Coxey's organization had religious overtones, and the original group of marchers, calling themselves "The Commonwealth Army of Christ," departed Massillon, Ohio on Easter Sunday, March 25, 1894.
Walking up to 15 miles a day, the marchers proceeded eastward along the route of the old National Road, the original federal highway built from Washington, D.C. to Ohio in the early 19th century.
Newspaper reporters tagged along and the entire country followed the progress of the march through telegraphed updates. Coxey had hoped that thousands of unemployed workers would join the procession and go all the way to Washington, but that didn't happen. However, local marchers would typically join for a day or two to express solidarity.
All along the way the marchers would camp out and local people would flock to visit, often bringing food and cash donations. Some local authorities sounded the alarm that a "hobo army" was descending on their towns, but for the most part the march was peaceful.
A second group of about 1,500 marchers, known as Kelly's Army, for its leader, Charles Kelly, had left San Francisco in March 1894 and headed eastward. A small portion of the group reached Washington, D.C. in July 1894.
During the summer of 1894 the press attention given to Coxey and his followers waned and Coxey's Army never became a permanent movement. However, in 1914, 20 years after the original event, another march was held, and that time Coxey was allowed to address the crowd on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
In 1944, on the 50th anniversary of Coxey's Army, Coxey, at the age of 90, again addressed a crowd on the grounds of the Capitol. He died in Masillon, Ohio in 1951, at the age of 97.
Coxey's Army may not have produced tangible results in 1894, but it was the precursor for large protest marches of the 20th century.