This is the first major book concentrating on the volunteer force to be published for nearly a century. It provides a full view of the social, political, and military aspects of the volunteer movement of the French Wars: the volunteer infantry, yeomanry cavalry and the armed associations in England, Scotland, and Wales from 1794 to 1814 and in some cases beyond. It considers the antecedents of voluntary military forces, and the government planning which led to the
formation and development of the volunteers and yeomanry. It shows how the administration of volunteering fitted into the existing system of county administration and central government. It analyses
the geographical spread and concentrations of volunteering in relation to the apparent threats from popular radicalism and French invasion. It considers in detail the type of men who joined the volunteers and their motivation for doing so, and those who promoted and organized the corps and the incentives they offered to recruit them. It shows how the potentially disloyal were identified and excluded. It analyses the social structure of volunteer membership and compares it with other mass
organizations. It looks at the ways in which volunteering affected existing social relations, and examines the allegedly democratic aspects of corps' internal organization. It also examines the part
volunteers played in festivities and entertainments, and their public image promoted in prints and sermons. The book examines the political affiliations of volunteers and the implications they had for the behaviour and use of the force. It considers criticisms of volunteering, in particular the alleged political and constitutional dangers of an armed population able to challenge the existing order. It shows how volunteering fitted into national defence planning, in particular for
preparations against invasion, for evacuation and maintaining internal order. It examines in detail how the volunteers were used in policing roles.