Battle of Waterloo: Crime, War & Conflict

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Almighty God! But thy most dreaded instrument In working out a pure intent Is Man—arrayed for mutual slaughter,— Yea, carnage is thy daughter. Named after the crown of thorns placed on the head of Christ at the crucifixion, La Haye Sainte was a walled farmhouse crucial in providing a temporary defence to British and German troops under attack by a much larger French contingent.

The latter prompted the anonymous jesting quatrain:. Scott had written more rousing verses of battle in Marmion and of attack and siege in Rokeby For The Field of Waterloo , more than strident narrative was required. Scott endeavoured to combine moments of elegiac grief with those of jubilant triumph and those of nationalist pride, yet each interfered with the others, so that the result was indeed often flat.

A critic in the Monthly Review preferred the latter:. This, we think is the best specimen of Mr. Scott, MR The officers are named, but only named, and the troops remain nameless. What a poem! It is beneath criticism. Unless the latter part of the battle be very fine indeed, this poem will injure him. William Blackwood wrote to John Murray 20 December to relate his rejection of the poem:. From the glance I have given it appears bitter bad, but as he says I may send the proofs to Mr Scott, I mean to consult him this afternoon about it.

Hogg, Letters 1: It was in many ways simpler for Edmund Lenthal Swift to write an Irish version and declare a Irish victory, for Wellington was an Irishman. In Waterloo , a Poem , Swift makes that point repeatedly. The battlefield provided Maturin adequate stimulus for the gore of gothic description:. A sullen, undistinguished hum Like the faint beat of distant drum Murmurs yon human hill beneath, And tells of sufferings worse than death— Where the loose Earth, all lightly laid, Scarce hides the dying and the dead— Where the red turf yet heaves with life, And of the agonizing strife All that yon oozing blood-drops show, Forbids to ask—what lies below?

Throughout the ensuing decade, odes, elegies, patriotic hymns, and nationalist celebrations of the hard-won victory continued to appear in the journals. Again and again, the fierce encounters were retold as well as many of the anecdotes of bravery. Several poets, however, introduced new perspectives and found new ways to tell the familiar tales.

In The Heroes of Waterloo : an ode , as his title indicates, William Sidney Walker creates a series of animated biographical sketches of the prominent officers of the battle. Even when an actual person is called forth, the action of that person is instigated by an allegorical figure or a series of figures.

Then General Picton , like a lion bold Disturbed by hunters, hurries from his hold With noisy rear, and grinds his teeth, enraged, Longing to tear his prey and be engaged. In his Tragedy of the Battle of Waterloo , Pearce lists a few of the artefacts stripped from the captured Napoleon:. Her collection of Napoleonic relics, including the carriage, remained on exhibition for some eighty years until all was destroyed in the fire of 18 March Altick , , Even as returning hero of Waterloo , the Duke of Wellington was not impervious to scandal.

In , Wellington was one of many lovers to whom Harriette Wilson proposed a discreet deletion from her Memoirs in exchange for a financial consideration. Her husband, James Wedderburn Webster, Lieutenant in the 9th Dragoons and aide de camp to Lord Uxbridge, observed the dalliance but sought to end the gossip that accompanied Wellington on his triumphant return.

Webster first charged Wellington with criminal conversation allegations such as this became known as crim. Reappraising the situation, he brought a charge of libel against Charles Baldwin for publishing salacious gossip implicating the presumed adultery.

Baldwin had a witness, whom he cited in the newspaper:. A report is very prevalent in the first Parisian circles, that a distinguished Commander has surrendered himself captive to the beautiful wife of a military officer of high rank, in a manner to make a very serious investigation of this event indispensable; but it is to be hoped that this will turn out to be nothing more than a tale of malevolence.

The amour which is the foundation of the crim. The Parisian husbands are astonished at this conduct, which they ridicule as a strange English prejudice, and each of them wishes that he had the good fortune to have netted his Venus with such another Mars. An orderly Sergeant did the duty generally performed by a prying chambermaid upon such occasions will be the principal witness on the trial.

Baldwin A Dramatick Anecdote. Intended to open at the Lyceum on 6 September , rehearsals were stopped on 29 August, when Samuel James Arnold, Theatre Manager, was notified that a license could not be granted Conolly Because of mistaken identity, he inadvertently attracts the attention of two young ladies while staying at La Belle Alliance farm. The Dramatick Anecdote was borrowed from a French farce in which an innkeeper mistakes an aide de camp for the Field Marshall While praising Napoleon did not necessarily mean maligning Wellington, the play was performed at the very time that Wellington, as Prime Minister — , was vigorously opposing the Reform Bill.

On Monday of the following week Dibdin brought forth Forget me not! After his death at St. With unabated exuberance, the Waterloo-mania persisted throughout the ensuing two years, and it could still be reanimated many years later. Among the first theatrical representations was The Battle of Waterloo 15 November , a staged spectacle of conflict with musical fanfare performed in the old Royalty in Wellclose Square. Scripted by John H. The popularity of the performances triggered a new wave of Waterloo exhibitions and panorama. At Vauxhall Gardens in , space was cleared for an open-air equestrian performance of The Battle of Waterloo under the management Thomas Taplin Cooke.

Patriotic celebrations of the Waterloo victory were intermittent but never long absent from the stage.

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Even at mid-century, John H. Wilkins could make the tears flow with his sentimental melodrama, The Eve of Waterloo City of London Napoleonic artefacts attracted public curiosity and crowds queued to see items gathered from the battlefield Altick Dozens of painted panoramas opened for viewing Altick , , , The aged Duke, now 83, had retired to Walmer Castle. Following seizures and a stroke, he died on 14 September Just as authors sought for new and different modes of literary representation, the visual artists too were challenged to avoid repeating the stock images of battle.

Rather than a hectic scene of conflict, Turner chose to depict a night scene of loss and suffering on a battle field that was strewn with tens of thousands of the wounded and dead. The primary action is provided by a blast of lightning that partially illuminates the heaps of scattered bodies. Turner has depicted in the foreground torch-bearing women searching for their fallen loved ones Shaw 23, Another painting greatly admired by the public was one commissioned by Wellington himself and representing a scene far from the battlefield.

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Depicting not the battle, but the reception of the battle among a group intimately acquainted with the horrors of military slaughter, Wilkie used his skills as genre painter to capture the array of emotional response. When exhibited at the Royal Academy in , the painting attracted unprecedented crowds Cunningham 2: The Battle of Waterloo was re-enacted with tin soldiers on table-tops throughout Britain.

The toy soldiers were a favourite among collectors, and many were meticulous in recreating their table-top warfare. On display in the museum of the Winston Churchill War Rooms in London is a hand-painted collection of 43 cavalry and 54 infantry totalling 1, pieces.

Churchill got his first set of toy soldiers when he was seven years old. The set continued to grow through his teenage years, and he gained expertise in re-enacting the war games of Waterloo. He travelled to Belgium and devoted months to the surveying and charting the battlefield:. The Model is constructed upon a scale of nine feet to a mile.

It is 21 feet 4 inches in length, by 19 feet 8 inches in breadth, and comprises an area of square feet. It affords a complete representation of the ground on which the battle was fought. As nearly as possible it shows the deposition of the hostile armies at 7. Leetham The precise position of the French, German, and British armies was represented with 80, hand-painted metal soldiers.

In spite of request to show the troops at the outset of the battle, Siborne chose to depict the crisis on the evening of 18 June The history of the Battle of Waterloo, as well as the biographies of the two powerful adversaries who met on that battlefield, were engulfed in controversy in the years following the conflict.

Far more than other conflicts of that era, the literary and popular reception reflected and even directed the course of that controversy—in the eye-witness narratives, in the poetry, plays, spectacles, gallery exhibitions, panorama, street shows, and even in the display of tin soldiers. He has worked extensively in Romantic drama and Anglo-German literary relations. Burwick, Frederick.

Dino Franco Felluga. Extension of Romanticism and Victorianism on the Net. Collected from official documents … Illustrated with plans of the battle, portraits, etc. Manchester, Established in the year London: Printed by J. Lowe, Glasgow, l London, Baldwin, Charles.

Battle of Waterloo

The St. Barker, Henry Aston. Description of the field of battle, and disposition of the troops engaged in the action, fought on the 18th of June, , near Waterloo; illustrative of the representation of that great event, in the Panorama, Leicester-Square. Booth, John. London: printed for J. Booth and T. Ergeton; Military Library, Whitehall, Bowles, William Lisle. Byron, George Gordon, Baron. Leslie A. Campbell, Charles. London: Sherwood, Neeley, and Jones, Cotes, Henry. Another mite for Waterloo, a sermon preached in the parish church of Bedlington, 20 August Newcastle: E.

Charnley; London: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, De Lancey, Lady Magdalene. Major Bernard Rowland Ward. London: John Murray, De Quincey, Thomas. The Works of Thomas De Quincey. Grevel Lindop, et. London: Pickering and Chatto, Narrative of a Residence in Belgium during the Campaign of ; and of a visit to the field of Waterloo. London: J. Murray, Frye, William Edward, Major.

After Waterloo: Reminiscences of European Travel — Salomon Reinach. London: Heinemann, Hazlitt, William. The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte. The Complete Works of William Hazlitt. Bainbridge, Print. Hills, Robert. Sketches in Flanders and Holland; with some account of a tour through parts of those countries, shortly after the battle of Waterloo; in a series of letters to a friend. Haines and J. Turner, Horne, Thomas Hartwell. The campaign of Waterloo, illustrated with engravings of Les Quatre Bras, La Belle Alliance, Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte, and other principal scenes of action; including a correct military plan … To which is prefixed a history of the campaign, comp.

London: Printed by T. Bensley, for R. Bowyer, Mackenzie, Eneas. An account of the most striking and wonderful events in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his sailing from Elba to his landing at St. Helena: comprising a circumstantial description of the memorable Battle of Waterloo, and of the singular island to which the ex-emperor has been banished. Embellished with a view of St. Newcastle upon Tyne: Printed by Mackenzie and Dent, Picton, G.

London: R. Edwards, London, E. Moxon, Scott, John. Scott, W. Battle of Waterloo; or, Correct narrative of the late sanguinary conflict on the plains of Waterloo: exhibiting a minute detail of all the military operations of the heroes who signalized themselves on that memorable occasion, opposed to Napoleon Buonaparte, in person: with an authentic memoir of that most extraordinary person; from the beginning, to the end, of his political career. Embellished with a correct coloured engraving of La Belle alliance.

London: E. Cox and Son, Scott, Sir Walter. With a Preliminary View of the French Revolution. Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Co. Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. Siborne, William. History of the War in France and Belgium, in Containing minute details of the battles of Quatre-Bras, Ligny, Wavre, and Waterloo, with 11 plates, 12 maps. London: T.

Boone, New Bond Street, Simpson, James. A visit to Flanders, in July, , being chiefly an account of the field of Waterloo, with a short sketch of Antwerp and Brussels at that time occupied by the wounded of both armies. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood, Swinton, Georgiana. London: John Murry, Thackeray, William Makepeace. Vanity Fair. Waldie, John. Frederick Burwick. Webster, J. London: Printed for James Ridgway and E.

Kerby, Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke. Buchan, David Home. The Battle of Waterloo: a poem. By a Native of Edinburgh. Underwood, London: Printed for John Murray, Don Juan.

Napoleon’s return and the allied response

The Complete Poetical Works. Jerome J. Conder, Josiah. Review: Henry Davidson and John Haskins. Eclectic Review July Cope, Harriet. Waterloo: A Poem in Two Parts. Davidson, Henry. Waterloo, a Poem. With notes. Dibdin, Charles, the younger. London: Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe, Fitzgerald, William Thomas. Hatchard, Haskins, John. The Battle of Waterloo: a poem, in two cantos. London: James Black, and Son, Hogg, James.

The Collected Letters of James Hogg. Gillian Hughes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh: Printed for Arch. Maturin, Charles Robert. Lines on the Battle of Waterloo. Dublin: Printed for R. Milliken, Grafton-Street, Pearce, Paulin Huggett. London: W. Brickhill, London: G. Berger, Tragedy of the Battle of Waterloo, in five acts. Horsell, 13 Paternoster Row, The Field of Waterloo, a poem. Edinburgh: Printed by J. Ballantyne for A. Constable, Shelley, Percy Bysshe. Peter Bell the Third, a facsimile of the press-copy. New York: Garland, Southey, Robert. Swift, Edmund Lenthal.

London: Printed for J. Stockdale, Walker, William Sidney. The Heroes of Waterloo: an Ode. At a Waterloo Day luncheon in Woolwich the Royal Artillery officers present marked the event with a quiet remembrance. Both the Wellington College ceremony and that of the Royal Artillery prefigured that of the postwar commemorations of the war which involve gestures and solemnity to properly honor the dead.

German symbolic commemoration often took the form of contextualizing the dead within the context of the German Heimat or homeland. One of the Heimat journals Niedersachsen bimonthly published a special centennial issue. This issue celebrated the heroes of Lower Saxony, including luminaries like Duke Frederick William and the general Christian von Ompteda, but the issue also delved into the life of the ordinary soldier as well. For example, the issue reproduced the silhouette of sergeant in a minor militia battalion.

Although not completely free of the wartime-era bombast, the commemorative issue reproduced many of the existing monuments and gravesites of the Lower Saxon Waterloo heroes, thus grounding the memory into local culture. The issue closed with a use of commemorative memory that drew an indirect but distinct comparison to the current wartime environment: a list of the dead and wounded officers from Quatre-Bras and Waterloo, arranged by unit, rank, and name. In this circuitous way, this Heimat -centered centennial of Waterloo draws upon the power of the dead by recreating a more modern form of remembrance.

But beyond just commemorating the dead, the centennial in wartime was often an excuse to trot out chauvinism and mobilize the past to fight the present conflict. The article cited an anonymous source for this story and treated it as a straightforward example of German destruction of Belgian monuments such as the destruction of Louvain the year before. Rather than let this bit of wartime gossip lie fallow, the German magazine Jugend with a comedic retort to this British atrocity story.

Nora wherein the lion itself had abandoned the field due to the behavior of the British:. Although comedic in tone, the poem insinuated British malfeasance when they elected to side with the French. Nora that contemporary Britons had relinquished their birthright to the battle. The main difference between the two was that the former, as exemplified by Wellington and Alexander II, were models of a nationally-minded chivalry, whereas avarice and a brutal desire for reprisals characterized their German counterpart.

The popular historian J. Holland Rose would articulate this vision in a series of centennial-themed articles in The Centemporary Review.


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Finally, while pressing on his plans for domination with scientific thoroughness in the mechanical sphere, they have utterly failed in inspiring the sentiments of admiration and regard which alone can bind together a World-Empire. Rose reassured his readers that this world-empire would fail like the last one. When coupled with the previous accounts of German tendencies towards violence in , the result is a picture of a childish people that do not understand the full gravity of warfare as the British.

German historians would respond to this denigration by asserting that the British historical profession had engaged in a loose conspiracy to defame the German history. Building on the work of other German historians who magnified Blucher's contribution to the battle, Bleibtreu asserted that the British duplicity in erasing the German contribution at Waterloo started with Wellington and continued through to the twentieth century. As soon as Prussia had secured the Allied victory at Waterloo, then Britain sided with France at the Vienna Congress to help fortify its trade gains by preventing the ascent of a strong Germany.

They willingly underwent corporal punishment. The English Army lacked the national feeling which held together all soldiers from the field marshal to the last camp-follower in a strong love for the Fatherland and Volksgemeinschaft , which made the Prussian so strong and unified.

Human remains and musket balls found at battle site marking Napoleon Bonaparte's final defeat

The Braunschweig soldiers fight hard to protect their position. Although they fail to save him, they carried his corpse away from the battlefield and thus prove themselves worthy subordinates of the legendary Black Duke. German intellectuals would also employ Waterloo to advocate or justify specific war policies, as evidenced by two anonymous articles appearing in the Social Democratic Party-affiliated journal Die Zukunft. One in which Germany smashes its enemies to pieces.

Wellington repaid this generous act by refusing to accede to the name Belle-Alliance and instead naming the battle after his own headquarters, where no fighting had taken place. The result was that the German Army should adapt a Carthaginian campaign and replay the role played by their Teutonic ancestors who destroyed the tyranny of Rome. In the case of Britain, the historical Waterloo was used both to justify and attack the proposed move towards conscription. The editorial outlined the main features of the daily life of one of these volunteer rankers.

They had to carry an identical load as a contemporary British soldier, drank heavily, and could be capable of the worst excesses such as the sack of Badajoz.

Napoleon defeated at Waterloo - HISTORY

Conversely, the popular military historian Cecil Battine offered an alternative interpretation of Waterloo that lent support to the establishment of conscription. Both the British government and society allowed this mixture of success to atrophy during the nineteenth century. Yet this particular lesson of history was not lost on the Prussians who maintained and expanded their army.


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What the above shows is that the Centennial celebrations in the Anglo-German often created a zero-sum game in historical memory; invoking the heroes Waterloo usually meant denigrating the contributions of the other ally. German authors on the centennial tended to relish castigating the British as self-serving and fundamentally dishonest, while British authors would claim Germany's contribution to the battle was minimal and any Prussian actions in were a sign of Germany's innate lust for world power. The centennial of thus became an opportunity to use a highly selective interpretation of history to vindicate a break between the two nations that had occurred a year before.

French young men however were busy being butchered by or butchering other young European men. Some things don't change. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy. All rights reserved. AskHistorians comments. Want to join? Log in or sign up in seconds. Ask a question. Get an ad-free experience with special benefits, and directly support Reddit. Please read our subreddit rules and FAQ before posting! Apply for Flair Upvote informative, well sourced answers Downvote and Report comments that are unhelpful or grossly off-topic The Rules, in Brief 1.

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