callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

The Napoleon Diaries 13

Why did Napoleon lose the battle of Waterloo? He said that this time fate was against him but the truth is that he did everything wrong and Wellington, everything right. There were reports that he seemed tired and ill. Whether or not that’s true, he certainly delayed too long before attacking when he had the chance. He thought his troops had beaten Blücher at Ligny but it wasn’t a knock-out blow. The crucial factors in the battle were first, allowing Wellington to choose the site of the battle and to get himself into a strong defensive position. Secondly, Napoleon split his armies and some of his troops had been diverted to quell rebellions in the Vendée and other parts of the south. He had made his best general, Davout, minister for war, so that he took no part in the battle.

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
Tags: history

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