The ul­ti­mate de­feat

Provincial Living - - Back In Time... -

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.

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