whole. Support to this lateral arch is given 
by ligaments and the tendon of one of the leg muscles. 

From the very slight amount of elasticity and extremely 
limited relaxation anatomically possible as a result of the rela- 
tions of the seven round bones of the foot, it is evident that a 
foot covering can logically be a close fit back of the tarso 
metatarsal joint without in any way interfering with the pur- 
pose and functions of the foot. 

The five long metatarsal bones form the extreme front of 
the foot arch. (See Figs, i, 2 and 3, and all radiographs). 
They are firmly held at their posterior ends by ligaments bind- 
ing them to the round bones of the foot (See Figs. 6 and 7), 
but the joints so produced are more flexible than those further 
back in the foot and permit of considerable motion downward 
(See Fig. 3). But between the shafts of these metatarsals 
there is no ligamentous union whatever, thus permitting 
marked spreading of these bones with broadening of the foot 
under pressure in the interests of greater flexibility, the pro- 
duction of broader surfaces and resulting increased stability 
in standing and marching. (See Fig. 6 and all radiographs). 
The frontal ends of these metatarsal bones, especially the ends 
of the first and fifth metatarsals, form the front of the foot 
arch (See Figs. 2 and 3). It will be noted (See Fig. 2) that 
the line of junction of the five metatarsals with the round 
bones of the foot, which forms the ball, is not square across 
but extends obliquely from without inward. The result of 
this oblique articulation, when the foot is pointed to the 
front, is to naturally tend to throw the weight of the body on 
the outer part of the foot, where the structures are strongest. 
The ball measurement in fitting shoes is taken just in front of 
this line of articulations, over the bony prominences at the 
base of the little and of the greater metatarsal bones. 

This marked physiological capacity for spreading of the 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 6 

metatarsal bones, especially at their anterior ends, together 
with that obviously possible in the unconnected toes, results 
in a requirement that any shoe suitable for military purposes 

shall be of such form and width 
in its anterior part as to allow 
proper broadening of the foot in 
its metatarsal and toe regions to 
the extent naturally assumed by 
the bare foot in standing and 
walking. If this be not done, the 
foot is narrowed, contact with 
the ground is decreased, and 
body equilibrium is impaired. In 
the natural effort to preserve the 
latter in too narrow shoes, the 
man tends to turn his toes out, 
thereby largely shifting weight 
from the strong outer margin of 
the foot so as to fall over the 
relatively weak inner arch. 

The bones of the phalanges 
or toes (See Figs. I and 2) ar- 
ticulate with their respective me- 
tatarsals, and with each other, 
in the production of joints in- 
tended to have a large degree of 
upward and downward mobility. 
This mobility of the toes is naturally greater than that of the 
fingers of the hand, with all the delicacy of use required of the 
latter, yet it is completely lost sight of by the average shoe 
manufacturer. Under pressure and confinement from ill fit- 
ting shoes, these highly mobile joints may largely or complete- 
ly lose their function and the toes their use. Nearly all the 
muscles of the foot have their anterior attachments to the 
phalangeal bones or metatarsals, and contraction of these mus- 
cles causes the toe to press against the ground while lifting the 
body, near the end of the step, by pulling the ends of the foot 

Ligaments of sole of foot. 
Gray's Anatomy.) 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 15 

arch nearer together and thereby increasing its concavity down- 

The resting position of the weight bearing foot is main- 
tained by the ligaments, which are not elastic and are not 
Fig 7 overstretched in the normal 

foot. These ligaments 
bind the bones of the foot 
together. They hold up the 
foot arch only in the sense 
that they interfere at a cer- 
tain point to prevent fur- 
ther spreading and flatten- 

Anteroposterior arch: 1, Short plantar . r , . , 

ligament; 2, long plantar ligament; 3, plan- ing of the foot arch as a re- 
tar fascia. 1. < j 1 

suit of downward pressure. 

The manner in which the bones of the foot are bound to- 
gether by these ligaments, which are the strongest of those in 
the body, is well shown in Figs. 6 and 7. These ligaments 
are tough, fibrous and inelastic, and are not intended to give 
much play to the parts they hold together. It will be observed 
that while these ligaments are numerous and run in all direc- 
tions, by far the strongest ones and those which naturally 
have to stand the greatest strain are those which extend 
from front to rear of the foot arch. It will also be observed 
that while the sole of the foot is strongly bound together by 
ligaments, the latter are practically absent (See Figs. 3 and 6) 
on the upper part of the foot. The practical result of this loca- 
tion and arrangement of ligaments is that the natural tendency 
of the arch to flatten under pressure is checked at a certain 
point ; while the absence of ligaments from the upper part of the 
foot permits of its flexion downward, with raising of the 
foot arch and a shortening of the distance between the heel 
bone and the metatarsals as the result of muscular contrac- 
tion in walking. The relaxation or giving way of these liga- 
ments is necessary in order that flat foot may occur. 

But the passive resistance to pressure offered by the liga- 
ments of the sole of the foot is not of itself sufficient to pre- 
vent flattening of the arch. Inelastic structures will ulti- 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 8 

mately tend to yield to excessive pressure which is sufficiently 
long continued. To provide against this, nature has reinforced 

these ligaments with an array of 
foot muscles, whose elastic contrac- 
tions in producing locomotion also 
serve to take up a large part of the 
tension due to body weight which 
would otherwise fall directly on the 
ligaments. The intricate relations 
of these muscles to bones, ligaments 
and each other is clearly brought 
out in Figs. 8, 9, 10, u and 12. It 
will be observed from Fig. 3 that 
the muscles of the upper part of 
the foot, which are chiefly con- 
cerned in the slight labor of lifting 
the toes and fore foot, are few in 
number and of very slight develop- 
ment. However, one muscle of the 
leg the tibialis anticus has its at- 
tachment (See Fig. 2) on the under 
part of the foot arch, and by its 
contraction operates to heighten and 
hold up the latter. The muscles of 
the sole of the foot, on the con- 
trary, are numerous and should be 
well developed and strong. Not 
only do they exert necessary ten- 
sion, but they cushion the more del- 
icate part of the foot and serve to 
protect it against injury. It will be 
observed from Figs. 8 to 12 inclusive, that there are no less 
than five distinct layers of muscles of the foot, practically all 
of which except the transversalis muscles (See Fig. 10) 
extend from the rear of the foot to its front. The outer or first 
layer of sole muscles (See Fig. 8) practically runs from the 
heel to the tips of the toes, their contraction resulting in flex- 

Muscles of the Sole of the 
Foot, first layer. (From Gray's 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

ion of the foot and toes between these two points. The second 
layer of muscles (See Fig. 9) runs from the heel to the base 
of the toes, reinforced by the Fig 9 

tendons of certain muscles of 

the calf of the leg. The third 
layer of muscles (See Fig. 
10) strengthens the metatar- 
sal region and adds additional 
force to the thrust of the ball 
of the foot against the ground 
in walking. The fourth and 
fifth layers of muscles, (See 
Figs, ii and 12) with one 
group of the third, simply 
serve to prevent too great 
expansion outward of the 
smaller metatarsal bones in 
marching and assist in main- 
taining the balance of the 
body. The contraction of all 
these muscles flexes the sole, 
adducts the foot and forces 
the arch to rise. A buffer is 
thus formed which breaks the 
shock of impact of the ball of 
the foot against the ground. 

The tendons of muscles 
operating on the sole of the 
foot are well protected and are 
not liable to incur injury. Those on the top of the foot, and 
particularly the one lifting the great toe, are superficial, are 
thinly covered with soft tissue, and lie directly over bones 
against which they may be pressed by too tight shoes, with 
resulting injury and inflammation of the tendons and fibrous 
sheaths in which they work. 

Arteries, veins and nerves are of less practical importance 
in a study of the anatomy of the foot in relation to the shoe. 

Muscles of the Sole of the Foot, sec- 
ond layer. (From Gray's Anatomy.) 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 10 

The arterial system lies fairly deeply between muscles and 
tendons, and pressure sufficient to materially affect it would 
cause such immediate discomfort as to bring about prompt 

remedy. The same applies to 
the nervous system. The veins, 
however, lie more superficially 
and may be pressed upon, par- 
ticularly by shoes too tight 
around the ankle, sufficiently to 
cause more or less interference 
of the return flow of the blood 
with swelling of the foot below 
the point of compression. 

Examination of normal foot 
prints shows (See Figs 13, 14 
and 15), as might be expected, 
that with increased pressure 
upon the foot there come into 
play accessory bearing surfaces 
on its sole. This is particularly 
evident in the appearance and 
increase in size of the inked 
spot, representing the second 
phalanx of the great toe, which 
is absent on the first of the 
above mentioned prints, made 
by the weight of the leg on the 
foot; in the second, partially 
fills the space between the balls 

Muscles of the Sole of the Foot, third of the foot and tOC when the 

man marches under his own 

weight ; and in the third almost completely fills this space when 
the man carries the military burden. The general broadening 
and lengthening of the foot under these diverse conditions of 
weight support is also apparent. These facts are important, 
since when troops are put into heavy marching order under 
burden, they bring into operation bearing areas of the feet 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 19 

Fig. 13 

A normal foot print, taken with the soldier sitting. (Reduced.) 

2O The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 14 

Foot print of the same foot shown in Fig. 13, but with the soldier walking with- 
out burden. (Reduced.) 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 15 


Foot print of the same foot shown in Figs. 13 and 14, but with soldier walking 
with a 40 Ib. burden on his back. Compare with Figs. 13 and 14 to note increase 
in length and breadth. (Reduced.) 

22 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

which have heretofore been largely unused and have thereby 
been protected against friction and pressure. Such areas are 
covered with relatively soft, thin skin and may be extremely 
sensitive at the outset of a march; but upon continuance of 
the march they should become hardened and play their part 
equally with other more toughened areas in supporting the sol- 
dier and his burden. Injury of such accessory bearing sur- 
faces is quite common among soldiers at the outset of a march. 
It is clear from a summary of the anatomical features of 
the bones, ligaments and muscles of the foot, that its most im- 
portant part relates to the foot arch. The latter is a develop- 
ment in man to facilitate his characteristic walking in the up- 
right position. Flat footed apes can walk no great distance 
in the upright position, and then only with the additional sup- 
port of the arms. Flat footed men are notoriously unable to 
march. The foot arch has been shown not to be rigid, but 
to be a loose structure the bones of which wedge and tighten 
against each other under pressure from above and opposed by 
tension from below. The resulting arch is then not what en- 
gineers call a solid "segmental arch", but rather a "bowstring 
arch" in which the center is held up by tension on its ends. 
This "bowstring" effect of the muscles is greatest at the end 
of the step. If the pressure from above is greater than the 
tension exerted by the elastic muscles below, the excess pres- 
sure falls directly on the ligaments of the foot. If this excess 
pressure be long continued, the ligaments will stretch to a 
greater or less degree and the foot arch fall in proportion. 
But another factor, so well illustrated in Fig. 3, also has to be 
taken into consideration, and that is the size of the muscles lo- 
cated within the foot arch. With development of these muscles 
comes increase not only in their strength but in their bulk 
and the larger bellies of these muscles, by more completely 
filling up the foot arch, mechanically hold up and buttress the 
latter against falling. Since muscles increase in the transverse 
diameter of their bellies on contraction and as these foot mus- 
cles practically all run longitudinally it becomes evident that 
the contraction of these muscles necessary to accomplish walk- 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

ing will at the same time serve not only to pull the ends of the 
foot arch together but to push up and support its sides and 
center. Too much importance therefore can not be placed in 
developing the foot muscles in preventing foot weakness, and 
such development is only brought about through their use, 
which in turn is only possible through proper foot-wear per- 
mitting of full function of the foot and the appropriate mus- 
cular action on which such function depends. 

Fig. 11 Fig. 12 

Muscles of the sole of the 
foot, fourth (plantar interos- 
seous) layer. (From Gray's 

Muscles of the sole of the 
foot, fifth (interosseous) layer. 
(From Gray's Anatomy.) 

Muscle tension and balance thus maintain the foot arch 
in its proper curvature. Where this is lost, the arch tends to 
flatten, with or without associated pain. But a foot of a type 
normally presenting a low arch may be quite as serviceable 
as if it were higher, since the muscle groups maintaining its 
integrity are satisfactorily performing all the work which 
is demanded of them. In stout, muscular feet the sole of the 
arch approaches nearer the ground than in unrelaxed arches 
with little muscular development; the difference is that with 

24 The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 

further loading of the individual with a burden, such as the 
military equipment, the first described arch remains about the 
same while the latter readily tends to break down. 

Weakening of the foot muscles is one of the penalties of 
civilization, as walking is less and less a factor in locomotion, 
while primitive out-door peoples are more or less nomadic 
and their occupations are not sedentary. The introduction of 
railroads, street cars and automobiles, has materially interfered 
with foot development in many. And with lesser need for the 
use of the foot in walking, came the introduction of deforming 
and confining shoe types, by which the use of certain foot mus- 
cles was interfered with and their consequent atrophy and 
weakening was inevitable. 

From consideration of the anatomy of the foot as a whole, 
it thus appears that the various structures of the foot form a 
whole which is both strong and supple ; supple in the forward 
part and strong and massive in the hinder part. These points 
must not be forgotten, as they exert a controlling influence on 
the nature and shape of military footwear which must be pro- 
vided for the soldier if he is to have a maximum ability for 

The perfect, unde formed foot is found practically only 
in children and among savage, non-shoe wearing peoples. See 
Figs. 1 6, 17, 1 8 and 19, in which the God of the famous Greek 
sculptor, the American child, and the head hunters of the 
Philippines present approximately the same foot type. As far 
as soldiers are concerned, the undeformed foot is a figment of 
the imagination ; yet extreme cases of foot deformity, such as 
are common in civil life, are kept from admission to the mili- 
tary class through the requirements of the recruiting officer. 
However, in the great number of soldiers' feet examined by 
the Shoe Board, practically not one was free from some appre- 
ciable deformity or blemish. The production of foot injury 
begins early, and conditions become more serious, exaggerated 
and give less prospect of recovery with the passage of time. 
The condition is not so much produced by the mere fact of 
wearing shoes, as by the wearing of individual sets of shoes 

The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 25 

Fig. 16 

Foot of the "Flying Hermes" of Praxityles. Imprint of sandal strap, here not 
shown, appears on the foot. (From Weed.) 

26 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 17 

Feet of a four year old American child, undeformed by shoe wearing. 

Fig. 18 

Feet same as those of Figure 17. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 



The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

which do not fit. All shoes are not necessarily harmful to the 
feet, but careful attention to the character of the shoe and its 
subsequent appropriate fitting are both requisite in the avoid- 
ance of danger from this source. 

The artificial results of deforming footwear, as seen for 
example in hallux valgus, are so common as to be accepted by 
many as the handiwork of nature. It is probable that a number 
of soldiers who regard the shoes issued by the government as 
"too broad", unconsciously express this erroneous idea. 

It is quite apparent from the foregoing that the foot is 
not at all the rigid structure popularly supposed, to be care- 
lessly jammed into any sort of container, irrespective of the 
size, shape, and character of the latter. On the contrary, it is 
seen to be a highly developed member of complex formation 
and intricate function, every factor of which needs thoughtful 
consideration in determining its proper covering. 

Fig. 20 

Military or Straight-leg Marching. (After Bradford.) 

Having determined the anatomy of the foot, we may next 
briefly consider how the latter is used in marching (See Fig. 
20). Shoes have their effect upon gait, and the shod man 
does not walk in the same manner as an unshod one. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 29 

Starting from a position, say, in which the sole of the right 
foot rests squarely on the ground and is practically supporting 
the entire body weight, the rear or left foot is just about to 
leave the ground against which its toes are pressed strongly by 
their flexor tendons. These toes are spread out and assist in 
maintaining equilibrium of the body, their bases are raised off 
the ground, and further contraction of their muscles causes 
the foot to rise until their tips rest against the ground and 
give a final push which sends the body further forward and 
destroys its equilibrium. This push need not be great, as the 
weight is now practically all supported by the right foot and 
balance is easily lost. To execute the last movement prop- 
erly, it is clear that the shoe should be broad to allow for ex- 
pansion, and its shape such that the great toe can stretch itself 
out directly forward in continuation of the long axis of the 
first metatarsal. 

As this left foot leaves the ground the force of gravity, 
acting as a result of the loss of equilibrium in a forward direc- 
tion, causes it to swing outward and brings it forward to a 
position under or slightly in front of the body without muscular 
exertion. From this point the leg is advanced through the 
distance required for the next step by the action of the extensor 
muscles and the straightening of the limb. At the same time 
the toes and front of the foot are pulled up by the muscles of 
the front of the leg. As the left foot strikes the ground, the 
body equilibrium temporarily lost is regained again through its 

The heel strikes the ground first, with the toes pointed 
upward. The ankle joint is held firmly by the action of the mus- 
cular groups; the latter yielding as the center of gravity is 
advanced, and as more and more weight is thrown on this foot 
by propulsion from the right foot. The heel thus forms a 
fixed point with the ground, above which the body swings in a 
limited arc the heel itself rotating until the toes are lowered 
and the foot rests squarely on the ground. In this last posi- 
tion the left foot is practically supporting all the body weight, 
which has now been transferred to it from the right foot. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

The three chief points of support of the left foot are now 
the heel, and the heads of the first and fifth metatarsal bones. 
As in standing the foot arch bends slightly through its articu- 
lations yielding under the weight of the body and resumes its 
natural curve as soon as the foot is raised, so too this same 
limited joint motion of the arch occurs with every step in 

Fig. 21 

Flexion or Bent-knee Marching. (After Bradford.) 

At this point, action of the muscles of the calf of the leg 
begins, supplements propulsion of the body from the right foot 
and lifts the left heel off the ground. In this position the point 
of support for the arch, and through it for the body weight, is 
in its anterior portion where the metatarsal bones rest upon 
the ground; the point of resistance, furnished by the ground 
and body weight, is on a level with the joint of the instep; 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

and the force is being applied to the heel bone, through the 
calf muscles. 

In this position the body weight is being supported by the 
ball of the left foot, and is steadied and propelled forward by 
muscular action exerted through the right foot. 

In the next stage, the intrinsic muscles of the sole of the 
left foot contract strongly to supplement the ligaments of the 
sole in preserving the foot arch, now under its maximum 
strain. At this point the toes leave the ground, the step is com- 
pleted and a new cycle of foot and leg movement, as has 
just been described, begins. In the meantime the shoulders 
have been kept straight and the head and body are held erect. 
The knees are slightly flexed ; while the free arm is allowed 
to swing naturally to better maintain the balance. This method 
of marching is not that voluntarily employed by the individual, 
who, when tired or not under restraint, tends to fall into the 
attitude and step of the flexion march (See Fig. 21) habitual 
to the bare footed races. In this latter step, the influence of 
gravity is greater and muscular effort less 
in moving the body forward, as the latter 
precedes rather than follows the advanc- 
ing foot. The latter also strikes the ground 
more on the sole than the heel, and other 
differences in the step are apparent in 
comparison of the two illustrations. 

In the ordinary step in marching, the 
toes should be directed well forward so 
that the thrust back in the foot, and es- 
pecially in the great toe, shall be in the 
direction of its length rather than to a 
certain extent across it since muscular 
action of the great toe is a potent agent in 
the propulsion of the body forward. (See 

Illustrating the invol- -p- \ 

untary adduction of the &* 22 J. 
fore-foot, due to the Tr t 1 i 1 

obliquity of the bearing If marching be done with an everted 

surface of the metatar- r ,r. 1 ,1 i j 1 i ,1 

sus, in the proper atti- foot, the less the body is supported by the 

tude for walking man) ^^ ^^ port j on Q f the foQt and the 

Fig. 22 

32 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

more the body weight is thrown upon the Fi - 23 

weak inner portion of the foot arch, not 
intended to support it. (See Fig. 23). 
In standing, moderate eversion of the 
feet better preserves equilibrium of the 
body by offering a broader basis of sup- 
port but in marching this is scarcely 
necessary, as with the rapid alteration 
of position the equilibrium lost at one 
step is instinctively regained at the next 
by alteration of balance or slight change 
of direction, as is the case in bicycle rid- 
ing. Infantry Drill Regulations prescribe 
for the position of "attention" that the 
feet should be turned out at an angle of 
45 ; but they make no mention as to the 
degree of eversion to be had in marching. If the toes are not 
deviated outward more than 25, the weight begins to be 
thrown on the outer strong arch. Long standing is worse on 
the feet than marching, as there are no alternate periods of 
rest for the tired and relaxed muscles as is the case in walk- 

Fig. 24 

The improper attitude 
of outward rotation, in 
which there is disuse of 
the leverage function in 
standing and walking. 


Positions of the Extremities of the Soldier During "Double Time." Photographs 
taken at the rate of sixty per second. (After Marey.) 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 33 

ing. But care should be taken that the men should not be en- 
couraged to walk "splay-footed", and any previous tendency 
that way should be rectified. 

In marching in double time, the gait is quite different from 
that in ordinary marching (See Fig. 24). Here all the work 
is done by the ball and toes, the foot arch is under strong 
tension, and the heel only slightly touches the ground in pre- 
serving the balance. Running in narrow, pointed shoes at 
great speed, or for any considerable distance, is thus anatomi- 
cally impossible. 

34 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


All military authorities agree that a proper shoe for sol- 
diers is a fundamental necessity in the accomplishment of 
military purposes. Marshal Niel stated that shoes for his 
infantry were of equal importance with mounts for his caval- 
ry; while Wellington enumerated the three most essential 
parts of the soldier's outfit as a pair of good shoes, a second 
pair of good shoes, and a pair of half soles. And Marshal 
Bugeaud said: "Perhaps the two greatest problems of war 
are to find harness that will not injure horses and foot cover- 
ings that will not injure men." 

There can be no question but that of all the protective 
coverings which the foot soldier wears, his shoes are by far 
the most important from a strategic standpoint; since upon 
their shape, durability, use and comfort of fit, pliancy and light- 
ness depends his military efficiency. Next to his armament, 
the shoe is probably the most important item of the equipment 
of the soldier. 

The construction of shoes for civilians is influenced almost 
wholly by considerations of fashion and style. These are irra- 
tional and are changed frequently in the financial interest of 
the shoe trade. The lasts are devised by persons grossly ignor- 
ant of, and quite indifferent to, the structure of the human 
foot and its physiological requirements as to covering. Shoes 
built upon them range through every degree of the bizarre and 
represent the most amazing conceptions of their originators as 
to the diverse shapes which the human foot should be forced 
to assume. 

It is rare to find in -civil life a shoe that even approaches 
the normal foot in shape and contour. Few manufacturers 
make them, as they are not salable to the general public, 
whose choice is swayed rather by considerations of fashion 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 35 

than comfort. For this reason, even the socalled orthopedic 
lasts do not accurately follow normal foot outlines under 
expansion but make certain concessions, as to narrowness and 
other matters, to popular ideas as to sightliness. Only in the 
case of the rare individual, who has from early life the sense 
and money to have his shoes built to order over plaster casts 
of his own foot, will suitably shaped and properly fitting shoes 
be found. The idea apparently dominating the construction of 
nearly all civilian shoes is that it is far better that foot wear 
should be novel in appearance rather than that it should be 
sensible in shape. A glance into the display window of the 
average shoe store will habitually show scores of varieties of 
shoes for adult males, of widely different appearance, not 
one of which even approaches correctness from an anatomical 
standpoint. Only for very young children can reasonably 
correct shoes be found. The reason for this is two fold. The 
shoe trade considers itself free from blame, as it is frankly 
in the business for profit, and is interested in giving the public 
what the latter thinks it wants. But this is only a half truth, 
for the nature of the foot wear which the shoe manufacturers 
themselves put out largely determines the public state of mind 
in this respect. On the other hand, all but a very few civilians 
are so influenced by the subtle suggestive influence of manu- 
facturers' styles as largely to disregard matters of fit, shape 
and comfort, and tend to buy the enormities which the shoe 
manufacturers think it to be to their interest to put on the 
market. The very few who, despite such influences, would 
tend to prefer sensible shoes, receive little encouragement and 
frequently are quite unable to find in stock what they would 
like to purchase. A vicious circle is thus created, under which 
civilian shoe manufacturers and shoe wearers seem to vie with 
each other in injuring the feet. Add to this the firm resolve of 
nearly every civilian to crowd the foot into the narrowest and 
shortest shoe that it can be forced into without severe suf- 
fering, and the evil results to the foot are tremendously in- 
creased. The result is that practically every soldier in the 
army has had his feet more or less injured by the shoes he 

36 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 25 

Foot of an officer bearing his weight on his naked foot. 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 37 

Fig. 26 

Same foot shown in Fig. 25 and under same body pressure, but in the civilian 
shoe which the officer wore on dress occasions. The foot is compressed over 
three quarters of an inch across the ball. (Reduction in size same as in Fig. 25). 

.38 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

wore before entering the service ; and that bad feet, especially 
in city bred applicants, have come to be one of the chief 
causes for rejection for enlistment. The subject of civilian 
footwear is in itself an interesting and extensive study, but 
has no special connection with the present matter as it is beyond 
military jurisdiction and control. It is sufficient to say that 
the civilian shoe last, of whatever its special form or type, is 
habitually much narrower than the foot it is intended to rep- 
resent, and that the vast majority of them are so shaped that 
the toes will be cramped together and bent out of their normal 
alignment. Illustrations of the foot before and after being 
crowded into such civilian shoes are given in Fig. 25 and 26. 
Also in Fig. 27, which well illustrates the abnormal shape into 
which the common style of civilian shoe compresses the foot. 

But because such conditions as to foot-deforming shoes 
exist in civil life is no warrant for their continuance in the 
military service. The recruit, on enlistment, ceases to be a 
free agent and must wear as part of the uniform such foot- 
wear as the Government may, for its own interests, provide. 
The latter, also, can compel its contracting shoe manufacturers 
to supply shoes of specified shape, character and material. The 
whole shoe problem at once becomes simplified and thus be- 
comes one merely of official jurisdiction and control to be 
handled not according to individual whim or present fashion, 
but for the best advantage of the military service as a whole. 
Largely successful effort through supply of proper footwear 
to remove the foot blemishes incurred through mistakes made 
prior to enlistment, and to prevent the development of new 
ones, can be made immediately after entrance of the recruit in- 
to the military service. Nothing stands in the way of its effi- 
cient application except a too general lack of proper knowl- 
edge and interest in the subject, failure to appreciate the magni- 
tude of its practical military importance, and the necessity of 
combatting erroneous preconceptions in the matter of shoe 
style and shoe fit on the part of not only of the recruit himself 
but too frequently in his company commander. Ignorance, in- 
difference and passive opposition can do much to neutralize the 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 39 

best efforts in respect to improvement, and the special infor- 
mation required for their removal it is the purpose of this 
work to supply. 

Good marching depends in its first cause upon a good shoe, 
so shaped and adapted to the foot as not to compress it, nor to 
unduly interfere with muscular action, nor to cause corns, bun- 
ions, ingrowing nails and other defects. No amount of liberali- 
ty in the matter of supply, or the most scrupulous care in en- 
deavoring to secure a fitting, can compensate for structural de- 
fect in a shoe supplied to troops. Given an inelastic container of 
bad shape, and the yielding tissues enclosed therein will be 
forced by pressure to assume a new, improper, and weaker 
foot form. 

To meet the needs of the military service a special military 
shoe is required. No civilian shoe is adapted to the purpose. 
Civilian lasts as a whole are necessarily based in a general 
way upon the average civilian physical type engaged in var- 
ious vocations of the average degree of civilian strenuosity. 
And in civil life, as already mentioned, average conditions tend 
materially to be against, rather than for, foot development. 
But the soldier at the very outset represents the physically 
elect of the class from which he comes and is better in this 
respect than its average; moreover, all his parts, including the 
feet, undergo development in strength and size under the active 
life, weight-carrying and systematized exercise which it falls 
upon him to perform after enlistment. That there is such a 
thing as a general military foot type, distinct from the average 
civilian foot, resulting from military conditions and training 
just as civilian employments, as piano playing, shoe making 
and other callings bring about marked characteristic develop- 
ment of the hand was advanced by the writer some years ago 
and later confirmed by the Shoe Board. To properly meet the 
special needs of the soldier, it thus became necessary to dis- 
card civilian lasts as not representing military foot types, re- 
move the matter of footwear from the domain of speculation, 
and devise a new shoe adapted to military conditions, which 
should have as few faults and as many virtues as possible. 

4O The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 27 

Foot of a soldier wearing a popular brand of civilian shoe. 

Compare the appearance of this compressed foot with those shown in Figs. 16, 
17, 18 and 19. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 41 

This has implied careful study not only in respect to footwear 
but of the special type of foot it was intended to cover; for 
the two are properly correlative and cannot be considered sep- 
arately. The necessary work of investigation ultimately devol- 
ved upon the Shoe Board, which had various sessions during a 
period of four years. It is perhaps true that the whole subject 
of military footwear was gone into and considered more thor- 
oughly by this board than was ever the case before. In this 
work the free use of the X-ray, in conclusively working out and 
visibly demonstrating foot relations under divers conditions 
here systematically employed for the first time proved very 

There would seem to have been almost as many different 
ideas as to the proper type of footwear for military use as 
there are officers of the army. The great tendency among all 
is to generalize for the mass from the individual particular, 
and without mature reflection upon the very many weighty con- 
siderations necessarily involved. A very large number have 
some particular shoe which, found to be satisfactory for their 
own purposes as individuals under all or some conditions, they 
believe to be adapted for habitual use in the army as a whole. 
The Shoe Board has thus had recommended to it, as the ideal 
shoe for foot troops, almost every conceivable style and shape 
of footwear, beginning with a light, low, heelless shoe laced 
down over the ball, and through every intermediate type up to 
and including a heavy, double sole, hob-nailed, hunting boot, 
extending to above the knee.. Such widely divergent opinions 
are of course irreconcilable, and the board, while duly consider- 
ing the merits of all such suggestions, ultimately found itself 
in the position of having to accept the great majority of them 
as representing merely the personal opinion of a single more 
or less competent observer. Of the latter, many were obvious- 
ly biased, and approached the subject in a spirit of preference 
or prejudice. Many suggestions were also received from out- 
side sources, more or less influenced by financial considerations 
in the hope of securing trade. 

There are, however, certain fundamental requirements as 

42 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

to construction, which probably all who have given even casual 
attention to the subject will agree should be incorporated in 
the military shoe. Any effort to work out such a shoe on a 
basis at once scientific and practical must give due considera- 
tion to them all, and perhaps the only ultimate difference of 
opinion in officers as a class will have to do with the propor- 
tionate degree in which each factor agreed upon as necessary 
should appear in the final result. The board entered upon its 
work in an absolutely unbiased frame of mind and uninfluenced 
by preconceptions ; but soon came to the firm belief that the 
proper military shoe was a physiological one which must have 
as its basis the foot type found to exist in the average Amer- 
ican soldier. And it accepted as conclusive that the military 
shoe must be so made that it will naturally tend to fit the foot 
of the average soldier, and not conversely that the foot of 
the recruit after enlistment must be made to conform to a foot 
covering built on arbitrary lines not in accordance with natural 
bulk and contours. 

In view of the general ignorance and misapprehension re- 
specting the anatomy of the human foot, the mechanics of 
marching, the results upon the feet of carrying a burden, the 
proper shape to be possessed by footwear, the requirements 
necessary to consider in fitting the shoe with suitable foot- 
wear, and other matters, it seemed desirable to take^all these 
matters, hitherto largely in dispute, definitely and o'rfe v @< for all 
out of the domain of idle speculation and mistaken hypothesis. 
This was done by the systematized use of the X-ray to show 
foot structure, and alteration in the anatomical relations of 
the foot, naked and in shoes of various sorts, under otherwise 
identical and perfectly comparable conditions. 

It is believed that careful examination and proper inter- 
pretation of the radiographs appearing in this work will con- 
firm the conclusions of the board as being founded upon fact 
rather than opinion, and will give a prompt and clear apprecia- 
tion of many otherwise obscure matters relating to the sol- 
dier's foot and footwear. 

The proper fundamental requirements which must enter 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 43 

into every consideration of the shoe for the soldier were duly 
considered, incorporated into the final result, and here receive 
mention in the following discussion of the subject. 

(a) A good military foot covering should be well joined, 
strong, substantial and solid, yet at the same time sufficiently 
flexible to permit of the natural functioning of the joints. It 
must be supple, so as to avoid the undue loss of necessary 
energy in overcoming resistance of the leather with each step 
likewise to reduce the liability to blister and other injury. To 
attempt to use a stiff, unyielding shoe will result in the early 
falling out of a large proportion of its wearers. No better ex- 
ample of this can be found than the tremendous disability which 
occurred among the Germans as a result of the use of a shoe 
of this character. But on the other hand, the shoe can not be 
too soft and yielding, for the primary purpose of footwear is of 
course protection of the feet against injury. This includes pro- 
tection against inequalities of the surface walked upon; the 
stones, sticks or other objects which may be inadvertently 
struck against ; the keeping away of sand, mud, snow or other 
harmful substance; protection against cold in winter and heat 
in summer, also against dampness at all times. 

(b) The shoe must be comfortable. This is an absolute 
essential to military footwear, for uncomfortable shoes will 
inevitably materially diminish the ability of troops to march. 
Shoe comfort depends, however, on the resultant of several 
factors, viz : a physiological shape, proper material, and suit- 
able fitting. It also is affected not a little by foot condition. 
Detailed discussions of these matters appear elsewhere; but 
it may here be mentioned that to the best of its ability, nothing 
has been left undone by the Shoe Board, from the standpoint 
of scientific theory as fortified by the results of experimental 
trial, which could in any way enhance the comfort of the mili- 
tary shoe for the soldier class as a whole. 

(c) The shoe must be durable. The soldier's foot cover- 
ing is subjected to extreme tests of durability in the field, be- 
ing necessarily worn through dust, mud and water, or over 
sand or rocks as the case may be. Questions of continued 

44 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

adequacy of foot protection and of difficulties of resupply in 
campaign require that wearing qualities shall be the best. 
With shoe-wearing peoples, when shoes wear out marching 
capacity practically ceases. To ensure that only material hav- 
ing the very best wearing qualities shall be used in manufacture 
of the military shoe is thus true military economy. The 
original virtues of the material may be long retained by proper 
care. The main wear of course falls on the soles. These 
are now made as thick and strong as the choicest cuts of the 
thickest sides of leather will permit. They cannot be increased 
in durability except by the use of double soles, which latter 
are unnecessarily heavy, stiff and hard on the feet. 

As the soles wear thin to a point where inequalities of the 
ground hurt the feet, provision should be at hand, in the 
form of half soles, to be readily attached as required, to se- 
cure further use of the shoe without discarding the still good 

(d) The shoe should be as simple and neat as possible. A 
plain finish is desirable. Box toes improve the appearance 
of the shoe, but they are made of sole leather which is moulded 
into shape when wet, and this shape is retained only so long as 
they are not again saturated with water. They have the ser- 
ious defect, when wet and drying off the feet, of warping, 
shrinking and curving down at the posterior margin in the 
formation of a stiff, sharp edge which presses down over the 
toes and is practically certain to cause foot injury on march- 
ing. Where the soldier comes into camp wet and tired, he is 
apt to throw his shoes aside without thought of their condition 
in the morning. To eliminate the source of danger which box 
toes thus offer, they have been left off the military shoe, whose 
double thickness of leather over the toes is believed to give the 
latter all necessary protection. 

Neatness in appearance is desirable in so long as it does not 
interfere with efficiency. One advantage in this respect in 
not having the shoes oil-stuffed before issue is that they cat, be 
highly polished for inspection and special formations, such as 
guard mount. While it has the essential advantage of being 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 45 

built on a physiological foot-form, the new shoe appears much 
less clumsy and cumbersome than most of the more or less 
rational army shoes which were its predecessors. 

(e) The foot covering should be as light in weight as is 
compatible with serviceability. This point has been constantly 
borne in mind ; it being appreciated that even a small additional 
weight on the foot will very materially interfere with marching 
capacity. The much greater effort required for marching un- 
der the drag of even a small amount of mud adhering to the 
shoe is commonly known. That an extra amount of weight on 
the foot may materially alter the gait is well understood by all 
horseman and applies equally to human beings. In working 
out the new shoe, it was made to weigh as little as would be 
compatible with durability. Every particle of material that 
could be spared was cut away. The result is a shoe which 
weighs only about two and one-half ounces more than the 
former garrison tan shoe, and can in no way be regarded as 
heavy or cumbersome for military use. It is of much less 
weight than are certain types of footwear more or less com- 
monly used by pedestrians, mountain climbers, hunters, pros- 
pectors, farmers and others whose work or recreation re- 
quires much walking in the open. It will at first appear 
slightly heavy, however, to recruits previously accustomed to 
wear civilian shoes of the ordinary light civilian type ; but this 
impression of somewhat greater heaviness disappears in a few 
days when the foot and leg muscles develop and strengthen to 
accommodate themselves to changed conditions of weight bear- 

(f) The shoe must be made in such a way that the sol- 
dier can easily put it on and take it off. This is a practical 
point, the need for which is obvious to all conversant with the 
military service. To facilitate it, the shoe must be capable of 
opening widely, and the number of holes for lacing reduced to 
the lowest limit compatible with the holding of the shoe firmly 
around the ankle and over the instep. The new military shoe 
has a wide half-bellows tongue and but six eyelets on a side. 

46 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

from only one or two of which the lace need be withdrawn in 
order to readily put the foot in or take it out. 

(g) The material of which the shoe is made, and the 
special treatment of the former, must be such as will facilitate 
evaporation of moisture from within, yet not to a degree by 
which the absorption *of moisture from without is unduly 
favored. It must have pores through which a certain amount 
of air can pass ; also qualities of capillarity by which moisture 
is transferred from a damp sock to the outside of the leather 
where evaporation is rapid. This is very important, since 
otherwise the retained perspiration will keep the feet damp all 
the time, while interference with evaporation will make them 
uncomfortably hot in warm weather. Under the combination 
of dampness and heat, the superficial layer of the skin be- 
comes moisture-soaked, soft, tender, and apt to break down 
in the formation of blisters and abrasions. Yet on the other 
hand, the shoe material should be sufficiently water-repellant 
to keep the feet reasonably dry under ordinary conditions of 
rain and dew. Such material can be secured; it is true that 
it is not perfect for any extreme condition, but best meets the 
needs of the every day and average conditions upon which the 
requirements of the soldier's shoe must be based. If it is de- 
sired for climatic or seasonal changes to have the soldier's shoe 
more waterproof, this condition can be produced as required 
quite as well by the soldier himself without the necessity of 
having it done in advance. For these reasons, in developing 
the recent military shoe, it was thought preferable to use 
leather of vegetable tan rather than chrome tan, since in the lat- 
ter the pores of the leather are largely filled up with an imper- 
meable deposit. For similar reasons, leather "stuffed" or sat- 
urated with oil was not used. Shoes can be made quite water 
repellant with a little oil but without saturation by it; on the 
same principle that the almost imperceptible greasiness of a 
duck's feather causes water falling on its back to break into 
minute droplets which roll off without wetting. And shoes 
thus lightly oiled will still permit of passage of moisture laden 
air as vapor through the leather, while holding out water in 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 47 

bulk unless under considerable pressure sufficient to force it 
in through the pores of the material. 

(h) The material or leather of the shoe upper must not 
be hard ; otherwise it will cause blisters, callouses and corns. 
The "brogans" formerly issued in our service, and the footwear 
of various foreign armies, have this defect. Apparent hard- 
ness may be reduced by the addition of a lining to the shoe, but 
the usual effort of the soldier to secure this end consists in 
getting very roomy shoes so that thick, heavy socks may be 
used as a cushion to diminish the dangers of friction and im- 
pact. In the present shoe, the leather selected for the upper is 
as soft and yielding as is compatible with sufficient thickness 
and durability. 

(i) The cost of the military shoe is a consideration quite 
secondary to the one of efficiency. The footwear of the sol- 
dier, as elsewhere stated, is the very last article of his apparel 
upon which to practice economy. Shoes are properly to be re- 
garded as much more than mere clothing; they are the agent 
on which the mobility of infantry depends and the accomplish- 
ment of tactical purposes is possible. In the end, the best 
shoe is by far the cheapest, and the economic loss alone dis- 
regarding tactical considerations resulting from the disability 
of even a few men by poor shoes, after a large amount of 
money, time and effort has been expended to prepare them 
for the emergency in which they are found wanting, is far 
greater than any saving which could be made on many thous- 
ands of pairs of shoes. However, this does not mean that a 
proper military shoe is necessarily an unduly expensive one. 
It costs no more to make a shoe on a good last than on a bad 
one and the factor of labor is approximately the same. Only 
in cost of material is there any material difference, and this is 
more than compensated for by the greater life of the high 
class shoe. True shoe cost is not a matter of original outlay, 
but has relation to the average number of day's wear which 
can ultimately be obtained from the article in question. The 
military shoe recently designed costs no more than military 
shoes of the past. 

48 The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 

(j) By reason of the relations which must exist between 
the different sizes and widths of the general military type of 
foot which it is intended to cover, a sufficient number of sizes 
as to length, and letters as to width, must be provided in order 
that the foot of every soldier may find a shoe of dimensions 
to properly cover it. This point is taken up in some detail un- 
der the subject of fitting of the shoe. It is sufficient here to 
say that the Shoe Board has recommended that shoes be made 
in fifteen sizes and half sizes, and that each of these be made 
in six widths, giving a total of ninety varieties of shoes from 
which to make selection. 

(k) The shoe should be perfectly smooth in the interior, 
especially the insole, the part surrounding the heel and the 
uppers over the fore foot. This is largely a matter of proper 
manufacture, to be enforced by vigorous inspection before 
acceptance from the contractor by the Government. Seams 
must be sewed smoothly, and any rough edges so apt to hurt 
the foot must be cut away. There must be no seam at the 
rear of the heel to thus create more or less roughness over an 
area particularly liable to injury; rather there should be a heel 
piece with the seam at the side. The insole must be cut 
accurately to proper size so that it will fit the shoe if too 
small, it leaves a depressed space between its edges and the 
margins of the foot, into which the latter overlap to their 
injury; if too large, its edges will tend to curve up on drying 
after wetting or constant exposure to sweat ; and inequality of 
the other type, but equally hurtful to the foot, is thus pro- 
duced. The upper surface of the heel is usually rough from 
nails which have been pounded back and clinched into posi- 
tion. To cover its inequalities, a sock piece of sheepskin or 
calfskin is usually glued into position over it. This, if badly 
done with inferior adhesive material, will probably result in 
the leather piece wrinkling and ultimately working loose un- 
der the combined influence of moisture and friction, the 
effect of which is to create an uneven bearing surface for the 
heel which in marching will probably cause its injury. The 
only material suitable to fasten this heel-piece in position is 

The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 49 

the best quality of rubber cement, which will resist the dis- 
turbing agencies mentioned. The drill lining of the shoes, 
if put in position by the common careless method of manufac- 
tures, will wrinkle and fold over the toes, causing serious 
foot trouble. This drill lining is usually tacked on over the 
last, wet like the leather with which it is used. But leather 
expands and stretches better to fit the last while wet, while 
wetted canvas shrinks, as is evidenced by tentage in a rain 
storm. On the drying of both, the leather retains its new 
shape and size, while the contained canvas relaxes and en- 
larges and becomes redundant and wrinkled for the space it is 
intended to cover. The remedy is, in making the shoe, to 
stretch the canvas lining over the last dry, and to fasten it 
smoothly to the leather over the toes by a thin layer of rub- 
ber cement. All these points have been duly acted upon in 
connection with the manufacture of the new shoe. 

( i ) The heel should be broad, flat, long and solid. When 
the soldier stands erect, the heel is the chief point of support 
of the weight of the body and burden, with the bases of the 
great and little toes forming accessory points of support. The 
latter check any tendency to rotation of the heel, resulting 
from shifting of the body weight. A large, broad heel affords 
a better bearing surface and grip on the ground, and by so 
much reduces the muscular tension required to maintain equi- 
librium of the body in standing and walking. Its surface 
should be flat ; otherwise the sole of the foot will be inclined at 
more or less of an angle away from its proper horizontal plane, 
and this abnormal position requires constant muscular effort 
to counteract it, with interference with marching and liability 
to sprain. In persons who toe out, as in most shoe wearing 
peoples, the outer margin of the heel strikes the ground first 
and forms the fixed point over which the weight of the body 
and burden is supported. The result is that this outer edge 
of the heel tends rapidly to wear under the combined influence 
of much weight and friction acting on a small area. To avoid 
this wearing and alteration of foot plane as much as possible, 
the outer half of the heel is heavily reinforced with iron nails. 

5O The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

The heel must be low, since raising it will throw the center 
of gravity of the body forward on the foot, thereby bringing 
an undue amount of pressure on the foot arch which was 
never intended by nature to support it and may yield and flat- 
ten under the strain. Also it will force the foot forward in 
the shoe, bring undue strain across the instep, and, unless 
the shoe is very long, jam the toes to their injury against the 
front of the shoe. Finally, the plane of the lower face of 
the heel should correspond with that of the sole, so as to give 
the most secure bearing surface on standing. All these points 
have been considered in devising the new military shoe. 

(m) The inside of the shoe over the heel should not be 
too wide. This is necessary in order that there may not be 
slippage of the heel of the foot from side to side within the 
shoe, with resulting heel blisters. The inside width of the 
shoe in this region should be such as will hold the foot com- 
fortably, and under the pressure of the body weight and bur- 
den will be rilled by the flattened heel without compressing 
the latter. Reduction in heel width was made in the new shoe. 

(n) The posterior wall of the shoe should be curved so 
as to embrace the natural curvature of the heel. This is neces- 
sary to hold the rear part of the foot in position and reduce 
friction on the heel by preventing it from slipping up and 
down and chafing against the shoe in marching. This im- 
portant point has been overlooked in some of the military shoes 
of the past notably the old "brogan" and the more recent 
high marching shoe (See Fig. 36) but has been duly con- 
sidered in the latest pattern of foot wear. 

(o) The shoe should not support the arch of the foot in 
the sense of lifting it up or buttressing it from below. This 
fact is opposed to common belief, but the latter is based on lack 
of knowledge of the anatomy of the foot and misconception as 
to its function. Rigid support of this region weakens its in- 
trinsic muscles by favoring their non-use, and thus tends to 
directly cause the condition of flat-footedness which it is 
attempted to avoid. Barefoot peoples have no such arch sup- 
port and flat feet are practically unknown among them. As 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 51 

this matter of arch support is fully discussed later under the 
subject of flat-feet, it needs no further consideration here. 
In the new shoe, the purpose is to have the leather accurately 
follow the outlines of the average soldier's foot arch, but 
without compressing the sole muscles to such an extent that 
their function will be interfered with and their development 
and strengthening be impaired. Every structure of the foot 
concerned in marching should be left free to function to the 
best anatomical and mechanical advantage. For this reason, 
the new shoe has no metal shank as stiffening under the foot 

(p) The sole should be sufficiently thick to prevent the 
foot from being injured by inequality in the ground. But if 
too thick, planter flexion of the foot is lost and dorsi-flexion is 
much reduced. The foot is thus reduced to the condition of 
a solid block, hinging at the ankle and simply furnishing a 
solid support to the leg. Moreover, with thick soles, the lever- 
age function of the great toe is interfered with, and the push 
of the foot is across the whole breadth of the sole at the meta- 
tarso phalangeal joint. The sole of the present shoe is as 
thick as can be made of one thickness of the best sole leather ; 
to make it of two thicknesses would add slightly to protection 
and subtract greatly from foot power and comfort. 

(q) The sole should be flat across, to furnish a level sur- 
face for the foot and a more secure hold upon the ground in 
steadying the body in standing and marching. It should have a 
slight upward curve at its forward end to prevent the toe 
catching in unevenly raised places on the walking surface, and 
to permit of accomplishing the heel-and-toe-walking of the 
marching step. But this curve or "spring" should not be too 
great or the toes will be placed, as a result of insufficient 
leather in the upper, in a permanent condition of hyper-exten- 
sion which interferes with walking and stability in standing. 
Some officers have advised a very considerable "spring" to the 
shoe, apparently under the idea that walking is a kind of roll- 
ing or rocking-chair-motion which of course is not at all the 

52 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

In marching with the naked foot, all parts of its bearing 
surfaces are in simultaneous contact with the surface beneath 
at one period of the accomplishment of the step. In other 
words, all anterior parts of the toes are in strong propulsive 
contact with this surface before the heel leaves it. Too much 
"spring" in the sole would mechanically interfere with the ac- 
complishment of this relation. Sufficient curvature or "spring" 
of the sole, to better suit the peculiarities of individual feet, 
will in any case be soon developed by sufficient use. 

(r) There must be plenty of room across the ball of the 
foot, so that there shall be no constriction of the weight bear- 
ing foot at that point. Under continued marching, the foot 
is given to flattening somewhat more particularly at the end 
of a march when the muscles are tired and tend to relax 
than it did at the trial fitting; likewise, the foot will swell 
from pressure interfering with the circulation. Moreover, the 
metatarsal bones tend to separate more widely from each other 
in marching. And as the points of support of the foot may 
practically be regarded as the legs of a tripod passing through 
the heel and the fronts of the metatarsal bones of the great 
and little toes, it is evident that the more the legs of this 
tripod can diverge the greater will be its stability as a whole. 
Also if the ball of the foot be regarded as a fulcrum, the 
greater the width of this fulcrum the greater the lateral stabil- 
ity of the superimposed body. Breadth across the ball is a 
characteristic feature of the new shoe. 

(s) The toe cap must be high, so as to avoid any hurtful 
pressure on the toes below. It must also rise abruptly from 
the front of the shoe, without forming an acute angle into 
which the front of the toes may be wedged in walking. Low- 
ness over the toes was a most serious defect in the old march- 
ing shoe, resulting in a vast number of blisters on top of the 
toes and not infrequently in loss of toe nails, usually of the 
great toe, which from its greater height received most of the 
pressure. This fault has been remedied in the new shoe of 
the Shoe Board, which is three-sixteenths of an inch higher 
over the toes than its predecessor. Three-sixteenths of an 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 53 

inch may not seem a jgreat increase, but as it has been added 
over the entire toe region, which measures approximately two 
and one-half inches in the shoe across the toe from sole to sole, 
it has added approximately one-half of a square inch to the 
sectional area enclosed by the shoe in this region. This in- 
creased height might not be enough if the shoe were a rigid 
container or had a box toe ; it is, however, a liberal increase 
when it is remembered that the toe cap is soft, pliable and 
readily alters in shape, and unnecessary excess of leather over 
the smaller toes is diminished and flattened down under any 
upward pressure of the great toe with compensating increase in 
material and height over the latter. As the breadth of the 
great toe is only about an inch, and the total addition of leather 
in the toe cap is nearly all available to increase the height of 
the shoe above it, it is evident that the recent increase in height 
of the toe cap permits of its elevation over the great toe from 
a third to half an inch greater than formerly. This increase 
in possible height over the great toe is believed to be quite suffi- 
cient to meet the needs of theory, and has been so demonstrated 
in practice. 

(t) The material of the quarters must be pliable. This is 
necessary so that the shoe may readily yield, without the for- 
mation of hard creases and ridges, to the movements of the 
ankle joint. Stiffness of leather in the quarters would ser- 
iously interfere with marching and promptly cause painful 
abrasions around the ankle. Nor must the quarters be cut 
any higher than necessary, as adding materially to the weight 
and cumbrousness of the shoe without giving any correspond- 
ing advantage. So long as a legging is worn, the military foot- 
wear should be a shoe, and to make it higher than the new 
military shoe would bring it into the boot or half-boot class. 
The latter has been tried out in our service and found un- 
desirable. For the vast majority of conditions encountered by 
the soldier, the height of a shoe reaching a little above the 
ankle is quite satisfactory. 

(u) There should be no stiff or excessive leather, or rows 
of stitching, so located as to be immediately over any of the 

54 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

extensor tendons of the toes, which lie clpse to the surface over 
the instep. This particularly applies to the extensor tendon 
of the great toe. These hard, rough areas tend to compress 
and injure the tendons sliding beneath them and cause pain 
and irritation. In the new military shoe, this matter has re- 
ceived careful attention, and areas of stitching have been de- 
creased in size and the seams of the quarters brought lower 
on the sides of the foot. This also permits of a little more 
stretching of the leather over the instep, which is desirable in 
many cases. 

(v) The tongue should be as small as possible to prevent 
bunching and wrinkling under the laces, with injury to the 
instep. In the new shoe, the tongue has been reduced in 
thickness as much as practicable. The full bellows has been 
changed to half-bellows, as the excess of leather of the former 
caused much discomfort, made it more difficult to get in and 
out of the shoe, interfered somewhat with evaporation of 
perspiration and gave, in practice, no appreciable increase of 
protection of the foot against water, mud and dust. 

(w) The front of the quarters must be sufficiently cut 
away so that the rows of eyelets may be well separated in 
order to provide elasticity in the fitting of different heights of 
instep. It is not at all essential to foot comfort that the quar- 
ters should nearly meet when the shoe is laced up, since the 
half-bellows tongue closes the front of the shoe against sand 
and dirt. But it is very essential that the margin of the quar- 
ters shall be far enough apart to permit of snug lacing on feet 
with low insteps, else slippage of the shoe on the foot is cer- 
tain to result. 

(x) Eyelets, and not hooks, must be used for the laces. 
The latter are not held with certainty by hooks, and fre- 
quent readjustments on the march may thus be necessary. 
Moreover, hooks bend, break and rapidly wear out the shoe 
laces, while causing undesirable rubbing and wear on the 
lower part of the legging. The substitution of hooks only 
saves time in fastening and unfastening the shoe where many 
eyelets are concerned but time would be lost if the military 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 55 

shoe, with its few eyelets, had hooks instead; for unfastening 
the lacing with the latter loosens it completely as far as they 

(y) The shoe must have such a shape that it will not 
contain any useless dead space, since these require extra ma- 
terial as a covering, which would cause unnecessary weight and 
encumbrance to the foot. In the old marching shoe, consider- 
able excess space of this nature was present in front of the 
smaller toes. The Shoe Board found by use of the X-ray and by 
experimental marching that this space could be considerably 
reduced and a little material cut away from this region with- 
out the slightest danger of the smaller toes striking against the 
front of the toe cap. Compare, in this connection, Figs. 33 
and 34. This change also improved the appearance of the shoe 
by giving it a tapering effect in the direction of the great toe. 
This cutting away of the material was gradual and began 
about one inch behind the toe cap, or about opposite the end 
of the little toe, curving in toward the great toe with a 
maximum width of approximately one quarter of an inch. 

(z) The shoe must also have such a shape as to permit of 
the great toe returning toward its proper alignment to the 
degree which the average age and ordinary foot deformity 
of the soldier class would warrant reasonable expectation. 
That none of the shoes previously supplied in our army were 
properly shaped in this respect was visibly demonstrated by 
many radiographs taken by the Shoe Board, as well as by the 
marked hallux valgus and blisters and ingrowing nails com- 
mon among soldiers and indicating pressure against the inner 
aspect of the great toe. To remedy this fault, a suitable 
amount of additional space internal to the great toe was needed, 
but the amount so required was not capable of mathematical 
demonstration. It was not difficult to formulate such internal 
lines for an ideal last, since in this case a straight line from 
the inner margin of the heel would fall along the inner margin 
of the sole. It was possible to measure a number of feet, and 
determine thereupon the degree of deviation of the average toe ; 
but such results would be inconclusive, since they would not 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 28 

Tracings of new (solid line) and 
old (dotted line) insoles, (reduced.) 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 57 

take into consideration the amount of correction in the pres- 
ent faulty alignment of the great toe which might be expected 
to ultimately occur in the foot of the average soldier if en- 
closed in a shoe of physiological shape and sufficient width. 
The latter was a subject never before studied and of which 
nothing was known ; nor could it be scientifically so studied 
except by an extensive series of experiments based on suitable 
shoes and covering a long period of time in a class of soldiers 
of various ages. But the Shoe Board, in its study of thousands 
of feet, had naturally arrived at fairly positive conclusions of 
its own in respect to the average amount of foot deformity 
present in American soldiers, and the extent to which its nat- 
ural correction under favorable conditions might reasonably 
be anticipated. 

It took into consideration the fact that the average sol- 
dier has deformed feet as a result of habitual use of improper 
shoes since childhood, and has reached an age in life when 
development is completed and any alteration in the relations 
of the skeleton of the foot for example, in the throwing of 
the great toe out of its proper axis, as in hallux valgus 
tends to become in considerable part permanent. The best to 
be expected in the shape of the practical military shoe are 
therefore not the ideal lines which would properly be found 
in a covering for ideal feet; but rather sufficient provision 
that its shape shall not only no longer tend to increase or 
perpetuate the deviation but shall permit of such reasonable 
tendency to return of the toe to normal alignment as may 
fairly be expected of the average soldier. 

With this standard in mind, the board proceeded to add 
more space to the inner aspect of the great toe, beginning at 
its metatarso-phalangeal joint and gradually increasing to a 
maximum width of something over a quarter of an inch oppo- 
site the nail of the great toe. (Compare Figs. 33 and 34). 
Though this does not seem a great increase, in practice it 
amounts to straightening the inner lines of the shoe and giv- 
ing additional space to an extent as great as the average sol- 
dier's foot can probably ever utilize. This is borne out by ex- 

58 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

tensive radiographic study of soldiers' feet in shoes so modi- 
fied, and determining by touch the amount of excess space 
F . 29 which the deviated great 

toe at first did not utilize. 
The shoe constructed 
on this last, as just indi- 
cated, will have an inward 
curve in front of the 
shank, which produces an 
apparent slight adduction 
or position of greater 
strength of the foot and 
allows it to point more to 
the front in walking. This 
tends to throw the weight 
off the foot-arch, and upon 
the o u t e r and stronger 

part of the foot where it belongs. This twist of the forepart of 
the shoe is maintained by the shape and thickness of the sole, 
reinforced toward the rear by a stout leather shank which holds 
the sole rigid from side to side while permitting its necessary 
bending in other directions. This bend or twist in front of the 
shank of the shoe exists in a degree which is only physiological ; 
in fact, it was based on the conception of the Shoe Board on 
this point as a result of its large number of foot examinations. 
The purpose is to have the foot rest on the shoe sole in its nat- 
ural position, and there is no pressure on the little toe calculated 
to turn the fore-foot inward away from its proper alignment. 
And it has been found that the average military foot, placed 
within the outline tracing of the sole of a new style military 
shoe which fits it, bears a very close relation in its horizontal 
plane to such an outline. The sole of the new shoe is thus 
physiological in shape. The very marked difference in shape 
of sole between the new military shoe and the marching shoe 
which preceded it, and the difference in position of the feet 
which would be within them, is shown in the accompanying 
illustration (Fig. 28), in which tracings are made of the re- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 59 

spective insoles of the same size shoes after accurately fitting 
their heel and shank portions to the same areas. Lines are 
drawn from the com- Fig 30 

mon point A at middle 
of rear of heel to the 
furthest point at the 
front of each toe the 
solid line AB represent- 
ing the longitudinal 
axis of the new shoe of 
the Shoe Board, while 
the broken line AC rep- 
resents that of the pre- 
ceding marching shoe. 
It was determined that 
the apparently slight 
changes made by the The new military last and shoe> 

Shoe Board in the shape of the sole have resulted in the shift- 
ing of the axis of the foot by approximately three quarters of 
an inch nearer normal at the toe. This change should be of 
very considerable assistance to marching, prevent the develop- 
ment of toe deformity and do much to ultimately rectify 
such of the latter as has occurred in other than very old cases. 

The new military shoe and the last on which it is made are 
illustrated in Figs. 29 and 30. 

The shoe last and shoe finally evolved as a result of study 
of the foregoing requirements is not based on preference, 
prejudice or preconception. In its outlines, prevailing styles 
embodying the temporary whims of fashion were not taken 
into account. It is believed, however, that it closely coordin- 
ates with the shape, volume and physiological functions of 
the foot. This seems apparent from a comparison of Figs. 
3 r > 3 2 > 33 an d 34, in which the same soldier's foot, of a good 
type, is successively shown radiographed, under the identical 
conditions of pressure resulting from carrying a 40 Ib. bur- 
den, with naked foot, with foot in the garrison tan shoe, in 
the old marching shoe, and in the new military shoe. It will 

60 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 31 

A soldier's foot of exceptionally good type, supporting weight of field equip- 
ment, without shoe or sock. (Reduced). 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


Fig. 32 

The same foot shown in Fig. 31, supporting weight of full field equipment, but 
in the garrison tan shoe. 

This illustrates a shoe of bad shape, but as good a fit as the shape permits. 
The soldier was fitted by the Shoe Board. Compare the shape of the foot in this 
shoe with its own normal, as shown in Fig. 31. (Reduction same as in Fig. 31). 

62 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 33 

The same foot shown in Figs. 31 and 32, supporting weight of full field equip- 
ment but in old style marching shoe. 

This illustrates a shoe of bad shape but as good a fit as the shape permits. The 
soldier was fitted by the Shoe Board. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 34 

The same foot shown in Figs. 31, 32 and 33, supporting weight of full field 
equipment, in new military shoe. 

This illustrates a good shaped shoe and a perfect fit. The soldier was fitted by 
the Shoe Board. 

6 4 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

be seen that the new shoe is the only one of the three which 
permits the foot to assume a shape and relation approximately 
like that of the same foot when unconnned. The effort was to 
develop a last differing in no essential from a normal military 
foot type, so that shoes built on a certain last would smoothly 
cover the actual foot of that size and width. It is believed 
that this effort has been quite successful, and that the new 
military shoe is the best ever developed for military purposes. 

Fig. 35 


Shape of Sole in various Military Footwear. 
(After Melville.) 

1. Russian. 4. United States, 1908. 

2. German (new). 5. French. 

3. German (old). 6. Italian. 

7. Japanese. 

Fig. 36 

8. Austrian. 

9. Gurkha. 
10. British. 

Thickness of Sole and shape of Uppers in various Military Footwear. 
(After Melville.) 

1. German. 6. Russian. 

2. British. 7. Swedish. 

3. Gurkha. 8. Austrian. 
4 and 5. Portugese. 9. French. 

10. Italian. 

11. Japanese. 

12. United States, 1908. 

13. United States, 1904. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 65 

For comparison, attention is invited to Figs. 35 and 36, 
illustrating the footwear in present use in the armies of all 
the great military nations. They are evidently very heavy, 
clumsy and cumbersome as compared with the new United 
States military shoe. As to shape, their great diversity in 
this respect indicates that if any one of them is right, all the 
others must be wrong. As a matter of fact, not a single one of 
these foreign shoes is physiological in this respect and they 
may be counted upon to produce unnecessary foot injuries the 
more they deviate from the anatomical foot type. So bad 
are they that every military nation, except England and the 
United States, has to issue a camp shoe to rest the feet of the 
soldier while in camp. (See Figs. 37 and 38). By issuing 
a good shoe in the first place, the carriage of this additional 
burden by the soldier is thus avoided. The Germans, Rus- 

Fig. 37 

Camp Shoes. 

(After Melville.) 

1. German (old). 2. German (new). 3. French. 4. Austrian. 

Fig. 38 

Japanese Foot Gear. 
(After Melville.) 

66 The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

sians and Danes still issue high boots, due to the peasantry 
being used to work in such footwear in mud, wet and snow, 
with the trousers tucked inside the boot tops. 

In concluding this section on the military shoe, it cannot 
be too strongly emphasized that any deficiencies of shoe sup- 
ply, or any errors as to fitting, may tend to produce discomfort, 
dissatisfaction and foot injuries which might erroneously be 
attributed to the form of the shoe itself. Ideally perfect foot- 
wear cannot alone give good results. In other words, the shoe 
cannot be considered by itself alone, since its actual utility 
to the wearer depends upon the tripod of supply, fit and con- 
struction. If any leg of this tripod fails, the whole structure 
of foot comfort falls to the ground. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 67 


A shoe is said to fit when its contour smoothly follows the 
normal outline of the foot, without undue pressure on any 
point or points, yet not so loose as to result in harmful fric- 
tion between the foot and the shoe. These last must thus 
be considered together, the important thing being the relation 
between the inner surface of the leather and the outer surface 
of the skin. The point of support should be large and firm, 
so as to take up and distribute without injury the shock result- 
ing from the impact of the foot against the ground in marching. 

The fitting of the shoes to the feet is the second essential 
necessary to insuring that the soldier is properly shod. It is of 
no advantage that a type of shoe be supplied the conformation 
which very closely approximates the foot type of the soldier, 
nor would it in addition be of any practical value to have 
the Quartermaster's Department maintain a full stock of shoe 
sizes and widths at all posts, unless the shoes selected from 
the numerous varieties officially available are intelligently 
chosen and carefully adapted to the requirements of each indi- 
vidual foot. It is a truism to say that when shoes are not 
properly fitted to feet, those feet will become sore under 
marching. The fundamental importance of shoe fitting has 
been largely disregarded in our service, and in every case the 
fitting of shoes to soldiers should be directly performed by a 
commissioned officer. The matter of the proper fit of shoes 
has too close relation to military efficiency to be left to the 
hazards of chance, indifference, ignorance or prejudice. 

There is nothing in the fitting of shoes to the feet of their 
men which can be regarded as detrimental to the dignity of in- 
fantry officers. On the contrary, it is a legitimate part of their 
duty and direct evidence of their efficiency and desire to enlarge 
their usefulness. Officers at the Mounted Service Schools 

68 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

learn blacksmithing and farrier's work as part of the regular 
course; and they learn to themselves fit horse shoes with an 
intelligent appreciation of the basic influence of proper shoeing 
upon the marching capacity of cavalry and field artillery. At 
every post, if a cavalry horse is improperly shod in the pro- 
duction of a bad gait, interference, over-reaching or other 
fault, the troop commander does not hesitate to give his per- 
sonal attention to re-shoeing repeated as often as may be 
necessary until the fault has been remedied. Surely the 
marching capacity of a foot soldier is of quite as much mili- 
tary importance as that of a horse, and the responsibility 
that it shall be kept at the highest efficiency develops in no 
less degree upon organization commanders in both instances. 
Neglect by officers to give proper personal supervision to 
matters of shoe fitting and supply is equally detrimental to 
the military efficiency of man and beast. 

Criticism of the new military shoe, per se, by any person, 
is thus unjustifiable unless it can first be demonstrated that any 
injuries to the feet complained of are not the result of im- 
proper fitting. It has undoubtedly happened in the past in 
many cases that footwear has been held responsible by officers 
and men for foot injuries which were, on the contrary, di- 
rectly attributable to their own indifference and neglect in the 
essential matter of fitting. 

In fitting- the soldier, he should be encouraged to continue 
to try on shoes until fitted. This, in the past, has not been 
carried out as properly as should be done. The convenience 
of those in charge of getting the shoes drawn was apparently 
more consulted in many instances than the wishes and com- 
fort of the soldier who was to draw them. Any method of 
fitting which is more or less nominal and perfunctory will be 
largely barren of the results desired. 

In connection with the necessity for properly fitting shoes 
in the removal of undesirable friction and pressure, it is well 
to recall the number of completed foot movements required 
in ordinary marching. Assuming the average step to be 30 
inches, each foot will strike the ground at intervals of 60 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 69 

inches, or every 5 feet. But there are 5,280 feet in a mile, 
so each foot strikes the ground approximately 1,000 times for 
each mile traversed. If a fair march for infantry in the field 
is put at 15 miles, with some 3 miles before and after it in the 
performance of making and breaking camp and for other pur- 
poses, it is evident that each foot will strike the ground some 
18,000 times during the day. It is said that falling drops 
of water will ultimately wear away the hardest stone; and 
it will be apparent that even a relatively slight defect in the re- 
lation between the foot and shoe, if enabled to act with each 
step through such a vast number of repetitions in such a re- 
latively brief period, can scarcely fail to do injury to the 
delicate and tender foot structures in contact with it. If the 
defect be considerable, it is apparent that more or less com- 
plete incapacity for marching will scarcely be avoided. 

It will probably at once occur to not a few that such care- 
ful official supervision by organization commanders of the fit- 
ting of the soldier's shoe, as is here laid down, is unnecessary, 
and that "the soldier is the best judge of what he wants". 
The latter is undoubtedly true; but it is equally true that in 
respect to the shoe "the soldier is not the best judge of what 
he ought to wear." And to this statement the officer himself 
is by no means always an exception. Custom, habit, feet de- 
formed by previous bad shoe selection, desire for conformance 
with prevailing styles, and regard for conventional ideas of 
sightliness rather than comfort, so warp the judgment and con- 
trol the preferences of the average soldier as to make his per- 
sonal selection of a proper shoe the very rare exception. The 
Shoe Board, after its careful study of many hundreds of sol- 
diers' feet and its fitting of many thousands of pairs of military 
shoes, in several of its reports stated its conviction that only 
about one soldier out of five, if this matter was left to his 
own selection, would properly fit himself with shoes and that 
such proper fits as were actually secured were probably as 
much the results of chance as of intelligent effort. These 
conclusions of the board very closely approximated those of 
Major Reno, M.C., who, in one series of 521 enlisted men of 

7O The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

our army studied by him, found that only 26.2% of these wore 
shoes that were properly fitting; and that in a later series 
of an additional 609 men, only 16.5% of these men wore shoes 
that fitted them properly, while 508 had on shoes that did 
not fit them. In the light of such exhaustive and unbiased 
studies as have just been mentioned, the propriety from the 
miltary standpoint of letting the soldier select his own shoes 
must be emphatically answered in the negative. 

In one of its reports the Shoe Board said: "The practical 
experience of the Board in twice fitting every available man 
at Fort Sheridan shows absolutely that a very considerable pro- 
portion of soldiers cannot be trusted to select their own shoes 
without guidance and oversight. Some are indifferent, some 
are slow witted, and many are convinced that a size and width 
which they believe they have secured before enlistment is the 
proper size to select in a military shoe. It is the unvarying 
experience of the board that sizes of shoes suggested by it 
to such men are accepted by the men as better fitting, after 
trying on, than were the shoes originally selected by them". 

In his lack of judgment in respect to shoe fitting, the sol- 
dier is no worse and is probably better than the average 
of men of the military age in civil life. But in his case the 
effects upon himself of bad selection are so certain, as a result 
of the necessity for hard marching under heavy burdens not 
obtaining in civil life, and the aggregate amount of military 
inefficiency resulting from such cause is so serious, as to de- 
mand that a matter of such importance to all concerned shall 
be taken out of the control of the man himself and reposed in 
one who, beside having a proper knowledge of what is re- 
quired, is invested with official responsibility for securing good 
results. In a general way, it may be stated that the few sol- 
diers found by the Shoe Board to have selected good shoes 
also had feet exceptionally free from deformity and blemish; 
this, however, is only what ought to be expected, for if such 
men had not consistently practiced intelligent selection of shoes, 
their feet would not have remained good. As the reverse of 
this rule, it may be accepted that the worse the condition of a 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 39 


Illustrates defective fitting. Shoe too short and too narrow. Selected by the 
soldier, whose foot is- shown supporting weight of full field equipment. 

72 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

soldier's feet and the greater the difficulty he has with foot- 
wear, the more he has demonstrated his inability to fit himself, 
and the greater the need for the selection of his shoes for him 
by higher authority. 

When the average man is left to his own devices in respect 
to fitting himself, his dominating idea seems to be to crowd his 
foot into the smallest size shoe which can be put on without 
too much suffering. It is astonishing to see the very large 
number of men, who, however careless they may otherwise be 
in respect to their personal appearance, apparently take pride 
in making their feet appear as small as possible, and who to 
secure this result will cheerfully accept pain and discomfort. 

In the work of the Shoe Board, in one series of 716 men 
left to themselves in the matter of fitting, 447 or 62^ per 
cent, found it necessary to try on more than one pair of shoes. 
The average number of shoes tried on per man was 2.17. The 
number of trials necessary to secure a fit without previous 
measurement, but with the members of the board present to 
advise and suggest, and keep the men trying until an actual 
fit was secured, was as follows : 

i trial, 269 men; 2 trials, 246 men; 3 trials, 131 men; 4 
trials, 35 men ; 5 trials, 20 men ; 6 trials, 8 men ; 7 trials, 4 men ; 
8 trials, 3 men. 

Thus only about a third of a command, under the best con- 
ditions of advisory assistance, can be expected to pick out sat- 
isfactory shoes without extended trial. 

The method the average soldier uses in attempting to fit 
his feet makes the latter practically impossible to meet the need 
of military conditions. In this method, the man sits on a bench, 
puts on the smallest shoe he thinks he can wear, rises and 
stands on both feet, and takes two or three steps. If his 
foot does not hurt him too much, the shoe is probably ac- 
cepted as a fit. His foot has not been permitted to assume 
even an approximation of its normal degree of expansion and 
there is no burden on the back to cause the foot to pain under 
the increased pressure which would be thus created. The sol- 
dier thus fits his foot at rest and contracted to its minimum 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 73 

dimensions. He does not know the fact that in marching un- 
der the equipment his foot may increase in length and breadth 
as much as half an inch and very possibly if he did know 
he would not care. The result is that a shoe is usually selected 
which is too tight for light duty in garrison; and in the field 
compresses the feet, under burden carrying, to an extent 
which in very many cases may promptly incapacitate for march- 
ing. He thus chooses a shoe for considerations of looks under 
conditions of peace and quiet ; the method which the officer 
must carry out for him has for its purpose the selection of a 
shoe giving the maximum comfort under conditions of hard 
field service. 

By far the most common fault of shoes which have been 
selected by the men themselves is insufficient length. Reno 
found 425 men out of 609 wearing shoes which were too short 
for them. With shoes of this sort, the toes of the foot, 
elongating under pressure, are jammed against the front of 
the shoe in marching, and toe blisters, abrasions and corns are 
inevitable (See Fig. 39). The next most common fault is in- 
sufficient width; of the series of men just mentioned, over 
twenty-five per cent had mis-fitted themselves in this respect 
in the probable production of injury in the form of bunions, 
corns, ingrowing nails, clubbed toes and other defects. (See 
Fig. 40). Only an insignificant fraction of soldiers, say one 
or two per cent, tend to select shoes too large for them. These 
comparative tendencies toward misfit in too small sizes the 
officers in direct supervision of shoe fitting should bear in 
mind, so that they may be properly combatted. 

Another matter which greatly helps to interfere with secur- 
ing a fit by the soldier is the fact that shoe lasts have no com- 
mon standard. Each manufacturer of civilian shoes has his 
own series of lasts, and all these differ greatly from each 
other not only in shape but in width. The same applies not 
only in respect to comparison of civilian and army shoes, 
but also in respect to the different kinds of army shoes which 
in the past have been simultaneously supplied. At one time 
no less than six kinds of shoes, built on totally different lasts, 

74 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

were for issue in our army. All this naturally confuses the 
soldier lately from civil life. He may recall that the size of a 
certain brand of civilian shoe which he was accustomed to 
wear before entering the army, and to which his feet had 
shaped themselves through long use, was say an 8C. He 
confidently calls for a Government shoe of this size and width, 
and is surprised on putting it on to find that it in no way 
feels on his foot like the shoe which he had come to regard 
as his "size". As a matter of fact, it is totally dissimilar. But, 
impressed by his previous experience as a civilian, he would 
very likely draw and attempt to use it. The result in such case 
will be sore feet, and unsparing and undeserved condemnation 
of the army shoe as a foot covering. 

It is particularly important that young soldiers be given 
special attention and intelligent guidance in their first shoe fit- 
tings after entering the service, so that they may promptly 
learn the size and width which, in the military shoe, is best 
adapted to their feet. In this manner also the mistakes as to 
shoe fitting, found so commonly by the Shoe Board among old 
soldiers, and so tenaciously adhered to by the latter, would 
be avoided from the very outset of military life. 

Recruits, in time of peace, might be fitted with shoes at 
recruit depots at the time of their physical examination and 
the size noted on their descriptive cards. In time of war, old 
soldiers would draw the sizes and widths of shoes which prev- 
ious fitting and wear showed to be adapted to their feet. For 
new organizations and recruits in the field complete sample 
sets of shoes should be sent to each battalion for fitting. 

Another trouble in fitting the shoes in the past has been the 
requirement that the shoes tentatively selected for trying on by 
number and letter, had to be taken to barracks for such try- 
ing on. It was of course theoretically possible to take back 
shoes not found to fit and exchange them for another trial 
size but distances between barracks and the quartermaster's 
storehouse were frequently great and the enthusiasm of the 
soldier to secure what he regarded as a fit notably diminished 
as several laborious exchanges appeared to be necessary. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 75 

Fig. 40 

Illustrates defective fitting. Shoe too long and too narrow. Selected by the 
soldier, whose foot is shown supporting weight of field equipment. 

76 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Marching seemed relatively remote and present lack of effort 
was regarded as compensating for possible future foot in- 
jury. The result was that the soldier, in some disgust, ulti- 
mately accepted shoes which were not wholly satisfactory to 
him rather than put himself and others to further trouble in 
the matter. 

In this respect, too, the tendency was to force the soldier in- 
to a rapid even if an unwise choice, since it was for the 
convenience of all others concerned in the issue that it be 
made as quickly as possible. Recruits, particularly, were not 
infrequently enjoined by superiors to accept what was given 
them without complaint, even though the shoes so issued might 
differ widely from what was requested and would fit. 

By drawing shoes at the quartermaster's storehouse, un- 
der the personal guidance of company officers, the above var- 
ious causes of administrative defect in shoe fitting are avoided. 

The theoretical answer for the question of shoe fitting and 
supply would be to have the shoes for each man especially 
built for him upon lasts made from plaster casts of his own 
feet. This is of course impracticable from the military stand- 
point, and fortunately it is not at all necessary. Given a shoe 
as anatomically correct as the one last adopted, always avail- 
able in fifteen sizes and half sizes with a choice of six different 
widths for each length, and these fitted with intelligence and 
judgment, and the problem of foot injuries should largely 
cease to trouble in our army. 

But until a more uniform standard as to feet prevails in 
the recruiting service, no single pattern of shoe can be ex- 
pected to exactly meet the needs of all soldiers. A small num- 
ber of accepted recruits, say one or two per cent, have feet 
widely variant from the general and normal foot type. These 
can wear the present shoe, but would very likely be more 
comfortable in shoes of a somewhat different last. However, 
if it were attempted to satisfy the needs of this small class in 
this respect, proportionate discomfort would t>e produced 
among a much larger number, for whom the present last is a 
practical duplicate of their general foot type. Diversity of 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 77 

lasts should not be tolerated in the military service, for the 
reasons detailed elsewhere. The only reasonable thing to do 
is to stick to a single last, calculated to afford the greatest good 
to the greatest number. 

The fitting of the soldier with shoes is best done in posts 
at the quartermaster's storehouse, where proper facilities for 
trying on should be provided. These include a space of suffi- 
cient- size, proportional to the strength of the command, so 
that there need be no unnecessary delay in fitting; benches 
for the men to sit on while putting on the shoes ; a stout box 
or platform, about two feet high, two feet broad and three 
feet long, for the soldier to stand upon while being fitted; a 
quartermaster's foot measure, working in a slotted board so 
as to give a level surface to the foot being measured ; a quar- 
termaster's foot tape measure; one or more quartermaster's 
shoe stretchers, for the rapid softening and stretching of fitted 
shoes; a complete set of army shoes, including a sample of 
every size and width, for fitting by trying on and which orders 
require that the quartermasters shall maintain at all times; a 
set of partitioned racks to hold the sample shoes, each space 
plainly numbered with the size and width of the pair of shoes 
it is to contain. A copy of General Orders 48, War Depart- 
ment, 1911, or the latest general order, or circular of the 
Quartermaster General's Office, dealing with the sizes and 
widths of shoes, and their relation to last measurements, must 
be available. A chair for the officer to do the fitting, drawn 
up to the platform on the side which will be on the right of the 
soldier being fitted, completes the outfit. 

All being ready, the soldier to be fitted steps upon the plat- 
form in his naked feet, and carrying on his back either the 
full field equipment with rifle, or a 40 Ib. burden to represent 
approximately the weight of such equipment. This weight is 
necessary in order to bring about by its pressure the maximum 
expansion of the soldier's foot, and place it during the shoe 
fitting under such conditions as it would be placed during 
marching. While shoe fittings in civil life are habitually based 
on feet at rest and thus occupying the minimum space in 

78 The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 

the horizontal plane, the method of shoe fitting here de- 
scribed is based upon the fact that the foot in action differs 
very materially in appearance and dimension from the foot at 
rest, and calls for a determination of the greatest length and 
breadth of the foot under the conditions which regulate its 
expansion in marching. Conventional ideas as to sightliness 
control shoe fitting in civil life; those of practical utility and 
accurate adaptation to each individual normal foot type are in- 
tended to govern such fittings in the army. The expansion as 
to length under conditions of marching pressure is much 
greater than is ordinarily believed, not a few feet showing a 
lengthening of as much as one-half of an inch, (compare 
Figs. 13 and 15) while others grade from that down to a point 
where lengthening is insignificant. In general, the type of foot 
showing the greatest expansion as to length is one with a high 
arch and weak, undeveloped muscles the least lengthening 
occurs in strong, normal feet, in which the plantar arch is 
well filled up with muscular tissue. Flat feet show practically 
no lengthening whatever, for as the arch is already broken 
down the foot is incapable of further longitudinal expansion. 
As the amount of foot lengthening which will result in any 
individual foot under marching pressure cannot be foretold, it 
is necessary to produce such expansion, measure the expanded 
foot, and thereby start the fitting from an accurate individual 

In choosing shoes it is necessary first to resort to meas- 
urement. Few men know their proper size ; others are un- 
willing, without mathematical demonstration of its necessity, 
to accept shoes of the dimensions that they ought to wear. 
Measurement affords assistance to the one and a check on 
the other. It gives a basic minimum below which shoe sizes, 
for trying on, should not go. But measurements alone, with- 
out trying on, will rarely properly fit a shoe for marching pur- 

To measure the length of the expanded foot, the burdened 
soldier places his foot on the foot measure working in the 
slotted board, with the heel in contact with the heel piece of 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 79 

the measure and the great toe lying over the measuring stick. 
The soldier then stands on his foot, so that the entire weight 
of the body and the burden being carried is supported by it. 
He maintains his balance by resting his hand on the shoulder 
of a comrade, chair-back, or other fixed object. If the latter 
is not done, attempts to maintain the equilibrium will cause 
the muscles of the foot and leg to forcibly contract and ma- 
terially interfere with the relaxation of the foot necessary to 
its full expansion. The movable block is then pushed in until 
it just makes contact with the end of the great toe. The meas- 
uring stick is graduated in both inches and sizes; for fitting, 
the former may be disregarded. The size is now read off. 
Assume, for example, that this size is 6J. If a shoe built on a 
a 6J last were put on this foot, the toes would come into 
direct contact with the front of the shoe, which inevitably 
would result in toe blisters. To provide sufficient vacant space 
in front of the toes, two sizes must ordinarily be allowed, 
making the length of the shoe thus required an 8|. As each 
size amounts to one-third (-J) of an inch, the space in front 
of the toes is thus two-thirds (f) of an inch. But putting 
on the sock reduces this by the thickness of two layers of 
stocking, one in front of the toes and one behind the heel. 
Moreover, the foot will slip forward a little in the shoe in 
marching, especially in going down hill, and when tired and 
stretched at the end of a march will have elongated to its 
maximum. Experience has amply demonstrated that an ori- 
ginal apparent excess of two sizes is none too much to provide 
for these contingencies and keep the front of the toes safe 
from injurious contact with the front of the shoe. 

The circumference of the foot around the ball is then taken 
with the measuring tape. The position of this tape is shown by 
the line A-B in the accompanying diagram (Fig. 41). The 
tape is passed snugly around the foot, but not tight enough to 
compress the flesh and thus spoil the reading. Suppose the 
tape measure gives a ball measure of 9^ inches. The length of 
the shoe required has just been shown to be size 8J. On re- 
ferring to Circular No. 10, Quartermaster General's Office, 


The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

1912, the 8J column is read down until a ball circumference is 
found which is the same as that just given by the tape meas- 
ure. The letter opposite this circumferential measure is 
then read off. In the present instance, this letter is found to 
be "D." The size to first try on is thus an 8J D. But while 
the length of this shoe is probably correct, its width is still 

Fig. 41 

Method of measuring the foot to secure an approximate fit of the shoe to try on. 

somewhat problematical and can only be determined by actual, 
and very possibly repeated, trying on. 

It is not necessary, in order to secure a fit, to take the 
measurements over waist and around heel. These are not es- 
sential and may be safely disregarded. 

On the number and width of the shoe which these meas- 
urements show ought first to be tried being called out, the 
quartermaster's employee in charge of the fitting room, or 
other responsible person, takes the pair of shoes in the 8J D 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 81 

compartment of the sample shoe rack and hands them to the 
soldier to be fitted. The latter goes to a seat, pulls on a pair 
of light wool socks, puts on the shoes given him, and laces them 
tightly. He puts shoes on both feet, for the latter sometimes 
differ from each other quite materially in size and contour; 
also sometimes shoes get mixed and the man then receives a 
mismatched pair. For these reasons, both feet, and not one on- 
ly, are fitted. The soldier, still with his burden on his back, 
again mounts the fitting platform. The officer notes with his 
eye the general appearance of the shoes, as to whether the 
latter are smoothly adapting themselves to the outline of the 
feet, are too loose and wrinkling, or are too tight and tense. He 
then causes the soldier to stand squarely on one foot, support- 
ing himself and his burden or equipment in such a way as to 
maintain easy equilibrium. The officer then grasps with his 
hand the vamp of the shoe across its widest part. Bringing 
his thumb and fingers slowly together, he notes the feel of the 
leather and its apparent relation to the foot enclosed. If this 
leather seems loose and tends to wrinkle under the hand, the 
shoe is too wide and a narrower width should be tried on; if 
it feels hard, tense and bulging, the shoe is too narrow. A 
good fit as to width may be said to exist when the foot ex- 
panded under body weight has its outline everywhere smooth- 
ly followed by the shoe leather, without the latter being either 
redundant or binding the foot in any manner. 

Suitability of length is verified by pressing down the leather 
in front of the toes. If the leather and tip of the toe touch or 
are close together the shoe is too short; if more than about a 
half a thumb's breadth apart, the shoe is too long. In a good 
fit, there is not less than half an inch of vacant space in front 
of the great toe under pressure. But clubbed toes, with 
an elongated second toe protruding beyond the great toe, may 
in some cases necessitate a greater length in selecting a proper 

Sometimes several trials of different shoes are necessary 
before a fit is secured, even with careful foot measurement. 
This is particularly the case with feet presenting some abnor- 

82 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

mality, as bunions, or hallux with clubbed toes. But the pro- 
cess of trying on must be continued until a fit is secured. Us- 
ually it will happen that about twice as many pairs of shoes 
are tried on as there are men to be fitted. 

In connection with this matter of fitting, it is important to 
remember that each full size differs by one-third (-J) of an inch 
in length from the next full size ; while half sizes, as their name 
implies, differ from each full size by one-sixth Q) of an inch. 
As there are fifteen sizes supplied in our army, there is thus 
a difference of two and one-half inches in length between the 
longest and the shortest shoes available. Each letter of width 
represents one-twelfth (jV) f an inch, and as each size and 
half size has six widths, a variation of width of half an inch 
is thus possible for the fitting of each length. With every in- 
crease in length by a half size, there is a change in width by 
one letter or one-twelfth of an inch. Thus, for example, if a 
6D is found to have the right width but to be a little short, 
a size 6JC should be tried; if a size 8C is of the right width 
but a full size too long, size 7E would be proper. 

It sometimes happens that after a man has been properly 
fitted as to length, the widest width in that length is found to 
be somewhat too narrow for him. Under such conditions, a 
shoe longer than necessary should be given in order to secure 
the greater width required. A little space in front of the toes 
does no harm whatever, while a shoe which pinches them will 
very likely cause discomfort and injury. Mistakes in fitting 
shoes which are larger than necessary are both rare and little 
liable to do harm it is the too short and too narrow shoes 
which cause the vast majority of injuries and which are to be 
carefully avoided. 

Inasmuch as a flat foot is one in which the maximum 
elongation has already been practically accomplished, there is 
relatively little danger of a soldier with such low arch get- 
ting a shoe too short for him ; but the danger becomes greater 
and greater according as the soldier's arch is higher and the 
muscles which support it are thinner and weaker. A high 
arched but slender and undeveloped foot thus needs an ex- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 83 

ceptionally long shoe; later, when the foot strengthens, a 
slightly shorter one may be proper. 

The amount of lateral expansion of the foot across the ball, 
on pressure of body weight and burden carrying, is very con- 
siderable. The difference in this respect, between the foot at 
rest and the same foot under pressure, as demonstrated by 
radiographs and footprints, amounts in many feet to as much 
as half an inch. (See Figs. 13 and 15). Feet which have been 
squeezed and contracted by too narrow shoes usually show a 
relatively greater proportion of foot expansion in weight car- 
rying than feet already well expanded through use of good 
footwear. (See Figs. 42 and 43). This stretching naturally 
tires and renders painful the transversalis and interosseous 
muscles through their entire extent. Such stretching and dis- 
comfort does not mean that the shoe is wrong, but it does mean 
that the foot itself is at fault as a result of improper footwear 
previously worn. And it is a very cogent argument for the 
use of but one last and that a physiological one by the 

Another reason for fitting the shoe large, besides its nat- 
ural expansion, is the fact that the foot swells considerably in 
prolonged marching, through flow of blood to the part and 
interference with its return flow from pressure on the veins. 
Then the constant striking of the foot against the ground is a 
stimulus to the flow of blood to that part, with dilation of the 
capillaries, just as a red mark follows a blow on the flesh of any 
other part of the body. After hard marching, the soles of 
the feet are often painful and reddened from this cause; and 
with shoes which are too small, the soldier in marching in 
warm weather has a feeling of heat and irritation in his feet 
from congestion due to such interference with the circulation ; 
in the winter, on the contrary, the same cause operates to make 
the feet cold, numb and readily susceptible to frost bite. 

The number of shoe sizes and widths now officially pro- 
vided is undoubtedly quite sufficient to meet the needs of all 
soldiers' feet except the very few enlisted with feet widely 
variant from the generally military foot type. Thus in one ser- 

84 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 42 

Soldier's foot badly deformed by too tight shoes. Foot is at rest as the soldier 
is seated. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 85 

Fig. 43 

Same foot shown in Fig. 42, but the soldier is now supporting his weight on 
this foot. 

86 The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

ies of fittings of 716 men, in a garrison containing the three 
arms of the service, 23 of the 75 varieties then authorized were 
not utilized in fitting the command. The extremes of sizes, and 
particularly the extremely large sizes, are very rarely needed 
with white troops. 

In fitting the military shoe, it is quite as important that it 
be a snug fit around the instep and ankle as that it be a loose 
fit over the toes. The point of support in this new shoe is 
located over the instep, and this requires smooth fitting of 
the shoe over the posterior three-fifths of the foot with ability 
to hold it firmly in position by its lacing. If this be not pos- 
sible, slipping of the shoe on the foot will occur in marching 
and injury to the latter is certain. 

In fitting the shoe, the laces must be passed through all the 
holes and tied after being well tightened. A shoe well fitting 
in this respect will usually have the margin of its quarters 
about one-half inch apart when well laced. According as the 
foot is greater or less developed than the average, variation in 
this marginal interspace will naturally occur. 

It is important that the position of the shoe on the foot, 
as a whole, be stable. This is best accomplished by a close fit 
in the posterior half of the foot, in which lateral pressure on 
the sides of the heel, and around the heel over the front of the 
ankle joint, can cause no interference with any structure in- 
tended to be mobile. 

In a small percentage of soldiers, the proper fitting of 
the military shoe is rendered quite difficult by the fact that 
they have relatively large, broad feet, low insteps and slender 
ankles. For this class, which is fortunately small in number, a 
shoe that is large enough for the lower part of the foot is too 
large to properly fit the upper foot and ankle. The latter 
fault is serious, since unless the foot can be held snugly over 
the instep and ankle against slipping about in the shoe on 
the march, foot injury is practically certain. In a few other 
soldiers, a shoe at first apparently satisfactory may so stretch 
in the uppers as to be no longer capable of lacing snugly. 
A practical way of remedying these defects is to insert one 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 87 

or more thicknesses of blanket, cloth, or felt, torn into suitable 
strips, between the tongue and lacing of the shoe, so that the 
latter, when pulled tight, may thus have a point of firm sup- 
port by which it can keep the foot in its proper position in the 
shoe. Occasionally, with an extremely slender, low instep, 
it may be well to pull the laces snugly and tie them in a knot at 
the third or fourth eyelet; this supports the shoe better, and 
looseness in the last two or three holes is of less importance 
as regards foot injury. 

The average soldier may be expected to object more or less 
vigorously to the size and width of the shoe given him under 
his first fittings by his company commander. Accustomed as 
he has been to shoes which constantly bind and compress his 
feet, he will regard the new shoe given him as too long and 
too loose. The squeezing of his feet by the shoes he has him- 
self habitually chosen has been so long continued as to appear 
to him to be natural and necessary. Hence any complaints that 
the shoes are unduly large should be looked upon with doubt, 
and should be disregarded unless corroborated by the officer 
in charge by the actual manipulation of the shoe and foot 
by the method already described. In the fittings made by the 
Shoe Board, a large number of protests of this nature were 
made at the time that the shoes were issued and during the 
first day or so of the march test. It was noted that these com- 
plaints practically disappeared by the time the march test was 
half over ; and in no single instance during the foot examina- 
tions, when the man complained of his shoes being too large, 
did his feet show any evidence of injury whatever. It is near- 
ly always too small shoes, and not what may feel at first like 
too large ones, that cause sore feet. Beside fitting shoes to 
his men, the officer is thus called upon to combat error, preju- 
dice and misconception. The relations between foot and shoe, 
which constitute a proper fit, are excellently shown in Fig. 34. 

Where there is any difficulty in accomplishing a fit, it must 
be borne in mind that the trouble may not necessarily be in the 
shoe but may be in the foot itself, through some abnormality 
causing it to vary from the general type. 

88 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

In these trials of shoes, any local conditions affecting their 
fitting will be noted. Hurtful local pressure over bunions and 
corns can usually be seen and always can be determined by the 
hand. The same applies to pressure over the great toe. The 
man himself should be questioned, and any area or point of 
the shoe which is said to cause discomfort should be carefully 
examined. Sometimes such a shoe is badly finished, is 
shrunken from having been taken off the last too soon, or has 
a rough seam or wrinkled lining inside. 

It must be remembered that the shoe is built over a last 
which has perfectly smooth surfaces and gently curving con- 
tours such as are not found in the human foot. The last, while 
perhaps quite accurately reproducing in the transverse plane the 
sectional area of the foot at any given point, thus only relates to 
sectional bulk and general outline. The latter, in a gener- 
ally fitting shoe, may both be quite correct, and yet the shoe 
may cause discomfort and foot injury. The reason is that it 
as yet is only partially fitted and still requires to be adapted 
to local conformation of the foot. If the latter presents no 
material abnormalities, this adaptation can be gradually accom- 
plished by occasional and progressively lengthened periods of 
wear, until the shoe is "broken in" in other words, until the 
stretching over the prominences of the foot resulting from use 
of the shoe has resulted in better equalization of pressure, with 
enlargement where needed at the expense of contraction where 
excess of leather is unnecessary. But it must be emphasized 
that the process of "breaking in" is not without some risk 
that the foot, and not the shoe, will "break in" first. The foot 
injuries so commonly seen in soldiers have almost invariably 
had their beginning in just such attempts to "break in" new 
shoes, which, in either size, shape or both, did not approximate 
the foot expected to wear them. 

Very much of the danger of such foot injury can be avoided 
by the use, on shoes found proper as to length and width but 
which are still not wholly comfortable to the feet of the wearer, 
in the fitting room or barracks, of the shoe stretchers provided 
by the Quartermaster's Department. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 89 

This type of shoe stretcher is practically a last made in 
two longitudinal halves, capable of being forced apart to the 
extent desired after being inserted in the shoe. This type 
is particularly adapted to stretching the leather across the toes 
as a whole, and is capable of giving the shoe upper a shape 
quite different from what it had acquired when taken off the 
last. This stretcher is provided with holes in both its last 
halves, so located as to come approximately in the foot areas 
especially liable to pressure, blisters, corns and bunions. Ad- 
justable bulbs, with pegs to go in these holes and hold them in 
proper position, are provided to accomplish local stretching and 
relief from pressure. After marking with a pencil on the out- 
side of the shoe the points of painful pressure, one or more 
bulbs are put in position under them and the leather forcibly 
stretched. For very large or sensitive bunions and corns, the 
use of this stretcher is quite satisfactory, for the areas to be 
treated can be thoroughly wetted to facilitate stretching of the 
leather and the apparatus left in the shoe over night. A very 
free use of this stretcher in the shoes just selected is nearly 
always advisable and does nothing but good. 

It sometimes happens that shoes, after partial stretching, 
tend to return to their original form and become uncomfort- 
able. To avoid or remedy this, the subsequent periodical use 
of the shoe stretchers, which are authorized for issue to each 
company, should be enjoined on their men by organization 
commanders in all cases where relief from shoe pressure is 

A very excellent method of adapting the shoes to the feet, 
after careful fitting of the latter, consists in having the man 
stand in his shoes in about three inches of water for about 
five minutes, or until the leather becomes thoroughly wet and 
pliable and in condition to stretch easily. The soldier then 
walks on a level surface for about an hour, or until the shoes 
have dried on his feet, to the shape of which the pressure of 
body weight and muscular action have forced the leather in 
drying to conform. If desired, a little neatsfoot oil may be 
rubbed on the shoes to keep them supple after taking them 

9O The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

off, but this procedure is not necessary. Shoes treated in 
this way are made as comfortable in an hour and without 
any possible danger of injury to the feet as could be done 
with a week's wear under the ordinary method of ''breaking 
in". This method is particularly necessary and valuable where 
troops are issued new shoes which there is no time to break in 
slowly before they must be used for marching. It can be 
properly used under any conditions except when the tempera- 
ture is well below freezing ; and even then can often be carried 
out to a less complete but still advantageous extent by wearing 
the damp shoes indoors. The method does the shoe no harm, 
and merely secures with intent the beneficial results which 
would happen in any case through the first rain in which the 
shoes are worn. It is a deliberate repetition of the method orig- 
inally employed to make the leather adapt itself to the last in 
shoe manufacture, and which is again employed to make the 
leather of the resulting shoe conform to the local contours of 
the foot which it must subsequently enclose and protect. 

If the soldier has drawn and stretched shoes which, from 
some foot malformation, are still uncomfortable, a new effort 
for fitting must be made. In all probability the company rec- 
ords will show other men fitted by the same size and width 
who will be able to take over and use the offending shoes. 
But it is far better to throw away shoes which do not fit than 
to keep them at the expense of probable serious foot injury. 
If the foot deformity is of such a nature as to prevent fitting, 
it disqualifies the soldier for further military service. 

The recruit will probably need two especially careful shoe 
fittings, one as soon as he enters the service and a second one 
some six months later. It is a matter of observation of the 
Shoe Board that the foot of a recruit put in the army shoe 
tends to broaden, thicken and strengthen very materially after 
enlistment through use of a broader last and the foot develop- 
ment resulting from marching and other exercise. A shoe 
somewhat different in width from that originally selected will 
very likely now be found to be desirable. But after the feet 
are once expanded and "set", further change of shoe will 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 91 

not be necessary and the man's shoe size becomes practically 
a constant quantity for future requisitions and trials. 

After the military shoe has been fitted to the newly en- 
listed recruit, the latter should not undertake hard marching 
in it for at least a fortnight. This requirement, for a shoe 
which is properly fitted, may seem strange. But the army 
shoe is built on a last quite different from that of the shoe 
which the recruit has worn until recently and to the shape of 
which his foot has become habituated and conformed by long 
use. The army last is broader, its shape is dissimilar and its 
points of support are different from the ordinary civilian shoe. 
The result is that the foot of the recruit must be given time 
to adapt itself to its new covering. Its outline must be al- 
tered, new bearing surfaces must be toughened, and most 
important of all foot muscles hitherto weak and undeveloped 
must be strengthened to support ligaments now subjected to a 
greater and unaccustomed strain. It takes time, of course 
variable with the individual, to do all this ; but until such altera- 
tion and improvement of the foot type has been accomplished, 
discomfort and dissatisfaction with the new shoe may be ex- 
pected on hard marching. 

In the second fitting of the recruit with shoes, and in old 
soldiers, no such objections exist in respect to the immediate 
use of new shoes in the field, for the foot has by this time 
been changed in the above respects. 

The practice, heretofore very common, of wearing the 
garrison or a civilian shoe about the post, and then abruptly put- 
ting on a marching shoe built on a totally different last for 
marching at occasional intervals, is most inadvisable. Under 
such methods, the foot is periodically forced to attempt a tem- 
porary variation in type, with resulting discomfort and foot 
injury. (See Figs. 32, 33 and 34). The supply by the Gov- 
ernment of several different kinds of shoes is thus most un- 
desirable, and permission to wear civilian shoes while in uni- 
form should be withheld by company commanders. All shoes 
worn by soldiers should be made on one last and one last 
only. For garrison and field work the shoe should be the 

92 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

same. It is undoubtedly much better to stick to a single last, 
even if the latter were somewhat imperfect, than to alternate 
the use of a shoe built on excellent lines with another built on 
a last of dissimilar character. 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 93 


It should be almost superfluous to say that after determin- 
ing the proper size and width of shoe required to fit the indi- 
vidual soldier, no shoe other than that thus determined to fit 
should be accepted for him except in great emergency. In 
garrison, it will usually be possible to delay drawing until a 
fitting size can be obtained. In case of necessity, a shoe too 
large rather than one too small should be selected ; for a shoe 
too large in its several dimensions may be made quite com- 
fortable by the use of heavy woolen socks or several pairs of 
light ones. However, the soldier himself, if given a preference 
under such conditions, will usually choose the small one. The 
frequently considerable shortage of stock of shoes kept on hand 
at posts has, in the past, resulted in very many instances of 
unnecessary foot injury through the soldier having to draw a 
shoe which did not fit, or go without any. Ill fitting shoes 
forced upon the soldier in this way are certain to do him harm. 
There is, of course, no necessity for such requirement, for 
shortage of stock in this fundamentally important respect can 
and should be anticipated and prevented by every efficient quar- 
termaster. General Orders 26, War Department, 1912, require 
that special written report shall be made by organization com- 
manders to their post commanders in each case where the 
sizes and widths of shoes requisitioned for are not available 
or the official facilities for fitting them are not provided ; post 
and other commanders are to investigate and take such appro- 
priate remedial action on these reports, as lies in their power ; 
also the latter are to furnish a record of the number of such 
reports, and the reasons for such deficiencies, to inspectors at 
each inspection of the post. 

Inspections conducted under the provisions of Paragraph 
913, Army Regulations, are to embrace an inquiry into the 

94 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

manner in which the foregoing order has been complied with, 
and the report of inspections is to include a statement of all in- 
stances of failure on the part of company commanders to se- 
cure proper shoes for their commands, and the cause of such 
failure. This should do much to cause proper forethought in 
maintaining at all times a sufficient shoe supply. 

It is also required that post quartermasters shall maintain a 
full series of shoes, including a sample of every size and width, 
for use by organizations in fitting by trying on. This series 
is to be kept intact and suitable for trying on by returning to 
the general stock for issue any shoes beginning to stretch from 
use and alter in appearance from handling. By the use of 
this series of samples, shoes may be fitted and appropriate 
requisition thereby made for such varieties as may be needed 
and are not on hand. 

This matter of completeness of stock from which to make 
fittings and draw shoes is a matter of fundamental importance. 
No matter how carefully efforts to fit the man's feet are made, 
it is obvious that unless the special variety of shoes needed by 
him are on hand for supply, the soldier can not be provided 
with suitable footwear. Shortage of shoe supply is a matter 
of administrative incapacity which cannot be tolerated by com- 
pany commanders, as having too direct and profound an in- 
fluence on the military efficiency of their organizations. 

If a civilian desires a certain size and width of shoe he 
can go to a second shoe store if he cannot obtain what he de- 
sires in the first one. The soldier, however, has no second 
source of supply to which he can, or would be allowed to, 
resort. He must take what is given him. If the local quar- 
termaster's supply is deficient, the soldier must do without 
what he wishes and requires and what the Government is 
supposed to supply to him. 

In connection with the matter of supply, the Shoe Board, in 
1912, called for data from five large posts, including the largest 
in the army, in respect to the number, length and width of 
all the marching shoes supposed to be kept in stock and avail- 
able for issue. Of these, one post lacked 9 per cent ; another 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 95 

18 per cent; another, 27 per cent; another, 47 per cent; ano- 
ther, 85 per cent. Not only was there such shortage as would 
render fitting of soldiers impossible, but as it was chiefly in the 
sizes in most common use which were most frequently drawn, 
those which remained were largely off sizes capable of fitting 
but a small proportion of the command. 

It is quite conceivable that about any article other than 
shoes could be ill fitting and still be worn by the soldier with- 
out particular discomfort or detriment to his military effi- 
ciency. An ill fitting pair of trousers or shirt would have no 
particular influence on the performance of field duty, though 
appearances might suffer somewhat. But in respect to shoes, 
he must have exactly the length and width of shoes his feet 
require, or pay an undeserved penalty which is exacted not 
only from the man himself but falls in large part upon the 
Government which employs him. 

It may be true that the supply department has certain 
administrative restrictions which interfere with the main- 
tenance at all times of a full assortment of shoes in posts. But 
the same authority which created these artificial restrictions is 
competent to remove them. Economy in the military service 
is of course desirable, but the last item on which to make a 
saving is the soldier's shoe. Every post should have its sur- 
plus stock of shoes sufficient to meet the needs of any reason- 
able anticipation. Recruits are liable to arrive at any time 
or troops, whose proper requisitions have been sent in at one 
station, are suddenly sent to another before supply. Exper- 
ience will in time furnish accurate information as to the num- 
ber of pairs of shoes of each size and width required in the 
fitting of United States soldiers, and proper use of such in- 
formation in advance should ordinarily forestall any shortage 
of stock. Much data of this sort has been tabulated in the 
past by the Quartermaster's Department, but as this relates 
to shoes built on lasts now obsolete and quite different from 
those now used, and to shoe issues based on unsupervised 
choice by soldiers and not on their careful fitting, such data 
is practically valueless for present purposes. It will not take 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

long, however, to secure for supply purposes sufficient new 
data based on modern shoes and readjusted conditions. 

According to figures given by Reno in respect to the sizes 
of shoes worn by 521 men examined by him, only about one 
pair of shoes in sizes, 5, 5^, 6, 9^, 10, 10^, n and ii l / 2 are 
required for every seven or eight pairs required in the medium 

Fig. 44 

{. t. I Ji '\. *V I 8i ' 9 ! 1i -10 I /U- j // n't. 


!! hi: 

; .I ;>!"' X. 1 i ' ' ' i 


Chart illustrating the proportion of shoe sizes ordinarily drawn. (From Reno.) 

sizes of 6 l / 2 , 7, 7 l /2, 8, 8y 2 and 9. His figures, expressed in 
graphic form, appear in Fig. 44. 

Shoe supply must also take cognizance of other modifying 
factors in respect to the proportion of each variety of shoe to 
be kept in stock. These have to do with race, for colored troops 
habitually require shoes averaging a size or more larger than 
white troops of the same branch of the service. The Filipino 
troops, conversely, being small men, will find their shoe fit- 
tings in the small sizes. The composition of a force or garri- 
son, by branch of service, must also be given consideration; 
for cavalrymen, for example, are smaller men, have smaller 
feet, and can wear a more snug fit than the infantry by reason 
of using their feet less and carrying less burden; while artil- 
lery men of the mountain batteries, in whom a minimum 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 97 

height of 68 inches is required, have feet proportioned in size 
to the greater size of these men. All these facts can and should 
be considered by quartermasters in submitting their estimates 
for shoe supply, and sincere co-operation with company com- 
manders in assuring that every man of the command is prop- 
erly shod should be the rule. 

But it may be that some contingency has resulted in short- 
age of certain varieties of shoes desired. There must be 
some way of getting these shoes without delay, for the soldier 
needs his shoes at once. As quartermasters are officially re- 
sponsible for so many pairs of shoes merely, without regard to 
length and width, it should be quite possible for them to have 
authority to mail back to depot quartermasters a sufficient 
number of surplus sizes and receive by return mail the same 
number of shoes of the missing sizes required. This arrange- 
ment would produce no undesirable complications as to prop- 
erty responsibility, would tremendously facilitate prompt and 
proper shoe supply, and would enable stock provided on the 
basis of a different size and composition of the command to be 
properly adjusted to present needs by turning in shoes from 
sizes which, under changed conditions, may have become large- 
ly superfluous. 

But whatever administrative obstacles may arise to inter- 
fere with efficient shoe supply, they must be removed. No mat- 
ter of departmental method or convenience must be permitted 
to remain which in any way can interfere with such a matter 
of fundamental military importance as the shoeing of the 

98 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


Field Service Regulations, paragraph 142, prescribe that 
in the management of marching troops "special care is paid 
to the feet". While details of the necessary "care" cannot 
of course be given in a work of that general nature, it is be- 
lieved that the care of the soldier's foot, like his selection 
of a shoe, has been given far less official regard than its im- 
portance deserves; under the specious reasoning that if the 
soldier did not look out for the welfare of his own feet he 
would find appropriate punishment in the results of his own 
neglect. This idea is of course faulty in that it apparently over- 
looks the fact that the soldier is not always informed as to 
the best procedure for the care of his feet, and that some need 
oversight and direction to spur them on to proper effort; it 
also ignores the fundamental fact that the interest of the Gov- 
ernment, which demands that nothing shall be left undone which 
can make the soldier more efficient as a fighting unit, is para- 
mount. Better appreciation of this necessity is the basis of 
the greater official care given the feet of the soldier in for- 
eign armies. It is probably also generally true that the regu- 
lation requiring personal inspections of the men is interpreted 
by the majority as being primarily directed at the detection of 
certain contagious diseases, and that the coincident foot in- 
spection is relatively superficial and perfunctory. This atti- 
tude is unfortunate, for so long as infantry is the backbone of 
an army and mobility is the most important element in strategy, 
frequent careful inquiry into the condition of the feet, and con- 
stant interested oversight looking to their continued welfare, 
are properly to be required of all officers concerned. This 
duty is not always congenial, but the same is true of various 
other necessary things connected with the military service. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 99 

And probably no one thing will more conduce to greater march- 
ing radius, the success of tactics, and the delivery on the firing 
line of the maximum number of rifles, than will proper foot 
care of the command. Conversely, neglect in this respect 
produces a vast amount of military inefficiency. 

The remedying among their men of minor defects, like 
their prevention, largely falls within the province of organi- 
zation commanders as being part of the legitimate internal ad- 
ministration of the company. For this duty, no more tech- 
nical knowledge is required than may properly be expected of 
all officers with foot troops. Only in relatively few cases 
should the professional advice and assistance of the surgeon 
be required, when the company officer possesses and applies 
a reasonable and proper knowledge as to foot conditions and 
foot care. The view that minor defects should habitually be 
treated by the surgeon is quite incorrect. 

The officer in command of foot troops is just as directly 
concerned in the maintenance of good condition of the feet of 
his men as is the cavalry officer in the good condition of the 
feet of his horses. The latter causes the hoofs of his animals 
to be cleaned out and inspected twice daily, frequently looks 
into their condition himself, and sees that any faulty shoeing, 
causing interference, over-reaching or stumbling is promptly 
rectified. No such constant attention to the feet of his men 
would be required of the infantry officer, but this is no rea- 
son why practically no attention at all should be; given by him 
to this matter. Only a couple of shoe fittings and periodical 
foot inspections are necessary for him in order to keep his 
command in good marching condition. It is quite as essential to 
military efficiency that men shall be as well shod as are horses, 
and that corns and other minor foot defects in the former shall 
be as well prevented and intelligently treated, under the di- 
rection of company commanders, as in the latter. Nor is the 
habitual advice and assistance of the surgeon and veterinarian 
necessary in either case. 

If the company commander gives due care to the careful fit- 
ting to shoes of newly arrived recruits, and repeats this in a few 

ioo The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

months when their feet have altered in shape and developed 
in size and strength, as a result of the use of the physiological 
army shoe and practice in marching under burden carrying, he 
will probably subsequently need to give his men little further 
attention in this respect other than to see that they fit on and 
draw the size and width with which they were last fitted, and 
counteract the general tendency to secure a shoe too small for 
the needs of the foot in marching. 

But he must verify, by frequent foot inspections, the fact 
that the shoes thus selected really do fit, and at the same time 
he should give such simple, common sense directions as should 
result in the relief or removal of the ordinary foot defects. 
For the making of these foot inspections, as with the routine 
examination of animals on the picket line, the presence of the 
surgeon and veterinarian, as already mentioned, is unneces- 
sary. Only in a very few instances will medical advice and 
assistance be required, and these doubtful cases should be sent 
to the surgeon for examination. 

The necessary frequency of foot inspections is variable with 
conditions. In barracks, when men are marching but little, one 
such inspection every fortnight should meet all needs. But in 
the field, or when troops are undergoing hard marching, such 
inspections should be made daily, that trifling defects and in- 
juries may be given prompt attention and thereby prevented 
from developing into matters of importance. 

The time required to make the foot inspection of a com- 
pany is not to exceed half an hour, and as officers and men 
become accustomed to the routine it may be shortened to half 
that time. For two officers of a company working indepen- 
dently, such an inspection is a matter of only a very few min- 
utes. Never under any circumstances does it approach in du- 
ration the time required for the "stables" held twice a day by 
a mounted command. 

The inspection is made after the feet have been washed ; in 
many cases it is combined with the general inspection of the 
person required by regulations. In garrison, the men stand in 
bare feet at the foot of their bunks until the officer has passed 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 


Fig. 45 

them by ; in the field, they sit on the ground in front of their 
tents, or at such other convenient place as may be required. 
As the officer passes, accompanied by 
the non-commissioned officer in charge, 
he notes the condition of the feet, es- 
pecially in regard to recent injury but 
also with reference to old remediable 
defects. In case that attention to the 
feet is needed, he gives appropriate di- 
rections to the soldier in the presence 
of the non-commissioned officer, who 
becomes responsible for their being car- 
ried out. 

The general condition of the feet of 
foot troops who have not received 
proper attention may be stated to be 
bad. In his analysis of the feet of 609 
men, Reno found 64 men, or about 10 
per cent, the condition- of whose feet he 
was willing to class as good. In this 
he was either more fortunate or liberal 
than the Shoe Board, who did not re- 
gard as being of good character the feet 
of half that percentage in the many 
men it examined. He classified some ab- 
normalities found in this series, which when summarized, gave 
the following results : 

Callosities, cases (number in multiple callosities not given) 81 

Callosities ; jamming of toes 121 

Callosities ; ingrowing nails 19 

Callosities ; jamming of toes ; hammer toes 31 

Jamming of toes 29 

Jamming of toes ; ingrowing nails 94 

Ingrowing nails 23 

Callosities ; jamming of toes ; bunions 23 

Callosities; bunions 10 

Callosities ; deformed nails 3 

A well shaped foot. The 
vertical line is "Meyer's 
line" and is the measure- 
ment for foot length; A-B 
is the ball measure; C-D is 
the waist measure; E-F is 
the high instep measure. 

IO2 The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

Callosities ; jamming of toes ; ingrowing nails 78 

Flat feet 2 

Total cases of serious foot blemish 514 

Beside the above conditions, the foot deformity known as 
hallux valgus was so common as practically to be universal and 
to a degree materially influencing marching capacity. Com- 
pare Figs. 45 and 46. 

Fig. 46 

Deformities of Feet Resulting from Bad Shoes. 

The experience of the Shoe Board closely tallies with the 
tabulation by Reno, that more than ninety out of every hun- 
dred enlisted men had foot defects which more or less inter- 
fered with marching and needed attention and rectification. 

There is no question but that the company commander who 
is fully appreciative of his duties and responsibilities will be 
astounded and somewhat dismayed at the results of a care- 
ful and critical foot inspection of his men. 

With respect to the vast amount of foot blemish now pres- 
ent in our army, all but a very small proportion of it is 
removable by the simple measure of selecting a shoe which 
closely resembles the normal contour of the average foot, and 
fitting it on the latter with due regard for proper length and 
width. With relief from harmful pressure, corns and cal- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 103 

louses, primarily developed but now no longer needed as 
protective agencies, will be largely cast off ; ingrown nails tend 
to straighten and cease to pain; hallux valgus and bunions 
begin to correct themselves. A few simple additional agen- 
cies, as later detailed, materially assist in this improvement. 
Such few severe blemishes as do not yield are subjects for 
the attention of the surgeon or discharge on surgeon's certi- 
ficate of disability. 

Beside official oversight, the men themselves must be 
required to give attention to their individual foot care. They 
must be required to report foot injury without delay, and those 
who fail to do this should be made to march. In very many 
instances, it will be found that the infantry soldier who lets 
his feet get sore is quite as much to blame as the mounted 
soldier who lets his horse's back get galled. 

For their better recognition by officers and non-commis- 
sioned officers of the line, a brief description of the several 
foot defects commonly found in soldiers, with simple meas- 
ures for their improvement and cure, here follows. 

Hallux Valgus. 

This name is given to the common condition in which the 
great toe is pushed away from its proper straight inner line 
and made to join in its several bones, and these with its meta- 
tarsal bone, at a more or less considerable angle. It is well 
shown in Figs. 42, 46 and 47. It is produced by shoes which 
have an outward bend and not a straight inner line to the 
last. If the improper curve of the inner margin of the sole 
begins well back, the hallux valgus commences at the meta- 
tarso-phalangeal joint and if the deviation is considerable a 
bunion will probably result. If the outward curvature of the 
last begins well toward the front, it is the further bone in the 
toe which is bent away, while the second bone remains in 
nearly its proper alignment; this pressure on the side of the 
tip of the toe being especially the cause of ingrowing nail. 
Since nearly all civilian shoes of a fashionable type have a 
crooked last, it follows that hallux valgus, of greater or less 

IO4 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

degree, is present in the vast majority of soldiers. In fact, it 
is so common and well established among them that the board 
which devised the recent army shoe was compelled to take 
a certain degree of it into consideration as being a "normal 

The degree of interference with marching capacity which 
hallux valgus produces, depends upon the angle of deviation 
which the everted toe makes with its proper axis. The latter 
is represented by the socalled "Meyer's Line", which in the 
normal, undeformed foot starts from the tip of the great toe 
and passes as a straight line through and parallel with the 
long axis of the great toe and, continuing on, emerges from the 
heel at its central point. Such a normal foot and line is shown 
in Fig. 45. This straight line, running from toe to heel, in- 
dicates a vertical plane through which is secured the strongest 
mechanical support to the body weight, the most effective 
thrust of the foot, and the greatest anatomical efficiency of the 
attached muscles. 

In some cases of hallux valgus, the great toe may deviate 
from its proper line by an angle of as much as fifteen or more 
degrees. (See Figs. 43, 46 and 47). From this degree of 
deformity there are gradations down to a point where the 
divergence from normal is insignificant in its results. But any 
material deviation of the great toe has a very appreciable in- 
fluence upon the strength of the foot just as no engineer 
would think of expecting a bridge to have any strength with 
its trusses bent to form two horizontal planes. In this de- 
formity muscular strength is impaired, as considerable con- 
tractile force is wasted where the tendons concerned have to 
pull around an angle ; the foot is shortened, since bending the 
toe outward decreases the longitudinal radius of the foot, and 
a certain amount of leverage is thereby lost; finally, the 
thrust of the foot in moving the body weight is thus made to 
fall on the inner margin of the toe near its last joint a region 
never intended by nature and mechanically unfit to bear this 
stress instead of on the planter surface of the last phalanx 
of the great toe. A foot with marked hallux valgus must hence 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 105 

be considered as abducted and thus as a relatively weak foot. 
Besides these defects, a foot with considerable hallux valgus 
usually also presents bunions, corns and ingrowing nails, as 
the cause which operates to produce the one ultimately tends to 
produce the others. 

The prevention of hallux valgus depends upon the use of a 
shoe having a sole with a straight inner margin. The reme- 
dying of this condition is brought about by the same means, 
whereby the injurious pressure along the inside of the great 
toe is removed and the latter is thus given opportunity by a 
physiological shoe to return toward its normal line. For 
young men, whose bones are still growing and who have not 
developed bunions with inflamed joints, much improvement 
may be expected in the course of some months under the use 
of the army shoe; but in old soldiers, permanent structural 
changes in the foot have occurred and no great return toward 
normal is possible. 

The army shoe is not ideal with respect to the straightness 
of its inner sole margin, but neither was it intended to be. It 
was not made ideal for the reason that the foot of the aver- 
age soldier which it was in practice to cover was not per- 
fect in its toe alignment and could not, in the vast majority of 
cases, be made so. 

Where hallux valgus has been long continued, the joints 
are so weakened, and the anatomical relations of the bones 
and muscles are so altered, that only very slight pressure is 
needed to keep the toes in their position of deformity. The 
tension of too tight or shrunken socks is often quite suffi- 
cient to accomplish this, so in attempting to remedy this de- 
fect attention must be given to a proper fit of the socks as 
well as of the shoes. 

A condition of valgus or bending of the little toe is not un- 
common, and is due to a narrow shoe the outer margin of the 
sole of which curves inward too greatly. It is of less import- 
ance, as the little toe is less concerned than the great toe in 
the mechanics of marching. The shape of the new army shoe 
permits of its natural rectification. 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 47 


These are enlarged bursal sacs over joints, often going on 
to inflammation. A good example of a bunion is shown in Fig. 

47. They ordinarily occur over the 
second joint of the great toe; less 
often on the third joint of the little 
toe. In a general way, the condi- 
tion may be regarded as an ex- 
treme hallux valgus in which the 
joint also undergoes an often perma- 
nent inflammatory alteration. The 
cause is shoes which are not only too 
narrow but are built on a pointed 
last in which both the great and little 
toes are forced in toward the center 
of the foot. The latest military shoe 
is so shaped that it cannot cause bun- 
ions (See Fig. 34), and such as are 
seen in the service have been caused 
by civilian shoes or by army shoes of 
an older pattern. Bunions may not 
only be very painful but they accom- 
pany a deformity which anatomically 
weakens the foot and materially interferes with marching ca- 

In this defect, the phalangeal bone has been pressed out 
of the straight line which it normally should make with the 
metatarsal bone with which it articulates instead of which 
these two bones meet at an angle, producing inequality of pres- 
sure within the joint and causing the bones to tend to absorb 
at the points of greatest pressure and to build up where pres- 
sure is less than normal. This results in alteration of joint 
structure ; while the joint itself, being forced into undue promi- 
nence, is forced by the too narrow and mis-shapen shoe into 
becoming a point of support for the foot and body weight, and 
constant pressure of the shoe and greater liability to injury sets 
up inflammation in the bursal sac which, under long use or 

Hallux valgus 
and clubbed toes. 

nth bunion 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 107 

accidental injury, becomes acute. In such acute inflammation, 
the skin over the joint becomes red, tense and swollen, while 
the joint region is excessively very painful on use or under pres- 
sure of the shoe upper, and the man is unfitted for marching. 

Relatively few bad bunions are found in the service, for 
if severe they are properly a disqualification for enlistment. 
A considerable number of small bunions, and a few which are 
inflamed are, however, found. 

In very severe bunions of long standing the only effective 
treatment is found in a surgical operation requiring removal 
of bone tissue before the toe can be brought back into proper 
line. Cases requiring such treatment usually have feet so 
altered and weakened as to render them unsuitable for mili- 
tary service. 

Swollen and inflamed bunions are unfit for marching and 
should receive the attention of the surgeon. 

Ordinary bunions tend to improvement on proper fitting of 
the feet with the army shoe, since this largely removes pres- 
sure from the swollen joint and affords space for the distorted 
great toe to return toward its proper alignment. The degree 
of improvement depends upon the size of the bunion, the 
length of time it has existed, and the age of the patient. Small 
bunions with young soldiers should give no further trouble 
with properly fitting army shoes. Large bunions in old sol- 
diers will not greatly improve, since deformity of the bony 
structure has become permanent ; the best that can be ex- 
pected is to keep them from getting worse and put them under 
such conditions that they will give no great trouble. 

Very large, swollen bunions greatly interfere with proper 
shoe fitting, for a shoe which does not give painful pressure 
on the bunion is usually too large for the foot and permits of 
slippage of the foot in the shoe with great liability to its in- 
jury elsewhere. Very large bunions should be cause for dis- 
charge of surgeon's certificate of disability. With small ones, 
the shoes selected should be as loose as can be comfortably 
worn, and in addition the shoes should be effectively stretched 
over night with a bunion stretcher, after the leather has been 

io8 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 48 

Foot of a soldier, illustrating flat-foot, hallux valgus, clubbed toes, hammer toe. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 109 

thoroughly wet, until the shoe shape has been so altered as 
to take off all pressure over the bunion area. 

Rubber spools and springs between the toes, and other pat- 
ent devices to cause them to spread and return to their proper 
alignment, are not necessary to the cure of bunions on soldiers' 
f ee t the continued use of the military shoe, and the pressure 
on the foot and its expansion in marching, should ultimately 
by themselves bring about good results. 

Ingrowing Nails. 

This is a condition in which the edges of the nail, curving 
inward, grow back into the flesh. It usually, but not always, 
occurs in the great toe. It is often very painful, and the con- 
stant irritation frequently results in repeated infections and 
prolonged suppuration around the matrix of the nail. Such 
inflammatory attacks incapacitate the soldier from marching. 

This condition is caused by shoes which are too narrow 
across the toes. The particular type of civilian shoe most 
concerned is that with the socalled "spike toe", in which the 
great toe is pressed out of its proper alignment and forced 
toward the center of the foot. But a broader shoe, if the 
front of the sole is cut away too much on its inner margin, 
may also cause it; in this latter case, the shoe selected is apt 
to have been too short, and the nail is pressed back as well as 

Most cases of ingrowing nails are promptly relieved of 
all symptoms and tend to early cure by the use of a shoe built 
on a last with a fairly straight inner line and broad across the 
toes. These requirements are possessed by the army shoe; 
which latter must also be carefully fitted to the foot as to 
length and width. The pressure which is the sole cause of 
the trouble is thus removed, as is shown in Fig. 34. 

A small number of ingrowing nails require additional treat- 
ment for a few days, consisting of trimming the nail and in- 
serting a pledget of cotton under its offending edge to relieve 

A few cases of ingrowing nails may have gone on to a de- 

I io The Soldiers Foot and the Military Shoe 

gree in which surgical treatment, which consists in cutting out 
a segment of the nail and the matrix from which it grows, is 

Any case of suppuration around a nail, because of the dan- 
ger of infection which is present, should be sent to see the 

Clubbed Toes. 

This is a condition in which the toes are so compressed 
as to become bulbous and larger at their ends than along their 
shafts. It is well shown in Figs. 48 and 49. It is produced by 
the use of pointed shoes which are too narrow across the toes, 
though these shoes usually have plenty of vacant space in 
front of the toes, into which space the latter crowd as a result 
of pressure behind and then attempt to expand and adjust them- 
selves. The result of this pressure, if continued, is the de- 
viation of the entire toes away from their proper line into 
a condition of hallux, the compression of the fleshy parts of 
the shafts of the toes into approximately plane surfaces where 
they touch each other, and such atrophy of muscles and loss 
of power in the foot as very greatly tend to produce march- 
ing incapacity. Usually it is the second, third and fourth toes 
which are affected; and a condition is not infrequently seen 
in which such pressure has resulted in the elongation and 
projection of the second toe for as much as half an inch in 
front of the great toe (See Fig. 49). Under such conditions, 
the toes override and practically become mere fleshy append- 
ages of the foot, the forward thrust of the body in marching 
practically depending upon the impetus given from the ball 
of the foot with such assistance as may be possible from a 
coincidently weakened great toe. With feet deformed in this 
way, the ends of the smaller toes are often blistered and cal- 
loused, the nails are deformed and thickened, a corn usually 
forms over the last joint of the little toe and a bunion over 
its metatarso-phalangeal joint, while one or more soft corns, 
usually of a very painful character, develop between the com- 
pressed toes. The skin between the toes, kept soft and moist 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe in 

Fig. 49 

Highly deformed foot of the same soldier shown in Figs. 42 and 48, supporting 
full weight of field equipment, in new military shoe. 

Note the clubbed second toe, hallux valgus and difficulty in fitting which they 

H2 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

by contact, becomes tender, irritated, reddened and prone to 
eczematous trouble. As the average man who wears his shoes 
too tight is also apt to select an extremely pointed pattern 
based more upon prevailing fashion than upon human anatomy, 
clubbed toes are ordinarily found associated with marked hal- 
Inx valgus, painful bunions, and corns on the sides, ends and 
tops of the smaller toes. 

The prevention of clubbed toes depends upon the use of a 
shoe of sufficient breadth and reasonably approaching in shape 
of sole the conformation of the anterior portion of the nor- 
mal foot, and improvement and cure depend upon the same 
factor. The new army shoe is based upon a proper concep- 
tion of the soldier's foot, and its shape is such that, if prop- 
erly fitted, it cannot exert any injurious compression upon the 
toes. (See Fig. 34). Free movement of the latter within this 
shoe is always possible. By the continued use of such a shoe 
the feet of the average soldier, deformed in this way, may be 
expected to return in time materially toward the normal. In 
the younger class of soldiers the affected toes will in time 
lose their angular appearance, round out in contour, and their 
ends diminish in size, while freedom from compression and 
opportunity for use causes fleshy development and enlarge- 
ment along the shaft. 

In old soldiers with considerable defect of this nature much 
of the damage is permanent, as the bony framework has un- 
dergone definite changes and the overlying soft tissue is of 
a character that does not permit of great alteration. But even 
in these cases the army shoe should remove any cause for 
discomfort, and in time permit of the material development 
and straightening of the front of the foot. 

Hammer Toes. 

This is a condition in which the last joint of the toe is per- 
manently flexed at a right angle, so that the tip of the toe 
strikes the sole of the shoe in walking. The condition is one 
which unfits for enlistment, as the deformed position of the 
toe is such that a sensitive bearing surface is created and dirt 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 113 

and grit are apt to work under the nail and produce inflamma- 
tion. However, some cases slip by recruiting officers, and a 
few have undoubtedly been developed in the service as a 
result of the men being allowed to select their own shoes. 
The second and third toes are the ones usually affected, and 
these also commonly present corns over their last joints. 
The condition is generally associated with clubbed toes. 

This foot deformity is produced by too short shoes, where- 
by the toes are pressed back and forced to double up under 
themselves. If this condition is long continued, the toe as- 
sumes a bent position from permanent contraction of the mus- 
cles of the sole of the foot. Adhesions may form within the 
joint and it may lose its function. In the latter case, the sol- 
dier should be discharged. The more severe cases should be 
sent to the surgeon, who may find it desirable to do an opera- 
tion to lengthen the contracted tendon. Mild cases will greatly 
improve and may give no further trouble if the soldier is 
made to wear a shoe long enough and broad enough to per- 
mit of the return of the toe to its proper extension and ana- 
tomical relation. 

Hammer toes are invariably caused by a badly fitting shoe, 
with an improper shape of the shoe as a minor contributing 
factor. They cannot be produced in a shoe of the shape of 
the new military shoe, if the latter is fitted so that a vacant 
space of approximately half an inch exists between the toe 
of the shoe and the toe of the foot when expanded under the 
entire weight of the body and equipment. 


In true flat-foot the relations of the skeleton of the foot 
are altered and the bony arch of the foot is more or less com- 
pletely broken down. (See Figs. 48, 50, 51 and 52). Where 
it is well developed, this condition is cause for rejection for 
enlistment, as it is a complete disqualification for marching. 
Cases may, however, develop in the military service, and es- 
pecially in newly raised troops, as a result of injudicious march- 
ing when the feet are not in proper condition for it. But care 

The Soldier s Foot and the Military Shoe 

must be taken to differentiate between a flat-foot which is 
real and that which is only apparent, for the negro race pre- 
sents a foot type the arch of which is flattened from the Cau- 
casian standard and yet does not interfere with marching. So, 
too, there are white individuals whose foot type is negroid in 
character. There are also others whose muscular development 
of the sole is so great as almost to fill up and obliterate the 
foot arch and whose foot-prints therefore more or less re- 
semble those of flat feet. 

In connection with this subject it must be mentioned that 
the common idea that all pain in the arch of the foot is due to 
flat-foot is incorrect, and the cause of such pain may be looked 
for in one of several conditions. 

Fig. 50 

Fig. 51 

The relation of the 
astragalus to the os 
calcis in the normal 
foot. (Whitman.) 

The relation of the 
astragalus and os cal- 
cis in the flat foot. 

True flat-foot presents a foot which, looked at from the 
side, is flattened over the instep. Looked at from in front, 
the inner part of the foot appears to be sunken and the inner 
ankle bone to be unusually prominent, giving the general im- 
pression of the foot being everted outward.. (See Figs. 48, 50 
and 51). The general impression of the foot is that it is 
undeveloped and somewhat lengthened. The man will have a 
clumsy gait, and if the condition has long existed he will be 
knock kneed or have a marked tendency thereto. He will 
complain of painful arches on long standing or on marching, 
and in field equipment will usually break down and fall out 
after going a very few miles. The condition will be verified 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 115 

by having him step in a basin of water and then walk on a 
bare floor, or by sending him to the hospital to have the soles 
of his feet inked and be made to walk over pieces of paper. 
The footprints in either case will show imprint of the whole 
or greater part of the foot arch, demonstrating in connection 
with the other signs that the arch has fallen. Fig. 48 shows a 
case of true flat-foot, and Fig. 52 the footprint of the same 
soldier. The latter should be compared with Fig. 15, which 
shows a normal footprint. 

But a stocky, muscular foot, with a high instep and thick 
in vertical section, or which gives no pain in marching, is not 
true flat-foot even though the footprint, taken by itself, might 
tend to indicate the contrary. This is an important point, for 
many soldiers are regarded as having flat-foot who, in fact, 
do not have it. 

The cause of flat-foot is pressure from above, upon struc- 
tures of a strength inadequate to support it. This pressure may 
act quite rapidly in producing its results, or it may extend over 
considerable periods of time and the flat-foot finally produced 
be of very gradual development. It has already been pointed out, 
in connection with the anatomy of the foot, that the arch is 
not a rigid structure but is composed of a number of small 
bones bound firmly together by ligaments, mostly running 
from front to rear, and that these ligaments are reinforced by 
a series of layers of muscles, similarly disposed. Also that 
the foot arch is a "bow string arch", in which a large part 
of the arch support is derived from the tension of the muscles 
attached to its two ends. The arch is further filled up, and 
is thus in a way buttressed from below, if these foot muscles 
are well developed and a reasonable amount of fatty tissue 
is present. 

These muscles may be said to be adjusted to bear a certain 
stress and support a certain weight. In the case of a recruit 
fresh from civil life, this weight may be considered to be that 
of the body alone; and any additional weight, as that of the 
rifle and equipment, brings a strain on the foot muscles which, 
without their development and training, they are not pre- 

n6 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Flat foot. Foot print of the same foot shown in Fig. 48. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 117 

pared adequately to support. The muscles then, like elastic 
bands, stretch under the unaccustomed pressure until a con- 
siderable or even the greater part of the strain falls upon the 
ligaments. If the ligaments are also weak, they too begin 
to yield under the strain and the arch tends to collapse under 
the pressure from above. In other words, to prevent flat- 
foot, muscular tension on the sole of the foot ought exert 
a force greater than or at least counterbalance that of the 
weight to be borne. 

Now, if an untrained recruit and particularly one in whom 
a previous sedentary occupation has not resulted in fair foot 
development be suddenly made to carry the military burden 
and undertake a hard march, this physiological balance, as 
adjusted for different conditions, may be disturbed, and the 
feet suffer an injury which may be permanent. It is par- 
ticularly important to remember this fact at recruit depots 
and in the raising of volunteer troops, when there is every 
incentive to transform the civilian into the soldier in the short- 
est possible time for misdirected energy in this respect may 
result in promptly spoiling many of what might otherwise be 
developed into excellent soldiers. 

Flat-foot may also develop in soldiers who have had well 
developed feet, but whose foot muscles have weakened and 
thinned as a result of prolonged non-use; as, for example, 
long confinement to hospital with typhoid fever or other wast- 
ing disease. Such cases may, in convalescence, rapidly take 
on body weight without compensating muscular development, 
and to take such men off sick report so that they can accom- 
pany their organizations on a march is to subject them to the 
same risks or even greater ones as attend the marching of 
recruits under such conditions. 

Or flat-foot may result from the stretching of the muscles, 
due to their fatigue from over marching or long standing. 

Also wearing shoes with too high heels causes flat-foot, 
since the more the heel is raised above the ground by the shoe 
the more the weight of the body and burden is shifted to- 

n8 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

ward the front part of the foot arch, which is weaker and less 
adapted to resist pressure. 

Another point is that where the shoe is too narrow and the 
toes are compressed, and especially where this is combined 
with a faulty shape of the shoe producing hallux valgus, the 
normal support of the body is altered. To better maintain its 
equilibrium under such conditions, the toes must be turned 
out in an exaggerated position of "attention" in standing, and 
in marching the man tends to walk splay-footed. (See Fig. 
23). In both instances, the weight of the body falls directly 
on the inner part of the ankle joint, and over the arch of 
the foot at its weakest point. This directly tends especially 
in persons with undeveloped feet, those recovering from pro- 
longed illness and those untrained to carry heavy burdens to 
cause the foot arch to spread and produce flat-foot. 

In bare feet, or in sufficiently broad, low-heeled shoes, 
however, the toe tends to point directly forward, or even in- 
ward, in walking, as in the case of the naked savage, non- 
shoe wearing child or moccasined Indian, (see Figs. 19 and 
22) in which classes flat-foot rarely if ever occurs. Here the 
adducted great toe supports the anterior inner pillar of the foot 
arch and keeps the foot from rolling inwards. This position 
throws the body weight on the outer part of the ankle, away 
from the arch and directly over a part of the foot intended to 
support weight and which lies everywhere in direct contact 
with the ground for that purpose. (See Fig. 5). Narrow, 
pointed shoes thus greatly favor flat-foot; broad physiological 
shoes materially tend to prevent it in spite of the opposite im- 
pression of the wearer, unaccustomed to broad shoes, that his 
foot is breaking down. The truth of this contention can be 
verified by any one by standing with the feet in the position 
of "attention", and then with the heels and toes of the two feet 
in contact, or at least parallel. 

The prevention of flat-foot therefore resolves itself into 
three considerations ; first, that a weak foot shall not be over- 
loaded or overtaxed; second, that the weak foot shall be so 
strengthened as to be able to support any military burden, un- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 119 

der any military conditions, without injury; third, that the 
shoe worn shall be broad and sensible. , 

The first merely implies the exercise of ordinary common 
sense in not letting the recruit with any tendency to weak 
feet, or the recently debilitated, carry the full equipment over 
long distances until after a suitable course of training. 

The second requirement implies development of foot 
strength in such men by a course of training which includes 
much marching with gradual progressive increase in the dis- 
tance to be marched, and weight of the equipment to be car- 
ried, until the maximum of both is reached. 

For men with apparent tendency to breaking down of the 
foot arch, special foot exercises, particularly intended to de- 
velop the muscles of the sole of the foot, should be carried out 
in addition to practice in marching. These foot exercises in- 
clude : 

(a) Rising high on the toes ; then slowly lowering the body 
until the heel rests on the ground ; then repeating the above 
movements. Probably five minutes of this, both morning and 
night, will be sufficient. In this exercise, the man must rise 
as high as possible on his toes; since in rising only part way 
the muscles of the calf are chiefly concerned and not those of 
the foot which it is desired to develop. 

(b) Climbing up and down flights of stairs is good exer- 
cise to strengthen the foot muscles. 

(c) An excellent exercise is to have the man sit in a 
chair, shoes off. Resting his heel against the floor, he forcibly 
bends and inverts the foot. This exercise can be made much 
more severe in the gymnasium or barracks by hooking the 
toes over the handle of a light chest weight or exerciser. 

All these special exercises should be continued and progres- 
sively increased until the muscles concerned feel quite tired. 
Usually exercising from five to seven minutes twice daily is 
long enough at the outset. The special exercises will need to 
be continued for several weeks, the time necessarily depending 
on the degree of foot defect and the rapidity with which it is 

120 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

corrected. The man should endeavor to keep his toes turned 
to the front in marching. 

Above all things, patent devices intended to support the 
foot arch should be avoided by soldiers with a tendency to 
weak or flat feet. These arch supports may give a sensation 
of relief when worn, but they relieve the symptom of discom- 
fort at the expense of making the underlying cause of the 
latter much worse, for they splint and restrict the use of the 
very muscles upon the development and strengthening of 
which the regaining and preservation of the foot arch depends. 
Such arch supports are impossible of use in military march- 
ing, and once habituated to them, the wearer's feet are so 
much weakened that he is helpless without them. 

For weak arches, and threatened flat feet, a "valgus wedge" 
may be of service and will do no harm as a temporary cor- 
rective. This consists in raising the inner border of the sole 
and heel by a piece of leather one-eighth of an inch thick at 
its inner aspect and getting thinner as it gets nearer the cen- 
ter. This throws the weight away from the foot arch on to 
the outer border of the foot and also causes the toes to be 
pointed more to the front in walking. As the muscles 
strengthen, the leather strips are reduced in thickness until 
the normal sole and heel are reached. 

Severe cases of flat feet should be discharged from the 
service. While their condition can undoubtedly be improved, 
the prospects of complete return to a foot arch suitable for 
marching are too doubtful to make worth while the expenditure 
of the time and effort which must necessarily be involved. 

Since many recruits are enlisted who have weak feet, and 
since the tendency of much early military training is to result 
in the excessive use of such feet unprepared to stand any 
severe strain, it would seem desirable for organization com- 
manders to lay special stress on foot exercises for these men 
new to the service. Many gymnasia have foot exercising ap- 
paratus, which at present are not properly utilized. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 121 

Painful Arches. 

This condition is found in flat feet and also those in which 
there is beginning breaking down. It is also found in feet 
with perfectly normal arches but in which the sole muscles are 
weak, either from lack of development or atrophy due to sick- 
ness, or in which they are not yet adapted to the increased 
strain due to carrying an unaccustomed burden. Further, 
perfectly normal and strongly developed feet, when put into 
broader and looser shoes than those to which they are habit- 
uated, develop pain and the sensation of breaking down on 
marching due to the stretching of muscles and ligaments be- 
yond the limits to which they were accustomed, under the 
forcible foot expansion resulting from marching and burden 
carrying. This is particularly true of those who have been 
wearing shoes built on crooked or pointed lasts, in which the 
foot is accustomed to support from the fixed point provided 
by the back of the shoe in the rear and similar points in front 
on the inner aspect of the great toe, and outer aspect of the 
little toe, caused by the forcing of these toes toward the cen- 
ter and into a space too narrow for the foot. 

The pain, of an aching character, is usually referred to the 
region of the high instep and extends through the foot to the 
sole under the foot arch. It will be present in greater or less 
degree in probably a majority of soldiers who have been fit- 
ted with the broad army shoe and then shortly afterward 
given hard marching under field equipment. Ordinarily, such 
pain signifies nothing and wears away in a very few days as 
soon as the foot muscles and ligaments stretch and adapt 
themselves to the new conditions of greater foot expansion. 
Sometimes lowering the heel by taking off one thickness of 
leather will give relief, as the center of gravity is thus shifted 
nearer the heel and less weight is thereby thrown on the 
weaker fore-foot. 

Whenever arch pain persists over a week or more, it is 
well to give the foot a careful examination, as it may be that 
the arch is really breaking down in the production of true flat- 
foot or that teno-synovitis is present. 

122 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Recruits, newly enlisted volunteers, and militia wearing the 
army shoe only occasionally, will be the ones chiefly liable to 
painful arches of this character. 

Fracture of Metatarsals. 

This injury is not common in our army. In the German 
army, with its heavy, clumsy footwear, it is said to cause 
from 20 to 40 admissions to sick report out of each 1,000 ad- 
missions. It is most common in young soldiers, and apparently 
is the result of sudden jar from stepping on a stone or ine- 
quality in the road, especially with a sole which has worn thin. 
The most frequent location of the fracture is the head of the 
2nd, 3rd or 4th metatarsal bone. The diagnosis can rarely 
be made with certainty without the use of the X-ray. The in- 
jury of course incapacitates for marching. 

Painful Heel. 

This condition has no visible signs and its cause is not 
well understood. It is not uncommon in persons who are much 
on their feet, as policemen and letter carriers, and may be 
found among soldiers. It seems to be due to slight but con- 
tinued bruising of the heel from repeated impact against a 
possibly unfitting surface. Such cases can usually be relieved 
by wearing heavy wool socks, by having rubber heels put on 
their shoes, or by very cautiously cutting out a little of the 
calfskin heel lining immediately under the painful area, tak- 
ing pains to carefully smooth off the cut edges. Sometimes 
a slight loosening or wrinkling of the sock lining of the heel 
of the shoe is at fault, and this possibility should be investi- 

Anterior Metatarsalgia. 

This is a painful condition usually -referred to the joint 
at the base of the fourth toe. It is not common in the service, 
and would be looked for chiefly in recruits and officers rather 
than old soldiers. It is often associated with a depressed arch 
and in feet with relatively little muscular development. There 
is usually a painful callous on the ball beneath the affected 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 123 

joint. The cause is not definitely known ; but a shoe in which 
there is too much "spring" in which the toes are turned up 
by a sole with too much curve and in which there is a low- 
ering of the insole in the center with raising of the lateral 
edges to form a shallow trough in which the heads of the in- 
terior metatarsal bones are jammed together in standing or 
walking, seems to be largely at fault. If shoes wear away in 
the center, the sinking of the sole makes a concavity into 
which the ball of the foot sinks and becomes more or less 
convex and compressed toward the center. The pain is pecu- 
liar in that it is spasmodic, and usually comes on and subsides 
suddenly. It may come on after the march is over, or even 
during the sleeping hours. The pain often begins as a ting- 
ling, burning sensation. The cases should usually be sent to see 
the surgeon. Prevention and treatment are found in the use 
of shoes with broad, flat soles, and in the measures recom- 
mended for strengthening the muscles and arch of the foot. 


This is a painful, inflammatory condition of muscle ten- 
dons, due to an injury of some sort. The tendons so affected 
usually lie close to the surface. In the foot, those most liable 
to injury lie on the top over the instep, where protective fat, 
muscle or other tissue is scanty and the tendons are liable 
to injury from blows or from pressure between the shoe above 
and the hard, unyielding bone below. The tendon most liable 
to this injury is the one running across the instep and especial- 
ly concerned in lifting the great toe. The pain is apt to come 
on after hard marching and often in soldiers who have prev- 
iously had no foot trouble. It may be referred to the foot arch 
and may at first arouse suspicion of weak arches. There is, 
however, no flattening of the feet, and the latter are usually 
strong and well developed. The foot presents no physical 
change of appearance, but there is tenderness on touch along 
part or nearly all of the tendon concerned. Sometimes a grat- 
ing sensation may be felt along the course of the tendon af- 
fected. A little rest usually puts the feet in good condition 

124 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

again, but some cases last longer. The cause is probably us- 
ually due to too tight lacing, with unnecessarily severe pres- 
sure on the tendons below. A knot in the shoe lace may cause 
it. The relatively small number of eyelets in the military 
shoe may perhaps favor it, as not equally distributing pressure 
across the foot but causing it to become greater than is de- 
sirable at the several points crossed by, and immediately un- 
der, the shoe laces. Prevention consists in lacing the shoe 
tightly enough to keep it firmly in position, but not so tight 
as to work an injury to the foot structures lying below. The 
shoe lace used should be broad and flat, and attention given to 
preventing it from rolling into a cord with use. The relief of 
pressure on painful areas, by suitably adjusted strips of blan- 
ket inserted between the tongue and lacing, should be of much 
value. Frequent bathing the foot in cold water is useful as 
both a preventive as well as curative measure. 

Blisters and Abrasions. 

These are usually caused by friction, less often by impact, 
and in some few instances by pressure. In a blister, the irri- 
tation causes a local flow and collection of serum between the 
inner and outer layers of the skin, lifting up the latter. The 
size of the blister depends on the area of the skin sufficiently 
irritated to result in such outward evidence of injury. Some 
may be very large, especially those of the heel. The locality of 
blisters depends upon the particular divergence of the shoe 
from the shape of the foot it is intended to cover. Thus the 
same shoe might cause different injuries in two feet of the 
same size but different conformation. Blisters are painful, as 
the serum which has flowed into the local tissues causes pres- 
sure and irritation of the sensitive nerve filaments. This pain 
is greatly increased by continuation of the rubbing or strik- 
ing which caused the blister in the first place, and may very 
frequently become so great as to incapacitate the sufferer from 
marching. Blisters are also liable to become infected, and in 
such cases may become the starting point from which the 
deeper structures of the foot and leg subsequently become dan- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 125 

gerously infected and perhaps loss of limb or even life results. 

The prevention and cure of blisters implies the avoidance 
or removal of their cause. Their presence is evidence of 
either locally ill fitting shoes, or of areas as yet untoughened 
by lack of sufficient previous contact with an opposing sur- 
face. Treatment of blisters thus includes measures directed 
to both the shoe and foot. The cause, whatever it be, must be 
sought out and removed. For instance, the shoe may be gen- 
erally too large, which defect can perhaps be largely cor- 
rected by the wearing of two pairs of socks ; more snug lac- 
ing may be necessary to prevent recurrence of a heel blister; 
a blister on the outside of the little toe may call for the use 
of the shoe stretcher over that area; a blister over the top 
of the base of the great toe might be due to a hard wrinkle 
in the leather, due to wetting, which should have been soft- 
ened and oiled after drying, etc., etc. So long as the exciting 
cause remains unremedied, blisters will tend to recur. 

Blisters are treated by pricking them with a clean needle 
and gently pressing out their contents. Under no circum- 
stances should the raised cuticle be torn away. The blister 
proper, and any reddened area around it, is then covered with 
a piece of zinc oxide plaster, as supplied by the Medical De- 
partment. This plaster does not stick well to a moist skin, 
so the latter should be wiped dry ; the plaster also does not stick 
well unless applied hot, so a match is burned close to the ad- 
hesive surface until the latter shows small, sticky bubbles. 
The plaster is then pressed down smoothly over the blister, 
where the raised epidermis usually soon grows back in posi- 
tion. Ordinarily the soldier can continue marching, under pro- 
tection of the plaster, without pain, and recovery is complete 
in a couple of days ; as in. many instances only a slight amount 
of protection to the affected area is necessary and a little im- 
mobilization and relief from friction is all that is required. It 
has frequently been seen where a soldier, whose shoes were 
bad fits, completed a march of several days without difficulty 
though his feet ultimately had to be largely covered with such 
plaster strips. 

126 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

In a few instances, however, the blister becomes infected 
and, instead of healing, goes on to suppuration. This is in- 
dicated by plain, puffiness and redness in the vicinity of the 
blister. The presence of suppuration may be determined by 
gently raising one, edge of the plaster when, if pus be pres- 
ent, it can be pressed out. If suppuration exists, the man 
should see the surgeon without delay and have the abrasion 
disinfected and dressed. 

Abrasions are simply blisters from which the cuticle form- 
ing the outer wall has been torn off. They are very painful 
from access of the air and material of the sock to the bared 
nerve filaments and thus readily incapacitate for marching. 
They are always infected, but small superficial abrasions us- 
ually readily heal under the zinc oxide plaster, which is itself 
mildly germicidal. 

The large abrasions would usually suppurate under plas- 
ter; and such cases should see the surgeon, who will ordin- 
arily cause a disinfectant solution, and gauze dressing to be 

If zinc oxide plaster be not available, the blister may be 
evacuated, greased and pressed back into position, where at- 
mospheric pressure tends to hold it. Often two or three turns 
of a light bandage over the blister may be used in the shoe, 
and at night its bandaging is of course practicable. But where 
bandaging is employed, care should be taken lest the thick- 
ness of the protective material applied over the affected area 
increase the already excessive pressure over that part. To 
apply a wad of anything, as cloth or cotton, over a blister will 
certainly make it worse. 

Painting abrasions with a five or ten per cent solution of 
chromic acid is a treatment used in the French and German 
armies. A five per cent solution of picric acid, such as is used 
in treating burns, may also be employed in the treatment of 
ordinary abrasions ; in fact, the manner in which cuticle is 
raised and lost in blisters and abrasions is much like that in 
burns of the first degree. 

In a general way, it may be said that blisters and abrasions, 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 127 

callosities and corns indicate the existence of harmful pres- 
sure by a shoe which is too small over the area in which these 
blemishes occur. These points of irritation, if sought for, can 
always be found and appropriate measures for removal can 
usually be carried out with more or less complete success. 

But also occasionally a shoe which is too large over the 
region of the blemish permits the occurrence of an injurious 
friction which is the cause of the trouble. This local excess 
in size may, however, have its cause in an attempt to relieve the 
foot from pressure elsewhere. Such a cause was common in 
former army shoes which were too low over the instep, where- 
by the soldier in order to get a shoe high enough for his in- 
step was forced to take a shoe too long for his foot and too 
large for his heel. 

In determining a cause for the above foot blemishes, it is 
thus necessary to give due consideration to the two apparently 
dissimilar factors of tightness and looseness. 

Blisters on top of the toes are usually due to pressure from 
the toe cap being too low or too stiff. The judicious use of 
the shoe stretcher may remove this condition, though what is 
probably needed is a larger shoe. Blisters on the ends of the 
toes are evidence that the shoe is too short or that it was not 
sufficiently tightly laced in either case the remedy suggests it- 
self. Blisters on the sides of the little or big toe usually indicate 
that the shoe is too narrow ; the remedy being either use of 
the shoe stretcher or a greater width. Foot blisters sometimes 
occur along the marginal lines where the outer and inner 
aspects of the foot come in contact with the shoe insole. These 
are usually due to defect of construction causing a poor fit 
between the shoe insole and upper, by which one or both sides 
of the foot extend over an open space between the insole and 
upper, forming an inequality in the shoe surface on which the 
foot bears. Similarly, ridges may be present in these regions, 
due to the insole curling up along its edges as a result of wet- 
ting and subsequent shrinking and warping. The first condi- 
tion is due to careless manuacture and inspection of the shoe, 
and is perhaps best met by the soldier by the use of heavier 


The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

socks. The second is due to either poor material, bad work- 
manship or lack of care of the shoe. The best remedy is to 
adjust the shoe on an iron last so that the latter comes in con- 
tact with all parts of the offending ridges, and pound the latter 
down flat with a hammer. 

Heel blisters are due to a shoe not being properly laced 
up or to a bad sock. The remedies for these are obvious. 
They are also due to shoes being too long, or not fitting suffi- 
ciently snugly over the instep and around the ankle. Better 
selection, or the use of a cloth pad under the lacing, will pre- 
vent bad results from these conditions. 

Fig. 53 With the few men whose large 

feet and slender ankles render shoe 
fitting difficult, and who are thus 
obliged to use somewhat too loose 
shoes in marching, the French army 
marching strap (See Fig. 53) may be 
used to give a more snug fit over 
the instep and above the heel and pre- 
vent the shoe from slipping up and 
down and chafing the back of the 
foot. In the absence of a strap, any 
suitable material capable of produc- 
ing sufficient tension may be used 
for this purpose. 

Blisters and callosities develop 
over the bottom of the sole or heel 
from inequalities due to various 
causes. One of these may be warping of the sole of the shoe 
in drying after wetting, in which case little can be done in the 
way of remedy except the use of heavier socks and efforts to 
hammer the sole after wetting flat on an iron last ; if these 
measures are unsatisfactory the shoes should be discarded. An- 
other cause is the wearing of socks with holes or darns, the 
remedy for which is obvious. Again, a sock may wrinkle into a 
fold during the march, or gravel or sand work into the shoe; 
under such conditions the man should pull his sock tight or 

Marching strap of the 
French Army. (From Journal 
of the Royal Army Medical 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 129 

take off and clean out his shoe at the next hourly halt, or be en- 
couraged to fall out and do this at once on the march if the dis- 
comfort is more than trifling. Corns also form on the ball of 
the foot through unduly high heels throwing the weight too 
much forward and bringing excessive pressure over this point. 

Blisters are often caused by tender feet, the skin of which 
is untoughened and unaccustomed to withstand friction and 
pressure as a result of lack of practice in marching. Areas of 
skin of this nature are brought into hurtful contact with the 
sole when narrow shoes are exchanged for wider ones and 
the bottom of the foot is thus allowed fully to flatten out. Too 
narrow shoes also cause foot blisters, as they compress the sole 
into ridges upon which the wearer of such shoes is constantly 

The soldier is expected to have two pairs of serviceable 
shoes with him in the field at all times. It is desirable to have 
these shoes alternated in use day by day. Even though these 
shoes be of the same last and be stamped with an identical size 
and letter, and thus supposedly the same, still they will not 
feel exactly the same to the foot. The reason is that the 
bulk of lasts varies slightly with variation in atmospheric 
moisture; leather cut from different skins, or parts of the 
same skin, stretches unequally ; and shoes pulled from the lasts 
earlier shrink more than shoes left on longer. It thus hap- 
pens that exchange of shoes apparently identical may give 
relief to sore places by transference of painful pressure to 
other less sensitive parts. 


These are localized callosities of the skin of the foot re- 
sulting from continued injury by ill fitting shoes. They have 
their starting point in a blister or abrasion, in the repair of 
which nature guards against repetition of such injury by 
thickening the skin with a stouter, harder horny layer. If 
the local irritation and injury continues, whether from chaf- 
ing, pressure or impact, the outer layer of the skin continues 
to thicken locally until its sufficiency for protective purposes is 

130 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

exceeded; while pressure of this horn-like layer, and its root- 
like prolongations extending deeper into the flesh, cause much 
pain in the little nerves lying underneath. This pain may be 
very considerable, and quite sufficient to very materially dim- 
inish or even destroy marching capacity. 

The cause of corns is found in badly fitting shoes, either 
those being worn at present or which have been worn at some 
time in the past. In the army, the latter is more usually the 
case, and a fair proportion of the corns noted in soldiers are 
inheritances from the use of the mis-shapen civilian styles of 
shoes worn before enlistment. In determining the matter of 
the prevention and treatment of corns in any given individual, 
the question of whether the cause still remains or is no longer 
existent needs always to be determined in relation to both 
treatment and cure. If it remains, it must be removed, either 
by judicious use of the shoe stretcher in the removal of local 
pressure, or by at once discarding such shoes as are not sus- 
ceptible of suitable improvement. It is useless to expect to 
cure corns while their cause is permitted to remain. 

Constant attention to corns will largely bring relief from the 
pain and annoyance which they cause. External corns, after 
softening by soaking the foot in warm soap suds, may be care- 
fully pared down several times a month but great care should 
be taken not to draw blood in cutting down the corn, as these 
little wounds in this region are apt to become dangerously in- 
fected and have not rarely caused serious illness and death. 
If such a little injury is inflicted, it is usually sufficient to wash 
away the blood and smear a very little corn salve or corn 
collodion on the wound, or cover it well with foot powder and 
a bit of zinc oxide plaster or clean cloth. But cutting corns 
brings only temporary relief and does not cure the trouble. 
Soft corns, which are those located between the toes, cannot 
well be thus trimmed or pared. They require the application 
of medicine to kill and soften the corn tissue, so that the latter 
may readily come away without pain. The following combina- 
tions are very effective in assisting in the removal of both 
soft and hard corns and callouses : 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 131 


Salicylic Acid 1 1 parts 

Extract of Cannabis Indica 2 parts 

Alcohol 10 parts 

Flexible collodion, enough to make a total of 100 parts 

The materials for the above are supplied by the Medical 
Department. If necessary, the cannabis indica may be left out. 
The solution is inflammable and should be kept away from 
lighted matches, cigars, cigarettes, etc. It evaporates rapidly 
if open to the air, and hence the bottle should be kept tightly 
corked except when directly in use. No great amount of the 
solution is needed, and a small bottle of about one ounce 
should be enough to treat a couple of dozen cases. To apply 
it, a bit of cotton is twisted around the end of a match or 
splinter, dipped in the solution, and used to mop off the corn 
and the skin in its immediate vicinity. 

Another excellent corn medicine is composed as follows : 


Salicylic Acid 40 parts 

Vaseline 30 parts 

Lanolin 30 parts 

This makes a fairly stiff ointment. For soft corns, it is 
simply smeared over the corn between the toes. In hard ex- 
ternal corns and callouses, it is smeared over the corn and 
for about an eighth of an inch beyond the margin of the lat- 
ter, and the whole is covered and kept from being wiped off 
by a strip of zinc oxide plaster. 

Commercial corn plasters are usually merely felt rings 
which are made to adhere to the skin around the corn and 
give comfort by removing painful pressure. One or ^ two 
brands are medicated so that while giving relief from pain 
they assist in the removal of the corn. They are not supplied 
by the Medical Department and have no greater merit than the 
corn salve and corn collodion already mentioned. 

The best way to remove corns is as follows : 

I. (a) Wash the foot thoroughly at bed time; then soak 

132 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

it for at least ten minutes in hot soap suds. The corn then 
becomes soft to the touch and whitish in appearance. 

(b) Wipe the foot and corn dry. 

(c) Paint the entire corn, and for at least an eighth of an 
inch around it, with several coats of the corn collodion already 
mentioned, and let it dry. 

Or apply the corn salve, covering the corn and salve with 
zinc oxide plaster. 

2. Repeat the procedure given in (a), (b) and (c) on 
the following night; previously removing any plaster from 
the foot. 

3. Repeat the procedure given in (a), (b) and (c) again 
the following night. 

4. On the fourth night the corn should present a dead, 
whitish appearance after washing the foot. 

Now take the back of the point of a knife and slide it un- 
der the loosened dead skin around the margin of the corn. 
Work around the corn, prying it loose from the foot but tak- 
ing great care not to cut its attachments and prolongations in- 
to the flesh. In this way, a corn may be lifted entire out of 
its position and a cure at once follow ; but if the attachments 
of the corn are cut through and not pulled out, return of the 
corn is almost certain to occur. The object is to pull away 
in one piece all the thickened tissue down to the "quick", 
but without causing bleeding. If cut away piecemeal, the 
corn will probably return. 

In very large corns with much hard tissue, it may be 
necessary to continue the treatment given in (a), (b) and (c) 
for more than three nights. Occasionally five or six nights 
are necessary. Sometimes it is well to pare away a very thick 
corn or callous, so that the medicine can strike into the roots 
better. No effort should be made to take out the corn until 
it appears dead and peels off from the foot with little difficulty. 

If it appears that the corn has not been completely re- 
moved, treatment should be renewed in a few days. To do 
it immediately may make the foot sore. Sometimes several 
treatments are necessary to get rid of a corn. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 133 

This treatment is not of itself painful, but it hardens the 
corn and thus makes it more uncomfortable until removed. 
On pulling the corn away, it leaves a bared area which is 
somewhat sensitive for about a day. For these reasons, the 
removal of corns should be accomplished prior to, rather 
than during, a march. 

Callouses, wherever located, are treated like corns. Very 
large ones, which usually occur under the ball of the foot, are 
sometimes best removed by the surgeon's knife. But men 
with feet as badly calloused as this are usually unfit to be sol- 

No corn can be permanently cured if the causes which 
first produced it are allowed to continue. The latter must be 
remedied at the time the corn is removed, or a new corn will 
soon be produced. A shoe which once produced a corn should 
be discarded, unless it can be stretched as to no longer press 
or chafe the former corn area. 

Sweaty Feet. 

There is a condition of the feet, known as bromidrosis 
or sweaty or stinking feet, which is quite common among sol- 
diers. In this condition the feet sweat profusely, and the 
secretion rapidly decomposes and is very foul smelling and 
offensive. The skin of the feet so affected, especially on the 
soles and between the toes, becomes soft, whitish and dead 
looking, like that on a washerwoman's hands. It rubs off 
easily, and blisters and abrasions are apt to form. The af- 
fected area often assumes a mottled appearance, and in old 
severe cases it is reddish, congested and angry looking. An 
eczematous condition is not infrequently present. 

A soldier with this condition is very liable to break down 
from foot injury in the field, and in garrison he is a nuisance 
to the unfortunate co-sharers of his squad room. Frequent 
washing of the feet only temporarily removes the stinking se- 
cretions and does not reach their cause. 

The treatment is simple and is usually effective. The feet 
are bathed and carefully dried. The whole affected area is 

134 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

then carefully painted over with a cotton swab dipped in the 
following solution : 

Commercial Formalin (40% solution of Formaldehyde) 10 parts 

Water 90 parts 

This solution is allowed to dry on. If the feet begin to 
burn, the excess of the solution is washed off. Care must be 
taken to keep it out of fissures and abrasions, or much pain 
will be caused. The treatment hardens and practically tans 
the superficial layers of the skin, and reduces the amount and 
alters the character of the secretions of the offending sweat 
glands. Applications are usually made every other day, and 
half a dozen applications usually suffice to cause a cure. 

During the treatment, the feet are washed twice daily, 
the official foot powder furnished by the Medical Department 
is very freely used, and clean socks are worn. 

Other treatments for this condition are the use of potas- 
sium permanganate solution, i-'iooo strength, in which the 
feet are soaked daily. Sometimes finely powdered alum is 
dusted into the socks. 

In the British army, the soldier with sweaty feet is sent 
to hospital with his footwear for 24 hours. The socks are 
soaked an hour in 1-2000 bichloride of mercury solution, then 
rinsed and washed. The shoes are painted inside with a 10% 
solution of salicylic acid in alcohol. The feet are washed, dried, 
painted with the same solution and put in clean socks. The 
whole process with respect to the foot and shoe, which is really 
their thorough disinfection, is repeated on the following morn- 


In a few instances, men will show cracks or fissures of the 
skin between the toes and in the folds of the skin of the latter. 
These fissures are usually quite painful, and sometimes tend 
to bleed readily. They are usually caused as a result of un- 
accustomed tension of the skin following the putting of men 
with compressed and contracted feet into broad sensible shoes 
allowing the normal foot expansion. This condition is us- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 135 

ually temporary, and dusting with foot powder suffices ; but 
sometimes touching the fissures with silver nitrate stick hast- 
ens recovery. 

There is another form of fissure seen in an eczematous 
condition of the feet. The cure depends on the cure of the 
eczema, and the man should be sent to see the surgeon. 

The Toe Nails. 

The toe nails should be trimmed every ten days or two 
weeks. They should be cut squarely across, as to cut them 
away around the corners favors ingrowth of the nails. Mis- 
shapen and clubbed nails, if very thick, should be pared down. 

When the shoes are too short and the toes are doubled back 
on themselves, or where the toe cap is so low as to press upon 
the top of the toe, bruises around and under the nail are very 
liable to occur. Large blood blisters may make their appear- 
ance under the nails, which after some weeks drop off, leav- 
ing a new nail which is usually rough, thickened and distorted. 

Cleanliness of the Feet. 

The maintenance of a reasonable degree of cleanliness is 
the first and most important factor in the care of the feet. 
Without it, the skin of the feet tends materially to break down, 
with the formation of blisters and abrasions, in the presence 
of an irritating combination of dirt, dead epithelium, sebace- 
ous secretion and sweat ; these latter substances undergoing 
an offensive putrefaction through the action of the hurtful 
bacteria which thrive in such material. 

This necessary cleanliness can be accomplished by means 
of a daily foot bath, in which the foot is thoroughly washed 
with tepid water and a little mild soap. No great amount of 
water is necessary for this purpose. In the field, streams or 
bodies of water are usually available for this purpose; but a 
canteen full of water, poured on a poncho which has been 
spread over a slight depression scraped in the ground and 
thereby forms a watertight foot bath, is quite sufficient. In 
the absence of even that amount of water, quite good results 

136 , The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

can be obtained by thoroughly wiping off the foot, especially 
between the toes, with a wet handkerchief or the end of a towel 
moistened with a few spoonfuls of water. 

It is probably better, in the field, not to use warm water for 
foot baths. Cool water seems better to allay the sensation 
of heat and irritation of the feet resulting from their forcible 
impact on the road for the many thousands of times required 
in even an ordinary day's march. Cool water does not seem 
to soften the skin as much as does hot water, which latter ef- 
fect is undesirable. For the latter reason, no more soap than 
is necessary to cleanse the feet should be used. After wash- 
ing, the feet should be carefully dried. 

Generally speaking, troops in the field should wash their 
feet and change their socks as soon as possible after arriving 
in camp ; they may have no opportunity later. 

Use of Foot Powder. 

The foot powder supplied by the Medical Department has 
the following formula : 

Salicylic Acid 3 parts 

Powdered Starch 10 parts 

Powdered Talcum 87 parts 

This powder is mildly antiseptic and thus healing and 
deodorant; it exerts a somewhat astringent and drying in- 
fluence, while it produces a slippery surface of the skin less 
liable to chafe against the sock. It comes in half pound cans, 
with sprinkler tops, for garrison use; and in similar quarter 
pound cans for field use. In garrison, one of these cans should 
be in every squad room, and in the field there should be two 
to each platoon. 

No great amount of this powder is required at one time, 
but the whole surface of the foot should be lightly dusted over, 
with a greater amount sifted in between the toes. 

It should be applied immediately after the feet have been 
washed, dried and received any other attention necessary. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 137 


No discussion of the care of the feet is complete without 
some consideration of the sock, of which the Quartermaster's 
Department furnishes three kinds. 

Of these, one is made of cotton with linen heels and toes. 
This sock is thin and has little substance and does not furnish 
much of a cushion for the foot; its non-conducting material 
and tight, smooth weave are such as not to conduct perspi- 
ration readily away from the skin, which is thus kept moist; 
unless an excellent fit, it tends, especially when damp, to roll 
into hard wrinkles which shortly produce blisters. This sock 
is quite comfortable during warm weather. It may be safely 
used for light duty, but is unsuitable for use in marching by 
the average man. 

The light wool sock supplied to the soldier is woven of 
equal parts of wool and cotton. Its substance is about twice 
that of the cotton sock, while its looser mesh and softer ma- 
terial renders it more comfortable to the foot than the former. 
Perspiration is readily taken up from the skin and transmit- 
ted by its fibres to the outside of the sock where it is more 
readily evaporated. In marching, it tends to stretch and ac- 
commodate itself to the foot rather than to roll into wrinkles. 
For the average man, it is the best sock to use in marching in 
all weather except that well below freezing. But there are a 
few soldiers, especially those with sweaty feet, who claim that 
the wool in it irritates their skin and makes them uncomfort- 
able. This sock, rather than the cotton one, should habitually 
be worn when shoes are fitted, so as to make sure that a suffi- 
ciently large size suitable for marching is secured. 

The quartermaster's heavy woolen sock is made of pure 
wool. It has all the virtues of the light wool sock, but is too 
warm for the use of the average man in hot weather, though 

138 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

very excellent during cold, stormy weather. However, not a 
few old soldiers prefer to use this sock for marching at all 
times. Its bulk within the shoe is about twice that of the 
light wool sock, which fact must be taken into account in fit- 
ting shoes for use in cold weather. Ordinarily, an increased 
allowance of about a half size in length and two letters in 
width will be needed when, this sock is to be worn. 

Whatever be the kind of sock selected for use, it is of es- 
sential importance that it should fit the wearer. If too large, 
it forms folds which are certain to cause blisters and abra- 
sions. If too small, it is not only uncomfortable but causes 
tension on the toes which presses them together out of their 
proper alignment and has a constant tendency to produce hal- 
lux valgus, clubbed toes and ingrowing nails. With men 
whose feet have been deformed and weakened by bad shoes, 
the tension of too small socks can press them into improper 
shape almost as badly as ill fitting shoes. The thicker the sock, 
the greater the tension which it can exert on an enclosed foot ; 
hence the special importance of carefully fitting the thicker 
wool socks which should be used in marching. Moreover, if 
the sock be too small, the tension favors rapid wearing through, 
especially on the heel and toes. 

There are five sizes of socks issued, viz. from 9^ to 11^2. 
The addition of a size 12 would be desirable. The size marked 
on the sock indicates its foot length in inches when the sock is 
new and is flattened laterally from heel to toe. The cubic 
capacity of the sock is based on the average foot in civil life. 
But the soldier's foot is broader and more muscular, and the 
stocking to be selected for him must usually allow for slight 
stretching as to width by a little apparent excess as to length. 
Hence a man with a foot io l / 2 inches in length will usually 
require a size n sock. But the sock, unlike the shoe, is not 
a rigid foot covering but is capable of some expansion and 
very considerable contraction. All socks tend to shrink on 
washing; this is not great with the cotton sock, but is very 
considerable in socks of part or all wool, and especially where 
the latter are subjected to considerable rubbing, and parti- 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 139 

cularly to boiling, in the process of washing. Thus a sock 
quite large enough for the wearer when drawn may ulti- 
mately so contract in size as to become unfit for his use in 
marching. For this reason, an originally good measurement 
cannot be depended upon to furnish a permanently good fit in a 
marching sock. 

The use of socks with holes, or darned socks, should be 
strictly prohibited in marching. Both are extremely liable to 
produce blisters and abrasions. Even an apparent trifling 
defect in the sock, especially over the heel, may cause serious 
foot trouble. 

It has been advised to rub the inside of the sock with soap 
before marching; this undoubtedly reduces friction and its 
dangers, but the alkali in the soap softens the outer layer 
of the skin and tends to cause it to break down much more 

Some soldiers grease their socks, or accomplish the same 
result by rubbing the feet with a candle, unsalted beef fat or 
vaseline. There is no objection to this practice, which un- 
doubtedly reduces friction and the corresponding liability to 
foot injury. 

But the best thing to use for this purpose is the regula- 
tion foot powder, of which, after the foot has been well dusted, 
a little may be sprinkled into the sock itself. This powder 
not only reduces friction, but also exerts a disinfectant, pre- 
servative and curative action on the skin. 

It is absolutely necessary that the socks used in marching 
be clean. Nothing more conduces to tender feet than do dirty 
socks, in the filth and sweat of which hurtful bacteria multi- 
ply rapidly. On the march, a clean pair of socks must be put 
on daily. The best time for this is of course after the soldier 
washes his feet on reaching camp. At least one extra pair of 
good socks must be carried on the soldier's person in the field, 
and two pairs would be better. As they are light, the extra 
weight to be carried is a matter of no significance. 

Ordinarily, the soldier, after washing his feet, should at 
once wash the socks he has taken off. Only a cupful of 

140 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

water, if the latter be scarce, is necessary for this purpose, 
improvising a wash basin from the poncho as described un- 
der cleanliness of the feet. After washing, and rinsing out 
any remaining soap, the socks are dried in the sun, before the 
fire or by hanging up during the night. In the morning they 
are dry and ready to go in the pack for use at the day's camp. 

If socks cannot be washed, they can at least be changed, 
the dirty socks dried in the sun and thoroughly beaten and 
worked with the hands to remove dirt and hardness before 
being put back in the pack. This very materially assists in 
their purification and renders them less irritating to the feet 
when next worn. 

Some part of the sock will always be in contact with the 
same part of the shoe, and the areas thus exposed to friction 
are the first to wear through. Shoes which are too loose tend 
to wear out socks rapidly. Changing socks from one foot to 
another, by creating new areas of contact, will delay their 
wearing out. 

The life of a good fitting light wool sock, in a good fitting 
shoe, is probably about 75 to 100 road miles, or about a week's 
wear in constant marching under ordinary conditions. But 
where the feet are frequently wet the socks will rub through 
much sooner. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 141 


It is highly important, in preventing foot injuries, that a 
good, well fitting shoe, once secured, shall be kept in good 
condition. This can be accomplished with a little attention. 

The leather of shoes which are put away without use in 
dry weather tends to become hard and wrinkled. Shoes which 
are being kept for marching should therefore be worn now 
and then; and if not sufficiently supple, lightly rubbed over 
with the neatsfoot oil supplied by the Quartermaster's De- 
partment. This oil is the natural oil of the animal and is 
free from the acids and other substances deleterious to leather 
found in waxes and greases of other kinds. 

In damp, hot weather, as in the tropics, shoes rapidly be- 
come covered with mould, which soon destroys the life of 
the leather and weakens and rots it. Under such conditions, 
the mould must frequently be thoroughly brushed off and the 
shoes dried out and the remaining spores or seeds of the 
mould killed by exposure to the sun. Rubbing with neatsfoot 
oil also tends to keep down the mould. 

Shoes which have been wet must not be put away in that 
condition, as the leather will shrink out of its original shape 
into one no longer following the conformation of the foot of 
the wearer; while hard wrinkles are also formed which are 
apt to cause blisters and excoriations, especially over the toes. 
This possible shrinkage has, by test, been found to amount to 
approximately three-quarters of an inch in the upper of the 
soldier's shoe. Wet shoes should therefore be carefully dried 
out ; but this drying should not be too rapid or it will harden 
the leather, and hence care should be used if the shoes are 
being dried in the sun or before a fire. 

When nearly dry, the shoe should be thoroughly brushed 
or rubbed to remove all dirt and supple the leather. If there 

142 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

is any tendency to stiffness of the leather when completely dry, 
it should be rubbed again and, if necessary, wiped off with a 
slightly oiled cloth. 

Salt water and alkali water rot the leather and stitching, 
especially the latter which soon breaks. Shoes soaked in such 
water should be well washed in fresh water to dissolve out 
and remove the mineral as soon as possible, and then treated 
like an ordinary wet shoe. 

In the absence of the neatsfoot oil supplied by the Quar- 
termaster's Department, men sometimes rub bacon rind over 
their shoes to grease them. If this is necessary, the bacon 
rind must be soaked in several changes of water for several 
hours to dissolve out the contained salt. But bacon fat used 
for this purpose soon grows rancid and bad smelling, and at- 
tracts flies in warm weather. Unsalted beef tallow from the 
company kitchen is also good for this purpose ; or vaseline, 
lanolin, or even castor oil, obtained from the Medical Depart- 
ment, may be effectively employed. 

In prolonged marching, the inside of shoes is apt to become 
dirty and sweat soaked. Hence, in addition to the daily use 
of clean socks, it is well occasionally to wipe out the inside 
of the shoes with a damp cloth or sponge, and thus remove 
accumulations of dirt and sweat. 

Strong, serviceable and broad shoe lacings must be kept in 
the shoes at all times. Broken, knotted shoe laces are apt to 
cause chafing over the instep. In the military shoe, snug lac- 
ing is absolutely necessary to hold the shoe in its proper rela- 
tion to the foot and keep it from slipping around and thus 
producing blisters, especially over the heel. An extra pair 
of shoe laces should habitually be carried on the march. In 
emergency, the lacings of the breeches legs may be used as 
shoe laces; but as they are round and small, they may cause 
injury to the parts with which they come into contact. 

Many soldiers, if left to themselves, do not lace up their 
shoes completely, either through carelessness or broken shoe 
laces. This must be prevented by appropriate orders and 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 143 

inspection at formations. A badly laced shoe on a march will 
almost certainly cause foot injury. 

In repairing military shoes, care must be taken that the 
man, particularly if of short stature, does not have the heels 
built up to a height greater than that in the original shoe. 
Such high heels of course alter the center of gravity of the 
body and materially diminish facility for marching. A low 
heel is necessary for proper marching. 

Heel nails sometimes work up and protrude inside the 
shoe. They are easily gotten at in this region, and may be 
pounded flat with a hammer, gun-butt, bayonet or smooth 

In shoes which have been half soled, the new soles are 
tacked on with nails, the points of which may ultimately work 
in and project inside of the shoe (See Fig. 54). In the ab- 
sence of a hammer and iron last with which to flatten them 
and turn back their points, a small round stone may be held 
for this purpose over the nail inside the shoe, while the 
leather of the upper over this stone is smartly struck with a 
piece of wood or another stone. 

A large amount of oil or grease rubbed into the leather 
tends to keep out moisture and is valuable for use in rainy 
weather and over wet roads. To apply it, the dry, clean leather 
is slightly warmed and the oil is well rubbed in with a rag 
soaked with it until the degree of saturation of the leather re- 
quired is reached. 

But very heavy oiling of shoes fills up all pores of the 
leather and interferes with evaporation of perspiration, caus- 
ing the feet in warm weather to be constantly hot and sweaty, 
and producing much the same results as would follow the use 
of a rubber boot. This constant moisture softens the skin 
of the feet, and tends to cause it to break down more readily 
in the formation of blisters and abrasions. Only just suffi- 
cient oil should thus be used on the shoes, during dry weather, 
to keep the leather supple. Heavy oiling should not be done 
except when constant exposure of the shoe to wet is anti- 
cipated. It is better to let the feet get thoroughly wet now 

144 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

Fig. 54 

Illustrates the quantity and location of nails used in fastening on a half sole, 
with their liability to produce foot injury. 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 145 

and then than to keep them constantly hot and moist by pre- 
paration against storms which may be only occasional. 

Most prepared waterproof dressings for the shoes con- 
tain either wax or paraffine. Both these substances are un- 
desirable, as rilling up the pores of the leather and interfer- 
ing with evaporation of perspiration and hardening the shoe 
in cold weather. In the French army, a mixture of three parts 
of mutton tallow to seven parts of neatsfoot oil is used ; the 
proportion of tallow being slightly diminished in cold weather. 
Tanners generally use a mixture of mutton tallow, cod-liver 
oil and a little potassium, worked in with a cloth with the aid 
of gentle heat. Many prepared shoe dressings contain a cer- 
tain amount of sulphuric acid, which soon induces drying and 
deterioration of leather and predisposes to cracking, rotting 
of stitches and entrance of dirt and water. 

For working over rough, rocky country, or one with 
smooth, short grass, hob nails may be driven sparingly into 
the soles and heels. They give a much better foot-hold on 
such surfaces and in addition greatly save the sole and heel 
from wear. But they should not be put in too thickly, as 
this interferes with the grip of the foot on the ground; nor 
should they be driven completely through the sole, as they are 
apt on the one hand to be pressed in and hurt the feet, or on 
the other to be pulled out and leave holes through which water 
and sand will enter. The socalled Hungarian hob nail, with 
a steel head, is best. Smaller hob nails should be put on the 
heel than on the sole. 

The shoes, if damp, must not be used in the field as a 
head rest at night. This use will press the leather out of 
shape, and if it dries during the night serious discomfort and 
possible foot injury may result from wearing such shoes in 
the morning. The shoes, on being taken off at night, should be 
worked into their proper shape with the hands and placed on 
their soles so that the air may have access to their interiors to 
dry and purify them. 

If military conditions are such that the soldier cannot take 
off his shoes, at least the laces should be loosened so that the 

146 The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 

feet may be relieved as much as possible from pressure and 
more air may get to them. 

When soldiers are living in tents, the shoes should never 
be placed in the center, where they are very liable to be trod- 
den upon and pressed out of shape. In barracks, the proper 
place for shoes in frequent use is under the bunk; for those 
not in such use, within the man's locker. 

In the field, the shoes must be protected from dampness 
during the night. The shelter tent, poncho or corner of the 
blanket will protect against rain or dew. But a large amount 
of dampness also rises from the ground, and to protect against 
this the shoes should have the poncho or bedding under them, 
or be raised from the ground by hanging up or by elevation on 
brush or pieces of wood or stone. 

In the field, during freezing weather, the shoes must be 
carefully dried out by the soldier before going to sleep. Fail- 
ure to do this will result in a shoe shrunken and hard as horn 
in the morning, and into which the soldier cannot get his foot 
until the leather has been thawed out. If the shoes cannot be 
dried out before bedtime under such conditions, the soldier 
must keep them on all night or take them to bed with him un- 
der his blankets so that they cannot freeze. 

If it is desired to dry out shoes rapidly in the field, clean 
pebbles may be slightly heated in the mess tin over the camp 
fire, put into the shoe and shaken about in it until the inside 
moisture has been driven off as vapor. But these pebbles 
must not be so hot as to injure the leather. Hot, dry cloths 
stuffed into the shoes, and if necessary re-heated, will also soon 
absorb any contained moisture. 

If wet shoes are packed with dry oats overnight, the oats 
will absorb the moisture and by their consequent swelling 
keep the leather of the shoe from shrinking and preserve its 
proper contour. The oats must be carefully shaken and 
brushed out of the shoes in the morning, for if any remain they 
may cause foot injury. 

Where a shoe has been wet, and through neglect is subse- 
quently dried out in a way to render it hard and shrunken, the 

The Soldier's Foot and the Military Shoe 147 

only way in which it can be made immediately available for 
the march is to sponge off the leather with water until it 
again becomes soft and yielding to the foot. To march in 
damp shoes will do no harm ; to march in hard, wrinkled and 
shrunken shoes will almost certainly result in foot injury. 

One pair of uppers will usually wear out two sets of soles. 
When a sole is worn thin, a half sole should be shaped and 
tacked into position. But no more nails should be used than 
are necessary to fasten on the half sole firmly, and the nails 
should be well clinched and pounded smooth inside. 

During ordinary campaign, under usual conditions of moist- 
ure and roughness of roads as found in this country, a pair of 
shoes may be expected to last about two months and be suffi- 
cient, with light repairs, for a journey of five to six hundred 
miles over ordinary terrain. But local conditions may very 
materially modify and reduce this estimate. Rocks and sharp 
gravel rub away soles rapidly, particularly if wet; while con- 
tinued wetting for a fortnight or so may cause the stitching 
to rot and the shoe to fall apart and become unserviceable. 




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SEP 21970 

LD 21-100m-8,'34