Waterloo: June 18, 1815: The Battle for Modern Europe
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June 18, 1815, was one of the most momentous days in world history, marking the end of twenty-two years of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. On the bloody battlefield of Waterloo, the Emperor Napoleon and his hastily formed legions clashed with the Anglo-Allied armies led by the Duke of Wellington -- the only time the two greatest military strategists of their age faced each other in combat.
With precision and elegance, Andrew Roberts sets the political, strategic, and historical scene, providing a breathtaking account of each successive stage of the battle while also examining new evidence that reveals exactly how Napoleon was defeated. Illuminating, authoritative, and engrossing, Waterloo is a masterful work of history.
cannon — so called because of the weight of shot it fired, nearly a stone of lead per round — up a slope, in mud, was no mean undertaking; and Napoleon’s Grand Battery at Waterloo constituted sixty guns and twenty howitzers. Yet the demands of Drouot and the artillery experts that the ground be allowed to dry first — which sounded only sensible to someone who had learnt his military trade as a gunner — meant that Napoleon squandered his chance for an early assault on the Anglo-Allied army before
squadrons of heavy cavalry were now ranged against the Anglo-Allied squares, Napoleon refused to send in the Imperial Guard infantry, which he always preferred to keep back until the last moment, when they had so often in the past decided battles in his favour. There was even a joke among the French line infantry that the reason the Imperial Guard were nicknamed ‘the Immortals’ was because they were committed so late in the day. Not only were the heavy cavalry not supported by infantry, they were
that both slowed the Guard’s advance and gave the Anglo-Allied forces opportunities for concealment. It was up to this ridge that the Guard advanced in columns at about 7.30 p.m., close to one another but with enough space apart for two cannon loaded with grapeshot to be drawn up too. The first column attacked at a point roughly midway between Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte. Ney led from the van, along with Generals Friant, Roguet and Michel, and had his fifth horse of the day shot from under
historians such as Jac Weiler and John Ropes argue that this was unintentional and the result of the ‘muddle’of Wellington’s Quartermaster-General Colonel Sir William De Lancey, whose papers were subsequently lost after he was mortally wounded at Waterloo.1 It is difficult to accept that Wellington misled his ally on purpose, but this debate will doubtless continue. Nor is the blame all one-sided: the intelligence that Gneisenau and Zieten gave Wellington has been described by one distinguished
revisionist works of Peter Hofschröer are important on this subject 6 Herold Waterloo 67 7 Chandler Campaigns 1034–42 8 Fraser Ball 11–14 9 Ibid. 20–30 10 For an alternative (and much less sympathetic) view of Wellington’s troop movements, see Peter Hofschröer’s oeuvre. For a refutation of some of Hofschröer’s allegations see Weiler Wellington 181–7 11 Fraser Ball 3 12 Chandler Campaigns 1043 13 Bryant Elegance 221 14 O’Neil Adventures 228 15 Weller Waterloo 183 16 Bryant Elegance 223