Waterloo campaign

Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Waterloo campaign: The Battle of Waterloo

Waterloo campaign

Waterloo campaign, last action of the Napoleonic Wars, ending with the battle of Waterloo. Napoleon I, who escaped from Elba in Feb., 1815, and entered Paris on Mar. 20, soon faced a European coalition. His only hope lay in attacking before the enemy could combine to attack him, although he could count on only about 125,000 men in the immediate future. His plan was to destroy the British and Prussian forces under Wellington and Blücher on the northern frontier, before dealing with the Austrians and Russians under Prince Schwarzenberg then gathering on the eastern frontier. To effect this, he decided to concentrate his forces near Charleroi, between Blücher's force of about 120,000 and Wellington's of about 93,000, and thus prevent their junction. Setting out for the front on June 12, he seized Charleroi while the allies still believed he was in Paris, and he defeated Blücher at Ligny (June 16). Assuming that the Prussians were retreating toward their base in Namur, he detached Grouchy with 33,000 men to pursue them. Meanwhile, Marshal Ney was battling Wellington at Quatre Bras; Napoleon now turned to his assistance, and Wellington, though victorious, was compelled to retreat toward Brussels. Wellington took up a strong position S of Waterloo, between Mont-Saint-Jean and Belle-Alliance, and awaited attack. On June 18, about noon, Napoleon began a massed attack against the British center, but the British stemmed the tide until the overdue arrival, late in the day, of the Prussian forces, who had eluded Grouchy by marching on Wavre instead of Namur. This event proved the turning point of the battle. Routed, the French retreated with the Prussians in pursuit. Napoleon left the field and signed (June 22) his second abdication. French casualties were about 32,000, the coalition's about 23,000. The campaign was marked by confusion and miscalculation on all sides. The battle figures prominently in European literature.


See studies by J. Naylor (1960), D. A. Howarth (1968), U. Pericoli (1974), A. J. Guy, ed. (1990), T. Clayton (2014), B. Cornwell (2015), A. Forrest (2015), and P. and D. Snow (2015).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
This first volume focuses on the British sources and it's all new - previously unpublished letters and journals on the Waterloo campaign and the subsequent occupation of France.
Having mishandled both the Waterloo campaign and the Battle of Waterloo itself, Napoleon was determined to fight on, but his regime collapsed even before the Allied troops reached Paris.
Go back six generations and Colonel William Cameron was wounded in the Waterloo campaign.
On Tuesday Royal Mail will issue six stamps showing British soldiers of yesteryear,commemorating regiments which fought the only European conflict between the Waterloo campaign of 1815 and the outbreak of the First World War of 1914--18.
Private Burke of the 95th survived 'The Hope" at Cuidad Rodrigo, Badajoz and San Sebastian only to be mortally wounded at Quatre Bras in the Waterloo campaign.
Grouchy was a courageous and decisive cavalry commander, as evident from his many victories, but he lacked the imagination and confidence necessary for large, independent commands; Napoleon was partly to blame for Grouchy's failure in the Waterloo campaign since he knew Grouchy's weaknesses and did not give sufficiently detailed instructions, but Grouchy's lack of vigor was his own failure.
Louis, and made governor of the Twenty-First Military Division by Louis XVIII; he escorted the King to Belgium on the return of Napoleon; he took no part in the Waterloo campaign but was given the sensitive task of disbanding the Army of the Loire on its return to France; in July 1815 he was made grand chancellor of the Legion of Honor and a member of the King's Privy Council; in 1825 he went to England and Scotland, where he visited his ancestral home; on his return he was appointed one of the four marshals in command of the Royal Guard; on September 7, 1840 he died at the chateau of Courcelles-le-Roi (near Gien).
An able and resourceful commander, he performed well in defeat at Ligny and victory at Waterloo in the Waterloo campaign. <BL>