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One of the cool things about having really smart commenters is that you can lean on them when you're stumped.

So as everyone knows, I've been doing a ton of reading about the Civil War. Marching, obviously, keeps coming up. There's a lot about the concept of marching, forming the line and forming ranks that is simply flying over my head, as I've never read much about war, or served in the military. Can I ask a few of you to talk some about the importance of forming a line in the Civil War? Also, can someone talk about the importance of staying in ranks, and why marching together is so important?

There are some obvious answers that come to mind, but I sense that I may be missing some more important reasons.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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