Friday, June 18, 2010

Battle of Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo

This is the 195th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. On Sunday 18 June 1815, near the town of Waterloo, in what is now Belgium, a coalition of British, Dutch and German forces under British commander Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington and his ally Marshall Blucher commanding a Prussian army, combined together to defeat the Emperor Napoleon and his French Imperial Army.

The Battle of Waterloo, along with the Battle of Gettysburg from the American Civil War, are perhaps the two most debated and written about battles in world history. As the Duke of Wellington aptly described the battle, it was "a near run thing".

The allied army was able to hold against severe French assaults throughout a long day giving time for the Prussian forces to join them in the late afternoon. The order for an army-wide advance was then given and the ranks of the French Grande Armee collapsed and either surrendered or fled from the field, only to be chased by vengeful Prussian soldiers and cavalry. The exception to this general rout was Napoleon's Old Guard which stubbornly retired from (and died on) the field with honor.

Napoleon surrendered to his enemies and spent his last days in captivity on the island of St. Helena. He died in 1821. The "Iron Duke" was showered with honors, ultimately serving as both the Prime Minister of England and at the time of his death in 1852 was Commander-in-Chief of the British Army.

No comments: