Blücher was concussed and his deputy decided to move his 30,000 troops further north to join Wellington, who later called this ‘the most important decision of the nineteenth century.’ The British troops, a minority in the allied army, stood firm in their squares and their discipline didn’t break, in spite of heavy losses. In contrast, the French began to fall back until the cry went up, ‘La Garde recule!’ and then, ‘Sauve qui peut!’. Everywhere the French were dropping their muskets and trying to escape. Napoleon remained calm, but knew the day was lost. It was a terrible battle, the costliest of the wars after Borodino but the allies had stuck to the decision made at the Congress of Vienna not to rest until Napoleon was thoroughly defeated.
Portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Goya