This short chapter summarises the arguments made in the book revisiting the discussion about nuances in working lives, structures and attitudes to conclude that class is the key tool for an analysis of the British army in nineteenth society. In presenting a unique labour history of nineteenth century rank and file soldiers, it fundamentally challenges the ‘ruffians officered by gentlemen’ theory of most military histories. Instead it argues that soldiers took working class attitudes with them into the army, stood up for their contractual rights and successfully rejoined the workforce (and working class) after discharge, with their army service forming only part of their working lives. The chapter previews the arguments to be made in a future companion volume; Popular politics, class and the nineteenth century military. These include the involvement of both officers and men in early nineteenth century political activities, especially focusing on the large number of soldiers and ex-soldiers involved in radicalism. These activities though existed hand in hand with loyalty to regiment and nation and a growing popular imperialism by the end of the century.
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