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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2015 10:36 a.m. PST

…Defeated Napoleon.

"Discover why Napoleon really lost Waterloo, the campaign that ended it all. Now, for the first time: the revelation of a deceit so profound, so masterfully crafted, that it brought down an Emperor and an era… then remained hidden for two hundred years.

It was a defeat from within.

The fate of the battle was written months before it began. Without the vermicular/underground maneuvering of one of Napoleon's most trusted men, the campaign would have been won by the morning of the 16th, the battles of Ligny, Quatre Bras, and Waterloo entirely absent from the history books.

To anyone who knows anything about Waterloo: Read the book and have your theories disproven. In fact, much of what you have read about how the French conducted this campaign is fiction.

Did you know:

The campaign was delayed a full day due to the unexplained rewriting of Napoleon's orders?
Who enabled the Prussians to concentrate 12-hours earlier?
Napoleon went to his death never having learned the actual dispositions of his left wing on June 15th or June 16th?
Napoleon had issued recall orders to Grouchy on June 17th, a fact often denied by those who have done little research.
Napoleon never said the battle of Waterloo would be as easy as breakfast.
This is the book that rewrites the campaign.

Finally, the suspicions of many of Napoleon's veterans and inner circle are proved by citing the hundreds of documents that only came to light after their deaths.

Presented here in luminous detail, with:

Over 100 pieces of correspondence in both the original French and translated English, many entirely unknown to the English-speaking world, alone making the book an invaluable resource.
English Translations of rarely referenced but key primary sources, conclusively demonstrating that which anti-Napoleon historians have negligently dismissed.
Hundreds of contemporaneously unavailable documents cited.
Napoleon never learned the truth, but you can now.

Think you know Waterloo? Think again."
See here


138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2015 11:22 a.m. PST

A book I've just become aware of though have not yet read.

There are two theories of history, the conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory. The first assumes there is a plot and someone is to blame. The second is that people make stupid decisions, sometimes because they have a bad day,or they are promoted above their ability.

I'm a great believer in the cock-up theory of history.

Soult was put in a difficult,if not impossible position.He was a good independent commander. He'd never been a chief of staff, was not used to working with Napoleon on a daily basis. He could be viewed as a perfect example of the Peter Principle; he'd been promoted above his abilities. Could he have become a good chief of staff? Possibly, given time, say a full campaigning season.

The blame must lie with Napoleon, he had the perfect candidate in Bailly de Monthion. He was a skilled senior staff officer, had filled in for Berthier in the field when Berthier was periodically ill in 1813-1814, and would have assembled a staff, and used the established staff procedures, that Berthier had always done.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2015 12:13 p.m. PST

Agree with you my dear cousin. (smile)

Another good change that Napoleon could made was Soult for Rapp.

Rapp was one of his best ACD and a brave man.

Soult… at the head of the Army of the Pyrenees… well… he could perform well… but was he reliable?


Navy Fower Wun Seven22 Jun 2015 10:54 p.m. PST

Just when you think Napoleon and the French had run out of excuses!

Perhaps this may mean that Victor Hugo's 'ravine of death' sunken road excuse is starting to loose its grip on the popular imagination…

arthur181523 Jun 2015 2:12 a.m. PST

I'm beginning to think Napoleon's ultimate defeat was actually engineered by the Austrians:

Let him defeat them, then arrange for him a to marry a buxom young princess who will keep him preoccupied getting an heir, enjoying family life and becoming fat and lazy, when he ought to be sorting out his 'Spanish Ulcer'.

Marie Louise – weapon of mass distraction.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2015 2:30 a.m. PST

So mistakes, sheer stupidity and Bleeped texts are treason?
Oh, we finally found a potent reason to shoot most of our politicians. The country should be saved from bankruptcy within 5 years then.

Gazzola23 Jun 2015 2:38 a.m. PST

Sounds fascinating and a must have for anyone wanting to know the truth. And, if true, it looks like it wasn't a British victory, it wasn't a German victory, it wasn't a Dutch-Belgian victory and it wasn't an allied victory after all. Waterloo was a French victory. LOL

I do hope they have plans to make a printable version available, if not, I guess I will have to get it on kindle. But it certainly sounds like one of those books you just have to read, as if I don't have enough to read already!

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2015 2:46 a.m. PST

Yet another example of what some "historians" will churn out to sell books.

You can actually get decent works of scholarship that take the French perspective:


@ Gazzola: I probably should read it as well but honestly, it would just annoy me to wade through it.

Gazzola23 Jun 2015 2:49 a.m. PST


Yes, there have been some interesting debates recently on books that some 'historians' have churned out.

But this one sounds very interesting and one should not discredit a book until one has read it.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2015 3:16 a.m. PST

@ Gazzola.

You are entirely correct. My apologies….but the blurb seems suggestive of its quality.

You read it & get back to us?

arthur181523 Jun 2015 3:34 a.m. PST

An interesting, 'alternative' interpretation of events. The idea of the Chief of Staff quietly plotting to bring about the army commander's defeat would be a great personal objective for a roleplaying/campaign game!
Thanks, Armand!

Gazzola23 Jun 2015 6:26 a.m. PST


Yes, at first, I thought it was another Waterloo bandwagon title and the book is only available on kindle at the moment and I prefer to read hard copies than those online. However, looking into it, it sounds very interesting and well worth a read, and I have read other titles online, albeit rather reluctantly.

So I guess I will consider biting the bullet and getting it, especially since I believe you don't need a kindle to read it. The only other problem, of course, is that I'm piled up with new books to read and presently deep into one. But yes, I think it sounds very interesting so it might well be my next purchase.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2015 10:01 a.m. PST

A votre service mon ami Arthur1815! (smile).

As the Old Grumbles said in a loud voice… "when we lost our Emperatrice Josephine… we lost our luck…!".


sjpatejak26 Jun 2015 6:59 p.m. PST

Napoleon was also a bisexual, was poisoned, and didn't really die on St. Helena anyway.

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 2:02 a.m. PST

I have a few comments as the author:

If Davout is to be heard, Monthion was neither to be used or trusted, as Davout considered him of dubious loyalty and incompetent. (letter to Bertrand pleading that Monthion be dismissed)

At Napoleon Series forum, I present a diary of the campaign with many facts from the book. Many do not know:
- Soult dramatically changed the orders of June 5th to Gérard.
- Soult rewrote the orders of June 10th. Lettow-Vorbeck, Callatay, other experts have not been able to explain this.
- Due to Soult, Napoleon was forced to delay the campaign until June 15th from the planned June 14th, anniversary of Marengo. This had fatal consequences when Bourmont/staff tipped off the Prussians at Namur late on the evening of the 14th. Soult's rewritten orders put Bourmont as the vanguard of the right column where he bivouacked at Florennes, a few miles from the frontier, and only 30 km from Namur – the Prussian HQ.
- Soult kept the dispositions of the left wing on June 15th/16th from Napoleon. See Napoleon's memoirs and correspondence on the 16th compared to reality and Soult's correspondence.

It is NOT factually true that Berthier always used multiple messengers – and in fact used only one to start movements far more significant than Vandamme's, who was still in France, and less than an hour away. Favier, the name of the orderly to Vandamme in Grouchy's copy of the Order Book, received two lancer wounds to the neck at Waterloo, so if he indeed carried the orders, he most likely did not break his thigh. Janin, the source of this story, expressed doubt himself. There are numerous other theories, some presented by veterans of the campaign, but all that is known is that Vandamme did not receive the June 14th movement orders for June 15th.

The conventional history of Bourmont's defection is simply flawed and ignores all eye witness testimony in exchange for Hulot's account – which the correspondence proves he knew before midnight of Bourmont's intentions and did not act. Further, the correspondence proves that Bourmont knew of the advance via Charleroi with the movement orders of June 13th. Further, no one ever asks, where did their baggage and servants go? This has been a major oversight for 200 years.

Soult had an insatiable ambition, and was rumored to be seeking the throne of France (See the King's dismissal of him from the Chamber of Peers in 1814, and Hobhouse's diaries in 1815.)

A Bourbon restoration was not guaranteed, and many thought Louis-Philippe would take the throne… Napoleon famously remarked that upon his return, it was not Louis XVIII that he deposed, but Louis-Philippe!

If one imagines that the July Monarchy began in 1815, rather than 1830, then one can see that Soult had a lot to gain with a defeat of Napoleon. One must consider what Soult thought in early April when he suddenly reversed course and began seeking Napoleon's favor (see correspondence of Davout.)

If anyone has refutation for any of the facts in the book, or alternative explanations, I greatly welcome the discussion:

Jean-Marc Largeaud, who wrote the foreword, is one of France's preeminent Waterloo historians. His book is a classic, and he reviewed/fact checked the book for me, though the theory/inferences/hypotheses are mine.

His opinion is that we'll probably never know if Soult was a traitor, but likewise, there is no explanation for his acts during the campaign… competence does not explain changing orders.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 7:11 a.m. PST


Thank you for braving this forum. Lion's den or pit of vipers? I'll leave you to determine which metaphor is most apt.

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 8:21 a.m. PST

One need look no further than the Facebook page for the Napoleonic Historical Society to see the insults I have received, as well as the book…

Most notably, however, is that no one appears to have read the work… further, those that scream loudest participate at the Napoleon Series forum and were silent during my Campaign diary that lasted two weeks.

No refutation of anything I presented.

Soult was virtually silent about the 1815 campaign during his lifetime.

Paddy Griffith wrote in regards to Soult's memoirs on the Restoration and Hundred Days, "We are told that the manuscripts are ‘well guarded' by the family – but it would be helpful to see more of them in print." (1987)

In 2007, Soult's papers from the republic through 1814 were made available by an ancestor in a public auction. The French state observed this and claimed them.


What from 1815 are we not being allowed to see?

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 8:32 a.m. PST

Stephen, having been a gentleman here, I'll get a copy after work today.

Gazzola30 Jun 2015 9:13 a.m. PST

Stephen Beckett

Yes, I second that. Well done for braving this site. I can well imagine you have been attacked and insulted and probably by people who have not even read your book. It really baffles me how anyone can dare to put down a book without even reading it. But your book sounds very interesting and I do intend to obtain a copy. I just wish it wasn't an electronic version.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 9:44 a.m. PST

Stephen… many thanks for the thread and info…
I'm totally with you!.


Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 10:23 a.m. PST

The Hardcopy is now available!

I appreciate the kind words. The book does three things, and has 1 goal. Its first thesis is obviously to cast suspicions on Soult. The second thesis is to point out what was known contemporaneously but diminished by history – Napoleon was massively betrayed in 1815. The third thesis is to give life to the French concentration and demonstrate that it was not brilliant, but a disaster that destroyed Napoleon's plans, treason or not.

I would say maybe more than half of my test readers were skeptical of the Soult thesis… but all agreed that it deserves more study. It is certainly plausible, to quote one well known author.

However, all agreed that the 2nd and 3rd item were long over due. So I would hope anyone would benefit from this study – the appendices are 300 pages and include english translations of a lot of correspondence for the first time. has some book excerpts.

I spent far far more on this book than it will ever make. Its goal is to bring pressure on the Reille-Soult family, or whomever has possession of Soult's 1815 materials to make them available to the French archives where they rightly belong. Will we discover that Grouchy, to gain back his Marshal's baton and good favor, turned over the Registre du Major Général to Soult in 1830? Or will we find conclusive proof that Soult did his best and failed in 1815. Doesn't matter – this event is one of the most important of the 19th century, and materials should not be withheld.

I still maintain, however, that the most simple explanation for Soult's actions during this campaign was intentional sabotage. One must keep in mind that no one could predict the magnitude of the defeat. Soult may have only wished to eliminate the opportunity for Napoleon to gain a decisive victory, without which, he would eventually be deposed. Soult then, as he tried to do, could join the political apparatus and seek his fortune. The rapid defeat and rapid Bourbon restoration caught many flat-footed, see Fouché.

Armand – thank you especially for your kind words, I have appreciated your posts on this site for a long time.

Gazzola30 Jun 2015 10:47 a.m. PST

Yes, just spotted that the hardcopy is available on Amazon. Not cheap though. I will have to either do some juggling with the titles I was intending to purchase or wait for the paperback. Decisions, decisions. And so much to read!

arthur181530 Jun 2015 12:55 p.m. PST

I'll have to wait for the paperback, too. But everything I have read on your site and here suggests it will be worth the wait.

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 1:26 p.m. PST

A softcopy version is coming, hopefully within just a couple weeks.

The Kindle version can be read on a PC, and does have the benefit of choosing your own font, expanding the images, and easy searching.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2015 1:53 p.m. PST

Kindle, it is.


Gazzola30 Jun 2015 2:08 p.m. PST


Thanks for the heads up. I'll see how things go but I don't mind waiting for the paperback. I've gone a bit mad with buying books this year, since it is a special year. But it is in my wish list anyway, so I'll get there in the end.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2015 3:55 a.m. PST

Jean-Marc Largeaud is a very nice man and an avid player of 6mm.
I am betraying more secrets.

This thread teased my interest and as an ardent follower of the belief that barking with the multitude does not necessarily means they are right, I'll be interested to read this… When I can allow myself to afford it

von Winterfeldt01 Jul 2015 4:42 a.m. PST

It is NOT factually true that Berthier always used multiple messengers

very true – see how he and NtG forgot Bernadotte at the eve of Jena / Auerstedt

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Jul 2015 10:30 a.m. PST

Good point Von Winterfeldt!


Rittmester12 Jul 2015 3:26 p.m. PST

If only for the discussion on the concentration of the French Army and the dispositions of the Left Wing, I would like to read your book. I have just read Field's book on Quatre Bras and the foremost issues I would like to see better explained are exactly what was the basis for the plan for concentration at the border and why were the corps in the Left Wing not better concentrated during 15th June and in the morning of 16th June? Obviously, Ney lacking a proper staff goes a long way in explaining this. However, if there are facts or indications which points to Napoleon not being kept fully informed about the situation by his COS, that would be interesting to know.

However, it would also be most interesting to hear whether you found anything connecting Soult to any of the allied/royalist agent networks? Is your thesis that Soult acted independently or in coordination with such covert networks? Have you been able to confer with the sources for Sparrow's work regarding this issue?

I look forward to reading your work.
Kind regards,

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP12 Jul 2015 5:31 p.m. PST

First, Soult destroyed Napoleon's plans for the invasion. As a result, Napoleon was forced to delay the campaign an entire day… and it was on that day that traitors tipped off the Prussians (with convincing evidence of an advance via Charleroi) and they began concentrating their army. Thus, any Waterloo campaign history that even hints that the campaign was only 4 or 5 days long, or that only summarizes the concentration is tremendously lacking. (hence, most, because I can count on 1 hand the works that go into detail on the French concentration)

On June 15th, d'Erlon was uncertain whether to maintain the garrisons of Thuin and Marchiennes au Pont, and in his update to Soult, he asked for clarification.

In Soult's response, he did not answer d'Erlon's question.

D'Erlon asked again later in the evening.

Finally, Soult answered late at night that d'Erlon was to bring his rear divisions across the Sambre. This piece of correspondence was NOT in the Registre du Major Général, and Napoleon (see memoirs and his orders of June 16th) clearly did not know this.

Napoleon thought I Corps was across the Sambre.

As it turns out, I Corps would end up stacked behind II Corps, and the opportunity the isolated Prussian army at Ligny provided could have made the above mistakes irrelevant. However, one must ask – with plans getting rewritten and destroyed, and with intelligence being withheld, what were the odds that June 16th was going to go well enough to achieve a decisive victory? The question answers itself…

On June 16th, Napoleon spends the entire day sending orders to NEY thinking Ney had operational control over the left wing. Before 3pm, d'Erlon notifies Soult that he was still at Gosselies – yet not Napoleon or anyone in his entourage ever mention this. It was eventually found in Gourgaud's papers, but one must keep in mind that Gourgaud's papers were eventually in the hands of Grouchy's heirs… so who knows what ended up in them. And Grouchy said he had the order book in 1829, then in 1830 he is restored as Marshal reporting to Soult, and the order book is never heard of again… I don't even mention this in the book because I know I'm entering into wild speculation, but yes, I believe Grouchy bought his good graces with 1815 materials. Grouchy was despised by veterans, yet he was restored far faster than most, just doesn't make sense, this is what I am currently researching.

I do NOT have information that directly links Soult to the activities of Ghent or Fouché during 1815. NOTE, however, that the Soult family still keeps the materials from 1815 from public view (if they are not already destroyed.) Hence, I maintain that this is an example of consciousness of guilt. Whatever justification Soult had during his lifetime for not speaking of the campaign (and to be fair, I document others who likewise kept silent) there is no reason now not to share.

Bottom line – there is very little evidence of Soult during 1815 – and what there is proves he was a liar. (See justification where he claims he was ordered by Napoleon to serve, versus correspondence with Davout where he is absolutely begging for a role – begging after his March 26th confrontation with Napoleon, and after Bourmont received his command.)

I admit to lack clear evidence of motive… if I had to guess, it would be that Soult was aware of Ghent's activities (he certainly had many former colleagues there) but he acted on his own taking advantage of what he knew. I do not believe he was anticipating a rout, but that he believed he could eliminate a decisive victory for Napoleon, and that this would lead to Napoleon's eventual abdication. Soult could then take on a political role – either for Orleans or a republic, and his loyalty to Napoleon would serve him well. The speed of the Bourbon restoration made Soult a fugitive. But this could not have been predicted in April/May.

In 1830, under Louis-Philippe, Soult achieved greatness.

The book is not very long, slight over 200 pages – but there are an additional 300 pages of appendices and backing materials, including all the correspondence to/from Soult/Napoleon during the campaign, so one can really lay it all out and ask themselves, what explains Soult's rewriting of orders? The June 12th rewrite is a fact… and for 200 years it has either gone unknown, or unexplained.

Gazzola13 Jul 2015 1:57 p.m. PST


I see it is available in hard copy, so I plan to order your book as soon as I can. It sounds very interesting.

Rittmester13 Jul 2015 3:21 p.m. PST

Thanks Stephen,

This explains some of the confusion regarding the lack of concentration of the Left Wing on the 15th/16th.

A lot of very interesting info about Soult and d'Erlon's corps and I look forward to dig into it.

It would also be quite interesting to learn more about the orders to Kellerman and what the rest of his Cavalry Corps was doing on the 16th. Did he have similar unclear/lacking orders as d'Erlon and why was not his complete corps committed at Quatre Bras? If you have included all correspondence to/from Soult/Napoleon I guess I will be able to clarify more about Kellerman's orders also.

Have you come across anything which tells about the French use of agents to collect intelligence about Allied troop dispositions and strengths prior to the crossing of the border? Does the correspondence include anything like a complete intelligence review to Napoleon?


Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP13 Jul 2015 10:49 p.m. PST

I candidly don't recall how Kellerman was handled and what led to the distribution of the regiments – but I didn't find anything nefarious vis a vis Soult… except that much of the reserve cavalry arrived in theater exhausted and disorganized from the forgotten orders of June 10th – Napoleon moved them on from Laon on June 12th. But one must note that Soult was given a mission to Lille that took him away from Paris and the staff, and this could have played a role in the lack of orders to the reserve cavalry. Mistakes happen – but rewriting of orders and changing your superior's plan is far from a mistake.

Ney did order cavalry, maybe Kellerman, to stay at Frasnes – that wide open left had the attention of the entire French army. It is never discussed enough, but with their thrust and Napoleon's plans for Brussels, I'm sure many a general huddled with peers and pondered the disaster that was possible with a bold maneuver in their rear from Mons. Proof of this is how Vandamme's formation panicked at Ligny.

There is no detailed intelligence overviews in the correspondence. On May 27th, Napoleon informs Soult that the equipages (means of transport – vehicles/carriages) will be reduced to a third of what they were due to size of upcoming campaign theater – in same message he has ordered 50,000 francs to be at Soult's disposal for "secret expenses." This presumably is to feed the spy network, and was to be available all the way down to division generals. I'm sure Napoleon had his own network as well – but I did search for much on this, but there is no doubts Napoleon had friends in Belgium and Brussels.

Napoleon had a lot of information – but due to the nature of the times, very much a lagging indicator. So even of Napoleon was given a perfect report on the eve of hostilities, it was 1-2 days old. By end of first day, the enemy could have moved 2-3 days… and thus, while Napoleon repeated over and over after the campaign about how he had caught the Allies in their cantonments, this was only true for the Anglo-Dutch. The Prussians were on the march – and 12 hours in this campaign was quite huge.

I spent 30+ years utterly confused by June 16th. However, if one takes a map and places what Napoleon KNEW, and THOUGHT, and then includes the possible that must be prepared for, then his actions on June 16th make perfect sense. Even VI Corps in Charleroi which has been "forgotten" about in several recent books but was clearly not forgotten about and serving a very important mission.

However, the key to the above is KNEW and THOUGHT. So many analyses write as though Napoleon wanted d'Erlon to flank the Prussians, and Ney had negligently left them behind and was lazy on the 16th. (FYI, there are memoirs from the family that say Ney stayed with them on the 15th that say Ney was drunk and hung over on the 16th… who knows!?)

I don't really hammer this point in the book because I've continued to research… I only hint at it. But basically, Napoleon called Quatre Bras "Quatre Chemins." So does the bulletin. Soult called it "Troi Bras" both on the 15th and 16th. It wasn't a well known place – "farm near the crossroads" is about it. We see it become "Quatre Bras" in the correspondence after the Lancer reports it is occupied by the enemy, late morning of the 16th. But note, how much of the correspondence was a copy of a copy of a copy by the time we see it? So we can't discount editing anywhere along the line.

Regardless, since Soult's orders with "troi bras" come from the recipients at times, and the bulletin and Flahaut letter has been preserved independently as well, I feel comfortable with the above.

So as Napoleon goes to bed on June 15th, the left wing is across the Sambre, I Corps is massed at Jumet, II Corps from Jumet up to and including Quatre Bras. No red-coats seen. Unless he gets a morning report of them (he didn't) he ends up assuming that they have retreated in the face of overwhelming French strength. Hence Napoleon gives the left wing a very "lazy" order that is carried at 9am – and in it, it reads as though Quatre Bras is already occupied. No order to move to it or take it, just how to arrange the divisions around it.

The heat gets slowly turned up during the late morning/early afternoon as reality changes, and there is room to criticize Ney/Reille for their caution. (and there is room to defend them as well)

The key point to the above is that Napoleon believes something which is not true. So while I Corps corrects its disposition BEFORE II Corps is out of the way, and hence it is seemingly not a big deal – the well has been poisoned. Napoleon's misinformation about his left wing – that I Corps was concentrated with II Corps and the QB was taken, leads him to write an order to Ney that sets in motion the entire day's lack of urgency.

So d'Erlon is not RUSHING to QB – at 2:30 he is hanging at Gosselies pursuing intelligence. Neither battle has started, and one is not expected.

Now imagine Napoleon knows the utter truth. I Corps has a division and a brigade of Cavalry at Thuin, another are Marchiennes, and only half of I Corps is at Jumet. II Corps has a battalion at Frasnes – but the Nivelles-Namur road is WIDE OPEN. Entire enemy armies could be marching across his advance, and he wouldn't know… if this was what Napoleon thought reality was, I believe his June 16th would have been executed totally different. (and the late 15th as well)

So while I document the facts of order changes, what is equally damning is the intelligence withholding.

We know Soult knew the truth – he responded to the correspondence that informed him.

We know Napoleon wrote in his memoirs, without any comment/concern/or blame, incorrect dispositions. We know Napoleon does learn that QB wasn't occupied, and does learn that I Corps was farther south – and he blames Ney for the first, and d'Erlon for the second. Yet Ney/d'Erlon's correspondence is correct (Ney does overstate d'Erlon's position on the 15th due to his lack of staff and no knowing, but he does so at a time when d'Erlon is STILL reporting directly to Soult.)

We know Soult hated Ney, and Soult trashed Ney in a piece of correspondence on June 17th, and that this view of Ney was one repeated by Napoleon many times. Napoleon even says, "how can Ney with 40,000 men not brush aside blah blah balh."

Simple answer, Ney never had 40,000 men.

For wargamers, it should be easy to imagine how minor wrong information needs to be to throw off a plan.

The goal of this work remains to get the Reille-Soult family – or whomever the descendant is, that has the Soult materials/memoirs from 1815 to release them. I would encourage everyone to spread that word – if someone thinks I'm a crack pot (see Facebook page for Napoleonic Historical Society – I'm a disgrace to some) then fine, but let's all agree that those materials should be shared. It is actually French law, and they claimed the materials up to 1814 that went to auction in 2007.



I'd like to somehow create a groundswell on the above points, but right now I'm the lonely guy in the upper deck trying to start the wave…

Rittmester14 Jul 2015 3:39 p.m. PST

I have started reading your book (Kindle version) as well as some of the discussions on the Napoleon Series forum. I really hope you will achieve your goal with your work and I would also like to get back to you when I have finished the book.

Being a professional with some experience in campaign planning I think you are dead on regarding several of your points, the most important that to understand the generalship in a campaign it is essential to study the concentration and the logistics leading up to the actual fighting. This creates the setting for the force ratios and battles. Also, to understand the decissions one has to study the actual "situational awareness" composed of both knowledge of own forces and intelligence about the enemy. So far from what I have read, you provide the material for a professional analysis of this campaign, which makes your book and analysis very interesting.

Thanks for your input Stephen, I look forward to read on.


Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP15 Jul 2015 1:05 a.m. PST

Rittmester, thanks – I look forward to your feedback.

MichaelCollinsHimself15 Jul 2015 11:08 a.m. PST

Reading the posts on the napoleonseries I was intrigued – my copy arrived today.

Rittmester15 Jul 2015 4:59 p.m. PST

I am through Chapter 9 – June 14th. Comments so far:

Figure 2 and 4 are most illustrative for your thesis. To rearrange a movement that is originally planned along the shortest route up to a forming up area and initial objective (Mariembourg-Philippville-Charleroi for III and IV Corps in the Right Column), to a longer route (via Beaumont), does not only affect speed of movement but also attrition of the units. Every staff officer (should)knows this and Soult should have had very good reasons to do this and a quite good explanation for Napoleon to get away with it. We can only speculate on his possible explanation, but I can only think of two possible general explanations for such a rearrangement 1) that intelligence proved there could be some kind of sabotage or surveillance along the initial planned route, and/or that the initial planned route for the Right Column was too exposed for a preemtive strike from the Prussians between Charleroi and Namur. However, since this would be inside France and the troops did not need to pass any Thermopylae, the border would be screened as well as there would be two army corps behind each other able to support each other, I think we can rule out both sabotage and any preemtive strike. To avoid surveillance then, could be an offered explanation. However, I think this argument would be very thin compared with the loss of speed and increased attrition of the units moving up as it would mean an extra day of marching (Google maps gives the walking distance between Philippeville and Beaumont as 27,7 km/5:45 hours). Moving the shortest and fastest route would also mean a better chance of surprise due to shorter available reaction time for the enemy.

So, Soults modified order to the French Army definately changed the approach march in such a way as to make it much more difficult, or more likely impossible, to achieve an optimal concentration of force both in time and space by following simaultaneously converging routes on Charleroi. This first of all due to traffic congestion on too few routes. As you also point out in your book, chances of surprise was also reduced. According to your figure 5, the Right Column (IV Corps) eventually moved up via Florennes and attacked via Chatelet, avoiding too much congestion in the centre. However, stacking too many troops behind each other along the same routes generally increases chances for traffic congestions, delays and most probably less efficient use of the troops (I think we can argue that this happened with the Centre Column). Staff officers and commanders know this, as would Soult have known.

The change of orders/commanders intent as Soult effected is definately not easy to explain – unless you introduce another factor as your thesis (although as we know, this does not prove it). Looking at your figures, Napoleon's initial plan was straightforward and sound (do not underestimate the value of simplicity in military operations!), and Soult's adjusted "plan" was not. With a map in front of me, I find it very hard to find good arguments for adjusting Napoleon's plan, except one: that Soult thought that there was a need of a tighter formation South-West of Charleroi than Napoleon's initial plan prepared. However, there is a huge difference between thinking this and actually radically adjusting a quite clear directive/order from someone like Napooleon (I would Guess).

The most crucial effect of the rearrangement of the plan for concentration of the French forces, was the loss of/reduced surprise. Dupuy concluded from his studies of combat at the tactical level (20th Century division-vs-division), that surprise had a multiplicative effect on combat power somewhere between 1.2 and 2, varying with the achieved level of surprise. Because Dupuy also verified his combat simulation models against the Napoleonic era, I would assume that this "surprise-effect" also is transferable to our era. If Soult's change of orders moved the initial achieved surprise (by the French) from the upper value (total surprise) to the lower value (partial surprise), one can argue that at least the initial fighting would have been on quite better terms from the French perspective if he had not made this change and thus reduced the Allied reaction time with 12 hours.

I will read on, study my maps and get back to you later.


Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP16 Jul 2015 10:03 p.m. PST

I don't know if you noticed on Napoleon Series, but I do put forth as many ideas for Soult's rewrite as I could muster:

1) That he felt is plan for an advance on 2 columns had been accepted – the evidence being that Soult sent this plan to Napoleon in early June. Lettow-Vorbeck reports this from Baron Stoffel, whose uncle was on Soult's staff. LV himself says the problem with this explanation is that Soult's plans did not match his June 4th suggestion, and I point out that when Soult realized he had not sent orders to Grouchy, he forwarded the June 10th Napoleon orders – hence the army was operating on 2 sets of orders. That is fishy to me – but then, rewriting the orders is fishy to me.

2) Soult had been fooled by the false intelligence that Napoleon planted of a diversion on Charleroi and advance via Mons, and thus setup for an advance across the Sambre to the north west and advance on Mons. I guess this is possible. What is possible is that Soult used #1 or this for an explanation to Napoleon.

3) Soult accounted for the road conditions or provisioning. Possible, yet nothing supports this, and Napoleon's countermanding orders makes this more doubtful. REGARDLESS, a day longer, a day's march farther south…

My theory (not in book, because this is just wild speculation) is that Soult was honest – honest in that he hated Napoleon. He said as much, though in both cases it was politically expedient to do so. Yet, his actions against his peers while serving the King to me demonstrate his true feelings and motivations. Thus, he was serving Napoleon with the plan to undermine the efforts – and as the veteran he was, he realized that it did not take much to destroy a military operation… it was controlled chaos.

While on his mission to Lille, I believe he learned of Bourmont's connections to the king. Hence, with an expectation of a June 14th campaign commencement, he did what he could to get Bourmont's division in the vanguard to allow Bourmont every opportunity to do whatever – Soult didn't even need to know. As it turned out, not only did Bourmont become the vanguard, but when Napoleon delayed the campaign AND kept Vandamme in the center column, gold was struck… and not Bourmont's last two day's of march are aggressive… Bourmont was hustling, but we know it was NOT to fulfill his duties to Napoleon! He was clearly moving to create the opportunity that he eventually exercised. And if you have not gotten that far, you will see that the conventional Bourmont story has little to no substantiation. From the moment Bourmont was in the vanguard and the campaign was delayed, Napoleon's plans were destroyed.

However, even despite the above, fortune played the cruel trick that the Prussians were concentrated, and Wellington danced. Hence, at Ligny, an opportunity existed… yet here again, every failing on June 15th/16th that could have destroyed the Prussians was undermined by Soult. Not the well documented confusing orders (yes, they existed, some had locations in them that didn't even exist) or the slow dispatch, the outright manipulation that left Napoleon planning with bad data. The world has focused on Ney's inaction, and how d'Erlon got diverted. This has clouded the issue entirely. When one looks at the preciseness of Napoleon's orders, it is clear that he WAS absolutely keen on each division – their location, ability to support one another, etc. His ignorance of this is a smoking gun to me – but others think it is no big deal.

I have been challenged that if Napoleon felt Soult's machinations were bad, why didn't he write about them. I think this explanation is simple… Napoleon thought he crushed the Prussians at Ligny. He was wrong, but he thought that. He was proud of that battle, and in his memoirs, he claimed that his maneuvers on June 15th set up that battle, and hence why Fleurus/Sombreffe was not occupied. Here, Napoleon lies… but he wants to brag about his last battlefield victory and take credit for something that was really the product of the treason.

I appreciate your comments on the surprise factor. Ziethen's Corps was put on alert, and even more so on the 14th. While they did not defend the passages well, they likewise did not suffer as much as they could have. Without a doubt had the French advance on June 14th, from a position farther south, yet in Napoleon's original intentions, and on time, I believe… well, in the book I outline this in the appendix. No Quatre Bras, No Ligny, No Waterloo – Brussels occupied.

All these books say, "Napoleon's plan was to drive a wedge, and defeat each army in detail." WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE OF THAT!? Napoleon thought they would retreat, and he would be in Brussels in 2 days, and score a political victory. There is NOTHING in correspondence that suggests Napoleon thought he would even fight a major battle as he expected surprise. Again, all these books on the 4 day campaign are so flawed precisely because it is viewed as a 4 day campaign.

The allies had an aggressive plan had Napoleon advanced via Charleroi, but only the breakdown of French operations protected that plan from disaster. Yet, I will also add that the aggression of the plan (concentrating along the Nivelles-Namur road) did surprise Napoleon, and did contribute to French disfunction. Wellington was very wise to be cautious, yet very luck, as was Blücher, that they survived June 16th.

But there are no rules in war, and one can tip their hats to the Allies, including the Bourbons, that they had infiltrated Napoleon's government and Army. Thus, keep in mind that one thesis of the book is simply that the traitors (infiltrators) played a far larger role than the conventional history allows. The first round of revisionism from the mid-19th century was diminishing their role, and I hope to resurrect it because that revisionism was anti-Napoleon rhetoric by republicans in a war of words with Bonapartism and the third empire.

Rittmester21 Jul 2015 7:34 a.m. PST

I follow your arguments as to the possible explanation to Soult's change of orders.

Being obviously clever and bold in military matters, I think it is more probable than not, that Soult would understand the need to concentrate as quickly as possible and with as few marching days as possible. Road conditions have to be really, really poor, to make such a detour as IV Corps did worthwhile (basic military knowledge). Napoleon had to know pretty well the infrastructure in France as well, so I would therefore say that #3 can be ruled out. I agree with you that #1 and #2 are possible explanations used by Soult.

From the point of view from a Chief of Staff/Second in command (COS/2IC), you could argue that there might be an advantage to have the Corps operating in fewer columns if you want to be able to Control the corps closely and you have too few ADC/Couriers. However, as the most important factor here would be speed of concentration and that this movement would be within French territory, this argument would be very weak so I think we can rule it out as an explanation.

4)If you throw in a huge ego of Soult, it is also possible to imagine a Marshal and chief of staff who was pi…. off by not having his plan accepted and found an excuse (#1-#2 above) for doing something "his way" anyhow. Combined with Soult's personality totally without scruples with regard to achieving his own ambitions and objectives, as well as being a rather spiteful person towards both his peers and Napoleon as he ordered d'Erlon shot after the "Conspiracy of the North" failed in March, I think you have a man capable of anything. I don't know what, but to actually order one of your comrades-in-arms (d'Erlon) shot within 24 hours, makes me wonder what kind of grievances he had towards this fellow officer. Although drastic measures might be necessarry in threat of a coup d'etat, it contrasts Napoleon quite a lot.

Knowing that Soult was clever in military matters and probably just as adept (or more) at politics as Napoleon and that Soult presumably was absolutely cynical about how to achieve his ends (arguably also a master-turncoat) it is easy to imagine him presenting a plausible explanation for his actions to Napoleon and get away with almost anything. (I don't blame Soult being cynical though, living through a revoultion and 20 years of war. However, looking at other of the Marshals such as Davoust, it is clear that it was possible to remain with some integrity after all).

ALthough we may never know for sure, I think you have pointed out several factors which makes your theory possible, if not plausible. Apart from the revision of the order for concentration, I think it is very important what you point out about the missing reports from the Left Wing, especially concerning d'Erlon's I Corps, but also the slow respons to d'Erlon's question for guidance on 15th June. That I Corps was spread out with half its strength almost a days march away from Frasnes in the evening of 15th June was obviously crucial information no matter how this Corps was planned utlized on the 16th.

I have also started reading Muilwijk's "Perponcher's Gamble" to get as much info as possible about the first days of combat and there might come up new info that can help illuminate the situation on the Left Wing. One piece of information which indicates the level of Royalist/Allied infiltration and quality of intelligence is that the Dutch/Belgian Battalions were drawn together each day from the 10th of June with orders to be ready to assemble within 3 hours from the moment they received news of an attack. From 12th June the troops were issued 3 days of rations to be prepared (p.16,2 para). This clearly indicates that they had access to the initial and subsequent French concentration orders (at least the contents by word of mouth) within very short time from issuance. Such measures would soon tire the troops and would not have been made unless the Dutch/Belgian HQ had substantial and reliable intelligence telling about an immediate offensive.

I think you have a valid point as to the importance of the level of treason among the French officer corps. The point you make about Napoleon's campaign plan is also very interesting. I look forward to read on!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP21 Jul 2015 10:11 a.m. PST

I have guilt as I only have this on my Kindle for the Tuscany holiday on Saturday….but then I see not yet in print anyway!

I'll say again that I ridiculed "The Lie at the Heart of W", largely because the title suggested another JFK conspiracy theory or NASA and the studio moon landings. I was wrong. That book just tells us what is very well known, that not everyone got due credit after Waterloo. It is superbly researched to tell us that. Most of us knew that though. Highly recommended

This book sounds great. At least you do not seem to be telling us Boney was poisoned……..

I really look forward to returning to these comments on return from Italy, having read it!

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP24 Jul 2015 2:34 a.m. PST

Napoleon seems to have had tremendous confidence in his relationship with Soult. I wonder if he felt they shared a special bond from their experiences together at Austerlitz, Eylau, Bautzen, etc. Soult was often in the Center.

The DB actions are intriguing. Presumably, the plan to converge on Charleroi was not generally known until late June 13th. But that doesn't preclude leaks from those close to Napoleon.

Gazzola28 Jul 2015 3:54 p.m. PST


I don't know if this may be of interest or if you have already seen it. It is an essay by Ropes on Waterloo. It is interesting because he mentions a letter Grouchy received on the 17th, written by Bertrand, the existence of which Grouchy denied at first. It could be seen as Grouchy trying
to wriggle his way out of failing to do his duty, or that perhaps 'something' underhand was going on during the 1815 campaign. Was he in league with Soult, I wonder?

PDF link

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2015 7:26 p.m. PST

Very much aware of this.

Most believe this order was written around noon.

In Pierart's Drame de Waterloo, a footnote on pages 238-239 identifies that the order was printed by the printer Bauduin in Paris, and that the order is dated at 3:00pm. Interesting to see this order printed in the year of Napoleon's remains returning to France"

In 1840, its existence was revealed when it was printed in Paris – who did this? That version said 3pm, so theory goes Grouchy did so to push back when he received the note. A later Grouchy biography would later include the order – and while some think maybe Grouchy made a mistake by releasing it, if he was behind publishing it in 1840, maybe not.

Michel Damiens suggests it was a fake in: link

Damiens, as with Coppens, also believes orders on the 18th are fake.

I do not happen to believe these materials are fake – however, we must understand that it is absolutely possible. The entire order book that Grouchy published could have been constructed by Grouchy, or Soult, or both… there have been original pieces of correspondence from the hands of d'Erlon and Reille etc., that do corroborate what Grouchy published – but there are also orders that were NOT in what Grouchy published, and we know of further orders and reports that have never been seen.

Hence, the entire correspondence from this campaign, that French operations are based on by all studies, is suspect/incomplete.

Grouchy said he was going to one day provide the order book – as late as 1829. In 1830, he was given back his Marshal's baton, and and we never hear of the original materials again. While he eventually published "extracts from the register" they conveniently started on June 13th, and did not include those pieces which indict Soult. (I find this over the top incredible – but generally this is not considered a big deal… by the same audience that doesn't think Soult's order rewrite was a big deal…)

Did Soult make Grouchy give up the originals and make sure Grouchy didn't publish those that would make Soult look bad, or worse, demonstrate to veterans that Soult was nefarious?

And why didn't Gourgaud/Bertrand ever speak up? Of course, after 1830, all these individuals were getting their honors returned to them by Louis-Philippe, and Soult played a huge role in this…

I do not believe Grouchy was a traitor – he simply was not cut out to lead Vandamme/Gérard.

Further, the orders that Napoleon claims he sent to Grouchy on the evening or early morning of June 18th appear to have falling into Prussian hands – Grouchy published one account of this, and another was (Major Zach of the Baden Staff) was independently verified. But capture? Betrayed? We don't know, and the acts of treason during 1815 were covered up as much as possible in order to hold Napoleon alone accountable for the disaster and to weaken Bonapartism.

But here is the most significant point I can make about this campaign – I think Soult was nefarious. I think Grouchy was not as effective, and was put in a bad spot. I think Ney was not incompetent in the morning of June 16th – there was no reason for Ney to have been aggressive or acted urgently at that time, but once the fighting started at Quatre Bras, he seems to have gotten to in the thick of things to properly manage the situation. I think a lot of things, and have gathered up as much evidence as I could find…

But, whether it be my work, or ANY other, the integrity of the data and the holes in the data mean that no one knows definitively, and one way you can test the depth of any Waterloo historian when dealing with French operations is if they admit as much.

Having said that, I continue to maintain that with what we have today, the case supports Soult's acts intentional bad acts.


Gazzola29 Jul 2015 2:57 a.m. PST


You have raised some very interesting points and I can't understand why whoever holds Soult's 1815 material have not offered them for inspection? What are they hiding? This matter needs to be settled, one way or another.

Is there anyone or any place people can write to about this? After all, if enough people request the manuscripts be examined, then it might happen. And it must be noted that this is in the interest of history and not as means for a manhunt against Soult. After all, it happened two years ago, and, although such information may improve and increase our knowledge of events, it won't change history.

Stephen Beckett Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2015 2:18 a.m. PST

There is a team of us working on tracking down Soult's materials. There will be more news of this as the fall progresses. We have a lead…

And I agree, this is not about holding Soult accountable etc., it is simply a matter of getting the history right.

The Waterloo campaign has had a profound impact on the understanding of the period.

Soult is considered a dolt by many since he was so "incompetent" during 1815. This hardly matches Soult's life before 1815, and many Napoleonic buffs have no clue Soult had an entire second career where he was one of the most powerful men in France.

Napoleon is considered sickly, arrogant, delusional, and a total liar due to 1815. It is true he took liberties with his memoirs, and he certainly was every bit of his age… but the narrative I study and write about is one where the man was still brilliant and capable, and many of his "lies" may indeed have been true.

Ney and Grouchy both suffer greatly, and while there are valid criticisms, the story that I write about demonstrates that their major failings per the conventional history were not failings at all.

Finally, those that say Napoleon could never have one in 1815 often (and on this website) that the allies had learned everything they needed to know to avoid a decisive result – there would be no more Ulm's was the quote I believe. Yet without the betrayal, the allies would have been decisively punished for their foolish concentration so close to the frontier. (Clausewitz was particularly critical of Wellington for not appreciating what Napoleon could do.)

Hence, understanding the truth about this campaign could dramatically alter the perception of key individuals for the entire period.

However, I do concede that the truth could also reveal something entirely different. But until we see more, the record that exists supports my work, and no one has yet offered a counter narrative that fits all the facts.

At some point if I hit a dead end on our pursuit of Soult 1815 materials, I'll go public with what we know, and ask all interested parties to join in an effort to advertise the effort and bring attention to the importance. But for now, I'm trying to be nice – and it doesn't help that we just hit August in France where the whole country has basically shut down.

Gazzola03 Aug 2015 7:48 a.m. PST


I guess we will just have to be patient. And what is another month, considering we've been waiting for over 200 years for the truth to come out, whatever way it turns out.

Despite the fact I have gone overboard on buying books this year, your title is next on my list to purchase. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

Keep up the good work and there will be a lot of people interested in the result, as no doubt, there will be a lot of people not wanting to know it.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Aug 2015 10:24 a.m. PST

Quite interesting…


Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2015 3:35 a.m. PST

Anybody coming up with a new theory of historical treachery needs to be very thick skinned.

When things go wrong in a campaign, Bleeped text(how funny deleted here but used elsewhere….suggesting male chicken followed by up) is more likely than conspiracy (actually that seems little suggested here, the premise is, curiously, Soult largely acting in isolation, other than in facilitating the odd desertion, to alert the Prussians.)
I enjoyed my Kindle version immensely and have elsewhere praised its content, if doubtful about the underlying premise. TMP link

Motive is little addressed (although mentioned above) other than personal advantage. A winning Bonaparte campaign would (if he thought it feasible) have looked equally good (actually far better) on his CV.

A traitor as major general could have been of far more value as a spy and informant, than as a hands on saboteur, surely.

Tinkering with messages may well have contributed to a 24 hour delay of the invasion, of d'Erlon's walkabout on 16th , or Grouchy's non arrival at Mt St Jean. Decent staff work could have corrected any of these anyway. But it still proved that very "close run thing" and I cannot help but feel he could have done far more, considering the risk he was already running, seemingly.

Secrets such as this are rarely kept for two decades, let alone two centuries. The Royalists in Ghent would have had to know of his plans and there is little evidence of any communication. Without that contact he is serving Napoleon as an incompetent Chief of Staff, rather than a loyal Royalist and has to face the consequences at the Restoration.

Conspiracies usually surface or are seen as fiction, after all, with the passage of time.

Fascinating book, great research and a good reference on the French side of the campaign results (a rarity). Made me think more about how dubious many of the records are, once anlaysed by an expert also.

Gazzola06 Aug 2015 2:53 a.m. PST


I have not obtained the title yet, so have not read it, but from what I've seen on the web offered by Stephen Beckett and the various discussions, this is not a simple conspiracy theory, as much as some people might want it to be.

And in terms of Soult, who seemed to have done really well for himself after Napoleon's defeat, if he is guilty of what Stephen suggests, appeared to have done enough to gain a large dose of brownie points with the Royalists, who he may have believed would win in the end, considering the massive coalition forces lined up against Napoleon, while at the same time not opening himself to being discovered too easily or be seen as being 'deliberately' incompetent, should Napoleon have won.

And Stephen certainly seems to suggest there is enough evidence, although unfortunately, the final piece of possible evidence remains in the hands of those who may be reluctant to offer the unseen material to public viewing. One has to wonder why?

And really, 'secrets such as this are rarely kept for two decades, let alone two centuries' – I think that depends on who is keeping them secret and why.

Let's hope the unseen material is offered to complete the picture one way or another.

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