The Rise of the Red Coats

An extensive review of the development of the British Army in the 18th and 19th centuries from Marlborough to Wellington.

An examination of the development of the British Army over a specific 100 year period. The paper shows how it developed differently from other European powers and examines how this would affect the creation of the British Empire. The purpose of this paper is to examine the British Army’s development between 1700 and 1815 and illustrate this evolution into an Infantry dominated army. The main concerns of this paper are the development and changing roles of the Infantry and Cavalry wings of the army, and only passing references are made to the Artillery, Engineers and Logistical branches. Battles, campaigns, and technical advances in weaponry are also reviewed as they apply to the central thesis.
One of the greatest military forces in the history of warfare was, and to and extent still remains, the British Army. The evidence to support this is the British Empire, in large part secured and defended against all by this military force. The Army that managed to assist in this matter of imperial policy was a very specialized army well suited for its role. It was an army that had its unique origins in the infancy of the development of the British Army. Prior to the period to be discussed in this paper, the years 1700-1815, the British Army was developing along the same lines and patterns, as it’s continental counterparts. It was during this period, when the regular standing army as an institution was less than fifty years old that a slow evolution occurred.