I am regularly asked for information concerning soldiers who served in the Forts by geneologists and interested persons who are researching their family tree. The individual forts did not keep records of the regiments serving in them. I do not have records of who served in which fort and when. There is no single source of such information and no easy way to obtain it.
A good book to start your enquiry is Tracing Your Army Ancestors by Simon Fowler:
First read this:
And then read this:
If your ancestor was an Army Officer then you may find details of him in the Army lists. These were published annually from 1740 onwards. The National Archives has a set in the Microfilm Reading Room at Kew from 1759. Also WO65 has annual lists from 1754 to 1879 and WO66 has quarterly lists from 1879 to 1900. There is a set from 1754 in th British Library. The National Army Museum, Imperial War Museum and some regimental museums have sets. Portsmouth City Library also has a good set. The Army Lists include regular officers, also those on short service commissions. Some volumes also include senior NCOs. The Lists are arranged by regiment or command with a good surname index at the back.
This can be searched on line and may obtain dates of commissions and promotions.
You will need to visit in order to view or search these records:
Record of Officer Service
War Office statements of service
WO25/744-748 1809-1810 military service.
WO25/749-779 1828 Service completed before 1828.
WO25/780-805 1829 Second series.
WO25/808-823 1847 service before this date.
WO19 R.G.A. 1901 to 1905.
WO67/24-27 Gloucester Regiment (1792-1866).
WO54/684, 701 Royal Artillery officers (1727-1751).
WO25/3913-3919. Royal Engineers (1796-1922) including marriages and children.
WO43/1059 A small collection of commissions between 1780 and 1874.
Regimental Service Records
You will need to consult these to see if they are still held by the regiment. Some were transferred to the National Archives and are held in WO76.
They are arranged by regiment from 1764 to 1913.
Soldiers Service Records
WO79 Records of attestation and discharge papers 1760-1913.
WO121 Some papers 1785 to 1813.
WO116, 117 Pension books.
WO118, 119 Kilmainham Hospital.
WO121/223-238 Registers of men disharged 1871-1884.
WO121/239-257 Registers of men disharged without pension.
WO25/871-1120 NCO and men 1806.
WO69 R.H.A. 1803-1863.
WO69/583-597 Registers of deceased (incomplete) R.A. 1772-1774, 1816-1873.
WO45/260-309 Description books for R.A. battallions between 1749 and 1859.
WO69/620 Royal Irish Regiment.
Pay Lists and Muster Rolls
WO12 Household troops, cavalry, Guards, regular infantry, special regiments and corps, colonial troops, various foreign legions and regiments, regimental, brigade and other depots.
WO16 Infantry, Artillery and Engineers.
Service in the Forts.
I will repeat; The forts did not/do not hold details of the men who served in them.
As well as the Royal Garrison Artillery who manned the fort themselves, many of the forts served as barracks for troops in transit. Some also served as training camps and recruiting depots for regiments of foot. In 1881 the Cardwell Reforms saw a re-organiastion of the British Army and many of the numbered regiments were given new names.
For a list of the post 1881 regiments visit these sites:
Researchers are welcome to submit requests for information on the Victorian Forts Forum so that other researchers can reply if they have information that may help.
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