National Archives

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National Archives Kew

Just one of the many documents I looked at!

Last week I went on a trip to the National Archives in Kew, London, with the purpose of looking at a number of War Office documents that might tell me more about the life on an 18th century soldier. I managed to discover tons of information surrounding such topics as clothing, food, forage, pay etc. and am now going through the process of transcribing the documents and making a permanent record of them in my own little Microsoft Word generated catalogue.

I’ve just about finished transcribing the documents I gathered from the file Sp41/27 which mainly gives figures for the allowances and prices of camp necessaries – but it really does give you an insight into the equipment that would have been used by a regiment and suggests just how much money was spent on providing a set of troops with the necessaries required.

Also contained in this file was an Act for the ‘more easy and better recruiting’ of land forces. Towards the end of the page it is suggested that ‘it will not be less useful to the men themselves, by removing them from the dangerous connexions, and perhaps a criminal course of life’. Is this just one of the many reasons put forward as to why men should join the army? Although life was harsh, dirty and very often extremely dangeous, it was still better to be in the army – with its reassurances of pay, food and comaraderie – than live an uncertain life in the cities of Great Britain!

What an extraordinary claim! And how fascinating that a few pages can provide us with so much information as to the life of an 18th century soldier/redcoat. Hopefully I’ll be able to gather some more information to include in the Wiki page (it’s going to be an awfully long page!) I could really get into this researching malarcky! Bring on the next 300 pages waiting to be transcribed! 🙂

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