Waterloo – A near run thing

By: snowgood

Jun 25 2019

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Category: books, Death, War, Witness

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Here’s a fine historical account of what I thought was a great British victory.

David Howarth steers away from long winded detail, and instead uses eye witness accounts to give a synopsis of events.

He points out the fact that this was one of the first major battles where many of the combatants could read and write.

As such we can benefit from the reports of humble soldiers, rather than a biased assessment from those in command.

I hadn’t realised we’d relied on support from Dutch, German, Austrian, Prussian, Swiss and Swedish nations.

If anything this was a war between a European coalition and French Imperialism.

The tragedy of this war was the scale of human and equine suffering all for the sake of a pompous little Frenchman.

I liked the way Howarth explains how warfare was usually carried out, and the stratagem for thwarting a cavalry attack.

Even better it was a treat to learn about the utter inaccuracy of musket fire. A soldier could parade in front of the enemy  at 40 paces in confidence that he’d probably not be shot!

Spoiler alert – Wellington and his supporting cast somehow overthrew the French.

It would appear that Bonaparte was suffering from excruciating pain and was totally incapable of rational judgements – and this was compounded by a resolute refusal to take up station where he might watch the battle unfold.

As he seemed to despise his next in charge  the soldiers were really left out on a limb.

In addition Wellington used new tactics gleaned from Spanish warfare to preserve his men and gain substantial advantages.

All in all this is a Five Star book, my only suggestion for improvement would be to add better maps – and place them altogether to make it easier to follow the action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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