French soldiers commemorate 200th Anniversary of Waterloo at The Briars

Yesterday was the 200th Anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat by the allies at the battle of Waterloo. To mark this date the 21ieme regiment of French reenactment soldiers are giving a demonstration and gave a talk at The Briars, Mt Martha.

The uniforms were of wool and dyed with natural pigments such as indigo. Gaiters were high with leather buttons and took 20 minutes to put on. They had a natty backpack of hide to put their worldly possessions in, including the book to keep tab of what pay they were owed. In some campaigns, there was a shortage of boots and many were barefoot, possibly with tallow to seal out moisture.

Sometimes soldiers would sleep in their uniforms without a change or washing for six weeks, day and night. Although it was a good idea to put on a clean shirt for battle to reduce the chances of gangrene and subsequent amputation after an injury.

The guns were muzzle-loaded and could only fire three rounds a minute. The army depended on large numbers of soldiers to provide a steady stream of fire.