Europe, Peace, and Why Napoleon Was Such a Menace to Both
The Allies Close Ranks and React!
The Battle of Waterloo - Napoleon's "Breakfast..."
"Because you have been beaten by Wellington you consider him a good general, I tell you that Wellington is a bad general and the English are bad troops! The whole affair will not be more serious than swallowing one's breakfast!"
respectively on June 16 and had beaten both separately. But now with Wellington well set at Waterloo, he faced the task of driving him from a strong defensive position while hoping to keep Blucher from uniting with him to outnumber his own men. Wellington's men were on the far side of a ridge from which they were shielded from much of the French artillery fire and where the French could not see them until they were almost on top of them. It had rained torrentially the night before, so that morning when the dawn came on bright and clear, Napoleon decided to wait awhile until the ground hardened a bit. There were two dwellings on the battlefield which became the focal points of fighting that day. One was the Chateau Hougoumont on the French left, and the other was La Haie-Sainte near the center of the two lines. The French attack began at 11:30 with an assault upon the walled compound of the Chateau Hougoumont (above). This was intended to be a diversion to draw troops away from the center, but Wellington had stationed strong reliable troops of the British Guards at that spot, and they held it tenaciously throughout the day drawing away more French troops than British.
At 1:00, Napoleon launched his first assault on the main allied line, sending D'Erlon's corps at the ridge near La Haie-Sainte. The columns were huge and unmanageable, which made them prime targets for the Allied artillery. A subsequent cavalry charge was also beaten off . Ensign Wheatley of the King's German Legion was present for this phase and described it as a harrowing affair:
Marshall Ney Charges the Scots Highlanders
"(We) kept every man from firing until the Cuirassiers approached within thirty or forty yards of the square, when I fired a volley from my company which had the effect.... of bringing so many horses to the ground , that it became quite impossible for the Enemy to continue their charge. I certainly believe that half of the Enemy were at that instant killed on the ground; some few men and horses were killed, more wounded, but by far the greater part were thrown down over the dying and wounded. These last after a short time began to get up run back to their supports, some on horseback but most of them dismounted."
Marshall Blucher Arrives with the Prussians!
Battle of Borodino against the Russians in 1812. But today, he had no choice. Slowly the Imperial Guard began to move forward into fields of tall standing corn, and with Wellington himself giving the order the British stood and fired into the French column when they were about 40 yards away. Captain H.W. Powell, 1'st Foot Guards:
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edited by Jon E. Lewis, Carroll & Graf Publ. Inc., New York, 1998.
edited by John Carey, Avon Books, New York, 1987.