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Battle Of Waterloo: The Fallen Eagle

2332 words - 10 pages

The rise and fall of Napoleon can be compared to the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. There are many parallels between the two: they both formed an Empire after a failed Republic, they both reformed their armies and became successful militarily, and they both would be replaced by a king. The only difference being that Rome did not have a final battle that would forever be linked with its name. Although Napoleon would lead a triumphant return to France, it would ultimately lead to his downfall at the Battle of Waterloo.
In the spring of 1814 Napoleon Bonaparte was forced to abdicate his throne as emperor of the French. This caused much relief to the people of France as they had grown weary ...view middle of the document...

" So many soldiers had defected from Royal Armies sent to arrest him that Napoleon sent a letter to Louis XVIII saying: "Dear Brother, don't send me any more troops. I have enough!" Yet even with what seemed like complete support from the army, there were still some high ranking officers that were honor bound to remain loyal to the Bourbons. Marshal MacDonald was one such Marshal that would follow the Bourbons as they fled France, and some like Marshal Masséna would wait and see what would happen before declaring loyalty to a side. For other soldiers that were undecided, Colonel Griois of the Guard House Artillery would rationalize why they would end up joining Napoleon:
The king and his family despaired of their cause and abandoned France to go to beg for foreign support. From then on, I felt that the duty of the French was to fight against the foreigner, and I decided to loyally serve the new government, although foreseeing with sadness that this crisis would probably end with a catastrophe of which France would be the victim...
After Louis XVIII fled from Paris, Europe formally declared war on Napoleon, and not France, thus forming the Seventh Coalition to defeat him. The British and the Prussians were the first to assemble their armies in Belgium, with the Duke of Wellington leading a 112,000 strong Anglo-Allied Army (mixture of British, Dutch, Belgian, and Germans), while Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher was leading a Prussian Army of 130,000. The army that Napoleon assembled to fight the coalition was a mixture of veterans and new recruits, and Field notes that the "Armée du Nord (Army of the North) that Napoleon led into Belgium in June 1815 has been hailed by many historians as one of the finest he ever commanded." The morale of the French army was high as well as a Lieutenant Martin would describe the march to Belgium as "Never had the army set off on its march with more certainty of victory."
Napoleon's Armée du Nord, about 123,000 strong, marched into Belgium on June 15, 1815 intent on splitting Wellington's Anglo-Allied Army from Blücher's Prussian one. Napoleon planned to divide each army and destroy it, thereby buying time to parley for peace with the Austrians and Russians. On June 16 Napoleon would maneuver between the two armies in Belgium and attack Blücher at Ligny, while Marshal Michel Ney's left wing would attack a part of the Anglo-Allied Army at the Quatre-Bras crossroads. Marshal Ney would fight to a stalemate at Quatre-Bras, and Napoleon would force the Prussians to retreat northward from Ligny. If Napoleon would have had General D'Erlon's divisions reinforcing him, he could have effectively destroyed the Prussians with fresh troops. But unfortunately, as D'Erlon almost reached Ligny, Marshal Ney recalled him to reinforce the left wing at Quatre-Bras, which he did since Ney was technically his direct superior. D'Erlon would end up reaching Quatre-Bras when the Anglo-Army Army was withdrawing and waste a great...

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