The development of the British army during the wars with France, 1793-1815
The British Army that fought the engagement at Waterloo in 1815, was outwardly little changed from that which was engaged in the initial campaigns of the Wars, twenty-two years previously. Line upon line of red-coated, musket-armed infantry, manoeuvred as chess pieces across open fields, deciding the issue by volley and bayonet, having spent a hungry night exposed to rain and cold. The cavalry were still beautifully and often impractically clad, and were always seeking the decisive charge, on their unfed and often sickly mounts. The Army's commander still viewed his troops as 'the scum of the earth', who were rarely paid, and predominantly enlisted for life. It would therefore appear that little had altered from 1793 to 1815, and that this will be a study of continuity rather than change. However, this thesis will show that despite outward appearances, the Army that took the field at Waterloo was intrinsically different from the one that entered the conflict in 1793, being modernised in line with other institutions of state, and other European armies. This thesis is first and foremost intended to be a contribution to the history of the British Army from the outbreak of war with Revolutionary France in 1793, to the reduction of the forces after the battle of Waterloo in 1815. It proceeds from an assumption that the understanding of not only that history, but the history of the developing British state, will be significantly advanced through a study of the operation of, and the changes which took place within, the Army during the Wars with France.