Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles
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#1 Bestseller in the U.K.
From the New York Times bestselling author and master of martial fiction comes the definitive, illustrated history of one of the greatest battles ever fought—a riveting nonfiction chronicle published to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s last stand.
On June 18, 1815 the armies of France, Britain and Prussia descended upon a quiet valley south of Brussels. In the previous three days, the French army had beaten the Prussians at Ligny and fought the British to a standstill at Quatre-Bras. The Allies were in retreat. The little village north of where they turned to fight the French army was called Waterloo. The blood-soaked battle to which it gave its name would become a landmark in European history.
In his first work of nonfiction, Bernard Cornwell combines his storytelling skills with a meticulously researched history to give a riveting chronicle of every dramatic moment, from Napoleon’s daring escape from Elba to the smoke and gore of the three battlefields and their aftermath. Through quotes from the letters and diaries of Emperor Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington, and the ordinary officers and soldiers, he brings to life how it actually felt to fight those famous battles—as well as the moments of amazing bravery on both sides that left the actual outcome hanging in the balance until the bitter end.
Published to coincide with the battle’s bicentennial in 2015, Waterloo is a tense and gripping story of heroism and tragedy—and of the final battle that determined the fate of nineteenth-century Europe.
very good, but when it was bad it was horrible. In 1813, in the Peninsula, a single shrapnel round killed every horse and man of a French gun crew, but the friction between the musket balls and the powder inside the case was sometimes so intense that the case-shot exploded inside the gun barrel. That problem was not to be solved for half a century, but fortunately for the gunners it did not happen frequently and Shrapnel’s spherical case-shot was reliable enough. It was only effective if the
watched an enemy lancer trying to pull his weapon from the body of a British dragoon and the man needed several hard tugs to free the blade and was vulnerable while he did that. The cross-piece was meant to prevent the blade being trapped by a corpse. Lieutenant Scheltens was in the Dutch–Belgian battalion that did not flee with the rest of Bylandt’s Brigade. ‘Our battalion opened fire as soon as our skirmishers had come in,’ and that must have been perilously close to the ridge top because:
horsemen through and some redcoats were trampled, while others grabbed hold of stirrups and went with the cavalry, and they charged the whole width of the ridge, the westernmost on the highway, and so along to the crest above Papelotte. The shock, the surprise, was total. John Dickson, who remembered watching Napoleon’s army parade in the early morning shafts of sunlight, was a Corporal in the Royal Scots Greys. His regiment, all mounted on white (i.e. grey) horses, was behind the 92nd, those
companions saw another column, almost certainly General Durutte’s men on the extreme right of the French attack: Trumpeter Reeves … who rode by my side sounded a ‘rally’, and our men came swarming up from all sides, some Enniskillens and Royals being among them. We at once began a furious onslaught … the [French] battalions seemed to open out for us to pass through, and so it happened that in five minutes we had cut our way through as many thousands of Frenchmen. We had now reached the bottom of
Captain von Scharnhorst. Von Reiche wanted to obey the original orders and go to Wellington’s assistance, despite the report of the Duke’s defeat, but von Scharnhorst insisted that Blücher’s new orders must be obeyed. ‘I pointed out to him’, von Reiche said: that everything had been arranged with von Müffling, that Wellington counted on our arrival close to him, but von Scharnhorst did not want to listen to anything. He declared that I would be held responsible if I disobeyed Blücher’s orders.