When Napoleon abdicated in 1814, the three battalions of the 95th Rifle Regiment were dispersed to various locations. The majority of the regiment returned to England apart from five companies of the 3rd Battalion that were sent to North America to participate in the final stages of the war that had begun in 1812.
When Napoleon escaped from Elba, all of the companies in England were hastily dispatched to Belgium. They arrived in May 1815 and became part of Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army that marched to confront Napoleon. On Friday the 16th of June 1815, the 1st. Battalion fought at the bloody Battle of Quatre Bras where an advance French force was held at the strategic crossroads. This battle gave Wellington valuable time to assemble his disparate force and choose his ground, just south of the small village of Mont Sant Jean.
On the morning of Sunday the 18th, all three battalions of the 95th were present at what would become known as the Battle of Waterloo. Of all the regiments present, none was more respected at that time than the Green-jacketed 95th Rifles. They were a highly trained force and the standard of their marksmanship made them expert skirmishers. This also drew grudging respect and generated a certain amount of fear amongst the enemy.
The men of the 95th were armed with the 'Baker' rifle (and a clumsy sword bayonet which they disliked and only used as a last resort). Officers were armed with a sword, humorously described by John Kincaid (the Adjutant of the 1st Battalion) as '…our small regulation half-moon sabre...is better calculated to shave a lady's maid than a Frenchman's head'.
In Kincaid's case at Waterloo, the effectiveness of the sword was of little consequence; His sword had rusted solid in its scabbard due to the heavy rain.
At Waterloo, the regiment fielded a total of 1,322, officers and other ranks. By the end of the day, they had suffered 35 officers and 482 men killed or wounded.
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Illustration by David Higham