Text Box:  
Arthur Wellesley was born on 1 May 1769 in Ireland. He joined the army in 1787, and fought his first battles as a soldier in The Netherlands against the French in 1794-1795. He fought as a colonel in India, where he received his first command. As a reward for his successful campaigns, he was knighted in 1805.

 

Wellesley gained his first experiences against the French troops while defending Portugal. His defense was a great success, and when he returned to England he was made the first Duke of Wellington. His widespread fame put him at the head of the British Army, which defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo. He then remained in France for three years with an occupying army.

 

Upon his return to Great Britain, he was made Commander-in-Chief of the British Army.  He also spent some time as the prime minister under George IV, although his military attitude did not make him many friends. He later returned to his position as Commander-in-Chief, a position which he kept until his death.

 

 

 


 

 

18 JUNE 1815
THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO

Text Box:  PREFACE

In 1814 Napoleon had been exiled to the Island of Elba, but escaped to France in March 1815. Very quickly he managed to form a new army with which he wanted to reconquer his lost empire. The first part that he wanted to reconquer was Belgium and Holland. The European powers, at congress in Vienna, mobilized their armies to defeat Napoleon. Two major armies made their way to Belgium. The first one was an army consisting of divisions from different countries (Belgian, Dutch, British) under the command of the Duke of Wellington. The second army came from Prussia and was led by Marshal Blücher

 

 

THE PRELIMINARY BATTLES AT LIGNY AND QUATRE BRAS.

The armies already clashed before the actual battle took place. Blücher and the Prussian army fought Napoleon at Ligny, a village north east of Charleroi on the 16th of June. However, Blücher and his troops were forced to retreat. A part of the army of the Duke of Wellington tried to drive the French army back at Quatre Bras, the crossroads of the Brussels-Charleroi and Namur-Nivelles roads. Also Wellington did not succeed and he had to retire to the plains south of Waterloo, where he waited for the big confrontation on the 18th. Blücher managed to send a message to Wellington that he would be able to join him on the battlefield at Waterloo, but probably only later in the day. Napoleon thought that the Prussian army had been defeated and that he would only have to face the Wellington troops.

 

 

THE BATTLE

On the night before the battle it had rained heavily and both the French and Allied armies had spent the night in the mud and the pouring rain. The troops of Wellington occupied the northern part of the plains of Mont-Saint-Jean and were situated behind a sunken lane, which later proved to be a strategic advantage for the Duke, because the French infantry and cavalry kept fallen inside this sunken land and thereby hindering each other to move further north.

Text Box:  The battlefield was situated around three large farmhouses . On the far right was the HOUGOMONT house, in the middle the HAIE SAINTE farm, and at the extreme left was the PAPELLOTTE farm. The French offensive started at 11:30 when the farm of Hougomont was attack. Later during the day, heavy fights took place around the farms of Haie Sainte and Papellote. By the late afternoon, the chances for both armies were still fifty-fifty. But, Text Box:  around that time the Blücher's troops started to arrive coming from Wavre to assist the army of Wellington. By then, the French army was surrounded by the two forces and could no longer withstand the joint attacks of allied troops. By the beginning of the evening, Napoleon had to withdraw his troops from the battlefield and start the escape back to France. Later, Blücher and Wellington met each other near the BELLE ALLIANCE farmhouse and congratulated each other with the final victory over Napoleon.

On the 18th of June, 191.300 soldiers fought one of the most decisive battles in the history of Europe in only one day. The Wellington army had 67.000 soldiers, Blücher's army 52.300 and Napoleon's army 72.000. A total of 48.500 men fell or were severely wounded.

After the battle, the territory of the battlefield was given to the Wellington family by the newly formed state of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Later several monuments were erected in commemoration of the different army divisions who fought the battle of Waterloo.

 

 

TIMETABLE  OF THE BATTLE

 

The French and Allied armies deployed during the morning

 

11.30 Battle commences with a French attack on the fortified farm of Hougoumont.

 

13.30 Attack on the Allied main line by the French First Infantry Corps under General Drouet d'Erlon.

 

14.00 D'Erlon's troops are repulsed.

 

14.30 British cavalry counter-attack, but press their charge too far and are forced to retreat

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15.00 The French infantry assault ends in failure.

 

15.30 Massed charge of the French cavalry.

 

16.30 By now, four cavalry charges have been delivered, all unsuccessfully. The first Prussians arrive, engaging the French feast of Plancenoit. The Prussian Fourth Corps under von Bülow attacks.

 

18.00 Fresh Prussian troops launch a major assault on Plancenoit.

 

19.00 Napoleon throws his Imperial.

 

19.30 More Prussian troops come into action at the Papelotte farm. The French begin to withdraw.

 

20.15 The whole Allied line goes over to the offensive.

 

20.30 Panic and flight of the French army.

 

21.00 Victory of the Allied forces. Wellington and Blücher shake hands on their success.

 

 

 

 

 

L'Aigle Blessé, (wounded eagle),

the monument

for the French soldiers who fought at Waterloo

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

MONUMENTS IN THE CITY OF WATERLOO

Text Box:  THE WELLINGTON MUSEUM

Before the battle this house used to be an inn. The Duke of Wellington installed his headquarters in this building a few days before the battle took place. It has later been turned into a museum where visitors can see personal memories of Wellington and other heroes of the battle, uniforms, weapons and detailed maps of the battlefield. In a newly constructed side room, the evolution of the battle can be followed through illuminated maps. Location: Chaussée de Bruxelles 147, 1410 Waterloo.

 

THE ROYAL CHAPEL This church opposite the Wellington Museum was built by the last Spanish Governor of the Spanish Netherlands in 1690. Later the church was enlarged. In the front part are several memorials for officers who fell during the battle of 1815. 

 

 

MONUMENTS AT THE BATTLEFIELD

THE VISITORS CENTER
The visitors center gives information about the battle. An audiovisual spectacle with slides can be seen here. It indicates the strategic points of the battle and the movements of the different armies. Also, one can see here a movie about the battle. A 20 minute movie tells the story of present-day children who are playing at the battlefield and who suddenly find themselves in the middle of the battle.

Location: Route du lion 252-254, 1420 Braine-l'Alleud.

 

Text Box:  THE LION HILL

The lion hill, which is the main memorial monument of the Battle of Waterloo, indicates the spot where the Prince of Orange was wounded. A total of 226 stairs leads to the top of the monument where one can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire battlefield 

 

 


Text Box:  THE PANORAMA OF THE BATTLE

The panorama is a circular building where in 1912 a painting of the battle was housed. The painting, in circular form, is 110 meters long and 12 meters high. The visitor stands on a central platform and finds himself in the middle of the battle, surrounded by the infantry and cavalry of both armies. It was painted by Louis Dumoulin. In recent years audio elements where added to the panorama, so that this unique experience becomes very life-like.

 

 

Text Box:  THE CAILLOU MUSEUM


On the 17th of June 1815 Napoleon and his staff installed their headquarters in this farmhouse and spent the night here on the eve of the battle. The farmhouse has now been changed into the Napoleon Museum.

Location: ée de Bruxelles 66, 1472 Vieux-Genappe.   

 

 

 

The Lion of Waterloo gazes from the summit of its 40-metre-high mound across the great battlefield of June 18, 1815, with its farmhouses and rolling fields and the nearby villages of Braine-l'Alleud, Genappe, Plancenoit (Lasne) and Waterloo.

At the base of the Lion 's pedestal is an orientation-table, indicating key points on the battlefield as well as the monuments dedicated by the countries to the valour of their troops.

On June 16, the first clashes took pace at Ligny and Quatre-Bras, as the opposing armies came to grips with each other. This lead to the retreat of the allied troops commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian Marshal Blücher, and to the advance of the Emperor Napoleon's French army.

Napoleon spent the night of June 17 at Vieux-Genappe. Wellington slept in Waterloo while his army bivouacked a few kilometres to the south, close to the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean.

Blücher's Prusssians were out of contact to the east.

Sunday June 18 was the decisive day for both armies, whose troops took up their positions in the morning. Battle commenced half-an-hour before noon with a French attack on the fortified farm of Hougoumont, followed by an infantry assault on the Allies' main line. Both were beaten back, and a counter-charge of the British cavalry was stopped by French artillery.
The French cavalry under Marshal Ney, the 'bravest of the brave', then attacked, charging time and again but faring no better against Allied infantry and artillery. French infantry captured the fortified farm of La Haie-Sainte, clearing the way for a strike at the Allied centre.

With the Prussians attacking his flank at Plancenoit and the Papelotte farm, Napoleon threw his elite Old Guard forward in a final effort to break Wellington 's line. The Allies held firm and the Old Guard retreated under a storm of musketry, cannon balls and grape-shot. A general advance by the Allies turned the French defeat into a rout, with Napoleon himself barely escaping.

 


THE LION

Some 28 tons of cast-iron were needed to make this impressive monument, which was transported by steamer from Liège then transferred to a waggon pulled by 20 horses to arrive at the battlefield. It surmounts the 169-metres-inmeter mound raised by the Dutch between 1823 and 1826 on the spot where it is believed the Prince of Orange was wounded. The mound required 290,485 cubic metres of earth from the surrounding fields to attain its height of 40.5 metres and circumference of 520 metres, while the Lion is supported by a central column of masonry and stands on a 4.5-metre-high pedestal. Climbing the mound's 226 steps allows visitors to experience a magnificent view over the battlefield. Acces until 15 minutes before closing.

 


BRAINE L'ALLEUD

Saint Stephen 's Church

On the morning after the Battle of Waterloo, the mayor of Braine-L'Alleud organized assistance for the wounded. The church became a hospital where nuns and local citizens did their best to alleviate the suffering.

Hougoumont Manor-Farm
One of three farms involved in the action-the others being La Haie-Sainte and Papelotte-Hougoumont was a heavily defended outpost protecting the Allied right wing. Napoleon opened the battle by assaulting it at 11.30am. Although only intended as a diversionary attack, the fighting here continued until 7pm and was among the most violent and costly of the whole day. The farm, which was never taken, still bears the scars of valiant attack and heroic defence. Its living quarters were destroyed by fire, with only the manor chapel, part of a wall and traces of the stairway surviving. The present farmhouse was formerly the gardener's house.

Demulder Monument
This stone, dedicated in 1986, was placed here in memory of Lieutenant Augustin Demulder, a young French trooper from nearby Nivelles, who was killed during the fierce cavalry charges led by Marshal Ney against the Allied infantry squares

 


LASNE - PLANCENOIT

Wounded Eagle Monument

The bronze imperial eagle, gravely injured and carrying a French flag in its talons, is the work of sculptor Jean- Leon Gerome. It is dedicated to the last soldiers of Napoleon's Grand Army, and was erected in the spot where it is believed that the Imperial Guard formed a square for a last stand against the victorious Allies.

Prussian Monument
Erected in memory of the 6,700 Prussians who fell on the field of battle, it is located at Plancenoit, on the spot where an artillery battery of von Bulow's Fourth Corps had stood.
On one side is carved an inscription, in German and in Gothic script: "To The Dead Heroes From A Grateful King And Country. May They Rest In Peace. BelleAlliance, 18thJune 1815".The work of the 19th-century German architect Schinkel, the monument was erected in 1819.

La Haie-Sainte Farm
Like Hougoumont and Papelotte, this beautiful farm was transformed into a fortress by the Allied army, garrisoned by six companies of the King's German Legion, which were later reinforced by two companies of Nassau troops. From 2pm onwards they were subjected to furious attack and were finally forced to withdraw. The French finallly captured the farm but incurring such a loss of lives and time that they could not exploit their success. Two plaques on the walls commemorate the fierce struggle that took place here.

 


GENAPPE

Bisected from north to south by the Brussels-Charleroi road, the Genappe area witnessed the ebb and flow of the armies.

Le Roi d 'Espagne Inn
On June 16, the Duke of Wellington spent the night here; on the 17th his place was taken by the French Prince Jerome and General Reille. Further illustrating the fortunes of battle, the Prussian Marshal Blücher moved in on the 18th, while General Duhesme was being treated in an adjoining room where he died on the 20th.

Monument to General Duhesme at Ways
The French General Count Duhesme, Commander of the Young Imperial Guard, who had been mortally wounded at Plancenoit, died in the Roi d'Espagne Inn and was buried at Ways.

Belgian Monument
Sober monument erected to the memory of the Belgians killed during the battle of Quatre-Bras.

Brunswick Monument at Baisy-Thy
Erected in memory of Frederick-William, fourth son of the Duke of Brunswick, who was killed in action on June 16 at Quatre-Bras, during fierce fighting between the Allies and a French force commanded by Marshal Ney.

Dutch Cavalry Monument
A modern structure, built in 1990, commemorating the Dutch Cavalry men who fell at the battles of Quatre-Bras and Waterloo.

 



WATERLOO

Monument to the Belgians

Designed by the architect Callewaerts and erected in 1914, the monument honours the sacrifice made by Belgian soldiers killed at the Battle of Waterloo. The granite stela bears the inscription: "In Defence Of The Flag And The Honour Of The Armies", as well as a panoply of arms and a shield depicting the Belgian lion wreathed in laurel, beneath a shot-torn flag.


Mont-Saint-Jean Farm
Belonged to the Templar Order since 1230 before being rebuilt in 1778 by the Knights of Malta. It was used as a field-hospital by the British during the battle, and comprises a large square of whitewashed brick, stone and granite.