Tom Pocock's The Terror Before Trafalgar: Nelson, Napoleon, and the Secret War contains this memorable description of preparations aboard HMS Victory immediately before the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805:
The ships' companies were given a meal and changed their clothes. The officers put on clean underwear to minimize the risk of infection if they were wounded; the seamen tied cloths around their heads to stop sweat running into their eyes and as little protection for their ears from the noise of gunfire. Nelson himself toured the gun decks, talking and joking with the guns' crews, who had laid out their shot, powder charges, rammers and spongers, and the restraining ropes on the gun carriages and sanded the decks so that they would not slip in the blood that would soon be swilling around them.
My question is: were such sensible health precautions as changing one's dirty underwear (in an attempt to minimize infection if skin were penetrated by weaponry) common at the time and were they perhaps even recorded in military manuals and regulations?