phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Home | Search the website Search | Discussion Forum Home|


Posted by Lewis on December 01, 2006

In Reply to: An army travels on its stomach posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 30, 2006

: : : : An army travels on its stomach
: : : : What is the most common meaning of this phrase?

: : : : As a non-native English speaker influenced very much by my national idioms I sense three meaning:

: : : : 1. One must work hardly to get any result.
: : : : 2. Any progress may be slow.
: : : : 3. A good soldier is a soldier well fed.

: : : : I will be grateful for any comments and explanations.
: : : : Thank you.
: : : : Valeriy

: : : #3 is correct. It's a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte.

: : A comment on your proposed answer no. 1. "One must work hardly..." While there is an adverb "hardly," the adverb to go with the adjective "hard"
: : is the adverb "hard". "Hardly" has come to mean something else--barely, almost not, or even "not by a long shot." There's a big difference between "He's hardly working" and "He's working hard"--or "one must work hard."
: : SS

: Napoleon of course originally said this in French - "une armée marche à son estomac". It is normally translated into English as "An army *marches* on its stomach". He meant that an army's success depends on logistics; however brave and dedicated the soldiers are, if they have no food they cannot march or fight.(VSD)

ironic that Napoleon used that phrase, as Wellington attributed part of his success to not alienating the locals and paying for provender, rather than seizing it. The French army lost more troops off the battlefield than on it - guerilla action by annoyed locals being a major bleed of resources. the Allies won the 'hearts and minds' war and it is odd that Napoleon did not deal with logistics better - he appeared to get material to the troops, but food supplies were more problematic due to the French army's relationship with the locals.

'scum of the earth, but see what fine fellows we have made of them' -Wellington on the allied armies.