At Waterloo, Napoleon was ill. He had gout, dysuria, and hemorrhoids. His back hurt atop the horse, but he needed to be seen by commanders and he needed to be vertically high enough to see the battlefield unfolding before him. When this most famous battlefield was over, he evacuated as another almost anonymous soldier on horseback.
To the English, this was the victory of all victories, the bloodiest of all emperors, the embedded enemy of the English and the scourge of Europe was vanquished.
June 18th, 1815, 2 A.M. A message is delivered to Arthur Wellesley cthe Duke of Wellington. It is from Alfred Blucher, informing the Duke that an entire Prussian Army Corps under General Friedrich Wilhelm Von Bullow would depart for the battlefield at daybreak. Two other Prussian Corps would show up to join. The British.
Wellington had his troops on a rise overlooking the battlefield south of Mont. St. Jean. He had 70,000 men and 184 artillery guns. Napoleon had 74,000 men and 266 artillery pieces. Under Napoleon his generals were a dozen extraordinary commanders, including Ney, Grouchy, Vandamme, and Lobau.
At 9 A.M. Napoleon ordered the attack on the English center. But commanders convinced him to wait until the wet ground dried a bit so artillery could be confidently anchored and the powder would not get wet. By 11 he could wait no longer and ordered the advance. The blooded French advanced into the ranks of tough English and Scotts troops, who held their lines and repulsed the advance with artillery hidden in the hills above the French.
Napoleon knew that Prussians were on the way, and in typical fashion, Napoleon sent a force to attack the Prussians before they joined the British on the battlefield. He send Grouchy with 30,000 troops to pursue the Prussians
In the distance on this battlefield The French saw clouds of troops advancing. A German POW told the French that this was Von Bullow leading a Prussian Army Corps to join Wellington. Bulow had broken Lobau’s ambush and was near the action behind Wellington’s lines. So Napoleon sent Ney into the foray and he was driven back. The second time he was driven back. Wellington ordered a general advance, and with the Prussians behind them, the British moved against the French main line. This time, the French turned and ran.
Ney stood by a dead horse, covered in smoke and grime, bewildered, watching the general chaos consume his once ordered troop formations. Not to worry, even Napoleon was retreating amidst a sweaty bloody tangled gallimaufry. The French left 25,000 dead or wounded and 8000 taken prisoner. Wellington lost 15,000 and Blucher 7,000.
Wellington quipped. “We have delivered the coup de grace to Napoleon and all that is left is for him to hang himself.”