The Battle of Waterloo

he The Battle of Waterloo Napoleon was just recently made emperor again in France in 1815. And his enemy’s had already formed an alliance against him. He only had one way to stay emperor and that was to fight his way through it. He had one main goal in his grand strategy to win the war and that was to isolate the allied and Prussian armies, and annihilate each one separately. This was a great strategy in theory because if he could destroy the coalition forces before they were reinforced then he might be able to drive the British back to the sea and knock the Prussian’s out of the war.

This ended up leading to the strategy proper of the war because Napoleon knew that the British and Prussian armies were trying to meet up so he marched his army to a spot where he was in between them. Once his army was in the middle he ended up hitting the British on the west side and the Prussians on the east side. When Wellington saw how fast the French were moving he knew he had to act fast so he concentrated most of his troops at Quatre-Bras so that he could hold a tenuous position against the soldiers of Ney’s left wing.

The grand tactics come in when Napoleon wants Ney to take the crossroads of Quatre-Bras so that way he can go reinforce him if needed. This led to the battle against the British there, where the French were being held off pretty well. But while this was happening the French attacked the Prussians at Ligny and were able to defeat them which made holding Quatre-Bras for the British untenable. So the British retreated and marched north parallel to the Prussians retreat.

These precursor battles affected the culminating campaign battle because a lot of men were lost and a portion of Napoleons’ army was off searching for the retreating Prussians at the time of Waterloo. There were many battlefield maneuvers that impacted the outcomes of the battles. One was when Wellington had ordered in reinforcements for Quatre-Bras. This was good because they were starting to lose the battle until the reinforcements got there and then they were able to push Ney’s forces back.

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The next maneuver was when the Prussians had been defeated they were able to retreat unnoticed from the French. The Prussians getting away without the French knowing was big because they were able to make it back to Wavres where there reinforcements were so that they could have a fresh new army to fight them with. This leads to another maneuver, which happened once Napoleon finally realized the Prussians had retreated. Napoleon decided to send a big chunk of his army after the Prussians even though his army would be around 2 days behind them.

This was a bad move because then when the French army reached Waterloo he now had to face the British and the Prussians combined without part of his army to use. Another maneuver was when Napoleon tried to do a faint attack at Hogomouh but it doesn’t work and because of that he loses much more troops then needed; this lead to the eventual loss of the war. And the last battle maneuver was when Wellington had his army hide behind a ridge and therefore Ney believed they were retreating and sent his cavalry after them.

Once his cavalry got over the ridge they were annihilated by the British infantry, which eventually led to them losing the battle. Napoleon as a general made some bad choices during these battles. One bad choice he made was not following the Prussians right away when they retreated. Because of this the Prussians were able to get back to their reinforcements and then were able to meet up with the British. Another bad choice Napoleon made was when he decided to wait 4 hours to battle because he wanted the ground to dry to help his cavalry and artillery.

Because of this move he allowed the Prussians enough time to get to the battle and now he had to fight two armies instead of one. And the next bad decision Napoleon made was sending his cavalry on an assault on Mont Saint Jean because he took a big loss on cavalry from that. One of the key reasons why Napoleon and his French army were defeated was because of the attack at Hogomouh. He lost a lot more troops then he needed to which did not help him in the long run. The next reason why he was defeated is because of the imperial guard attack.

In this attack he lost a lot of cavalry that could have helped out later in the war. And the final key reason Napoleons army lost was that he delayed one of the battles. Because he delayed attacking it gave the Prussians enough time to arrive and help out the British. Overall Napoleon made some key decisions that turned out to lead to his defeat. Sources “Battle of Waterloo. ” Wikipedia. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. “The Battle of Waterloo: 18 June 1815. ” Home Page. Trans. Marjorie Bloy. 5 Jan. 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. “BBC – History – British History in Depth: The Battle of Waterloo. ” BBC – Homepage. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.

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