From: British Military Uniforms by James Laver, published by Penguin
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on 18 June 1815, in what is now Belgium, between the French and the British and Allied Army. The Seventh Coalition was comprised of forces from the UK, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick, Nassau and Prussia. Gebhard von Blϋcher commanded the Prussian army and a multi-national army was under the command of the Duke of Wellington. The coalition had around 68,000 troops and the French army around 73,000. According to the Duke of Wellington, the battle was ‘the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life’. Blϋcher and Wellington’s victory halted Napoleon’s dream of European domination and he was exiled to St Helena where he died in 1821.
There was a small newspaper clipping in the book:
Today is not only the anniversary of Waterloo but it is memorable as the day that the British Infantry first put on trousers.
On June 18 1823 the order came from the Commander in Chief the Duke of York: “His Majesty has been pleased to approve of the discontinuance of breeches and leggings and shoes as part of the clothing of the infantry soldiers; and of blue grey cloth trousers and half boots being substituted.”
You would have thought that the infantry would have been pleased to give up their purple breeches, white leggings up to the thigh and purple garters under the knee. But the order caused an uproar far worse than the one that is going to break out on the day they order the Highland Brigade to wear identical tartans. The order of June 18 went on to say that from now on the soldiers would be expected to provide their own waistcoats ‘in order to indemnify the colonels’. The waistcoat money would be stopped from their shilling a day pay.’