The ultimate defeat
It wasn’t until 7pm that Napoleon brought his elite force, the Imperial Guard, to bear against the Allied centre in a last attempt to force the issue. The first attack was repulsed. Then, as the second formation marched up the incline towards Wellington, British troops that had been concealed in tall grass stood up as one and delivered a shattering volley. The column of battle-hardened French troops visibly wavered. Allied forces counter-attacked and the French Guard retreated. The sight of the Guard falling back was a massive blow to the morale of the entire French army.
Wellington, seeing his opportunity, ordered a mass advance and the French army fled in disorder with the Prussians in pursuit.
The outcome was so decisive that it produced the phrase that Napoleon had indeed “met his Waterloo”. Having entered the popular lexicon, this phrase has since been applied to countless defeats in all aspects of life.
The battlefield today
In 1826, the Dutch government completed a massive monument at the site, named the Lion’s Mound. Three hundred thousand square metres of soil from the ridge that was once the centre of Wellington’s line was used to create a huge man-made mountain, changing the topography of the landscape forever. On top of this was placed a brass lion statue.