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Literacy and the Regiment: Introduction

In the 18th century very few soldiers could read or write. Even in the 19th century the Duke of Wellington opposed schooling for soldiers. But boredom was a huge problem and soldiers often sought respite through drink. This often led to unruly behaviour and punishment. Victorian reformers encouraged sport and libraries to alleviate the boredom. But libraries were not a viable option for the large percentage of soldiers who were illiterate.

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