Napoleon at Waterloo

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The battle of Waterloo is universally associated with the last stand of Napoleon. It is (for all intents and purposes) the most significant blow to Napoleons final attempt at a return to power, Napoleons loss sealed his fate and consequently lost his empire (once and for all). However was it truly Napoleon’s faults that resulted in the loss at Waterloo? Or as many have stated was it more accurately Marshal Ney’s inability to follow Napoleons orders and command his troops in a custom that Napoleon not only expected but had spent years refining. Before the battle of Waterloo Napoleon ordered 30 000 troops under the command of Marshal Grouchy to separate from the main force, splitting off in order to (in theory) catch and eliminate the Prussian forces which enemy intelligence suggested would attempt to join the British forces for the battle of Waterloo. This left Napoleon and his marshals Soult, Ney, and D'Erlon ([among others] along with other members of Napoleons commanders). D’Erlon’s men were by all accountants the most fit for battle, well they had marched for most of Napoleon’s campaign had not yet seen a large battle, and they as the freshest troops were there for chosen to begin the assault on Wellington’s troops. By no fault of their own they were forced back by cavalry until Napoleon ordered the dispatch of the cuirassier (heavily armed sword welding cavalry) and two lance divisions (heavily armored lance barring cavalry), so effective was the use of these forces that the British cavalry was quickly eliminated however strong artillery and reserve (light) cavalry eventually forced Napoleon’s heavy troops to retreat. This left the French and British at a temporary standstill, however “off on the right you see Prussians, now t... ... middle of paper ... ...annon, there by incapacitating not only the canon but creating more work and the need for future cannon repair. However Ney ordered the French to remain fighting. When the French were eventually forced back, Ney made is final mistake, he ordered the cavalry to once again rush into the British squares. Well artillery continued to rain down upon them and not an infantry division came to their aid. By the evening Ney had lost most of his cavalry and the few that remained were so exhausted that many horses and riders simply collapsed. “He is also out of his element when it came to commanding at Waterloo. He should not have been in command at Waterloo, he let his emotion, desire for glory , overcome what he should be thinking about, he should not have attacked before he was guaranteed infantry … there is no way excuse that … this is also most certainly true for Grouchy”

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