As time went on, and no invasions took place, things became quieter ; the Defence Committee seldom met ; the Volunteers, however, continued to drill, and to hold reviews.
In 1801 the separate Corps were consolidated into Battalions and Regiments. The two first Devon Troops of Cavalry, joined with those at Bicton, Tiverton, and Cullompton, united in the " Royal First Devon Yeomanry Cavalry," under Lord Rolle as Colonel, and Sir Stafford Northcott as Lieu tenant-Colonel. The North Devon Corps of Infantry became the 3rd North Devon Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Fortescue. The Loyal Exminster Hundred Regiment of Volunteers, under Lord Courtenay, was similarly formed.
In 1802 came the "Peace of Amiens," or as it is frequently called the "Cloamen Peace." It was a fragile patched up affair by which Bonaparte gained breathing time. " It was a peace everyone was glad of, and nobody proud of." Volunteer affairs became quiet, many corps were disbanded, among them the Ashburton Sergebacks. Old soldiers were discharged from the Line Regiments, and Militia men sent to their homes. In May, 1803, Bonaparte suddenly declared war, and then as Emperor, prepared in earnest to invade England. A camp of 100,000 men was formed on the cliffs at Boulogne, and a host of flat bottom boats gathered for their conveyance across the Channel.
At last the Emperor Napoleon appeared in camp - all was ready. ' Let us be masters of the Channel for six hours," he is reported to have said, " and we are masters of the World." But he never was able to be master of the Channel for six hours. The army waited and drilled, the old Bayeaux Tapistry, which illustrates the conquest of England by William of Normandy, was searched out, to create enthusiasm, and show what had once been done ; all kinds of schemes were resorted to, to obtain the naval assistance of other nations and with success, for the Spanish did indeed join him; still the English fleet under Lord Nelson, held the Channel, but any accident might give the six hours mastery, and so England had to be prepared.
The County Defence Committee again assumed the direction of affairs. The arrangements made in 1798 were once more put in force. Rates of payment were fixed for all services that might be rendered and supplies furnished. New Acts of Parliament were passed as the old ones expired at the Peace of Amiens. A very strict return of the male population of each parish between the ages of 17 and 55 was required by virtue of the Levy-en-masse Act, under following heads :
1. Unmarried men between the ages of 17 and 30, or those having no children under 10 years.
2. All men between 30 and 50 unmarried, or no children under 10.
3. All men between 17 and 30 who were or had been married and had not more than two children under 10.
4. All males, not in above classes (clergymen and licensed teachers in Holy Orders exempt), also infirmed persons, Quakers, Medical men, and persons serving in Volunteer Corps.
7th October 1803. Stock was taken of the old Volunteers who had remained embodied since 1798, and were : Cavalry, 1,259 ; Infantry,3070 to 4,829, exclusive of Plymouth. The Government at this time limited the number to 12,000 for county, and 5,000 for Plymouth and its appendages as follows: County Infantry, 9.789; Cavalry, 1,523; Special Rifles, 60; Fencible Artillery, 200; Fencible Cavalry, 100.
Plymouth Dock, the Hundreds of Stanborough, Roborough, Plympton, Ermington, and the town of Tavistock - infantry,4,800; Cavalry,191; 4,991. Grand Total 16,663. It must be remembered that at the same time the County was giving a large number of men to the army, navy, and militia. The population of the County was 343,000, so that one-in-twenty was a Volunteer.