Date added: 15 Jun 2015
6. Whilst a soldier’s most important possession would arguably be his weapon, the knapsack held all the possessions a soldier owned. It held his bed, could serve as a pillow and kept safe the tools he needed and the trinkets that reminded him of home.
7. This picture of Vittoria would have been important to Thomas Chapman. Although he and the 2nd Battalion, 95th Regiment made a name for themselves at Waterloo, they had already experienced the carnage of war during the battles of the Peninsular Campaign. At Vittoria Chapman would have honed his skills as a marksman, and learned how best to try and survive a major battle. This knowledge would serve him well at Waterloo.
8. This painting of the Closing Gates of Hougoumont would have be recogniseable to Thomas Chapman. The 95th Regiment was stationed close to Hougoumont, their sharp-shooting skills put to good use as the French and English generals battled to control this key area.
9. Thomas Chapman didn’t gain much from Waterloo. Although his Regiment made its name, and though many of the officers and generals gained glory, the private soldier was left with little but memories after the battle was over. As time marched on, and the name Waterloo passed in to legend, this soldier’s medal would have gained importance for the soldiers who had won it. Not only a mark that they had survived such a bloody battle, these proved that they had been amongst those who had participated in one of Britain’s greatest campaigns.
10. We have few records of the ordinary soldiers who participated in Waterloo. Beyond birth, baptism, marriage and death certificates the private soldiers often fail to appear in the historical records. Their stories were forgotten, passed over for the stories of the officers in charge, but the thousands of private soldiers who fought in Waterloo were the true men who won the battle. They were the ones who carried out the daring plans of the officers, the bodies who were brutalised by the flying musket balls, and the ones who paid with their lives. The medal roll helps to keep alive the memory of the ordinary men who fought. Though their stories are lost, their experiences reduced to single lines on a page, their names at least, live on and inspire those who follow to try to rebuild the tales they had to tell.
Date added: 15 Jun 2015
The 95th in popular culture
The British Army at Waterloo numbered some twenty five thousand men with many proud andcelebrated regiments each with their own histories and traditions but only one regiment has beenimmortalised in the pages of a series of exciting and dramatic novels by Bernard Cornwell. Twentyfour novels took readers through the exploits of the fictional Richard Sharpe as he fought in many ofthe Napoleonic campaigns mirroring the real life progress of the 95th Regiment who fought at someof the most important battles. He later went to India just as Captain Le Blanc had done all thoseyears ago. In these books readers have been enthralled by the adventures of life in the 95th and justas these are works of fiction and entertainment they also make a fascinating route for many intostudying the truth behind the stories. It is fair to say soldiers who fought with the 95th would haverecognised the events, the hardships, the victories and the types of characters found in theCornwell’s pages. ITV famously took the adventures of Sharpe and created sixteen television movieswith all-star casts and Sean Bean in the title role. These productions brought the Napoleonic Wars,the British Army in the eighteenth century and the life of the ordinary serviceman into the publicimagination once more and popularised it in a way that is so difficult for more scholarly historians todo. In many ways these popular dramatisations open the door for many to study the period inquestion, to engage with the subject matter and foster an ingrained fascination for history. TheWaterloo 200 group has much to thank Bernard Cornwell for keeping these crucial events in ourhistory alive and for firing the imagination of another generation of future historians.