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"Wellington's Foot Guards at Waterloo" Topic

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621 hits since 19 Nov 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse19 Nov 2018 12:34 p.m. PST

For your home library….

"During the Waterloo Campaign, Wellington had only one division that was composed entirely of British infantry, the 1st Division. This consisted of two brigades of the most famous regiments of the British Army – the three regiments of Guards.

The exploits of the Guards at Waterloo have passed into legend. On that day, Wellington entrusted the most crucial part of his line to the men he knew would hold their position at all cost. That vital position was the Château d'Hougoumont, and those men were the Guards.

As the great battle unfolded, the French threw more and more troops at the walls of Hougoumont, setting some of the Château's buildings on fire and almost forcing their way in through its northern gateway. Though almost an entire French corps was engaged in the struggle for Hougoumont, the detachment of the Guards valiantly resisted every attack.

Then, as the battle reached its climax, Napoleon launched his Imperial Guard at the centre of Wellington's line. Just as the French believed that victory was in their grasp, up stood the 1st Guards Brigade to deliver a devastating volley, followed by a ferocious bayonet charge from which the French never recovered.

The experienced duo of Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan have compiled the first comprehensive study of the Guards Division throughout the entire Waterloo campaign, from the initial deployment in Belgium to the Occupation of Paris. The book also includes an explanation of the organisation and composition of the two brigades and personal details of many of the Guards' officers – the men who saved the day at Waterloo."
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Michael Westman19 Nov 2018 5:14 p.m. PST

I don't mean to be critical, especially with these two distinguished gentlemen, but I always thought the crucial part of the Allied line was La Haye Sainte and the crossroads just behind it. Sure, too many Frenchmen were thrown at Hougoumont, but it wasn't where the battle would have/should have been decided.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2018 9:59 a.m. PST

It is the usual nonsense subtitle, which the publishers we are told insist on feeling it is essential to attract the readers.

We have seen so many. The cavalry that beat Napoleon or anything to do with who beat the Imperial Guard Infantry. the worst though was the poor Swordfish pilot whose book was entitled "I Sank the Bismarck". Now gone to his rest but pilloried by his peers, for something that was not his choice.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse20 Nov 2018 12:10 p.m. PST



Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2019 7:30 a.m. PST

Well this does prove to be truly encyclopaedic. The overwhelming impression is of lists, tables and appendices (the last of which make up at least one third of the book). Strength returns, careers of every individual officer, casualty lists etc dominate. If you want to know the average height, plus the range of heights for the infantry, their previous occupations, their ages (mean and range), their eye colour (seriously) and hair colour, this is for you.

It is a reference book for folk who seek such knowledge. It lacks interpretation of the facts and data however. There is nothing of the great debate over the 52nd role, how significant was the Guard's contribution (despite the subtitle) or of their tactics, weapons, superior skills(?) or uniforms. Illustrations are sparse, with Mudford's Hougoumont reproduced twice on facing pages.

It is a massive compilation of data. Almost as though a AI search engine was set in motion to collect every bit of surviving information. The Title? Well this is far more about events before and after the 18th June. As for Saving the Day, I will blame the publishers and not the authors.

Have I enjoyed it? Yes funnily enough. No idea why. Well worth £25.00 GBP Maybe I did want to know eye colour of "Guardsmen" in 1815 after all. Clinton's inspections have been mentioned here recently and published separately. Real eyeopeners. Also interesting to read that drummers were far from Juveniles and that Light company were no titches. I am being a bit too critical, but this is more of a reference book than an easy read.

NapStein08 Jan 2019 4:22 a.m. PST

Thank Deadhead for your comment – so as I'm very interested in the British army I will purchase this book and recommend it to the German audience. In times when we may get a lot of memoirs and older works via internet ressources the need of good researched reference books is rising.

Kind regards from Berlin
Markus Stein

ConnaughtRanger08 Jan 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

The Great Duke apparently said the battle turned on the closing of the gate at Hougoumont so there is a degree of justification for the claim on the cover? There are FAR worse ones out there!

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP09 Jan 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

Oh indeed! FAR worse.

But none to compare with poor John Moffat's "I sank the Bismarck" (not his chosen title). Waterloo attracted has attracted many a crazy title and esp subtitle in recent years

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