The Battle of Waterloo

Equipment at the Battle of Waterloo

Body armour:

During the Napoleonic Wars, most soldiers did not wear armour, as it would have been too heavy alongside the equipment they carried. Some cavalry soldiers did, however, wear a body plate called a ‘cuirass’ to protect them from sword wounds. 

A cuirass could not protect a soldier against wounds caused by a musket shot or cannon ball, though. It was also so heavy that if a soldier fell off his horse, he might find it hard to get back up.

This is most common form of cuirass worn on the field at Waterloo. It is undecorated and stamped ‘Dobbelaer’ on the shoulder for the factory in which it was made. 


This wooden-barrelled brass telescope was used by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo. Telescopes were vital tools on the battlefield. They allowed high ranking officers to follow what was happening from a safe distance and helped them to see through the smoke from guns.

This telescope was made by Matthew Berge, who was apprenticed to one of the greatest telescope makers of the 18th Century, Jesse Ramsden. After Berge took over Ramsden’s business in 1800 he called himself ‘Berge, late Ramsden’ and this is engraved on the first barrel of this telescope. 

After he became the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Wellington presented the telescope to his great friend and Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel.

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Document icon Learning article provided by: Leeds Museum Discovery Centre |  Royal Armouries Museum | 
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