A few days after the Battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington received a letter from the Duke of York asking for suggestions of whom should receive the Order of then Bath. Having given his response, Wellington went on to suggest something quire extraordinary. Disagreeing with the limitation of the awards of the Order to field officers, Wellington suggested instead that everyone who had served in the campaign should be honoured with a medal:
I would beg leave to suggest to your Royal Highness the expediancy of giving the non-commissioned offers and soldiers engaged in the Battle of Waterloo a medal.
Furthermore, he recommended that everyone should receive the same medal in the same metal regardless of rank.
Medals had been given to all participants in campaigns since the capture of Seringapatem in 1799. However these has maintained a sense of then army hierarchy in the medals used - goldfor generals and senior officers, silver-gilt for field officers and general staff, silver for captains and subalterns, bronze for native commissioned and European non-commissioned officers, and tin for privates. Wellington's suggestion was revolutionary, a clear recognition of the equal contribution made by all who fought bravely in the Waterloo campaign. The idea reflected how deeply moved Wellington was by the courage of all those, including the infantry ( who he "never saw behave so well") in the "desperate business" of Waterloo.Waterloo Campaign Medal - 2 Previous