In 1797, the 5th Battalion of the 60th became the first unit to adopt many of the Rifle Regiment traditions still adhered to today; they were the first to be armed with a rifle (rather than a musket), the first to wear the dark green jacket, they carried no colours into battle, and they used the buglehorn tacically to signal movements. Their drill dispensed with the rigid style of marching used in the rest of the army.
In 1800, an experimental corps of Riflemen was selected, armed with the Baker rifle. Modern tactics were taught to these men, and the lessons learned from this unit eventually equipped the Light Brigade (and later Light Division) in the Peninsular War. At a time when military discipline was often instilled by floggings and harsh discipline, the riflemen were being trained in modern concepts such as individual initiative, effective use of ground, and mobility. These ideas were truly ahead of their time; at Waterloo in 1815, for example, many British soldiers in regular line infantry regiments would still think it shameful to take cover from long range enemy fire.
By 1803, General Sir John Moore was training the men of the Light Brigade (consisting of the 43rd, 52nd and 95th Regiments of Foot). Much of what he taught is considered second nature today, and General Moore was revolutionary for his times in considering soldiers as human beings who could be trained in matters of individual initiative and self-reliance. Firm discipline under General Moore was aimed at preventing rather than punishing crime, and brutality common to line regiments was stopped. Orders were given clearly and explained to all soldiers rather than expecting blind obedience, and realistic training rather than simply drills became the norm
Again, emphasis was placed on constant alertness and readiness for action, individual marksmanship, and use of fire and movement – covering moving soldiers with effective rifle fire. As would happen in the Second World War and since, field drills were practised first on the parade ground in tight ranks and then moved to the field, where exercises in open order were directed by buglehorn and whistle. As well, the men were trained to march easy, with an eye to obtaining maximum speed with minimum fatigue.
During the Peninsular War (1808-1814), the Light Brigade carried out reconnaissance duties and took on the traditional cavalry role of covering the advance and retreat of the infantry. The Brigade carried out these duties with success; one French Marshal blamed a disproportionately high loss of his officers on the accuracy of the British riflemen’s fire. The British Army as a whole was remarkable for its marksmanship, being the only army in the Napoleonic Wars who could claim that more than half the casualties they inflicted on the enemy were the result of small arms fire. The training, and equipment (at this time the Baker Rifle), of rifle units emphasized this marksmanship.