The British infantry wore red waist jackets, white trousers, and stovepipe shakos. Fusilier regiments wore bearskin caps. The two rifle regiments wore dark green jackets.
British heavy cavalry wore red tunics and roman-style crested helmets. The British light cavalry wore either the light blue of light dragoons or hussar uniforms of shabrach, dolman and busby.
The Royal Horse Guards and Royal Artillery wore blue tunics.
The Royal Horse Artillery wore blue uniforms with the old light
dragoon style crested helmet.
The King’s German Legion, which comprised both cavalry and infantry regiments wore red.
Belgians and Dutch wore dark blue.
|The Hanoverian troops wore red uniforms similar to the British.
The French army wore a wide variety of uniforms. The basic infantry uniform was dark blue. The Grenadiers of the Guard wore the characteristic tall bearskin that the Grenadiers were to adopt after the battle.
The French cavalry comprised Cuirassiers wearing heavy burnished metal breastplate and crested helmet, Dragoons largely in green, Hussars in the conventional uniform worn by this arm across Europe and Chasseurs à Cheval also dressed as hussars.
|The French artillery dressed in uniforms similar to the infantry,
the horse artillery in hussar uniform.
The standard infantry weapon across all the armies was the musket. It could be fired at three or four times a minute, throwing a heavy ball inaccurately for only a hundred metres or so. Each infantryman carried a bayonet which fitted the muzzle of his musket.
The four British rifle battalions (60th and 95th Rifles) carried the Baker rifle, a more accurate weapon but slower to fire.
|Field guns fired a ball projectile, by its nature of limited use
against troops in the field, unless closely formed. Guns also fired
case shot or cannister which fragmented, but was effective only over a
short range. Exploding shells fired by howitzers, as yet in their
infancy were of particular use against buildings. The British had the
secret development in this field of ‘shrapnel’.
Throughout the Peninsula War and the Waterloo campaign the Duke of Wellington was plagued by a shortage of artillery. The British Army was sustained by the haphazard system of volunteer recruitment and the Royal Artillery was never able to recruit a sufficient number of gunners.
7th Queen's Own Light Dragoons
Napoleon had exploited the advances in gunnery techniques of
the last years of the Ancien Regime to create his powerful and highly
mobile artillery. Many of his battles had been won using a combination
of the manoeuvrability and fire power of his guns and the speed of his
columns of infantry, supported by the mass of his cavalry.
At Waterloo, provided the infantry were able to form square they were impervious to cavalry attack because neither the British nor the French cavalry horses could be brought to ride through an unbroken infantry line.
While the French conscript infantry moved about the battle field in fast moving columns the British trained to fight in line. The Duke of Wellington reduced the number of ranks to two to exploit fully the firepower of his regiments. During the Peninsula War the ability of British, Hanoverian and Portuguese battalions to deploy their full fire against French troops advancing in columns had been decisive.