Date added: 14 Jun 2015
At Waterloo, the 95th Regiment showed their skill at sharp-shooting. They were deployed near a quarry close to the farmhouse and orchard of Le Haye Sainte. This was close to the front line, and main area of battle, and the Regiment was used to pin down French troops as they made their way forwards. The proximity to the main action meant that Private Chapman’s battalion, like the rest of the 95th Regiment, suffered heavy losses. 42% of the battalion were killed, wounded or missing by the end of the battle: the heaviest casualties sustained by any battalion of the 95th. At the end of the battle Thomas Chapman, with the rest of the 95th Regiment joined the other weary but victorious troops as they marched towards Paris. On the 7th July 1815 it was the 2nd Battalion, Private Chapman among them, who headed the triumphal entry of Wellington’s army into the capital.
Date added: 14 Jun 2015
In 1816 Chapman’s regiment was honoured for its service in the Peninsular War and in the Battle of Waterloo by being renamed the Rifle Brigade. Chapman would serve another 3 years in this regiment before he was demobbed and left for civilian life.
Unlike many of his fellow soldiers Chapman survived the Battle of Waterloo, and his remaining service. Despite his involvement in many campaigns, his injury to the hip, sustained when hit with a musket ball, was his only major injury, an impressive feat for a solider involved in almost a decade of fighting. That he survived this injury when so many of his comrades succumbed to their wounds is a feat in and of itself.
Chapman's discharge papers tell us that he was considered to have good conduct in the army. When he returned home to Cambridgeshire Chapman became an agricultural worker and the 1851 census tells us that he, with his wife Elizabeth, had 8 children. They too became agricultural workers. As at Waterloo Chapman found no fame in his later life, whilst at the same time being a crucial cog in the wheel of British life. As with many of his fellow soldiers his contributions kept Britain steady as it made its way towards the zenith of Empire.
Thomas Chapman was the last Cambridgeshire Waterloo veteran drawing his army pension at the time of his death. Shortly before he died he moved to the Chelsea Pensioners Hospital. His status as a veteran important to the end.
Chapman died at the age of 85, and with him went many of the memories of life amongst the Riflemen who served at Waterloo. Although on the 18th June 1875 Thomas Chapman was laid to rest, his story, and the heroism of his regiment, lives on.