The Battle of Waterloo

  • Created by: lwilson23
  • Created on: 20-02-19 12:44

Prelude to the Battle

- by end of PW - Grand Armee in tatters. Napoleon forced to abdicate and then exiled to the island of Elba in 1814. He then escaped and returned to France in 1815 - proclaimed himself leader and was accepted again - ruled for 100 days. 

- he reformed the Grand Armee and sent 73,000 men to fight Wellington's army of 68,000 and General Blucher's Prussian Army of 50,000 men in Belgium. 

- the campaign started well for Napoleon - whose force of 60,000 defeated Blucher's army at Ligny on 16th June 1815 - thought the Prussians defeated so marched on to fight Wellington at Waterloo - but Blucher was not done. 

- Napoleon's army was forced to trail through mud (tiring) to fight the amassed British forces, whom they encountered in battle at Waterloo on 18th June 1815

- one of the greatest battles in British and French history - 'a very close run thing'.

- whoever won the battle decided the future of Europe. 

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The Events of the Battle

- Wellington knew success hinged on Blucher's reinforcements - defensive rather than offensive. 

- he also knew he was outnumbered - so positioned his men behind a ridge and at three garrisoned farms - Papelotte, Le Haye Sainte and Hougoumont - provided vantage and cover.

- had to hold out until the Prussian reinforcements arrived. 

- an attack by Joseph Bonaparte on Hougoumont farm ended in failure for the French, as the British picked off French attackers through holes in the wall. The 'closing of the gates' at Hougoumont also proved crucial to British success. 

- by 13:00, it seemed as if victory was in Napoleon's grasp as his forces advanced on Hougoumont and took La Haye Sainte - only Papelotte still remained. The Prussians were advancing. 

- out of desperation Wellington used cavalry to repel the French assault with great effect. 

- Napoleon forced to split his forces between the British and the advancing Prussian reinforcements to the east, eventually became too much, lost the battle. 

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The Aftermath of the Battle

- loss at Waterloo ended Napoleon's rule - exiled to island of St Helena where he died in 1821. 

- the future of Europe was now in British hands.

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