Thursday, August 20

W'Loo


Update: My mobile-phone photo the the top of the 226 stair knoll (I counted) on the site of the battle, and the famous La Butte du Lion. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington said of it "They have spoiled my Battlefield." But it offers a panoramic view and puts one in the mind of past actions.

I am in Waterloo this morning and ask a receptionist for advise on things to see before the airport. She advises the battlefield and I thank her for her good idea, which is kind of like being told to see the Golden Gate Bridge when in San Francisco. Or Big Ben in London. So there we go to the or about eight miles Southeast of Brussels .

Waterloo marks to the defeat of Napoleon to the Seventh Coalition, including an Anglo-Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian Army under Gebhard von Blucher. It was a decisive ass kicking and ended Napoleon's rule as the French emperor, and the end of his Hundred Days post exile. I was reading about this only last week in Patrick O'Brien's 19th book of his Master and Commander series (Captain Jack ecstatic that Napoleon returns giving him his raison d'etre, even if only for a short while).

Upon Napoleon's return to power in 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition and began to mobilise armies. Two large forces under Wellington and von Bl├╝cher assembled close to the northeastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the Coalition. And so: Waterloo. According to Wellington, the battle was "the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life."

Napoleon delayed giving battle until noon to allow the ground to dry. Wellington's army, positioned across the Brussels road on the Mont St Jean escarpment, withstood repeated attacks by the French, until, in the evening, the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank. At that moment, Wellington's Anglo-allied army counter-attacked and drove the French army in disorder from the field. Pursuing Coalition forces entered France and restored Louis XVIII to the French throne. Napoleon abdicated, surrendered to the British, and was exiled to Saint Helena, where he died in 1821.


"All I want to know is where I am going to die so I will never go there."

--Warren Buffet