The Waterloo campaign – What was it all about?
Napoleon returns to France and takes power again in a bloodless coup.
Order of Battle.
A Congress had been convened at Vienna to sort out all of the difficult questions over land rights and borders after such a long war.
Some 14,000 French soldiers were tied down in attacking the farm complex, its gardens and orchard, throughout the day; the Allies defending numbered about 3,000, with another 3,000 in close support.
France prepares to fight the allies.
This was intended to be the French main attack and certainly given the approach of the Prussians to the battlefield was the only one with any potential of lasting success.
Napoleon had secretly managed to march his army of about one hundred and twenty thousand men into an area just south of Charleroi by the night of the 14 June.
Two brigades of British heavy cavalry surprise d’Erlon’s troops and destroy them – only to be destroyed in their turn.
By 2pm on 16 June, Blucher however had some 83,000 men and 224 cannon, with which to face Napoleon’s 63,000 men and 230 cannon.
Whilst Blucher and Napoleon fought at Ligny, a battle of encounter was played out at the crossroads at Quatre Bras.
Ney launches huge cavalry attacks in Wellington’s centre in the belief that his squares would not hold.
The morning of the 17th June was full of confusion, with no one really sure what the other armies were doing.
The Prussian advance from Wavre and Grouchy’s pursuit.
Waterloo in 500 words.
The 2nd Light Battalion KGL and other supporting troops held out for much of the day, but finally succumbed – It was no massacre however.
Marshal Grouchy had moved slowly north east from Ligny during the afternoon and evening of 17 June, unsure in which direction the Prussians had retreated.
The Duke of Saxe Weimar’s troops hold onto Papelotte against the attacks of the French and the Prussians!
Having pursued the French from the field, the Prussians pushed on all night with their cavalry beating drums and blowing horns to disconcert any attempt to rally the French troops.
The fighting for Plancenoit was bitter and without mercy.
Napoleon takes his last gamble, launching his final reserve in an effort to smash wellington’s army.
The fighting was finally over at Paris but isolated fortresses held out for many months; whilst diplomacy became the order of the day.
The French soldiers see the Guard defeated and the realisation that the Prussians were nearly in their rear causes the French to rout.
The field of the Battle of Waterloo was a terrifying and shocking place to be that night and for the following few days. Nine hours of desperate fighting on such a small area of ground had left a butcher’s bill that is truly staggering to contemplate.
The Prussians pursue the French, driving them on with no opportunity to rest or reform.
What was the real legacy of Waterloo?