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How close was Banaparte to victory at Waterloo?

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  • How close was Banaparte to victory at Waterloo?

    Do you thin Napoleon could have defeated the Allied armies at Waterloo?

    The British resolve, so indomitable in the years of war to date, began to weaken. Hours of absorbing huge casualties had left the army dangerously wounded and finally La Haye Sainte fell in the centre.

    Ney immediately positioned an artillery battery there and in order to hold the centre Wellington called in all his reserves.

    Despite being like a boxer staggering and awaiting the knock-out blow, the Allied troops held on only to be faced by a sight that had terrified many fresh armies - the advance of the Imperial Guard.

    In one final attempt to deal with Wellington, Bonaparte threw his undefeated veterans at the recalcitrant thin red line, which buckled under the strain.

    The moment of victory was at hand when upon Wellington's command, 1500 Guardsmen stood immediately in front of their French counterparts and stopped the advance with a withering point-blank series of volleys.

    The Chasseurs of the Guard finally reeled away in disorder and the sight of their retreat sent panic through Bonaparte's ranks.

    The disintegration of a once-proud army into a mass of panicking men took place almost within a blink of an eye and Bonaparte's dreams, and reputation, lay shattered.

    The British and Prussian pursuit was relentless and prevented any chance of French consolidation.

    The battle to end Bonaparte's hold on power had been a costly one. Wellington lost 15,000 men, Blucher 7000, and Bonaparte 32,000, with at least another 7000 captured.
    As I understand it, Napoleon had done a good job of maneuvering to keep Field Marshal Blucher's force from linking up with the Duke of Wellington. The French were outnumbered by a significant amount, but there was a chance for victory.
    I hate newspapermen. They come into camp and pick up their camp rumors and print them as facts. I regard them as spies, which, in truth, they are. If I killed them all there would be news from Hell before breakfast. -- William Tecumseh Sherman

  • #2
    Napoleon was staking all in one last desperate move by sending the Guard against the British muskets. All the other attacks had failed to break through and evening was approaching.
    Recent research has indicated that the Prussians had driven deep into the French right flank and it was this as much as the repulse of veterans that brought the French rank and file to the point of collapse.
    The Emperor had really lost the campaign on the 16th when he failed to follow up the half beaten Prussians and turned north to attack Wellington's Army. This gave Blucher enough breathing space to galvanise his men to march to the relief of their hard pressed Allies on the 18th.
    Grouchy did not understand that his role was not that of an Corps of Observation but a Corps of Attack. His battle at Wavre was easily held while the bulk of German forces made for the sound of the guns where it was obvious the main battle was being fought.


    • #3
      My, what a sight it must have been to see this battle unfold in person. No wonder we're still talking about it after all these years.

      I'm really looking forward to the Napoleonic Battles sequal to Cossacks. The screenshots are really wonderful and that system is perfect for these type of battles. I was sorry to hear that it has been pushed back a few months.


      • #4
        One of the Napoleon's fault at Waterloo is that he made for the most part a frontal attack on the English center, with no subtility, and against a troop for which the defense is an art. In fact I think that when Napoleon fought his battles, he had already won them by operational or strategic manoeuver. But here, apparently (I don't know a lot of thing about this battle) he made a good thing by attacking the Prussians and the British separatly, but he didn't choose the good battle. At the same time he was forced, and couldn't do otherwise than trying to defeat the British first, and hadn't enough time for the subtility.

        Monsieur de La Palice est mort
        Mort devant Pavie.
        Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
        Il était encore en vie...


        • #5
          Regarding the battle at Waterloo, there is a body of opinion which says quite simply that Ney blew it. Then Bonaparte had nothing left except for the Guard and they could not change the outcome.


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