Wellington was the first British commander to use trained intelligence officers in the field. He was a firm believer in the remark made more than fifty years before his birth by the great Duke of Marlborough, that “no war can be conducted successfully without early and good intelligence”.
Intelligence officers during Napoleonic times wore the uniforms of the regiments from which they had been seconded. They operated with great success in the Peninsular War and later in the Waterloo campaign. However, after the final defeat of Napoleon, the whole military intelligence organisation was disbanded.
This painting, ‘Scouts’ by W.B Wollen, shows two scouts from the 10th Light Dragoons ‘spying out’ the enemy in a wintery scene. Their reports would enable commanders to better understand where the enemy was located and perhaps give clues to their possible future intentions.
These scouts would report back to the Scout Master.