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The Principal Engagements of the Hundred Days

The great battle at Waterloo on June 18, 1815 tends to overshadow all other events during what the Allies called the “War of the Seventh Coalition,” but which is more commonly called “The Hundred Days.”   Although Waterloo was the decisive battle of the campaign, it was a multifront war.

The accompanying table includes open field engagements involving 1,000 or more troops men on at least one side during the Hundred Days, wherever they took place.  This naturally omits the many sieges that took place, the last of which was not concluded until September, as the newly restored Royalist government in Paris slyly permitted Bonapartist garrisons to hold out for as long as possible rather than let some important strongholds surrender to the Prussians, Austrians, or Russians.

On the table below, the name given for the action is that by which it is commonly known in English, or that of a nearby town where there is no common name: “The Pursuit” is used for events of June 17th to cover the many little rear guard actions that took place as the Anglo-Allied and Prussian armies retreated from Quatre Bras and Ligny and the French attempted to pursue them.  The presumed victor is indicated by an asterisk (*), unless there was no obvious victor.  Numbers are approximations in thousands, including killed, wounded, captured, and missing, with "0.0" indicating fewer than 100 casualties,.  Among the wounded there would have been many who were able to remain on duty, while many of the missing would have been stragglers, who often returned to duty within a day or so.

Under “Sides”, “Bonapartists” and “Royalists” are shown for engagements in the civil war between pro- and anti-Napoleon factions that erupted upon the Corsican’s return from Elba.  Similarly, “Allied” is used for the army commanded by Wellington, which had about a dozen different national contingents, though British, Dutch-Belgian, and Hanoverian troops predominated.

Date                 Action                  Sides                Troops  Losses  Theatre

May  20            Aizenay                Bonapartists *     1.2        0.0      Vendee

                                                       Royalists            6.5         1.0

Jun  12             Marais                   Bonapartists *    1.2          0.0     Vendee    

                                                       Royalists            1.5          1.5

Jun  15             Thuin                     French*            10.0          0.0    Belgium

                                                       Prussians            1.0          0.0

Jun 15              Marchienne           French*            15.0          0.1   Belgium

                                                       Prussians            8.5          0.8

Jun  15             Charleroi               French*              3.0          0.1   Belgium

                                                       Prussians            8.5         0.3

Jun  15             Solielmont            French*              5.0          0.3   Belgium

                                                      Prussians            8.2          0.5

Jun  15             Gosselies               French*             2.3          0.1   Belgium

                                                     Prussians            8.5          0.2

Jun  15             Frasnes                 French               2.0          0.0   Belgium

                                                     Allied*               0.9          0.0

Jun  15             Fleurus                 French              10.0          0.1     Belgium

                                                      Prussians           7.5          0.1

Jun  16             Roche-Servien      Bonapartists*    8.0          0.0   Vendee

                                                      Royalists          12.0          3.0

Jun  16             Quatre-Bras          French              24.0          4.1     Belgium

                                                      Allied*             36.0          5.0

Jun  16             Ligny                    French*            80.0        14.0     Belgium

                                                      Prussians          84.0        20.0

Jun  17             The Pursuit           French              85.0          0.2   Belgium

                                                      Allied               25.0          0.3

                                                      Prussians          65.0        10.0

Jun 18              Waterloo               French              72.0        39.0     Belgium

                                                      Allied*             68.0        20.0

                                                      Prussians*        65.0          7.0

Jun 18              Wavre                   French                1.5          0.0   Belgium

                                                      Prussians            1.5          0.0

Jun  19             Wavre                   French*            16.0         1.5      Belgium

                                                      Prussians          10.0         1.5

Jun  19             Limale                  French*            17.0         1.0      Belgium

                                                      Prussians            7.0         1.0

Jun  19             Namur                  French*              1.5         0.0      Belgium

                                                      Prussians            1.0         0.0

Jun  20             Namur                  French*              3.5         0.5     Belgium

                                                      Prussians          15.0         1.5

Jun  23             Saarebruck           French                3.0         0.2     Rhineland

                                                     Bavarians*        10.0         0.1

Jun  26             Surburg                French                6.0         0.5     Rhineland   

                                                     Austrians*        10.0          0.0

Jun  26             Selz                      French                6.0          0.2    Maritime Alps

                                                     Austrians*        20.0          0.0

Jun  27             Donnemarie         French                3.0          0.0     Jura Mountains

                                                      Austrians*          5.0         0.0

Jun  27             Compiegne           French*              4.0         0.0     Northern France

                                                      Prussians            5.0         0.1

Jun  27             Crespy                  French                4.0         0.5     Northern France

                                                      Prussians*          0.5         0.0

Jun  28             Chabannes            French                8.5         0.5     Jura Mountains

                                                      Austrians*        20.0         0.1      

Jun  28             La Souffel             French*            18.0         3.0     Rhineland

                                                      Austrians          44.0         2.1

Jun  28             Conflans               French              10.0         1.5     Jura Mountains

                                                      Austrians          20.0         3.0

Jun  28             Villers-Cotterets    French*             9.0         0.5     Paris

                                                      Prussians            4.2         1.0

Jun  29             Paris                     French*            70.0         1.0     Paris

                                                      Prussians          60.0         1.5

Jul  1                Le Rousses            French               3.0         0.5     Jura Mountains

                                                      Austrians*        10.0         0.0

Jul  1                Rocquencourt        French               4.5         0.0     Paris

                                                      Prussians            1.0         1.0

Jul  3                Ojanax                  French                2.0         0.0   Jura Mountains

                                                     Austrians*        10.0          0.0

This list is somewhat arbitrary.  Several of the actions indicated for 15 June could easily be considered as different incidents in a larger general action which saw the French repeatedly engage the Prussians as the former strove to advance and the latter attempted to fall back.  Likewise, the battle of Waterloo itself could readily be divided into two battles,  Waterloo proper and Placenoit, the two merging into one during the evening of 18 June.

 

Waterloo Veterans Later Attaining some Fame or Infamy

Hundreds of thousands of men fought in the Waterloo campaign.  Some of them were already fairly famous, such as Napoleon, Wellington, and Blücher.  But most were not.  Or at least not very famous at the time.  Here are some veterans of the campaign who later attained varying degrees of fame – or infamy – whether fleeting or durable.

  • Louis-Auguste-Victor, le comte de Ghaisnes de Bourmont (1773-1846), was a former Royalist who had entered Napoleon’s service.  On the eve of the Waterloo Campaign, he was commanding a division in the IV Army Corps, when he deserted to the Prussians, giving them Napoleon’s operational plans (Blücher called him “Traitor” and “Dirty dog!).  Under the Bourbons he rose to Marshal, was ousted from France by Louis Philippe, and later commanded royalist troops in the Portuguese Civil War. 
  • Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), a career staff officer in the Prussian Army, during the campaign, was chief-of-staff of the Prussian III Army Corps at Ligny, Wavre, and Limale.  He later became the author of the famous On War.
  • William G. K. Elphinstone (1782-1842) commanded the British 33rd Regiment of Foot (later the Duke of Wellington’s regiment, and today incorporated in the Yorkshire Regiment), and was almost certainly the worst battalion commander in any of the armies during the campaign.  His troops broke at Quatre Bras and lost their colors at Waterloo, which he afterwards tried to cover up by secretly ordering new colors; a deception that failed to retrieve the regimental honor.  He went on to prove quite possibly the most inept officer ever to command an army, when, as a major general during the First Afghan War (1839-1842), he dithered on so heroic a scale that, of his 4,000 troops and 10,000 camp followers, only one man escaped death or capture. 
  • Henry Hardinge (1785-1856), a veteran of the Peninsular War, commanded a brigade at Ligny (June 16, 1815), where he lost his left hand.  He afterwards served in Parliament, was Governor General of India, and rose to field marshal and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, and died a viscount.
  • George Thomas Keppel (1799–1891) was, during the campaign, an ensign and color bearer of the 14th Foot (today incorporated in the Yorkshire Regiment).  Afterwards he continued in the army, rising to full general while serving in parliament and writing several books of travels and memoirs.  He became the Earl of Albemarle on the death of his brother in 1849.
  • Franz Lieber (c. 1799-1872) was a 16-year old volunteer in the Prussian 9. Kolberg Infanterie Regiment, fighting at Ligny (where he was wounded) and then Wavre.  He later secured a doctorate in mathematics, but as a liberal was hounded out of Prussia.  Lieber later served in the Greek War for Independence, travelled extensively, and settled in the United States.  He wrote extensively and pursued an academic career, becoming professor of history and political science at Columbia.  During the Civil War he complied the first organized legal guidelines for the conduct of war, issued as General Orders Number 100, which became the basis of modern law of war,  and postwar was an editor of the massive Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies in the War of the Rebellion.
  • Bernard Pierre Magnan (1791-1865), entered the French Army as a private soldier in 1809, was by Waterloo a captain in the Imperial Guard.  He afterwards served in the Royal Guard, campaigned in Spain, Algeria, and Belgium, and in 1851 helped engineer Napoleon III’s coup against the Second Republic, for which he was made a marshal.
  • Friedrich Karl Ferdinand Freiherr von Müffling (1775-1851), an experienced staff officer, was the Prussian commissioner on Wellington’s staff during the Waterloo campaign.   He afterwards served on various staffs and military missions, and eventually rose to field marshal.
  • Prince William of Orange (1792-1849) put in a rather feeble performance commanding Wellington's I Corps at Waterloo, despite which he had his "war horse" stuffed and put on display in the Hague as a reminder of his military career.  In 1840 he became King William II of the Netherlands.      
  • Prince Wilhelm Friedrich Ludwig von Preußen (1797-1888), second son of the King of Prussia, commanded a battalion of the 1. Garderegiment at Ligny and Waterloo.  Afterwards he rose steadily in the Prussian Army, while becoming heir presumptive on the accession of his brother to the throne.  He  commanded against the Liberal uprisings of 1848-1849, became Regent on the incapacity of his brother in 1857, then King of Prussia in 1861 and Emperor of Germany as Wilhelm I in 1871.
  • Hyacinthe Peugnet (1794-1865) and Louis-Desiré Peugnet (1797-1877), veterans of Napoleon’s campaigns in Germany and France in 1813-1814, were served as junior officers at Waterloo, where Louis was wounded.  They later served in the Royal Army, but after plotting against Louis XVIII fled to America, where they prospered in business and education, eventually opening the "Classical, Commercial, and Mathematical School" in Greenwich Village, which had a finishing school for young women and a “college preparatory” program for young men.  The men’s school served as a “cram school” for West Point applicants; several future American Civil War generals attended, including Pierre G.T. Beauregard,  Henry Heth, Rufus King, and William Henry Fitzhugh "Rooney" Lee.
  • Tiburce Sébastiani (1786-1871) entered the Imperial Army in 1806 as a sous-lieutenant of dragoons, and proved an outstanding soldier in the Peninsula, Russia, and Germany.  During the Waterloo Campaign he commanded the 11e Régiment de Légère in the II Corps.  Afterwards he remained in the army while entering politics.  He served in parliament and in the Belgian War for Independence, retiring as a viscount and full general with the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur.
  • Harry Smith (1787-1860), more properly Henry George Wakelyn Smith, an officer in the 95th Foot (later the Rifle Brigade and today incorporated in the Rifles), had served in Latin America, the Peninsula, and in America, where he took part in the burning of Washington.  At Waterloo he was reported killed in action while serving as brigade major to Wellington’s 10th Brigade (6th Division).  Smith afterwards campaigned in South Africa and in India, defeating the Sikhs in the Battle of Aliwal (Jan. 28, 1846), returned to South Africa as Governor-General and campaigned in the frontier wars; Ladysmith, in kwaZulu-Natal is named after his wife, the Spanish noblewoman Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon (1798-1872).  By his death he was a baronet, lieutenant general, and Knight Grand Cross of the Bath. 
  • FitzRoy James Henry Somerset (1788-1855) had compiled an outstanding record during the Peninsular War (1808-1814) and at Waterloo lost his right arm while serving as the Duke of Wellington’s military secretary.  After Waterloo he continued to be military secretary to the Duke until the latter’s death.  Despite having had no active troop command since 1814, in 1854 he was ennobled as Baron Raglan, promoted to full general, and sent to command the British contingent in the Anglo-French expedition to the Crimea, an assignment for which he was much too old and performed poorly.
  • Jean-Baptiste Philibert Vaillant (1790-1872) served as an engineer during the campaign, fighting at Ligny and Waterloo.  He afterwards continued in the army, serving variously in Algeria, Belgium, Italy, and as minister of war, rising to Marshal during the Second Empire.  

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