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Defining Battle Of Waterloo Campaign

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By Author: Rob Thomas
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The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo, Belgium. The forces of the French Empire led by Emperor Napoleon I and Michel Ney were vanquished by the Seventh Coalition including an Anglo-Allied army led by the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian led by Gebhard von Blucher. It is considered the defining battle of the Waterloo Campaign and was the last battle led by Napoleon. This crushing defeat meant an end to Napoleon's rule as Emperor of the French, and in additionsignified the conclusion of his Hundred Days of return from being exiled.

When Napoleon returned to power in 1815, several states that were against his reign formed the Seventh Coalition and began mobilizing armies. Two great forces under Wellington and von Blucher assembled in close proximity of the northeastern border of France. Napoleon decided to attack hoping to vanquish them before they could carry out a perfectly coordinated invasion of France with other members of the Coalition. The historical conflict of this three-day Waterloo Campaign lasted from the 16 June †19 June 1815. Wellington said the battle was "the nearest-run ...
... thing you ever saw in your life."

Napoleon delayed going to battle until noon on 18 June deciding to give the ground some time to dry. Wellington's army was positioned across the Brussels road on the Mont St Jean escarpment and stood up to repeated attacks by the French. By evening, the Prussians joined the battle and broke through Napoleon's right flank. At that instance, Wellington's Anglo-allied army counter-attacked and overpowered the French fighters who were thrown into utter disorder. The Coalition forces were then able to enter France and restore Louis XVIII to the French throne. Napoleon was left without choice and surrendered to the British following which he was exiled to Saint Helena where he would stay until his death in 1821.

General Baron Jomini, one of the more renowned military writers on the Napoleonic art of war had a number of very feasible explanations for Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo.


In my opinion, four principal causes led to this disaster:

The first, and most influential, was the arrival, skilfully combined, of Blucher, and the false movement that favoured this arrival; the second, was the admirable firmness of the British infantry, joined to the sang-froid and aplomb of its chiefs; the third, was the horrible weather, that had softened the ground, and rendered the offensive movements so toilsome, and retarded till one o'clock the attack that should have been made in the morning; the fourth, was the inconceivable formation of the first corps, in masses very much too deep for the first grand attack.

Some areas of the terrain on the battlefield have since then been changed from their 1815 appearance. Tourism commenced the day following the battle. Captain Mercer stated that on 19 June "a carriage drove on the ground from Brussels, the inmates of which, alighting, proceeded to examine the field".

The battlefield existsin present-day Belgium, an estimated eight miles (12 km) SSE of Brussels, and about a mile (1.6 km) from the town of Waterloo. The site of the battlefield is in presently occupied by a large monument: the Lion Mound.
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