Napoleon and the Battle of Waterloo
Throughout history, the Battle of Waterloo is one of the most memorable battles of all time. The Battle of Waterloo is famous because it is in this battle, that one of the world’s greatest war generals, Napoleon Bonarparte, suffered a humiliating loss and the end of his career at the hands of a relatively unknown British general.
Napoleon was a great military leader who is well known for the way he transformed the state of France in its years of revolution to a formidable empire that stretched from Spain to the plains of Russia. Despite his short stature, Napoleon was a great leader of men who commanded his army with excellent military strategies and tactics. He fought and won several battles and these victories and successes established his prowess as one of the world’s greatest military commander. Lyons asserts that Napoleon’s dominance in the art of warfare expanded the conquests of France in Europe. Undoubtedly, other European powers determined to end his military reign and in 1813, Prussia, Sweden, Britain and Russia formed a coalition against France. Napoleon gathered an army to fight against these Allied Forces and lost. In 1814, he was exiled to Elba Island and France fell to the Allies. However, on February 26, 1815 Napoleon managed to escape from Elba. With an army of just over one thousand soldiers, he returned to France seeking to gain back power and soon took over the throne on March 20, 1815. His return alarmed the Allies. They quickly reacted to this crisis by agreeing that each country would contribute150, 000 soldiers for a planned invasion against France scheduled for July 1815.
However, when Napoleon learned about the planned invasion, he decided to attack first before the Allies gathered all its armed troops against him. In two months, he mobilized his army and advanced across the Belgian border where his surprise attack caught the allied commander unawares. Thus began the Battle of Waterloo.
At first, Napoleon had the upper hand in Waterloo since he employed one of his tactical military strategies of central position. The opposing sides fought hard and both sides amassed huge losses. The Anglo-Dutch army maintained a static line of defence against the French and the reinforcement of Prussian troops at dusk finally broke the French army. Napoleon was finally defeated.
After several years of victories and successes in war, the Battle of Waterloo brought a final and decisive end to Napoleon’s military career and the domination of France in Europe. Fittingly, the name Waterloo has come to describe incredible personal defeat.