A nation of shopkeepers defeats Europe's greatest general today in 1815\.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Today, the 18th June, in 1815 England and Prussia put paid to Napoleon once and for all.
    He had only just returned from exile, yet many flocked to him once more. In Belgium his army of 72000 could not defeat a 68000 man army of English, Dutch, Belgian and German troops before a Prussian one of 45000 under Blucher appeared to tip the scales against him.
    Napoleon opened the battle by attacking the Allies’ Left Centre. The commander of the Allies was Wellington, who was the best British general since Malborough a century ago.
    It  was the first time the great Napoleon and he had met in battle. The Allies defended tenaciously and Napoleon was unable to make a break in their lines. It was not a tactically brilliant battle, but a slugging match. Defensively, Wellington had placed nearly all his troops on reverse slopes. This ensured Napoleon’s superior artillery would be less effective as it could not see its targets.
    The Cavalry were held back until the afternoon, but they like the French Infantry could not break the lines. The Infantry’s defensive Squares proved impenetrable, despite some units losing heavily, none broke.  Cavalry casualties weee possibly 40%. By 6pm crisis was upon Wellington’s battered men. At 7pm Napoleon called on his best and last unused troops: La Garde. They had never failed him. The great FM Ney led them.  Not even they could win the battle for him. Half an hour the shout of: La Garde recule!
    Slowly things began to unravel for Napoleon and his men were pushed back everywhere.
    Blucher’s first units had started to arrive too.
    It was a close run thing at times, but the defensive posture of Wellington won the day.
    Napoleon was soon ousted and exiled for good.
    Waterloo was Wellington’s greatest victory. One he said was only won because he was there.  And after so much campaigning,  peace had at last come to Western Europe. All at the hands of what Napoleon had once derisively called a nation of shopkeepers: the English.

    Edited as my dementia got the better of me: thank you Pacific War.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Waterloo was Wellington’s greatest victory. One he said was only won because he was there.  And after so much campaigning,  peace had at last come to Western Europe. All at the hands of what Napoleon had once derisively called a nation of shopkeepers: the English.

    Sydney Greenstreet, playing a French colonial major, used the same insult in Passage to Marseilles. He accuses the English of being jealous of French genius, as embodied by the great Maginot Line, and adds, “A nation of shopkeepers – they wanted to sell us the cement.”

    I’ve heard a story (possibly apocryphal) about Wellington receiving a hero’s welcome from the population of a Belgian city just after his victory at Waterloo.  One of his officers commented to Wellington that he must be feeling very honored by this demonstration of gratitude.  Wellington replied dryly, “No.  if I’d lost, they would have hanged me.”


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Sydney Greenstreet: how can you not love that fat old man?
    Was he meant to be French in Casablanca too?

    Have not seen Passage to Marseille.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Sydney Greenstreet: how can you not love that fat old man?
    Was he meant to be French in Casablanca too?

    In Casablanca he played Senior Ferrari, who I gather was supposed to be an Italian…like Peter Lorre’s character of Senior Ugarte.  Lorre was in Passage to Marseilles too, where like Greenstreet he played a Frenchman.  Greenstreet was actually British (I think) and Lorre was Hungarian, but Hollywood seemed to feel that American movie audiences couldn’t differentiate one kind of foreigner from another.  Vladimir Sokoloff, another Passage to Marseilles alumnus, has played everything from French to Philippino to Chinese characters, though his name sounds Russian.



  • 1815


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you Pacific War.
    Will change it.
    1805 was Trafalgar!



  • I figured that you just did a mistype……happens to me all the time.  😄


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt, but rushing I did mix up Trafalgar and Waterloo’s dates.



  • Hey Wittman nice job on your title on this one I really enjoyed reading it. Never underestimate your opponent. I told a couple of buddies of mine about this title and they laughed. Good one.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thanks GoSanchez.
    Napoleon’s words of course. Not sure when he said it.

    The irony being of course, that only 28000 of Wellington’s army were British(38% of his force). 25000 were Hanoverians and 21000 Dutch and Belgian.
    I bet he went to his grave hating the English though!

    I read that in the Old Guard’s assault only 9 of the 23 Battalions went in. 3 were held as the last reserve and the others were on his right having stalled Blucher.
    I wonder if using double the number of Europe’s finest Infantry would have made the difference. Many think he should have sent them in with Ney, as the Allied centre was almost broken by the Cavalry.
    Napoleon was not his great self this day.

    Edited as I remembered the Battalions wrong: were 23 not 21.



  • I am not sure Napoleon was ever really himself after the Russian campaign. What he expected after his victory at Borodino and what really turned out was very different. Expecting the Russians to surrender only having them chase him all the way back to France may have put some doubt in his mind. Maybe that doubt is what affected his decisions at a place like Waterloo. I know in sports that if you loose your confidence it can be hard to get back. I imagine the same could be said about war generals. Just a thought. Enjoyed the post.


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