Peterloo Cartoon, "Manchester Heroes". Copyright National Army Museum.

Victory at Waterloo brought an end to over twenty years of war, but this meant that tens of thousands of soldiers were now jobless and hungry. The British government feared rebellion, censoring newspapers and banning large political meetings.

Popular protest and government fear met in Manchester on August 16th, 1819, when a peaceful demonstration on St. Peter’s Field was charged by sword-wielding soldiers on horseback. 15 people were killed and hundreds badly hurt.
An angry public dubbed this the “Peterloo Massacre”, mocking the Army that had once fought at Waterloo, but now was set loose on civilians.