is a small city
. It is famous for the Battle Of Waterloo, which took place on the 18th of June 1815
, a small village just south of Waterloo
. It was at Waterloo that Napoleon
suffered his final defeat
In 1814 Napoleon had been sent in exile to Elba. He escaped and returned to France in March 1815 and built up a new, small army with which he intended to reconquer his lost empire, starting with Belgium and Holland.
Two great European armies were mobilized and made their way to Belgium to defeat Napoleon. The first army was under the command of the Duke Of Wellington and consisted of divisions from different countries. The other army was under command of Marshall Blücher and came from Prussia.
The Prussian army first fought Napoleon at Ligny, but was forced to retreat. The Duke of Wellington fought the French army at Quatre Bras, but he too was forced to retreat. He awaited the French army at Waterloo, preparing for the final battle. Blücher sent Wellington a message that he would be able to join the battle there, but only later on the day of the battle.
Wellington chose Waterloo because there were several forts or castles there which his forces could use if they needed a final defence, and because there were slopes which might protect them from the bombardments that always came before the French attacks.
Wellington's army was in the northern parts of the fields outside Waterloo. It had been raining heavily on the night before the battle and this delayed the French attack somewhat.
At about 11 a.m. Napoleon attacked Wellington, starting the battle on the western flanks of the armies. From a little after noon and throughout the day there was a lot of fighting in a frontal attack. Still both armies seemed to have a 50-50 chance of winning, but Blücher was now on his way from east of the battlefield to aid Wellington in the battle.
At about 6Pm Blücher arrived at the battlefield and his Prussian army linked with the eastern flank of Wellingtons army. This forced Napoleon to make a dogleg front, which kept getting squeezed in from the right. The positions in the final battle must have looked something like this:
here represents Wellington's forces, B
represents Blücher's army and N
represents Napoleon's army.
In the end Napoleon could no longer stand up aggainst the joined forces of Wellington`s and Blücher`s armies, and he retreated and escaped to France. Blücher and Wellington met each other near the Belle Alliance farmhouse and congratulated each other on the final defeat of Napoleon.
Before the main battle Napoleon had despatched a force of 30,000 men from his initial force. These were to head north and engage Blücher's forces in order to hinder them from comming to Wellington's aid. These 30,000 men under the command of Marshal Grouchy did not find Blücher however, and they did not participate in the main battle. If they had remained with the rest of their army instead, they might have tipped the balance in the battle against Wellington.
In the main battle, Wellington had 67,000 soldiers, Blücher had 52,000, and Napoleon's remaining army counted 72,000.
Several monuments have been erected at Waterloo, including a monument in memory of the Belgian soldiers that fell in the battle, and L'Aigle Blessé (The Eagle Wounded \ The Wounded Eagle) in memory of the French forces that fought in the Battle Of Waterloo, at the site of the final defeat of Napoleon.