Re your "soldier's wives" question:
As someone has already pointed out, the Br. Army kept impecable records, so
that presumably anyone recorded as married "on the strength" would be carried
as such even if he and his wife were separated. On the other hand, only six
men per hundred were to be married (officially) per regulations and that was
the number authorized to take dependants overseas. Therefore, it follows
that in most regiments many of the 'married' men would have either married
without permission or simply be living as 'married" with women regarded by
all except the (War Department ) as their wives. It's also almost certainly
the case that a large percentage of the couples from the social classes in
which the Br. Army recruited never went before a parson. Men and women
simply "took up together" and were regarded be one and all as married as long
as they chooses to live as a couple.
Having said all that, through in the fact that on campaign women who were
widowed might have as liittle as 72 hours to "re-marry" before a colonel
could legally declare them "lose women" and have them drummed out of camp.
Obviously such "marriages" were a matter of common knowledge and company or
battalion level paper-work, not civil or divine ceremony.
Combine all these facts with the certainty that almost no private soldier
shipped out without his "wife" would ever see her again and the extreme
unlikelihood that he would be able to send her financial suport and it
becomes a virtual certainty that women "left on the docks" were considered
for all practical purposes to have been divorced/widowed! There are in fact
any number of accounts of old soldiers eventually making their way home to
find wives re-married - which would be regraded as unfortunate/tragic but in
no way a slur on the woman. Her alternatives, after all, were starving or
"going on the game" and selling her body. (In fact in rural England as late
as the 1820's, literally selling an unsatisfactory wife was not unheard of
either.) Those old folk songs about dressing up as a man and going along
with her man to the wars probably had more to do with desperation than an
excess of romantic love and passion: marriage was an economic necessity for
women in the 19th century, as the world of women (at least lower class ones)
was divided into girls, wives, very poor widows and whores!
A long-winded answer to your question, but I wanted to give you the reasoning
behind it: any abondoned wife would be regarded as simply doing what she had
to to survive if she took a new husband if her husband went to the wars; no
surprise, no shame, simply "the way things worked". Hope all this helps!
Your most humble and obedient servant,
Peter Monahan, Corporal, Royal Newfoundland Regiment