English History

Silver medal of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Battle of Waterloo, by Emile Rogat


This is the commemorative medal issued by the English after Waterloo. The fallen eagle, depicted on the back, is surrounded by vultures, representing the British, Austrians, Russians and the Dutch armies. It was designed and engraved by a Frenchman, hoping to sell it on the British market.

Can it really be true that the 200th anniversary is a few months away?

The 8th Duke of Wellington


If you're following this sort of thing, please note that the title will continue:
The 8th Duke of Wellington has died at his home in Hampshire, aged 99.
Arthur Valerian Wellesley died peacefully at Stratfield Saye Estate, near Basingstoke, surrounded by his family, a spokesman said.
Also known as the Prince of Waterloo, the duke was a descendant of the 1st Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo.

Another View of Napoleon's Retreat


Images like this were designed to further humiliate French military history and elevate the status of Britain's vaunted armed forces. Here is a fairly factual accounting of the retreat:

During their meeting at La Belle Alliance on 18 June 1815, Wellington and Blücher decided that the Prussian cavalry would pursue the French. The Prussian chief of staff, Gneisenau, would take command of this pursuit. The exhausted allied troops would remain on the battlefield for the night. The Prussian II Corps under General Pirch would march in the direction of Mansart around midnight to cut of Grouchy's line of retreat. General Bülow received orders to march on Genappe.

After taking refuge in the last square of the Guard for some time, Napoleon and some of his officers fled to Genappes where he found his coach. He was almost captured by the Prussians when his coach got stuck in the mass of fleeing French soldiers. The Prussian Major von Keller managed to "capture" Napoleon's hat, coat and sword but the Emperor escaped.

The Prussian cavalry pursuit lost more and more of its momentum as the night progressed and eventually Gneisenau halted just south of Frasnes. The Prussians had captured about 8,000 French.

On the morning of 19 June Marshal Grouchy was still unaware of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. At about 1030 Grouchy received word of the Emperor's defeat. After some confusing moments General Vandamme proposed to march on Brussels to free the prisoners, cut of the enemy's line of communication and then regain France via Valenciennes. Soult's messenger, however, had brought orders for Grouchy to retreat to the river Sambre. Grouchy decided to do so by way of Namur, Dinant and Givet. In order to do so the Namur bridges had to be captured as fast as possible.

At 1130 Grouchy ordered General Exelmans to advance with his cavalry to Namur to take the bridges over the Sambre. The rest of Grouchy's command would follow at once, covered by a rear guard composed of Pajol's cavalry and Teste's infantry division.
This retreat was unhindered by General Thielmann's Prussians, many of whom had been routed after Grouchy's victory at Wavre. But General Pirch II Corps was on it's way to cut of Grouchy's line of retreat. He arrived at Mellery at about 1100 on 19 June but his troops were so exhausted that he had to let them rest. He spent the rest of the day there.

Two regiments of French Dragoons captured the Namur bridges at about 1600. At about 1900 the rest of Exelmans' cavalry passed through the city of Namur while Grouchy and IV Corps (General Gérard) were only about 10 km behind. Vandamme's III Corps reached Gembloux around 2100.

On 20 June Pirch's Prussians overtook the French and began to appear everywhere but where repulsed. Pirch then attacked again while the French withdrew through Namur but Teste's rear guard was able to hold off the Prussians at the cost of 1,500 Prussian casualties. Blücher then recalled Pirch and Thielmann and the Prussian pursuit of Grouchy's right wing ended.
Late on 21 June 1815, Grouchy's undefeated troops entered Phillipeville. He had managed to escape destruction or capture with about 28,000 men, most of his wounded, all his artillery and most of his equipment.






The telling remark comes when the "defeat" of Napoleon is handed directly to Wellington. And, while it is true that his leadership was critical, the war was actually won in the ensuing actions detailed above. Most of that legwork was done by the Prussians, not the English.

Cavalry at Waterloo


In order to research the next phase of The Chasseurs, I have decided to rely heavily upon the academic work done by John Keegan in The Face of Battle.
If the story of Waterloo has a 'leitmotiv' it is that of cavalry charging square and being repulsed. It was not absolutely inevitable that horsemen who attempted to break a square should fail... The feat of breaking a square was tried by French cavalry time and again at Waterloo — there were perhaps 12 main assaults during the great afternoon cavalry effort — and always (though infantry in line or column suffered) with a complete lack of success. Practice against poorer troops had led them to expect a different result: a visible shiver of uncertainty along the ranks of the waiting musketeers which would lend the horsemen nerve for the last 50 yads, a ragged spatter of balls over their heads to signal the volley mistimed, then a sudden collapse of resolution and disappearance of order — regiment become drove, backs turned, heads hunched between shoulders, helot-feet flying before the faster hooves of the lords of battle: this, in theory, should have been the effect of such a charge. 
As Jac Weller has shown by careful analysis of formation-widths, the number of cavalrymen in an attacking line was always much lower than the number of infantrymen with whom their onset brought them face to face. If the average strength of a battalion was about 500, it would, formed four deep, present in square a face of about 60 feet across, opposing about 140 men to the approaching French cavalry. They, because of the greater bulk of their horses, could present no more than about 18 men on the same width of front, with another 18 immediately behind, and it was these 36 who would take the brunt of the square's fire... If the cavalry's moral power failed to disarm the infantry — as it always did at Waterloo — then each horseman theoretically became the target for 4 infantrymen. Viewed like this, "Here comes those damnded fools again", seems like an appropriate judgment on the character of the conflict.
These squares are vital for the visual and descriptive aspect of the story. I have a scene constructed so far where one of the dogs leaps up over the rifles and lands on a shoulder; he springs again and lands in the middle of the square and looks around, bewildered. After a volley, the smoke obscures him and he manages to wriggle out through the legs of the soldiers who are wondering where he came from and why he has a French tricolor rag tied around his neck.

More of this will follow; Keegan's work is the top of the line, as per usual.

To Sell or Donate


As the intrinsic value of artifacts and pieces of history skyrocket, the desires of the families who own those objects is beginning to come under scrutiny. Already, the British are seeing the effects of leaving no suitable heirs, debts, and crumbling fortunes to go with crumbling homes. This is the decline of an empire without the necessary war to finish off the ancestral homes and turn out the cousins and the uncles who are too far removed to make a legitimate claim.

And that really is the difference here. In centuries past, the conquering armies would walk off with the loot. In Britain, that hasn't happened for so long that there are, literally, homes overflowing with aged, squalid pseudo-treasures and, to be certain, more than a few legitimate ones. Where are the Russian hordes, ready to carry back to Novosibirsk the great treasures of a minor lord or prince?

No government should be expected to step in and buy every little trinket or doodad saved for two hundred years as the expected birthright of someone who now has few prospects in modern British society beyond a pension or a respectable middle class salary. How can you expect a person making less than sixty thousand pounds per year to run and maintain the costs of a multi-million pound estate when everything is in debt or arrears?

Let them sell these things into the marketplace. The real history will come out and be preserved if the price is correct.

The Aftermath of Waterloo

The Scots Greys Charging at Waterloo

The Chasseurs project crawls along at a rather slow pace. But, it does move along, so that's something to be happy about. Each and every element needs to fit together, and finding the pieces has been a long, drawn-out process.

The aftermath of Waterloo has always interested me. After the armies shattered themselves, the French abandoned the field. The chase was on; Napoleon fled before his forces and tried to find somewhere to go. He ended up surrendering himself to a British sea captain.

This excerpt has some great details:


It would make sense to me to depict this aftermath as a time of chaos and confusion. The staggering number of wounded would mean that The Chasseurs are stuck on the field and unable to retreat. This allows for scenes at the end to take place in a static setting, one that can be transitioned from quickly.

Leipzig and a Flashback



The Battle of Leipzig is where three of my characters were subjected to a harrowing retreat and the defeat of the French Army in which they served. Oh, sure. They're dogs. But this snippet from the book by Sir Walter Scott is exactly the sort of tone that will be set when I introduce a kind of flashback.

Scott's book is very interesting, but it is, of course, the sort of history that the victor writes.

Controversy and the History of Dutch Arms, circa 1815


There are some who don't think the British deserve (as much) credit for Waterloo:
Napoleon, who had escaped his small island, made a triumphant return in Paris and became emperor of the French once again. Outlawed by the Allied powers, he decided on one final gamble. With a force of 125,000 strong he crossed the border of the new Kingdom of the United Netherlands on June 15th, in order to split up and defeat the Allied Army (90,000 men, commanded by the Duke of Wellington), and the Prussian Army (110,000 men under Field Marshall Blücher). The following day Napoleon managed to beat back the Prussians at Ligny after a hard, costly battle. Meanwhile, his trusted marshal Ney found a Dutch division on his way near Quatre-Bras: the commander of the 2nd Brigade, the 24-year old Bernhard, Prince of Saxe-Weimar, had received orders from the Duke of Wellington to retreat immediately towards Waterloo. He, however, explained to his officers: "I have never heard of a campaign that started with a retreat. I intend to defend Quatre-Bras". The divisional Chief of Staff, general De Perponcher-Sedlnitzky, later claimed he "never received Wellingtons' orders in time". Thus the Dutch and Nassau troops stayed where they were and put up a strong defense, until British and Brunswick troops came to their aid, driving the French back to their original positions. Ney had been too cautious and thus failed to drive the Allied troops off at Quatre-Bras; now, the Allied divisions had enough time to gather south of Mont Saint-Jean, and the Prussians to establish contact with the Allied Army.
On June 18th, the Line Infantry Batallion nr. 2, as part of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Dutch Division, commanded by lt.Gen. Baron Chassé (nicknamed "Papa Bayonet" by his troops, because he preferred the bayonet charge instead of the exchange of musket volleys), was camped outside the village of Braine l'Alleud. The retreat on the previous day in heavy rain had been hard, and to make matters worse, the army's supplier had gone bankrupt, leaving the men without provisions. They were not involved in any major action early in the battle, except for some skirmishes with French cavalry. Later in the afternoon, orders came for the division to move up to the first line. By now, the men came under fire of French artillery. Chassé noticed a gap in the Allied line: the French Imperial Guard Grenadiers of 3eme and 4eme Regiments were advancing, and the battered British and Brunswick troops in front of them gave way. He had the 1st Brigade march towards the Imperial Guard Grenadiers. A few volleys were exchanged and both sides returned to their former position, -much to the irritation of the Dutch and Belgians, who were anxious to finish the job. When the Imperial Guard Grenadiers advanced again, Chassé lived up to his reputation: after some devestating rounds of grapeshot from the Dutch Horse Artillery of captain Krahmer de Bichin, the columns of the six batallions of 1st Brigade (35th Jagers, 2nd Line, 4th, 6th, 17th and 19th Militia) crashed into the 3eme and 4eme Grenadiers. The Guard Grenadiers fled in terror, throwing away their bearskin caps and backpacks.
The 3rd Division went in pursuit; the 2nd Line drove away a group of Guard Grenadiers that had set up a defence at La Haye Sainte; three officers were wounded in this engagement. The 1st Brigade went after the French all across the battlefield, as far south as Rosomme. 15 minutes after Chassé's spirited attack, the Duke of Wellington ordered the general advance of the Allied Army. The 19th Militia came into contact with the Prussians, who then took over the pursuit of the fleeing French troops. Later, Wellington met Blücher near the farm "La Belle Alliance"; then he rushed back to his headquarters in Waterloo and wrote his report, the infamous "Waterloo Despatch". To the horror of Chassé and his officers, no mention was made of the atack of his division. Instead, Wellington belittled the role of the Dutch and the Prussians, making Waterloo (a name he chose instead of Belle-Alliance) a British victory. He defended his account of the battle agressively in the years to follow, despite contrary accounts from Dutch, Belgian, German and French sources. To this day, there are those who still hold on to the idea of the British squares, fighting back a sea of French cavalry, the Prussians arriving late in the evening and playing no part whatsoever, and the Dutch fleeing the scene as cowards.

The Line Infantry Batallion nr. 2 lost nearly 20 % of its officers and men, the highest number of losses suffered by any unit in the 3rd Division. It marched towards Paris, and returned later that year to the Netherlands. The 2nd Line was combined with the 16th, 17th and 18th Militia Batallions into the '2e Afdeeling Infanterie', from 1841 the 2nd Infantry Regiment. This remained its number until the regiment was disbanded in 1950; its traditions were transferred to the newly raised "Regiment Limburgse Jagers", a regiment which still exists today, making it the oldest regiment in the Dutch Army. It's battle honours include "Breda 1813", "Naarden 1814" and "Waterloo 1815", having the latter inscribed in its regimental colours.
I think that you can find these sorts of controversies wherever you look, especially when victory could have more than one parent, of a sort. In any event, it's a great read.

Research on the Battle of Ligny


Ligny presents itself with a great opportunity to highlight one of the lost details of Waterloo, and, that is, with Ligny, the French were on the move and the forces allied against him were in retreat.

Napoleon's Order of the Day before the Battle of Ligny:

Napoleon, by the Grace of God, and the Constitution of the Empire, Emperor of the French, &c. to the Grand Army.
AT THE IMPERIAL HEAD-QUARTERS. 
Avesnes, June 14th, 1815
"Soldiers! This day is the anniversary of Marengo and Friedland, which twice decided the destiny of Europe. Then, as after Austerliz, as after Wagram, we were too generous! We believed in the protestations and in the oaths of princes, whom we left on their thrones. Now, however, leagued together, they aim at the independence and most sacred rights of France. They have commenced the most unjust aggressions. Let us, then, march to meet them. Are they and we no longer the same men?
"Soldiers! At Jena, against these same Prussians, now so arrogant, you were one to three, and at Montmirail one to six!
"Let those among you who have been captive to the English, describe the nature of their prison-ships, and the frightful miseries they endured.
"The Saxons, the Belgians, the Hanoverians, the soldiers of the Confederation of the Rhine, lament they are compelled to use their arms in the cause of princes, the enemies of justice and the rights of nations. They know that this coalition is insatiable! After having devoured twelve millions of Poles, twelve millions of Italians, one million Saxons, and six million Belgians, it now wishes to devour the states of the second rank of Germany.
"Madmen! One moment of prosperity has bewildered them. The oppression and the humiliation of the French people are beyond their power. If they enter France they will there find their grave.
"Soldiers! We have forced marches to make, battles to fight, dangers to encounter; but, with firmness victory will be ours. The rights, the honour, and the happiness of the country will be recovered!
"To every Frenchman who has a heart, the moment has now arrived to conquer or to die.
THE MARSHAL DUKE OF DALMATIA,
MAJOR GENERAL

A Nod to Old Rivalries

King Willem Orange at Waterloo
Battles create rivalries. Ever wonder where the term "double Dutch" came from?

In the past the Netherlands reigned supreme at sea, and dominated global commerce. They drove the British and Portuguese from Indonesia, Malaya, and Ceylon, and arrogated to itself the fabulous trade of the Spice Islands. The merchant spirit of the Dutch made the United Netherlands the most powerful trading country of the world in the 17th century.
During the 17th century the Dutch were involved in countless wars, many of them at sea. Dutch fleet destroyed the main part of the entire Spanish navy at Gibraltar in 1607. Dutch wealth and maritime expansion was the source of much envy across Europe. When the British announced the act of navigation, which damaged Dutch traders in London, tensions became high. There were several wars between the two countries. In the second British-Dutch War several major battles took place, nearly all of them on English territory. It was during this period that the battle of Chatham (1667) took place, arguably the worst naval defeat in English history until this very day. However, many of Netherlands' colonies were swiftly annexed by Britain when the metropole succumbed to French conquest in 1795-1814.
British rivalry with the Netherlands, and Britain's jealousy of Dutch's wealth gave rise to several phrases including Dutch that promote certain negative stereotypes, incl. "Double Dutch" (meaning: gibberish or nonsense) and "Dutch courage" (drinking to cover up fear before combat). (By the way, many times the British, Russian, Polish, and French soldiers also enjoyed alcohol before combat. Edward Costello of British 95th Rifles wrote: "After having received a double allowance of grog, we fell in about 8 o'clock in the evening, 6th April 1812. The stormers were composed of men from the different regiments of the Light Division.")
In 1815, the allied army commanded by Wellington incl. 2 infantry divisions and 3 cavalry brigades of the Netherlands (or 'Dutch-Belgian') army. The British however believed that the Dutch and Belgians in general were pro French. Had Wellington lost at Waterloo, no doubt he would have had to reluctantly and bluffly point out that the failure was all the fault of the Dutch and Belgians. 
Some British writers played down the role of any troops except their own. The Dutch and Belgians are conveniently forgotten except, of course, where blame is imparted. These accounts tend to be shallow and superficial works that repeat selected myths without bothering to refer to other accounts. These authors overly rellies on British memoirs and dispatches. It is due to either nonunderstending any other language but English, or intellectual lazyness. For a serious researcher any work on the Waterloo Campaign which does not refer in detail to Dutch, Belgian, German or French sources is essentially one-sided and unreliable. 
You would almost have to be drunk in order to march in formation to your death and not give in to the urge to turn and run. Anything to steady the nerves.

Anyway, here's a post-script:

In the years following Waterloo the British were further annoyed with the Dutch/Belgians for King Willem Orange had a giant mound erected on the Waterloo battlefield, exactly on the spot where Prince Orange received his wound. (But It was King Willem's land and not British, so he could do what he wanted to.)

Waterloo Re-enactment

Re-enactment of Waterloo
I knew there was something out there like this [warning--audio will play at this website].

Now, is this cooler than a Civil War re-enactment? No, but it probably comes with less baggage and with a slightly more uncomfortable uniform to wear.

What's On When explains what happens at this event:
The infamous defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 is re-enacted every year, bringing together volunteer regiments from all over Europe in full period gear, complete with weapons. Over 1000 people take part.
The event opens with a series of peaceful demonstrations of the life of a Napoleonic-era soldier. The first day ends with a spectacular sound-and-lights show over the battlefield. A village of Napoleonic bivouacs are set up on and around the battlefield and visitors can observe daily life in the camps, check out weaponry and equipment, assist with the cooking or watch the changing of the guard and patrols.
The final day is dedicated to the re-enactments of the battles of Plancenoit and Hougoumont, which make up what is known jointly as the Battle of Waterloo. After the last battle, troops retreat towards the Hameau du Lion in a great procession.
Other re-enactments include the arrival of ambulance crews in vintage vehicles to tend to wounded soldiers with tools and implements of the time. There's also a market selling all kinds of Napoleonic objects as well as a historical path for children.
The event takes place in June over the course of three days and features a pretty comprehensive overview of the battle and the history of the event.
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No Umbrellas For You


If I'm not mistaken, this ban on umbrellas continues to this day for many military organizations:
Captain Mercer of the British Horse Artillery described the miserable night he and his troop spent on the field of Waterloo before the battle: “My companion (the troop’s second captain) had an umbrella, which by the way afforded some merriment to our people on the march, this we planted against the sloping bank of the hedge, and seating ourselves under it, he on the one side of the stick, me on the other side, we lighted cigars and became-comfortable”.
The Duke, who was indifferent to the way his officers chose to dress, drew the line at umbrellas. “At Bayonne, in December 1814,” writes Captain Gronow of the First Foot Guards, “His Grace, on looking round, saw, to his surprise, a great many umbrellas, with which the officers protected themselves from the rain that was then falling. Arthur Hill came galloping up to us saying, Lord Wellington does not approve of the use of umbrellas during the enemy’s firing, and will not allow the “gentlemen’s sons” to make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the army.”
Colonel Tynling, a few days afterwards, received a wigging from Lord Wellington for suffering his officers to carry umbrellas in the face of the enemy; His Lordship observing, “The Guards may in uniform, when on duty at St. James’, carry umbrellas if they please, but in the field it is not only ridiculous but unmilitary.”
Standing orders for the army in the Peninsula and in the Waterloo campaign stated categorically “Umbrellas will not be opened in the presence of the enemy.”
However the surgeon of Captain Mercer’s troop of Horse Artillery was seen to be sheltering under the forbidden item during the early part of the Battle of Waterloo.
Excellent stuff. The umbrella image from above is from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and it's a lady's parasol. This one was made, apparently, in England in the late 18th or early 19th century. It does correspond to the time period, however.

Pardon Me While I Steal a Chapter

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Here's the entirety of Chapter 13 of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Great Shadow."

CHAPTER XIII

THE END OF THE STORM

OF all the things that seem strange in that battle, now that I look back upon it, there is nothing that was queerer than the way in which it acted on my comrades; for some took it as though it had been their daily meat without question or change, and others pattered out prayers from the first gunfire to the last, and others again cursed and swore in a way that was creepy to listen to. There was one, my own left-hand man, Mike Threadingham, who kept telling about his maiden aunt, Sarah, and how she had left the money which had been promised to him to a home for the children of drowned sailors. Again and again he told me this story, and yet when the battle was over he took his oath that he had never opened his lips all day. As to me, I cannot say whether I spoke or not, but I know that my mind and my memory were clearer than I can ever remember them, and I was thinking all the time about the old folk at home, and about Cousin Edie with her saucy, dancing eyes, and de Lissac with his cat's whiskers, and all the doings at West Inch, which had ended by bringing us here on the plains of Belgium as a cockshot for two hundred and fifty cannons.

  During all this time the roaring of those guns had been something dreadful to listen to, but now they suddenly died away, though it was like the lull in a thunderstorm when one feels that a worse crash is coming hard at the fringe of it. There was still a mighty noise on the distant wing, where the Prussians were pushing their way onwards, but that was two miles away. The other batteries, both French and English, were silent, and the smoke cleared so that the armies could see a little of each other. It was a dreary sight along our ridge, for there seemed to be just a few scattered knots of red and the lines of green where the German Legion stood, while masses of the French appeared to be as thick as ever, though of course we knew that they must have lost many thousands in these attacks. We heard a great cheering and shouting from among them, and then suddenly all their batteries opened together with a roar which made the din of the earlier part seem nothing in comparison. It might well be twice as loud, for every battery was twice as near, being moved right up to point blank range with huge masses of horse between and behind them to guard them from attack.
  When that devil's roar burst upon our ears there was not a man, down to the drummer boys, who did not understand what it meant. It was Napoleon's last great effort to crush us. There were but two more hours of light, and if we could hold our own for those all would be well. Starved and weary and spent, we prayed that we might have strength to load and stab and fire while a man of us stood on his feet.
  His cannon could do us no great hurt now, for we were on our faces, and in an instant we could turn into a huddle of bayonets if his horse came down again. But behind the thunder of the guns there rose a sharper, shriller noise, whirring and rattling, the wildest, jauntiest, most stirring kind of sound.
  "It 's the pas-de-charge!" cried an officer. "They mean business this time!"
  And as he spoke we saw a strange thing. A Frenchman, dressed as an officer of hussars, came galloping towards us on a little bay horse. He was screeching "Vive le roi! Vive le roi!" at the pitch of his lungs, which was as much as to say that he was a deserter, since we were for the king and they for the emperor. As he passed us he roared out in English, "The Guard is coming! The Guard is coming!" and so vanished away to the rear like a leaf blown before a storm. At the same instant up there rode an aide-de-camp, with the reddest face that ever I saw upon mortal man.
  "You must stop 'em, or we are done!" he cried to General Adams, so that all our company could hear him.
  "How is it going?" asked the general.
  "Two weak squadrons left out of six regiments of heavies," said he, and began to laugh like a man whose nerves are overstrung.
  "Perhaps you would care to join in our advance? Pray consider yourself quite one of us," said the general, bowing and smiling as if he were asking him to a dish of tea.
  "I shall have much pleasure," said the other, taking off his hat; and a moment afterwards our three regiments closed up, and the brigade advanced in four lines over the hollow where we had lain in square, and out beyond to the point whence we had seen the French army.
  There was little of it to be seen now, only the red belching of the guns flashing quickly out of the cloudbank, and the black figures -- stooping, straining, mopping, sponging -- working like devils, and at devilish work. But through the cloud that rattle and whirr rose ever louder and louder, with a deep-mouthed shouting and the stamping of thousands of feet. Then there came a broad black blurr through the haze, which darkened and hardened until we could see that it was a hundred men abreast, marching swiftly towards us, with high far hats upon their heads and a gleam of brasswork over their brows. And behind that hundred came another hundred, and behind that another, and on and on, coiling and writhing out of the cannon-smoke like a monstrous snake, until there seemed to be no end to the mighty column. In front ran a spray of skirmishers, and behind them the drummers, and up they all came together at a kind of tripping step, with the officers clustering thickly at the sides and waving their swords and cheering. There were a dozen mounted men too at their front, all shouting together, and one with his hat held aloft upon his swordpoint. I say again, that no men upon this earth could have fought more manfully than the French did upon that day.
  It was wonderful to see them; for as they came onwards they got ahead of their own guns, so that they had no longer any help from them, while they got in front of the two batteries which had been on either side of us all day. Every gun had their range to a foot, and we saw long red lines scored right down the dark column as it advanced. So near were they, and so closely did they march, that every shot ploughed through ten files of them, and yet they closed up and came on with a swing and dash that was fine to see. Their head was turned straight for ourselves, while the 95th overlapped them on one side and the 52nd on the other.
  I shall always think that if we had waited so the Guard would have broken us; for how could a four-deep line stand against such a column? But at that moment Colburne, the colonel of the 52nd, swung his right flank round so as to bring it on the side of the column, which brought the Frenchmen to a halt. Their front line was forty paces from us at the moment, and we had a good look at them. It was funny to me to remember that I had always thought of Frenchmen as small men; for there was not one of that first company who could not have picked me up as if I had been a child, and their great hats made them look taller yet. They were hard, wizened, wiry fellows too, with fierce puckered eyes and bristling moustaches, old soldiers who had fought and fought, week in, week out, for many a year. And then, as I stood with my finger upon the trigger waiting for the word to fire, my eye fell full upon the mounted officer with his hat upon his sword, and I saw that it was de Lissac.
  I saw it, and Jim did too. I heard a shout, and saw him rush forward madly at the French column; and, as quick as thought, the whole brigade took their cue from him, officers and all, and flung themselves upon the Guard in front, while our comrades charged them on the flanks. We had been waiting for the order, and they all thought now that it had been given; but you may take my word for it, that Jim Horscroft was the real leader of the brigade when we charged the Old Guard.
  God knows what happened during that mad five minutes. I remember putting my musket against a blue coat and pulling the trigger, and that the man could not fall because he was so wedged in the crowd; but I saw a horrid blotch upon the cloth, and a thin curl of smoke from it as if it had taken fire. Then I found myself thrown up against two big Frenchmen, and so squeezed together, the three of us, that we could not raise a weapon. One of them, a fellow with a very large nose, got his hand up to my throat, and I felt that I was a chicken in his grasp. "Rendez-vous, coquin; rendez-vous!" said he, and then suddenly doubled up with a scream, for someone had stabbed him in the bowels with a bayonet. There was very little firing after the first sputter; but there was the crash of butt against barrel the short cries of stricken men, and the roaring of the officers. And then, suddenly, they began to give ground-slowly, sullenly, step by step, but still to give ground. Ah! it was worth all that we had gone through, the thrill of that moment, when we felt that they were going to break. There was one Frenchman before me, a sharp-faced, dark-eyed man, who was loading and firing as quietly as if he were at practice, dwelling upon his aim, and looking round first to try and pick of an officer. I remember that it struck me that to kill so cool a man as that would be a good service, and I rushed at him and drove my bayonet into him. He turned as I struck him and fired full into my face, and the bullet left a weal across my cheek which will mark me to my dying day. I tripped over him as he fell, and two others tumbling over me I was half smothered in the heap. When at last I struggled out, and cleared my eyes, which were half full of powder, I saw that the column had fairly broken, and was shredding into groups of men, who were either running for their lives or were fighting back to back in a vain attempt to check the brigade, which was still sweeping onwards. My face felt as if a red-hot iron had been laid across it; but I had the use of my limbs, so jumping over the litter of dead and mangled men, I scampered after my regiment, and fell in upon the right flank.
  Old Major Elliott was there, limping along, for his horse had been shot, but none the worse in himself. He saw me come up, and nodded, but it was too busy a time for words. The brigade was still advancing, but the general rode in front of me with his chin upon his shoulder, looking back at the British position.
  "There is no general advance," said he; "but I'm not going back."
  "The Duke of Wellington has won a great victory," cried the aide-de-camp, in a solemn voice; and then, his feelings getting the better of him, he added, "if the damned fool would only push on!" -- which set us all laughing in the flank company.
  But now anyone could see that the French army was breaking up. The columns and squadrons which had stood so squarely all day were now all ragged at the edges; and where there had been thick fringes of skirmishers in front, there were now a spray of stragglers in the rear. The Guard thinned out in front of us as we pushed on, and we found twelve guns looking us in the face, but we were over them in a moment; and I saw our youngest subaltern, next to him who had been killed by the lancer, scribbling great 71's with a lump of chalk upon them, like the schoolboy that he was. It was at that moment that we heard a roar of cheering behind us, and saw the whole British army flood over the crest of the ridge, and come pouring down upon the remains of their enemies. The guns, too, came bounding and rattling forward, and our light cavalry -- as much as was left of it -- kept pace with our brigade upon the right. There was no battle after that. The advance went on without a check, until our army stood lined upon the very ground which the French had held in the morning. Their guns were ours, their foot were a rabble spread over the face of the country, and their gallant cavalry alone was able to preserve some sort of order and to draw off unbroken from the field. Then at last, just as the night began to gather, our weary and starving men were able to let the Prussians take the job over, and to pile their arms upon the ground that they had won. That was as much as I saw or can tell you about the Battle of Waterloo, except that I ate a two-pound rye loaf for my supper that night, with as much salt meat as they would let me have, and a good pitcher of red wine, until I had to bore a new hole at the end of my belt, and then it fitted me as tight as a hoop to a barrel. After that I lay down in the straw where the rest of the company were sprawling, and in less than a minute I was in a dead sleep.

Published in 1892, "The Great Shadow" was intended to be a tale of the Napoleonic War. You can find it here at Project Guttenberg.

Also at Project Guttenberg, I had a chance to sift through "A Visit to Three Fronts" and this piece stood out:
The French soldiers are grand. They are grand. There is no other word to express it. It is not merely their bravery. All races have shown bravery in this war. But it is their solidity, their patience, their nobility. I could not conceive anything finer than the bearing of their officers. It is proud without being arrogant, stern without being fierce, serious without being depressed. Such, too, are the men whom they lead with such skill and devotion. Under the frightful hammer-blows of circumstance, the national characters seem to have been reversed. It is our British soldier who has become debonair, light-hearted and reckless, while the Frenchman has developed a solemn stolidity and dour patience which was once all our own. During a long day in the French trenches, I have never once heard the sound of music or laughter, nor have I once seen a face that was not full of the most grim determination.
Germany set out to bleed France white. Well, she has done so. France is full of widows and orphans from end to end. Perhaps in proportion to her population she has suffered the most of all. But in carrying out her hellish mission Germany has bled herself white also. Her heavy sword has done its work, but the keen French rapier has not lost its skill. France will stand at last, weak and tottering, with her huge enemy dead at her feet. But it is a fearsome business to see—such a business as the world never looked upon before. It is fearful for the French. It is fearful for the Germans. May God's curse rest upon the arrogant men and the unholy ambitions which let loose this horror upon humanity! Seeing what they have done, and knowing that they have done it, one would think that mortal brain would grow crazy under the weight. Perhaps the central brain of all was crazy from the first. But what sort of government is it under which one crazy brain can wreck mankind!
If ever one wanders into the high places of mankind, the places whence the guidance should come, it seems to me that one has to recall the dying words of the Swedish Chancellor who declared that the folly of those who governed was what had amazed him most in his experience of life. Yesterday I met one of these men of power—M. Clemenceau, once Prime Minister, now the destroyer of governments. He is by nature a destroyer, incapable of rebuilding what he has pulled down. With his personal force, his eloquence, his thundering voice, his bitter pen, he could wreck any policy, but would not even trouble to suggest an alternative. As he sat before me with his face of an old prizefighter (he is remarkably like Jim Mace as I can remember him in his later days), his angry grey eyes and his truculent, mischievous smile, he seemed to me a very dangerous man. His conversation, if a squirt on one side and Niagara on the other can be called conversation, was directed for the moment upon the iniquity of the English rate of exchange, which seemed to me very much like railing against the barometer. My companion, who has forgotten more economics than ever Clemenceau knew, was about to ask whether France was prepared to take the rouble at face value, but the roaring voice, like a strong gramophone with a blunt needle, submerged all argument. We have our dangerous men, but we have no one in the same class as Clemenceau. Such men enrage the people who know them, alarm the people who don't, set every one by the ears, act as a healthy irritant in days of peace, and are a public danger in days of war.
Four dogs during World War I? Well, I'll have to think about that.

The Bivouac


Sometimes a painting like this just tells the story for you.

We know that the night before Waterloo, the rains made the battlefield wet. I know that, in my story, the sorts of things that you see in this painting will be details that will make The Chasseurs react to what they find when they arrive. They will have spent days shadowing the armies, trying to avoid the confusion of calvary scouts and wayward units and deserters. They will find these rifles stacked everywhere and smell who owns them.

The way that dogs smell will mean a lot in this story. What a narrator or an all-knowing narrative might say can really be summed up by the fact that these dogs know what the Prussians, British, French and whoever else smelled like.

Storytelling tricks. You have to have them.

Another story to consider:
Muchuch. "After the battle of Talavera [27-28 July 1809], General Graham, afterwards Lord Lynedoch, was told of a dog which lay on the grave of a Spanish officer and refused food. He desired the dog to be brought to his quarters, but the servant returned without him, and said the dog would not allow him to come near. General Graham then ordered him to take as many soldiers as were necessary to secure and bring him away. After a time, the dog was sent to Scotland, to his friend Graham of Fintry (the injudicious patron of Burns), by one of whose family he was given to the father of my informant, who resided in Edinburgh. At that house he remained some years -- the delight of all. He was a large poodle, marked with brown, and had had part of one of his ears shot off in battle. In those days the guns from the Castle announced many victories, and when they were fired Muchuch got into a state of great excitement; the house-door was opened, and he ran direct to the Castle and straight to the battery among the men. After a while he was regularly expected on such occasions, and welcomed and made much of by the soldiers. Frequently he walked out with the governess and young ladies: one morning, in the King's Park, he was seized with asthma, a soldier kindly assisted them to carry him to a stream of water and then to Holyrood. Having heard his history he asked leave to acquaint the guard at the Palace -- the soldiers turned out and paid all respect to the old hero.
"His friends had reluctantly to part with him, finding that he had become jealous of the youngest member of the family, who was a great favourite, and it being feared he might do her some serious injury. Muchuch ended his days peacefully, at Fintry, acting turkey-herd -- driving his charge afield in the morning, and bringing the flock home every evening." George Richard Jesse, Researches into the History of the British Dog (London: 1866 [2 vols]) vol. 1, pp. 118-119.
I find these anecdotes to be fairly interesting in that they show people who had been involved in the most significant acts of the early 19th century remembering the pets, the dogs, and the little things above all else.

Timeline of the Battle of Waterloo


There are excellent resources out there, but this is the sort of thing that will inform what I'm trying to do. This map shows what happened in the afternoon, and this map shows what happened later in the day:



At this point, it becomes a rout:
At around 5.30pm Ney launched the final cavalry assault. There were too many regiments, fresh mingled with exhausted. The attack failed yet again.Ney now, far too late, launched the sustained infantry assault on La Haye Sante which was overwhelmed. By now the Prussian assault in the South East on Plancenoit was seriously threatening the French position.
Sure that the Allied line was at breaking point, Ney sent desperately to the Emperor for more troops to attack. Napoleon was at this point deploying the Guard to drive the Prussians back from Plancenoit. Once this had been achieved he resolved to launch the Guard at the main Allied line. By this time Wellington had reorganised his forces and the opportunity that Ney had, this time, correctly identified had passed.
The Guard marched up to La Haye Sante for the attack. There Napoleon stood aside and left the command to Ney. Ney led the five battalions up the left hand side of the Brussels road. As they climbed the ridge they came under fire from a curve of batteries assembled to meet them. A deserting French cavalry officer had warned of the Guard’s advance.
The Middle Guard threw back the British battalions of Halkett’s Brigade but were assaulted by the Belgian and Dutch troops of General Chassé and Colonel Detmers who drove them back down the hill.
The 3rd Regiment of Chasseurs approached the ridge opposite Maitland’s Brigade of Foot Guards (2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 1st Foot Guards). Wellington called to the brigade commander “Now Maitland. Now’s your time”. One authority had him as saying “Up Guards, ready”. The Foot Guards stood, fired a volley and charged with the bayonet driving the French Guard back down the hill.
The last of the French Guard regiments, the 4th Chasseurs came up in support as the British Guards withdrew back over the ridge.
Sir John Colborne brought the 52nd Foot round to outflank the French column as it passed his brigade, fired a destructive volley into the left flank of the Chasseurs and attacked with the bayonet. The whole of the Guard was driven back down the hill and began a general retreat to the cry of “La Garde recule”.

This map shows the battle at 8PM (it was June 18th, after all)



Some more tidbits:

The Battle of Waterloo and The Royal Scots Greys and Sergeant Charles Ewart:
  • After the battle the 1st Foot Guards were given the title “the Grenadier Guards” to commemorate the regiment’s role in overthrowing the French Grenadiers of the Old Guard. All ranks were given the bearskin cap to wear.
  • 14th Foot: The 3rd Battalion of the regiment fought at Waterloo. The battalion had been newly raised and was awaiting disbandment, having seen no service, when Napoleon escaped from Elba. The battalion crossed to Belgium and won the battle honour for the regiment. Most of the soldiers were under 20 years of age.
  • The Emperor Napoleon, some years before Waterloo, presented to each of his marshals a silver snuff box. Marshal Ney’s snuffbox was looted from his carriage after the battle by a British officer. Some years later the snuffbox was presented to the officers of the 19th Foot, the Green Howards, who used it in their mess for formal occasions.
  • The 27th Inniskilling Fusiliers, in the course of Ney’s cavalry attacks was bombarded by a French horse battery. By the end of the battle the battalion had suffered 478 casualties from a pre-battle strength of 750. An officer from a nearby battalion, Captain Kincaid, commented that the 27th seemed to be lying dead in its square. Kincaid, a veteran of the Peninsular War, said “I had never thought there would be a battle where everyone was killed. This seemed to be it.”
  • The Duke of Wellington spent his early army service as the lieutenant colonel of the 33rd Foot. After the Duke’s death Queen Victoria permitted the 33rd to adopt the title “the Duke of Wellington’s”, a fitting attribution for one of the army’s most persistently successful regiments of foot.
  • 79th Cameron Highlanders: As the French cavalry approached for the attack the regiment formed square. Piper Mackay marched around the square playing the pibroch “Peace or War”. The King subsequently presented Mackay with silver mounted pipes.
  • In spite of their presence in the film “Waterloo”, the 88th Foot, Connaught Rangers, were not present at Waterloo. They were on the far side of the Atlantic fighting the Americans.
  • The 95th had three battalions at Waterloo. After the battle the regiment was given the title of the “Rifle Brigade” in place of its number, which was reallocated to a newly raised infantry regiment.
  • In the closing moments of the battle a cannon ball struck the Earl of Uxbridge as he rode with the Duke of Wellington. The Duke said “By God you’ve lost your leg.” The Earl said “By God, so I have.” The remains of the leg were amputated in a house nearby and the owner buried the leg in his garden where it was a place of interest for some years.
  • Every year after 1815 the Duke of Wellington held a “Waterloo” banquet for his officers. The banquet is still held.
So much to choose from...