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.