The Battle Of Waterloo

To understand the battle, a summary of Napoleon Bonaparte is required. Bonaparte was born in 1769 on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica who became a leading political figure in France in a 1799 coup d’état and given the title of the first consul. By 1804, Napoleon crowned himself and successively defeated various European nations, expanding France across large grounds of western and central Europe.

However, Bonaparte faced multiple defeats as well. In 1812, the French troops were forced to retreat from invading Russia as massive losses as well as lost the Peninsular War from the Spanish and Portuguese (1808-1814). The "Battle of Leipzig" in 1813 was also lost against Austrian, Prussian and Swedish troops and forced Napoleon to retreat to France. Consequently, coalition forces captured Paris in March 1814.

Furthermore, Napoleon was forced to abdicate and the Treaty of Fontainebleau exiled him to Elba, a Mediterranean island off the coast of Italy on April 6, 1814. However, Bonaparte found a way to escape on February 26, 1815, to French mainland with a group of 1000 supporters and returned to a cheering crowd in Paris on March 20. This followed Louis XVIII to flee and Napoleon beginning with his "Hundred Days campaign".

Napoleon aimed to build an army and attack the allies, being Britain, Prussia, Austria, and Russia one by one before they would strike. In June 1815, Napoleon attacked Belgium where British and Prussian troops were camped. It was the Battle of Ligny on June 16 that Napoleon defeated Prussians. However, the French troops did not manage to destroy the entire Prussian troops.

The Battle of Waterloo began on June 18 between 72000 French and 68000 British troops south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. The British army included Belgian, German, and Dutch troops. Napoleon's decision to attack midday in order to let the waterlogged grounds dry due to a recent rainstorm, led to more Prussian troops making it to the war later that day. Thus, the French troops were outnumbered and retreated with a loss of above 33000 casualties, whilst the British and Prussians had 22000 casualties. Due to Napoleon being in poor health conditions during the Belgian campaign, he made massive errors in his decision making and commands. In conclusion, this battle marked the end of Napoleon Bonaparte's leadership.

As a result, Napoleon was once again abdicated to the British-held island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean on June 22, 1815. On May 5, 1821, reaching the age of 51, he died of stomach cancer and was buried there. However, his remains were returned to France and entombed in a crypt at Les Invalides in Paris next to the rest of the French military leaders.




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