Boots were worn out, greatcoats deficient, transport almost unattainable and, according to modern ideas, the army would have been considered incapable of action.
The aide-de-camp was sent to confirm the order which had not been clearly worded the day before, namely, that the commander-in-chief wished to see the regiment just in the state in which it had been on the march: in their greatcoats, and packs, and without any preparation whatever.
Though the aide-de-camp did not know these circumstances, he nevertheless delivered the definite order that the men should be in their greatcoats and in marching order, and that the commander-in-chief would otherwise be dissatisfied.
The company commanders ran off to their companies, the sergeants major began bustling (the greatcoats were not in very good condition), and instantly the squares that had up to then been in regular order and silent began to sway and stretch and hum with voices.
The soldiers in their greatcoats were ranged in lines, the sergeants major and company officers were counting the men, poking the last man in each section in the ribs and telling him to hold his hand up.
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