Battle of Waterloo is one of the most famous battles in world history. This battle saw the decline of Napoleon, the Great. Battle of Waterloo is not a single event in history. To understand this battle properly, we need to understand what factors led to this battle. So, today let us revisit one of the famous battles of the world in our Battle of Waterloo Facts.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 1-7
1. Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769 in Corsica, a Mediterranean island.
2. He joined the French army and due to his skills, he rose through the ranks and became a worthy leader.
3. After successful years as a leader, he captured political power in France in 1799.
4. First consul was the title given to him and he led France from then on.
5. He crowned himself as the emperor of France in 1804. His military expeditions continued and he conquered many of the neighboring areas of France.
6. His expeditions took a blow with the Battle of Leipzig. Even before the Battle of Leipzig started, he was involved in other wars which are described below.
7. In 1812, Napoleon attacked Russia. The fate was a little different this time.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 8-14
8. Napoleon’s army had was brutally defeated and the army had to retreat.
9. Seeing this as an opportunity, British, Portuguese, and Spanish forces attacked already beaten Napoleon’s army.
10. The three armies drove his forces out of Iberian Peninsula in Peninsular War which took place from 1808 to 1814.
11. Battle of Leipzig took place in 1813. This battle is also known as Battle of Nations.
12. The army of Napoleon had to face another embarrassing defeat. Napoleon’s army was up against Austrian, Prussian, Swedish, and Russian forces.
13. With the defeat, morale of Napoleon and his army was low. He retreated to France in 1814 (March).
14. The coalition forces reached France and captured Paris.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 15-21
15. On 6 April 1814, Napoleon had to leave the throne. As per the Treaty of Fontainebleau, he had to leave France and take shelter in Elba, a Mediterranean island.
16. On 26 February 1815, Napoleon escaped Elba and reached the mainland France with a group of 1,000 hardcore supporters.
17. On 20 March, he reached Paris and people were very happy and were cheering for him.
18. The king, Louis XVIII, fled from Paris and Napoleon started another campaign which is now famously known as Hundred Days campaign.
19. The moment Napoleon returned, coalition forces (Austria, Britain, Prussia, and Russia) started preparing for war.
20. Napoleon created a new army and wanted to attack each of his enemies singly before they could launch a collective attack on him.
21. In the month of June, 1815, Napoleon’s army marched into Belgium where British and Prussian forces were present.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 22-28
22. The battle is called the Battle of Ligny. On 16 June 1815, Napoleon defeated Prussian forces but couldn’t destroy the entire Prussian army.
23. Just two days later on 18 June 1815, Battle of Waterloo began. The French army had 72,000 troops whereas British forces, including German, Dutch, Belgian forces, had 68,000 troops.
24. Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, was the commander of the combined forces.
25. It rained on the previous night (before the Battle of Waterloo started). So, Napoleon allowed the waterlogged area to dry and didn’t command his army to attack until midday.
26. This small mistake became the major reason for his defeat. This delay made sure that the Prussian army reached the battleground and the coalition troops’ number increased from 68,000 to 98,000 troops.
27. This turned the fate of Napoleon. Because of his age (he was in his 40s), his ill health, he made a lot of mistakes while leading the army and appointed inadequate commanders.
28. The French army was outnumbered and had to retreat. According to some estimates, French forces suffered 33,000 casualties (including prisoners of war, wounded and dead) and coalition forces suffered 22,000 casualties.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 29-35
29. Battle of Waterloo was the end of Napoleon’s military expeditions. He is said to leave the battleground in tears.
30. On 22 June 1815, he was dethroned. He was sent to exile once again, this time to Saint Helena, present in the South Atlantic Ocean, in the month of October.
31. On 5 May 1821, he died of stomach cancer (most probably) at the age of 51.
32. He was buried in Saint Helena. But his remains were brought to France and saved in a crypt at Paris’ Les Invalides in 1840. Other military officers of France are also buried there.
33. Though the battle was named Waterloo (after the town Waterloo), the actual battle took place three miles south of Waterloo.
34. The exact location of the battle is Plancenoit and Braine-l’Alleud villages. It was named after Waterloo because Duke of Wellington made Waterloo his headquarters.
35. British forces included soldiers from Ireland, Scotland and some of the soldiers were even Welsh.
Battle of Waterloo Facts 36-42
36. After he was dethroned, Napoleon wanted to go to the USA. He reached Rochefort, a coastal city, from where he planned to sail to the United States.
37. However, Britishers blocked the sea route, and to avoid the embarrassment of getting caught in a vessel, he surrendered to British forces on 15 July 1815.
38. His relatives including his brother Joseph did reach United States and lived there for the rest of their lives.
39. It is said that Napoleon suffered from hemorrhoids which didn’t allow him to ride the horse and survey the battleground (which was his usual style) and this was one of the reasons for his defeat. However, it is not known whether it is true or not.
40. The soldiers of Waterloo battle looted gold, money, etc. from the fallen commanders right in the middle of the battle! Hours after the battle ended, locals came with chisels, pliers, and hammers to remove the front teeth of the soldiers. The teeth were used to make dentures and hence were in high demand. Locals sold those teeth to the dentists.
41. English dentists called them “Waterloo ivory” or “Waterloo teeth”. This looting of teeth tradition continued till the Civil War and the teeth were referred to as Waterloo teeth.
42. As per the treaty, France had to pay a lot of money in five years to coalition forces. Duke of Wellington received 200,000 British pounds. It is roughly 15 million British pounds as of 2018.