Thursday, 18 June 2015

The bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo

Today is the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, when the combined forces of Britain, Prussia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hanover, and Brunswick finally put paid to Napoleon's French Empire.

Hopefully the countries of Europe have moved on since then, and this bicentenary can be celebrated by the populations of all those countries that took part in that struggle ... and that we remember all those who fought – and died – during the Waterloo Campaign.


  1. Bob,
    May I be the first to wish you a very happy Waterloo Day.
    I'm looking forward to seeing how your wargame of the battle develops.
    I'll be looking at the One Minute Waterloo rules to see whether I can tinker with them to include Wavre and/or make the game into a two-player mini-kriegsspiel - using my commemorative bronze Waterloo medal as a paperweight...
    I've also purchased a small print n'play boardgame called Grand Empires which looks interesting, but the eight page rulebook is rather longer than I care for nowadays!

  2. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    May I return your greeting and wish you a Happy Waterloo Day!

    I have just finished varnishing and basing my French Artillery and I am about to begin work on the French Cavalry. Unfortunately both Sue and I have been suffering from a recurring flu-like virus for some time, and it is slowing down my ability to make anything other than slow progress on my Waterloo project.

    I will be interested to hear how your development of the One Minute Waterloo rules turns out.

    I also like your comment that an eight-page rule book is too long, a sentiment with which I totally agree.

    All the best,


  3. Nice to see the bi-centenary being commemorated properly. I think events had been planned for the centenary but were somewhat overtaken by events.

    I'll bring the W1815 boardgame to COW as it is commendably quick and lends itself to a discussion of what other battles could be represented by a similar approach.

  4. Nigel Drury,

    From what I have seen of the commemorative events, they seem to have been quite restrained and dignified.

    I look forward to seeing the W1815 game and - if time allows - trying it out. It would be interesting to see if it might well be suitable for adaptation to other battles.

    All the best,


  5. It's interesting how Waterloo has come to be regarded. It is depicted as an overwhelming, irreversible defeat. Well, it certainly was a defeat, but it was not irreversible; the Armee du Nord recovered rather quickly, and most of France still preferred Nap to the odious Louis XVIII, After Nap was given the heave-ho, Davout took command of the army, and made it clear to the Allies he would personally oppose another "military conquest" of the French people a la 1814. It comes as no surprise, then, that hostile-ities came to a quick end after all, much to Russia's disappointment.

    Worse from a military standpoint, Waterloo seemed to be the model for ending future wars: one big battle would settle the matter, and then we can all go home. Generals on both sides in the American Civil War, fully expected it. Bull Run, of course, did not end things, but Lee in particular continued to seek "one big victory" to end the war. Grant was the first to realize it was the will of the people that really determined how long hostilities would continue, and that defeat on the battlefield by itself would not break it.

    The Austro-Prussian War, unfortunately, seemed to prove the Waterloo principle was accurate after all, but the Franco-Prussian War did not, nor did any of the wars that followed. Even as late as 1914 it was predicted that the war might not end after one big battle, true, but it would surely be over by Christmas.

    Well anyway, happy Waterloo Day.

    Best regards,


  6. Chris,

    A very interesting and thought-provoking comment. Your point about the perceived finality of the victory at Waterloo coming to define the idea that wars have to end with a final climactic battle is very well made, and it still held true in the minds of many people well into the twentieth century.

    A Happy Waterloo Day to you as well.

    All the best,



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