The Age of George III

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The Battle of Waterloo: 18 June 1815

After his exile to Elba, Napoleon returned to France in March 1815 to regain his empire in a campaign known as the 'Hundred Days'. On 18 June 1815, the battle was fought that ended the career of Napoleon and ended twenty-two years of European wars that had begun in 1793. At Waterloo the Napoleonic Empire finally crumbled. The battle, fought twelve miles south of Brussels, continued during the whole day, the French foot and cavalry making constant but unavailing attacks on the English lines. Wellington was relying for final victory on the arrival of the Prussians under General Blucher, and late in the afternoon they appeared on the battlefield at the moment when Napoleon had ordered the Imperial Guard to launch itself against the English positions. This attack was already being repelled when the Prussians entered the battle. From that moment it became a rout of the French force.

Napoleon lost the battle for a number of reasons:

Napoleon fled to Paris, where he found the parliament unwilling to give him further support. Finally, he surrendered to the captain of a British warship, H.M.S. Bellerophon, and was sent to his second exile, this time on the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic, where he busied himself with writing his memoirs and giving his own version of his triumphs and ultimate defeat. He died in the year 1821.

[1] Although Wellington was the Commander of the forces that fought at Waterloo, there were more non-English troops in his army than there were Englishmen. Napoleon did not differentiate between the various nationalities; English historians have made the same mistake and labelled the Allied army "English". [back]

Retreat to Waterloo by Chevalier Mercer

See The Battle of Waterloo web site for a detailed account of the battle.
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Last modified 23 April, 2017

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