Soldiers and Soldiering in Britain 1750-1815

Mapping desertion


As part of some research on desertion from the British Army, I’ve been working on the deserter returns contained in WO25/2906 and /2907 in The National Archives. These records contain a ‘probable place of desertion’ column, which I have transcribed and turned into geographical data, allowing me to create a map of desertions. The records are only for late 1812 to 1815 (and sadly excel doesn’t handle dates before 1900!), and I’ve only sampled a few units, listed in the legend at the left-hand side.

It’s quite noticeable that at lot of desertions occurred in the UK, but also there is a cluster around the US / Canadian border that occurred during the war of 1812 (click on the map for a closer view)


Desertion locations

Probable location of desertions from sampled regiments, 1812-1815

This is just the first go at analysing the data visually, and it would be interesting to make the map interactive (maybe even searchable) as the data has the names transcribed too.

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