Military service in France during the nineteenth century removed many young men from their own localities for long periods. The widely accepted claim that few conscripts returned home after completing their period of service is based on little evidence. The paper examines the conscription classes of 1856 and 1891 in two cantons in the departement of Loir-et-Cher. In those cases, there was not a significant relationship between conscription and migration, nor between literacy and migration. Instead, migration of youths in their twenties was linked partly to prior experiences of migration but principally to their occupations.