Why was Waterloo important?

Defence-In-Depth

by DR HUW J. DAVIES

200 years ago, almost to the hour, the battle of Waterloo commenced. The dramatic final showdown of 22 years of war, Waterloo had all the makings of a swashbuckling drama. It was the only occasion when Wellington and Napoleon encountered each other. Having escaped from the tiny Mediterranean island of Elba in March, Napoleon gambled everything to restore himself to the glory he had lost when abdicated the year before. Wellington, as the allied commander, represented a union of the Great Powers that had sworn to remain in the field until Napoleon was permanently exiled.

This great battle has been feted by history as one of Britain’s greatest military victories. Napoleon’s attack on Wellington’s line on the ridge of Mont St Jean near the village of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 was indeed a close run thing. On several occasions, the ‘thin red line’ nearly…

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