Karen and I read a lot (we turned off the TV three years ago -- don't miss it a bit) and my favorite evening read is one of the many Boswell journals. In all of my reading I don't think I have ever come across a single passage that offers so much information in so few sentences as the following:
"At five I filled my pockets with gingerbread and apples (quite [the] method), put on my old clothes and laced hat, laid by my watch, purse, and pocket-book, and with oaken stick in my hand sallied to the [cock] pit. I was too soon there [the pit wasn't open yet]. So I went into a low inn, sat down amongst a parcel of arrant blackguards, and drank some beer. The sentry near the house had been very civil in showing me the way. It was very cold. I bethought myself of the poor fellow, so I carried out a pint of beer myself to him. He was very thankful and drank my health cordially. He told me his name was Hobard, that he was a watch-maker but in distress for debt, and enlisted that his creditors might not touch him."
This quote offers us all sorts of ideas for both civilian and military impressions -- not the least of which is the great first-person account of why one particular soldier joined the military!
Incidentally, Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary defines a "Blackguard" as: "a cant word amongst the vulgar ; by which is implied a dirty fellow ; of the meanest kind". It was a relatively common term in the period.