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Thursday, May 15, 2008

WATERLOO REDUX


Alessandro Barbero's The Battle, A New History of Waterloo (2003) is an excellent narrative of the battle of Waterloo. Although lacking detailed maps of troop placements and an order of battle, it gives a vivid account of perhaps the most famous battle in history. Lots of Little things pop out such as the surprisingly lethal superiority of Jacquinot's lancers against British sabers. And how, more importantly, when the French cavalry had the Allied infantry pinned down in squares, Napoleon did not send in the infantry reserves. Had he done so, the battle would have likely been won by the French. Why didn't he? Most likely, because he couldn't see what was happening on the other side of the Allied ridge. So he waited for news of the French cavalry attack and it came too late. Some aspects of this account may compel a revision of the Waterloo game, particularly in showing more woods terrain around Fichermont and the east side of the battlefield. Had Napoleon occupied those woods, it would have likely slowed the arrival of the Prussians for hours and may have given the French time enough to win the day.

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