…From Mr C’s perspective
I was lucky enough to be able to visit the battlefield of Waterloo on the 18th June 2015, that date being the 200th anniversary of one of Europe’s most important battles. Waterloo, for those unfamiliar with the battle, saw the end of Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of the French 1st Empire and led to far reaching political changes throughout the continent.
The anniversary was marked by a re-enactment which that took place over two evenings (the 19th and 20th June). This evening arrangement did not fit my itinerary so I elected to be present on the anniversary day itself.
Initially, I had some trouble getting on to the battlefield because official ceremonies were taking place. However, this was not a complete disaster because at the site off the battlefield, the Scots Greys re-enactors were doing a film shoot which I would not have seen had the battlefield been open.
I found my way (circuitously) to the Lion Mound, which is the main memorial to the battle and encountered many re-enactors in the cafes and bars and in the tented market that was there to tempt the public into buying books, mugs, games, models and re-enactment equipment including muskets, leather riding boots and even reproduction saddles.
The battlefield opened to the public at 3pm and I walked along the ridge that the Duke of Wellington’s forces had defended arriving at the chateau of Hougoumont which saw some very heavy fighting throughout the battle, until the French eventually withdrew. It was interesting to see the terrain and to note how close the two armies would have been to each other. Napoleon’s headquarters, the coaching inn called La Belle Alliance, was clearly visible as I passed along the British position.
Hougoumont is not as large as I thought it would be but I was still impressed by it and gained a good appreciation of the difficulty the French would have had trying to assault it through awkward tree lines and up steep slopes. In my mind’s eye, I could imagine the heroic efforts of soldiers on both sides as they struggled for supremacy at this key site.
The photographs are of various re-enactors I encountered whilst at Waterloo on the 18th June and also, obvious from the building and cobbled streets, of some additional re-enactors that happened to march past as I was sightseeing in Brussels next day. I was amazed by the historical accuracy of the costumes they wore and equipment they carried.
Guest post by T.A.G.
I have only included a few of the photographs so I recommend you look at the full photo gallery here. Just click on any photo to enlarge it and scroll through the gallery.