Battle of Waterloo
(18 June 1815)
A decisive battle between French and British and Prussian forces near the Belgian village of Waterloo. It was fought during the Hundred Days of Napoleon between his hastily recruited army of 72,000 men and Wellington's Allied army of 68,000 men (with British, Dutch, Belgian, and German units) before the Prussians (45,000 men) arrived. There had been a violent storm in the night and Napoleon postponed his attack until midday to allow the ground to dry. By 2 p.m. a first contingent of Prussians arrived and attacked Napoleon on the right. At 6 p.m. Marshal Ney ordered a coordinated attack and captured La Haye Sainte, a farmhouse in the centre of the Allied line. The French artillery then began attacking the Allies from the centre. At 7 p.m. Napoleon launched his famous Garde Impériale in a bid to break Wellington's now weakened infantry. At this point, however, Blücher appeared with the main Prussian forces, taking Napoleon in the flank, and Wellington ordered a general advance. The French were routed, with the exception of the Garde, who resisted to the end. In Wellington's words, the outcome of the battle was “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life”. On 22 June, Napoleon signed his second and final abdication.