Author Michael Mann:
The Veterans is the account of the invalid Companies and Veteran Battalions of the British Army over their life from the 1608s until the 1860s. They were formed from ‘meritorious old soldiers’, who, so long as they could fire a musket by resting it on a wall, were eligible for this service, and any refusal to accept such terms resulted in a loss of pension. Raised initially to garrison the forts and castles around our coast, these ‘maimed and decrepit old soldiers’ guarding Upnor Castle in the Medway in 1723 were reported as standing sentry ‘3 miles from the nearest house and up to their knees in water’. The Invalids were soon sent overseas to unhealthy stations as garrison troops, where often they found themselves in action, or posted as reinforcements to ‘marching regiments’. In later years in Canada these old veterans were remembered as ‘quiet, respectable men, who still clung to their habit of keeping themselves and their accoutrements clean, going to church on Sundays, getting drunk occasionally, and considering it treason to vote other than Tory’.
This is the story over nearly two centuries of old soldiers who in the evening of their lives often deserved better of the government and country which they had served so well for so long.