The Infantry


The Line Rgts up until 1803 consisted of one battalion from 1803 in order to increase the strength of the army rgts were authorised to raise additional batts. Most raised a second batt, though some raised more ( the 6oth Royal American had up to 7 batts). The first batt of each rgt was intended for service overseas the second forming a depot ( for training and recruitment) and home deface .

Each battalion consisted of eight centre companies and two flank companies one of Grenadiers the other of light. Each rgt had an authorised strength ( i.e. the number of men the government would pay for) this strength varied from Rgt to rgt from 600 - 1100 men per battalion. As it was not customary to reinforce a battalion on active service units would return home to recruit when its number of effectives dropped to low levels. This practice meant that British units were usually well under strength. Average strength of field units would be approximately 450-600 men.


There were several rgts that were distinctive. The title Fusiliers was given to particularly elite units the 7th and 23rd Rgts were so titled. The prefix Royal was given to units that had distinguished themselves these were considered elite units and kept at a higher strength than many units. KGL units were dressed in the same style as the rest of the army except for some Hussar variations.


The three Highland rgts ( 42nd,79th,92nd) that wore the kilt were considered elite units and again kept up to strength when possible.


In 1803 the 43rd, 52nd, 95th were designated as Light infantry Rgts the 95th being issued with Rifles and the distinctive green uniform in 1802. In 1809 the 68th, 71st, 85th and 90th Rgts were added to the Light infantry.


The 95th Rifles added a second battalion in 1805 and a third in 1809. The 5th battalion of the 60th was also issued with the rifle as were the light companies of the KGL.


The Foot Guards, the 1st Rgt had three battalions totaling 4600 men the two others both had two batts giving a total of 2887 men for each rgt.

The Cavalry


Each regiment consisted of four squadrons giving a theoretical strength of

905 men, field strength of squadrons was nearer 120-160 men.

The cavalry was divided into six rgts of heavy dragoons, the newest being Light dragoons the 7th, 10th, 15th and later the 18th being denoted as Hussar regiments.

The Guard cavalry consisted of the two Life Guard rgts and the Blues and Royals these units tending to have higher manpower totals than line units ( its called nicking horses!).



Field Artillery

Each battery ( company) had four 6 or 9 pdr guns with two howitzers although the exact composition varied. By 1810 there were ten battalions each having three or four batteries.

Horse Artillery

There were ten batteries ( troops) typically equipped with six 6pdr guns though at least one battery was solely equipped with howitzers. Two batteries were also equipped with congereve rockets non saw service in the Peninsular though one battery was present at Waterloo.

Foreign Units


The Kings German Legion

Britain had a long history of hiring mercenary troops. Of these the most

notable during the napoleonic wars was the Kings German legion ( KGL). When the electorship of Hanover ( The British royal house were the Electors of Hanover)was overrun in 1803 the army of 15,000 men was surrendered at the treaty of Lauenburg.

However many of the men escaped to England and in 1805 they had been formed into


4 Line batts

2 Light batts

1 Heavy dragoon Rgt

1 Hussar rgt

5 batteries of artillery


all organised along British lines. Being excellent already well trained troops the KGL infantry were considered to be first class units and the KGL cavalry were probably the best cavalry in the British army particularly when it came to outpost and reconnaissance duties. British cavalry thinking such mundane ( but vital) work to be beneath their dignity.

Two companies and later the whole battalions of the Light infantry were equipped with the Baker rifle.

In support of the allies in the Austerlitz campaign a British expedition sailed to Hanover in 1805 by 1806 when it was forced to withdraw the KGL had been expanded by new recruit's to


8 Line battalions

2 Light battalions

2 dragoons rgts

3 Hussar rgts

5 batteries of artillery

After this the KGL units were kept up to strength by select recruiting from captured Germans and maintained its high reputation.


The Brunswick-Oels-jaegers were organised into a 6 company battalion the rgt having two such battalions. There was a small hussar Rgt equipped and organised on British lines. A bit of a mixed bunch, prone to ill disicpline and desertion the Brunswickers eventual shook down into a reasonable reliable unit in the Peninsular before transferring back the Brunswick army

upon its reformation in 1814.

Chasseurs britaique

Formed from the remains of Royalist counter revolutionary units ( mainly the Armee du Conde’) it was poor and always prone to a constant trickle of desertion.

De Rolls and De Dillons regiments

Each one battalion strong ( one company armed with rifles) these units

served in the Mediterranean until they were disbanded in 1812.

De Wattevilles

Formed in 1801 from royalist remnants in Malta it served in Spain until

1813 when it was sent to Canada

The Queens Germans

Recruited in 1798 from Swiss and sundry German prisoners becoming the Minorca rgt ( two battalions) in 1800 in 1808 it was retitled the the 97th foot and disbanded in 1818.

Higher formations


In the British army there was no permanent formations above the level of the regiment. Available units were assigned to brigades ( two battalions) and divisions (2-4 brigades) on an ad hoc basis these formations barely lasted for as long as the particular operation. British commanders were particularly keen on forming ‘shock battalions’ from the flank companies of the various battalions which on thewhole did not perform that well and weakened the

parent units both numerically and in morale terms.

Cavalry were kept centrally and not assigned to particular infantry formations.

In the Peninsular Wellington developed Divisions as a semi permanent units

which improved the coordinating of the units and eased the cooperating with

the artillery.

The Corps did not appear until the end of the Peninsular campaign in 1814.


Army strength

In 1801 the army consisted of

3 Guard Foot Rgts

3 Guard cavalry Rgts

96 Rgts of Foot

7 Ragt's of Dragoon Guards

25 Cavalry Rgts

8 filed artillery battalions

10 Horse artillery troops

2 Engineer battalions

In 1809 the Army consisted of

3 Guard Foot Rgts

3 Guard cavalry Rgts

103 Rgts of Foot ( for a total of 186 batts)

7 Ragt's of Dragoon Guards

25 Cavalry Rgts

8 filed artillery battalions

10 Horse artillery troops

2 Engineer battalions

Of the foot Rgts 37 had 1 batts, 61 had 2 batts, 3 of 3 batts ( inc the

95th)one consisted of four batts ( the 1st Foot) and the 60th Royal

American had 7 battalions.



Until 1800 the British wore bicorns and are basically the same as the AWI range. From this date the stovepipe shako was introduced equipping all infantry types. The Welch fusiliers theoretically were dressed in bearskin caps but these were not worn on campaign.

The Belgic shako was introduced in 1812 and slowly replaced the stovepipe. Most of the units sent to America in 1812 were thus equipped.

Gaurd units wore standard uniforms, bearskins were not adopted till after the Napoleonic Wars.

For the Waterloo campaign units were scrapped together from whatever sources available many equipped with old equipment handed in by America bound units. Thus at Waterloo both shakos would be seen.

For the cavalry the Dragoons hat was replaced by a French style helmet in 1812 and the guard rgts got their own distinctive crested versions. The Light dragoons in tarleton had theses replaced along with the dolman style jackets in 1812 by a closed jacket and French style shako. Some Hussars wore the bearskin cap throughout the period some adopting shakos in 1812.


Artillery uniforms followed the same pattern as the infantry.