We were frantic to spend time in the Allied encampment rather than looking at the French or visiting the monuments to the Prussians. It met all our expectations when we finally tramped into the grounds of the Chateau Hougoumont where the re-enactors for the Allies had their camp. But the first glimpse was rather a chuckle.
military man’s favorite exercise.
It got darker and darker as Saturday afternoon wore on. This was about 3 pm. But it certainly was not as dark as it was in the real battle where the smoke from the guns and cannons engulfed everything.
After he reached Paris, Napoleon’s plan was to march north from the French border to Brussels, defeating the Allied troops stationed around Brussels led by Wellington and the Prussian troops who were moving west from Germany toward a rendezvous with Wellington. Napoleon planned to prevent that meeting by keeping the two Allied armies apart. The plan of Wellington and Blücher was to meet up and defeat the French forces. At right, Prussian Field Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.
The first battle was Quatre Bras (pronounced something like Ka-tra-BRA, meaning Four Arms), a strategic crossroads village. The road from the French border north to Brussels here crosses the east-west road from Germany to the coastal ports. At left, Quatre Bras today.
The English arrived here on the morning of June 16 and met French forces sent by Napoleon and led by Marshal Ney. As more and more Allied troops arrived, Wellington was able to hold off the French.
to fight the French with their combined forces.
about Wellington’s victory over Napoleon. Must have been translated from the French!
Kristine here, back in the land of television shows in English and computer keyboards with all the keys where they should be. I did try to post while in France, but honestly, it was too frustrating. As Vicky has posted, once she is also back in the States we’ll be posting blogs and pics of our trip, but for now I’ll give you the highlights of the Wellington tour once Vicky and I parted ways. Vicky and Ed left us on Sunday morning, Battle of Waterloo day, in order to make their cruise connection. Brooke and I went on with the tour to the re-enactment site.
When we’d visited the day before to see the military camps, La Belle Alliance and Hougemount, someone had asked me if I were going to walk to the top of the Lion’s Mound, the great man-made hill erected to commemorate the Battle and I responded, emphatically, no. It’s an almost verticle hill with many, many steps to the top. Well, dear reader, never say never. It turns out that there were so many visitors to the battle that if you’d stayed on the ground, you’d never see a thing, being five or six deep in a crowd of spectators. It was absolutely freezing on the day, and had rained the day before so Brooke and I bought commemorative Waterloo blankets (not kidding) and began the long climb up the mound. We got about half way there and found ourselves spots from which to view the action. Once you left the stairs, you had to crouch down in order to walk to your place, the slope is so steep. Also, it’s covered in slippery grass, with no footholds to speak of. Talk about harrowing. Brooke later told me that she’d never before actually seen terror in anyone’s eyes as she had when she was helping me to our place. The fact that people above us kept losing their personal items – cameras, umbrellas and such – and that these kept rolling down the hill past us did not offer us much comfort. At last we found purchase, digging our heels and butts into the hillside in order to gain a bit of purchase, and settled in for the show. . .
And what a show it was. It was absolutely thrilling to be in the thick of the Battle, so to speak. The formations, the cannons going off, the rifles being fired, the smoke enveloping the field as mounted calvary cantered across the field, all of it was fabulous. And to add to the authenticity of the thing, it began to bucket down rain. So now I’m precariously perched on the side of the Mound, watching the battle, holding an umbrella over us and trying to film the Battle. It was at this point that Brooke told me she wasn’t into Wellington as much as I was and this was all more of a sacrifice than she was prepared to make and that she was going down the pub to wait for me in the dry, with a drink. Thank God one of fellow tour members, an exceedingly nice man who was a retired police detective from Surrey, was with us and able to help me back down the Mound at the end or I’d still be sitting at the Battlefield.
Vicky and I took masses of photos all along the way and we promise to post them soon – shots of the military camps, the battle sites and lots of re-enactors in various uniforms. I also took much video – including footage of “Wellington” on horseback, galloping between regiments – and if I can figure out how to edit these, I’ll be posting them in the near future. It’s grand to be back and we look forward to sharing our trip via our posts here soon.
The following email was passed on from the Historical Novel Society and we in turn are now passing it on to you, as we feel it may be of interest. During the Battle of Waterloo, Chateau Hougoumont was the scene of almost constant fighting, hour upon hour of artillery, fires, attacks from waves of soldiers. Hundreds of men died inside and out. It is certainly worth commemorating.
I am sending this e mail to a number of friends who I think might be interested in history, or may know someone who has such an interest. I am on the committee of Project Hougoumont, the official organization that plans to restore the Farm at Hougoumont, on the battlefield of Waterloo. In cooperation with the local and federal authorities in Belgium, we are hoping to raise approximately 40% of the cost of the renovation of this historic centre of the battle that changed the course of history on June 18th, 1815.
Project Hougoumont also has the agreement of the Belgian Authorities to commission a monument that will be placed inside the gates at Hougoumont in memory of the British Army that fought at Waterloo. You may be surprised to learn that whilst there are monuments to the French, Belgian, Hanoverian, Nassau and Prussian forces that fought in the great battle, there has never been a monument to the British officers and men who formed the greater part of Wellington’s army.
To accomplish the above, we wish to set up a network of interested people who may wish to take part in this historic event. You may wish to help sponsor this project or at least be kept informed of its progress. The project has developed a very novel idea for fund raising that will name sponsors on a Roll of Honour that will be kept at Waterloo for all time. Future generations will be able to see the Roll of Honour on a computer and in a series of volumns located in the farmhouse at Hougoumont.
Project Hougoumont would like to e-mail you on a regular basis to up date you on progress with the restoration of the farm and the commissioning of the monument. We have set up a secure network that ensures that your e-mail address is not circulated to anyone without your permission, and we will require your agreement to put your name on our networking list. All of us at Project Hougoumont welcome your interest in this exciting project. Read more on our website.
Best wishes, Steve Stanton