Napoleon’s Waterloo


(For lack of an interesting subject to blog about, I have decided that, at times, I would be sharing with you ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ stories of people, places and events that could have changed the course of history, as we know it. Author Phil Mason calls it ‘history with a twist.’

 Hope you get enthralled reading the spin that could have made little changes in the world we live today – had it happened.- Quierosaber)


napoleonNapoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), also known as Napoleon I, was a French military leader and emperor who conquered much of Europe in the early 19th century. Born on the island of Corsica, Napoleon rapidly rose through the ranks of the military during the French Revolution (1789-1799). After seizing political power in France in a 1799 coup d’état, he crowned himself emperor in 1804. Shrewd, ambitious and a skilled military strategist, Napoleon successfully waged war against various coalitions of European nations and expanded his empire. However, after a disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812, Napoleon abdicated the throne two years later and was exiled to the island of Elba. In 1815, he briefly returned to power in his Hundred Days campaign. After a crushing defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, he abdicated once again and was exiled to the remote island of Saint Helena, where he died at 51.

But, what really happened on June 18, 1815 when Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington’s 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo?

History tells us that in a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry.

But what caused Napoleon to commit the fatal blunder?

What history didn’t tell us is that Napoleon possibly lost the Battle of Waterloo because on the day of the final denouement he suffered an acute attack of hemorrhoids that stopped him from riding his horse and keeping up his usual supervision of troop movements. It was the only time he had been prevented from directing his armies in the way he preferred.

It is said that he had suffered earlier during the campaign. Two days before, his doctors had lost the leeches used to relieve the pain and accidentally overdosed him with laudanum, from whose ill-effects he was still suffering on the morning of the battle.

According to some analysis of his decision that day, Napoleon’s delays in launching his opening assault had much to do with his indispositions: originally planned for 6am, then 9am, but it did not actually start until nearly midday.

French casualties in the Battle of Waterloo were 25,000 men killed and wounded and 9,000 captured, while the allies lost about 23,000.


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