Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Lee, Wayne E., 1965-

Author's Keywords



Waterloo, Battle of, Waterloo, Belgium, 1815; Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815


This thesis is a social and military history of the First Battalion of the 27th Foot, the Inniskilling Regiment, at the Battle of Waterloo. Crucial to success in battle is the cohesion of units and their ability to withstand punishment and keep fighting. This paper offers an examination of the constituent elements of unit cohesion as manifested in the demonstrable staying power of the Inniskillings. The Inniskillings' battlefield experience is a case study in cohesion: by understanding the devastating battlefield experience of the 1/27th, the only all-Irish infantry unit at Waterloo, it is then possible to examine the many elements of cohesion that allowed them to stand together. The thesis opens with a brief summary of the historiography of military history in general, and the importance of the individual in the "new" military history. The introduction is followed by three sections: the battlefield experience, a social profile of the soldiers and officers, and an analysis of the myriad factors that shaped the men. The section on the battlefield experience offers as much detail as possible on what it was actually like for the men of the 1/27th to serve in the Campaign of 1815. How far did they have to march? What did they have to carry? What was the weather like? Where at Waterloo did they stand, and what was it like there? The second section of the paper, dealing with the background of the men of the 1/27th , opens with a brief history of Ireland, and the issues that formed Irish society and culture. An assortment of primary sources and Irish census data are then used to paint a picture of just who these men were. The final section of the thesis borrows John Lynn's model developed in his landmark Bayonets of the Republic to examine the motivational and military systems in place in the British army of the Napoleonic Wars. This model considers such motivational factors as interest and morale, and military factors such as organization and experience.