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This index of army deserters includes over 17,000 born in England, Wales or overseas, over 5,000 born in Scotland, and over 12,000 born in Ireland.
Most soldiers who did desert often did so within the first year of joining, sometimes even within the first days and weeks of service. Younger soldiers were more prone to commit offences or at least were more likely to be caught for doing so, than older, more experienced men who by the time they had served six or seven years would have become accustomed to the demands of military life.
Many of these men, however, were recaptured or returned of their own free will and went on to lead distinguished careers.
Deserters, when caught, could expect to be flogged or branded. Although flogging was later restricted by the Mutiny Act of 1868 to active service and to certain offences committed while under sentence in military prisons, and later still (1881, the Army Discipline and Regulation Act) restricted to military prisons only, it wasn't until 1906 that corporal punishment in military prisons was abolished altogether.
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