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By Sir M.Brown

Contents : 

Contents Introduction The Battlefield The Commanders {Wellington} The Commanders {Napoleon} The Commanders {Gebhard Von Blucher} Why was the battle fought The Battle The Battle Pt 2 Who won and why Battle of Hougoumont Battle of Hougoumont Pt 2 La Haye Sante Farm La Haye Sante Farm Pt 2 Second part of the Show


Introduction The Battle of Waterloo was fought to stop Napoleon Bonaparte the self appointed Emperor of France. He had returned again to France after his banishment to Elba and once again wanted to conquer Europe. While he only had a small army when he left Elba as he walked towards Paris his army size grew. His former Generals were sent to stop him they defied this order and joined his force. The Duke of Wellington was the appointed defender of the British allies in Europe once Britain became aware of Napoleons presence in France. Wellington heard of Emperor Napoleon crossing the Belgium border while he was at the Duchess of Brussels ball and immediately started to make plans for defence of Brussels at a place that he had said earlier would be the best defensive position this place was Waterloo. Click Here

The Battlefield: 

The Battlefield Waterloo the place that became witness to one of the worlds most famous battles between Napoleon Bonaparte, Wellington and Gebhard Von Blucher. The Battle field in front of Wellington and around Wellington had three key defensive positions. On the extreme right there was the château, garden and orchid of Hougoumont. This was a large and well built country house initially hidden in trees. The lane along the side allowed it to be supplied. On the extreme left there was the hamlet of Papelotte. Both Hougoumont and Papelotte were fortified and garrisoned this so anchoring Wellingtons flanks secularly. The French army formed on the slopes of another village. To the south there was an inn called La Belle Alliance. Napoleon used this inn as his headquarters. He also desired flexibility and could not see all of Wellingtons positions and so drew his forces up symmetrically with Brussels main road. Click Here

The Commanders Wellington: 

The Commanders Wellington The Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) commander of the Anglo- Dutch force was renowned throughout the British army for his calm under stress, a quality to stand him in good stead during the battle. On the evening he learned that Napoleon had crossed the Belgian border, he was attending the Duchess of Richmond's ball in Brussels, and though surprised he was seen to take the news calmly. During the battle itself many men remarked on his in difference to shot and shell. His staff officers also repeatedly expressed concern for his safety for he was irreplaceable and none one doubted that he was truly fearless and totally preoccupied with his and his enemies movements. On campaign and in battle Wellington displayed intense unremitting energy and for nearly three years in the peninsula wars in the front line with his men. Click Here

Napoleon : 

Napoleon Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) and Wellington were both in their mid forties at the time of Waterloo but where as Wellington was fit and active , Napoleon had recently grown fat and suffered from bouts of lethargy. Throughout much of the battle he was unwell. Only three people knew of the malady: His doctor, Vallet and Prince Jerome his brother who latter revealed the truth. Napoleon was certainly suffering from a bad attacks of haemorrhoids. Napoleon was one of the greatest commanders in history. During his campaign he changed Europe. He’s military success was all because of many factors which can be put down to his intellect. Napoleon named himself Emperor of France and used a bee as his emblem. He’s campaign brought French civilisation to most Europe and the new world. Click Here

Gebhard Von Blucher: 

Gebhard Von Blucher Gebhard Von Blucher ( 1742-1852) the Prussian commander was a very friendly man who referred to his troops as my children. Blucher was 72 years old at the time of the battle, but despite his age and being rolled on by his horse he continued on in the battle until it was known it was won. He was a man of his word and it was his word that lead to Napoleons down fall. The 1806 campaign and particularly the Prussian disaster of Auerstadt led to his enforced retirement and it is said that the return of Napoleon Bonaparte lead to him abandoning farming with a great desire to spill French blood. He was always courage's. Blucher fought with typical ferocity until the final defeat of Napoleon at waterloo. Click Here

Why was the battle fought: 

Why was the battle fought The battle of Waterloo was a crucial battle for Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte For Wellington it was his last chance to stop the advance of Napoleons forces in Europe and also the only way he could provide the security for England and her allies in Europe. For Napoleon Bonaparte it was crucial to win the battle because then all the major Anglo Dutch forces would have been eliminated from Europe and he could focus on crushing the Prussian Empire. Click Here

The Battle: 

The Battle Here is the order of the battle: French and Allied troops are drawn into battle. {these are only the main parts of the battle} 11:30am: Start of the of the battle by the attack on Hougoumont by the French. 01:30pm: Assault by the 1st French infantry corps under the command of Drouet D’Erlon. 02:00pm: The French are repulsed 02:30pm: The third assault by the French 03:30pm: The first Charge of the French cavalry 04:30pm: Four consecutive charges without success 04:35pm: British Charge 04:40pm: The Prussians join in the charge 06:00pm: Napoleons forces are destroyed and Napoleon surrenders. {For the last time} Click Here

The Battle: 

The Battle The whole of the French front started to disintegrate under the general advance of Wellington's army and the Prussians following after the capture of Plancenoit. The last coherent French force consisted of two battalions of the Old Guard stationed around the inn called La Belle Alliance. This was a final reserve and a personal bodyguard for Napoleon. For a time, Napoleon hoped that if they held firm, the French army could rally behind them. But as the retreat turned into a rout, they were forced to withdraw and form squares as protection against the leading elements of allied cavalry. They formed two squares, one on either side of La Belle Alliance. This turned out to be a complete waste of life as the British brought up cannons and loaded Grape shot which fired little pieces of metal straight in to the line of the French squares causing every single troop that was in the Squares to be mortally wounded or killed instantly. The British tried to tell the French old Guard to surrender but they refused so the cavalry moved and the Cannons fired. Click Here

The Battle at Hougoumont Part 1: 

The Battle at Hougoumont Part 1 The small chateau of Hougoumont stood before the extreme right of the Allied position. The Duke of Wellington formed the view that the chateau was the key to his flank and garrisoned it with the light companies of the Coldstream and 3rd Foot Guards under Lieutenant Colonel James MacDonnell of the Coldstream Guards. Nassauers and guardsmen held the woods to the front of the building. The British troops took over the range of buildings on 17th June and spent the night fortifying them, building fire steps and loop holing the walls. All the gates were blocked other than the main gate on the northern side to provide access. At 11am on 18th June Prince Jerome’s division began the battle with his attack on Hougoumont, the French driving the Nassauers out of the woods and attacking the chateau. Click Here

The Battle at Hougoumont Part 2: 

The Battle at Hougoumont Part 2 The French surged around the buildings and rushed the main gate in the face of British guardsmen headed by Colonel MacDonnell to keep them out. The gate was damaged and there ensued a struggle between the British to shut the gate and the French to force it open. MacDonnell with his party of officers and sergeants forced the gate shut and Sergeant Graham of the Coldstream put the bar in place. The few French who had penetrated the farm were hunted through the farm buildings. During the rest of the day Hougoumont was subjected to a sustained attack by Jerome’s troops with assistance from a further division. The garrison was reinforced with more companies from the two Foot Guards battalions of Byng’s Guards Brigade, 2nd/2nd and 2nd/3rd Guards.

Map Of Hougoumont Positions: 

Map Of Hougoumont Positions Click Here

La Haye Sante Farm – Pt 1: 

La Haye Sante Farm – Pt 1 The farm of La Haye Sante stood on the west side of the main Brussels road beneath the ridge, two hundred meters in front of the centre of the Allied position. As the Emperor Napoleon urged on Marshal Ney, La Haye Sante was the key to the Allied line and had to be taken at all costs. The garrison to whom it fell to resist the French attack that began soon after D’Erlon’s assault was found from the Major Baring’s 2nd Light Battalion of Colonel Baron Ompteda’s 2nd King’s German Legion Brigade. The King’s German Legion had expected only to spend the night in the farm and did not discover until the morning that they were to hold their position for the duration of the battle. By then the main gates had been used on the camp fires and few preparations could be made to put the farm in a state of defence in the time left. The garrison were largely spectators as D’Erlon’s attack swept past and up the ridge to the main Allied position to be pursued back to their lines by the British cavalry counter-attack. Click Here

La Haye Sante Farm Part 2: 

La Haye Sante Farm Part 2 It was then that Ney’s attack on the farm was launched on the direction of the Emperor. From that moment the King’s German Legion troops fought for their lives until late in the afternoon, when with ammunition finished and the farm in flames, the garrison was annihilated or driven out. 39 of some 360 survived.

Map of La Haye Sante Farm Positions : 

Map of La Haye Sante Farm Positions Click Here

The Armies in the battle of Waterloo and Napoleonic wars: 

The Armies in the battle of Waterloo and Napoleonic wars Infantry

Weapons Part 1: 

Weapons Part 1 The Musket Muzzle-loading, smoothbore muskets were the main weapon of foot soldiers during the battle of Waterloo. Slow to load, trained infantry were happy to fire off three volleys in a minute, and woefully inaccurate - a marksman may hope to hit a man at 80 paces, but at 100 the odds were exceedingly small. The Rifles A major improvement on muskets when it came to accuracy, the rifled barrels of rifles spun the ball so that it kept its accuracy over far greater distances. At 200 paces a rifle shot, fired by a trained man, would kill the target - almost three times the range of a musket. However, the rifles took longer to load - a fact that put Napoleon Bonaparte off using them.

Weapons Part 2: 

Weapons Part 2 The Bayonet The fabled use of cold steel in a bayonet charge is more legend than fact, as a very low percentage of casualties during the Napoleonic Wars was due to the dagger-like attachment on soldiers' muskets. The bayonet, however, was an extremely efficient terror weapon - as few troops would stand against a fearsome charge. The thought of being stabbed in the stomach with one would have all but the bravest seeking sanctuary from its path. The Pistols Many officers carried pistols during the Napoleonic Wars but they were not as widespread in action as they became in later conflicts. {These weapons were used by all three armies at the Battle of Waterloo}


Formations Column The column was favoured by the French for its manouevrability and the way it would maintain unit morale for longer periods under fire. A French column would advance upon an enemy position and either overwhelm it with numbers or frighten the defenders into retreating. It lacked firepower - only the front ranks and troops on the outside could fire and if a column moved against in-line infantry that could not be cowed - most British troops, for example - then the column was likely to be the one to break. To add musket power the French developed the ordre mixte where two columns would flank and be supported by infantry in line.


Formations Line The line formation offered a commander the best firepower at his disposal. Infantry units would form lines - three for French and most continental armies, two for British - enabling all available muskets to be fired at the enemy. The two-rank line favoured by Britain gave a wider front while the three-rank system reportedly often led to those in the front being accidently shot by those in the rear. While good against infantry, the line was weak against cavalry and troops caught in the open by horsemen would usually suffer horrendous casualties.


Formations Square The square was the battlefield refuge for infantry being attacked by cavalry and would present a hedge of bayonets to ward off the mounted killers whose best options then became to employ lances or cavalry firearms. On order to form a square, the well- practised infantry would form an oblong with the front ranks jamming their musket butts into the ground to begin the process of building an almost impregnable hedge of steel. It was rare for cavalry to break a square, but if it happened - as at Garcia Hernandez - then the infantry were sure to die.

British : 

British Before its heroics under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War, the British army was barely tolerated by the general population. Filled with the lowest of society, the army was the perfect recruiting ground if you wanted pickpockets, robbers or killers. But, forged into a disciplined, honed weapon of war, it went on to become one of the greatest military forces ever to take the field. Undefeated on the battlefield, the British redcoats took on the best Europe could throw at them and, if disciplined volley fire did not see them off, then the bayonet charge would. Wellingtons infantry were from all levels of society from the rich who brought their commission and rank in the British army to the lower class who were mainly young boys who had to fight in the army for along time to become an officer. The elite unit in the British Infantry ranks was Wellingtons Foot Guards.

The Foot Guards: 

The Foot Guards Every army has among its establishment a unit which is considered elite. In the British army under the Duke of Wellington these troops were known as the Foot Guards. On being asked a few years after Waterloo for his opinion as to the relative merits of the Foot Guards and the line regiments of the British army, Duke of Wellington said “oh I am all for the Guards – all for the Guards As you can see the officer is the one with all the Gold trimming. The Non ranked soldiers are in the plain white and red clothing.

British Regiments Part 1: 

British Regiments Part 1 1st Life Guards now the Life Guards 2nd Life Guards now the Life Guards Royal Horse Guards now the Blues and Royals King’s Dragoon Guards now the Queen’s Dragoon Guards Royal Dragoons now the Blues and Royals Royal Scots Greys now the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards 6th Inniskilling Dragoons later the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and now the Royal Dragoon Guards 7th Hussars later the Queen’s Own Hussars and now the Queen’s Royal Hussars 10th Hussars later the Royal Hussars and now the King’s Royal Hussars 11th Hussars later the Royal Hussars and now the King’s Royal Hussars 12th Light Dragoons now the 9th/12th Lancers 13th Light Dragoons later the 13th/18th King’s Royal Hussars and now the Light Dragoons

Part 2: 

Part 2 15th Light Dragoons later the 15th/19th Hussars and now the Light Dragoons 16th Light Dragoons later the 16th/5th Lancers and now the Queen’s Royal Lancers 18th Light Dragoons later the 13th/18th King’s Royal Hussars and now the Light Dragoons Royal Artillery Royal Engineers 1st Foot Guards now the Grenadier Guards 2nd Coldstream Guards 3rd Foot Guards now the Scots Guards 1st Foot now the Royal Scots 4th King’s Own Regiment of Foot now the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment 14th Foot later the West Yorkshire Regiment and now the Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers 27th Foot, the Inniskilling Fusiliers and now the Royal Irish Regiment

Part 3 : 

Part 3 51st Light Infantry later the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and now the Light Infantry 52nd Light Infantry later the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and now the Royal Green Jackets 69th Foot later the Welsh Regiment and now the Royal Regiment of Wales 71st Highland Light Infantry now the Royal Highland Fusiliers 73rd Highlanders the Black Watch 79th Highlanders later the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, then the Queen’s Own Highlanders and now the Highlanders 92nd Highlanders the Gordon Highlanders and now the Highlanders 95th Rifles later the Rifle Brigade and now the Royal Green Jackets

French Part 1: 

French Part 1 The French infantry consisted of three different types of Infantry Line infantry, Light infantry and The Imperial Guard Line Infantry The bulk of the French army, which in 1803 numbered some 350,000 men, was made up of line regiments. These troops were generally conscripted from those aged between 18 and 25. Their regiments, known as demi -brigades during the Revolution, were divided into three, or four, battalions and in 1808 were at full strength with 108 officers and 3862 NCOs and lower ranks.

French Part 2: 

French Part 2 Light Infantry Light infantry officially became part of the army in 1801, when voltigeur (leaper) companies were added to the line-ups of French line regiments. The voltigeurs were usually nimble fighters whose job it was to advance in front of the attack and try to disrupt enemy formations or artillery crews. The skirmishers were introduced to every regiment in 1804 and they usually had the run of the field, except when they ran in to British riflemen. The Riflemen and their rifles, weapons spurned by Napoleon Bonaparte as being too slow to reload, took a great toll during the Peninsular War and at Waterloo.

Imperial Guards: 

Imperial Guards France's Imperial Guard was the elite military force of its time and grew out of the Garde des Consuls and Garde Consulaire. Napoleon Bonaparte wanted it as the example for the army to follow and also as a force that had fought with him over several campaigns and was utterly loyal to him. To join the Imperial Guard a soldier had to over 25 years old, above average height - no less than 178 centimeters - be literate and have fought in a number of campaigns and served at least five years. The benefits of life in the Guard included better food and clothing, as well as a very much larger pay purse. Usually kept in reserve, the Guard was often thrown in to a battle as the killing blow. Of course, the morale of line troops soared when the Grumblers moved forward into the fray.

Infantry Prussians Part 1: 

Infantry Prussians Part 1 Prussia's infantry went into the Revolutionary Wars with a fearsome reputation that dated back to the Seven Years' War. Unfortunately, its early tactics hadn't changed much, neither had its reliance upon foreign soldiers or mercenaries to bolster its ranks. It performed averagely against France's revolutionary armies and, after a period of prestige-losing neutrality, slumped to its lowest point in the Campaign of 1806, which it had largely provoked. Napoleon Bonaparte had moved against Prussia in response to Berlin joining the Fourth Coalition against France and unleashed his Grande Armee with lightning speed. The French caught the Prussians off guard and smashed them at Saalfield, Jena and then Marshal Devout completed the humiliation at Auerstadt. Prussia's army was now effectively destroyed and in the conditions of peace the victorious French limited it to just over 40,000 men, one-fifth of its previous size.

Infantry Prussians Part 2: 

Infantry Prussians Part 2 However, from the ashes of abject defeat came the need to reform the military and the next years saw a new, revitalised army begin to take shape. It would be seven years before Prussian swords met French blades - Prussia having avoided the war in 1809 and assisted France by sending troops into Russia - and the 1813 Campaign saw its army proud, confident and in large, well-trained numbers. The soldiery also had a loathing for the French that added steel to its performance and the battles, culminating in the defeat of Bonaparte at Waterloo, were ferocious.



British Heavy Cavalry : 

British Heavy Cavalry Britain's war effort against France was always hampered by a shortage of cavalry. Pound for pound it was the equal of any, but its lack of numbers was compounded by poor leadership and indiscipline that wasted not only good opportunities, but lives. There were two distinct branches of British heavy cavalry - the Household regiments and the heavy dragoons. The Household troopers, which included the Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards, were little used during the early years of the Napoleonic Wars but some units arrived in the Peninsular War in 1812 and certainly made up for tardiness with their heroics at Waterloo. The heavy dragoons included seven regiments of Dragoon Guards and six of Dragoons. Despite the addition of the word guards there was little difference between the two formations. Being large men on large horses, the British heavies were used as shock troops in battle. They would throw themselves into the fray to bolster a weakening line, as at Waterloo, or smash through the enemy formations and rout them.

Light Dragoons: 

Light Dragoons Until 1806, Britain had no real light cavalry and so the duties expected of European hussars fell to the Light Dragoons. Untrained in this role at home, the skills required of light cavalry - patrolling, reconnaissance and screening - had to be picked up while on active duty. The best of the British units was the King's German Legion, which performed excellent service in the Peninsula and created history by breaking French infantry squares Hussars Hussars became part of the British army after 1806, when four Light Dragoon regiments - the 7th, 10th, 15th and 18th - were styled hussars.

French Cuirassiers/Lancers: 

French Cuirassiers/Lancers Cuirassiers were regarded as the decisive arm of the army by Napoleon Bonaparte. While the other forms of horsemen in the Grande Armee had their roles to play, it was the heavily armoured Gros Freres (Big Brothers) that could turn a battle with their sheer weight. To carry the cuirass (breastplate) and iron and brass helmet, the trooper needed to be big and strong. In accordance, the horse to carry them was large and together the cuirassier and his mount would hit opposing cavalry with brute force. Some of the most feared cavalry in Bonaparte's armies were the Polish lancers, who gave no quarter. The British discovered this at Albuera when Polish lancers, covered by a rainstorm, managed to get the jump on a redcoat brigade and wiped it out within seconds. Lancers were excellent against infantry in square - where their lances could outreach the infantry bayonets - and also in hunting down a routed enemy.


Dragoons/Hussars France's dragoons were the mainstay of the mounted arm of the forces and were capable of either scouting, or being involved in battle-winning charges. As well as straight heavy-cavalry sabers, dragoons had pistols and short carbines and these allowed them to dismount and fight on foot as highly mobile infantry. This advantage saw them used widely in the anti-guerrilla warfare in the Peninsular War, as well as on independent roles on the army's flanks. Hussars were both the eyes and egos of the Napoleonic armies. Tactically, they were used as scouts and a screen for the army to keep their commanders informed of enemy moves while denying the same information to the foe. They had their own code - that of reckless courage that bordered on a death wish - and it was said by one of their beau sabreurs, General Antoine LaSalle, that any of them that were alive by 30 were "blackguards".

Prussia Cuirassiers/Dragoons Hussars: 

Prussia Cuirassiers/Dragoons Hussars Despite the name, Prussia's cuirassiers had not worn the heavy breastplates since 1790 and would not do so until 1814-1815. The main use for cuirassiers was as heavy battle cavalry that could be thrown at the enemy to smash formations or achieve the decisive breakthrough. Like the cuirassiers, the dragoons were the heavies of the battlefield and would try to use their weight of horse and speed to fracture enemy formations. Prussian dragoons achieved some success at the debacle of Auerstadt when the Irwing Dragoons scattered some of General Gudin's experienced infantry out of formation and left some 600 men casualties. These units were not regarded as being strong enough to be used in the line of battle, so hussars were often used to seek out ways to launch attacks on the enemy flanks. Often hussars would advance on either side, or behind, the cuirassiers and dragoons, and would then peel off to probe the flanks and rear

Artillery : 



British Britain had a small, but highly effective, artillery arm - the Royal Artillery - that was exceedingly well trained, but suffered from light guns and a lack of resources. The basic guns were 3-6 pounders, although 9-pounders became available during the Peninsular War (1808-1814), and the British found themselves at a distinct disadvantage against French cannons. So much so, that the Duke of Wellington forbade his gunners to engage in counter-battery fire against the bigger French weapons and ordered them to concentrate on firing on enemy troops. The anti-personnel bias of British artillery was boosted by the invention of a fused spherical case-shot that was designed, by General Sir Henry Shrapnel, to explode over the heads of enemy troops and shower them with musket balls. British cannon barrels were brass, with the carriages, wheels and limbers painted grey while metal pieces were black.


French As one would expect with the Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, being a former artillery officer, France's cannons made up the backbone of the ground forces. The French guns were generally used in massed batteries to soften up enemy formations before being subjected to the closer attention of the infantry or cavalry. Superb gun-crew training allowed Bonaparte to move the weapons at great speed to either bolster a weakening defensive position, or else hammer a potential break in enemy lines. In general, French guns were 4-pounders, 8-pounders or 12-pounders, with the lighter calibres being phased out and replaced by 6-pounders later in the wars. French cannons had brass barrels and their carriages, wheels and limbers were painted olive-green.

Prussia : 

Prussia Before 1805, Prussia spread its artillery pieces - usually 6-pounders - among its infantry with each battalion having its own large gun. Changes to the system meant that by the 1806 Campaign against Napoleon Bonaparte, the battalion guns had been boosted by four foot-artillery regiments and a horse artillery regiment. The reserve foot units had heavier weapons, two 10-pounders and six 12-pounders, while the horse artillery used six 6-pounders and two 7-pounder howitzers. In 1813, Prussia made a huge effort to improve its field firepower and went from just over 200 cannons to 400 cannons in six months. Prussia's cannon carriages, wheels and limbers were light blue while the metal pieces were painted black.

My opinion on the Battle of Waterloo: 

My opinion on the Battle of Waterloo I think that if Napoleon had not been forced from the battlefield because he was unwell the French would have surely been able to defeat the British. Unfortunately for him his Generals made some bad mistakes like the mistake of General Ney thinking that he could destroy the British infantry while they are falling back with only cavalry and no Infantry support meant that most of Napoleons Cavalry was killed or sent running back towards the French line in fright. This How ever could have been fixed as Napoleon returned to the battlefield seeing that his cavalry had no infantry support sent his Imperial Guard to support his then weakened cavalry force but once again luck was the British side as Gebhard Von Blucher and his Prussians swept across the French right flank sending the whole French army into a full retreat. In my opinion it was that the Duke of Wellington was a better tactician then Napoleon it was because he had a little bit luck and fate on his side.

Who won the battle and why? : 

Who won the battle and why? Wellington and Gebhard Von Blucher won the battle of Waterloo. {This is my opinion} Wellington and Gebhard Von Blucher I think won the battle because of a series of events. The First one was when Napoleon had to retire due to feeling unwell. This was recommended by his Generals and his brother. The seconded was when Ney charged what he thought to be the retreating British infantry but in fact they were trying to invoke an cavalry charge because on the other side of the rise they were forming squares. This is a painting of the British Square at Waterloo Click Here


Bibliography http://www.napoleonguide.com/armyind.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Waterloo The Paintings are from http://www.directart.co.uk/mall/military.php

Thanks to: 

Thanks to Shane, Maxine and Megan Brown for all their support with this project

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