Eyewitness Waterloo

Here’s the next instalment from my forthcoming collection of first-hand accounts from the Battle of Waterloo.

The story so far…

Twenty-two-year-old Lady Magdelene de Lancey has travelled to Brussels to be near her husband Colonel Sir William, a member of Wellington’s staff. Now, the battle has commenced. Wellington moved all over the battlefield during the fighting, organising and rallying his soldiers. He was often within the range of cannon and musket, and most of the men who were with him were wounded or killed at some point during the day.

Near three, when Sir William was riding beside the Duke [Wellington], a cannon ball struck him on the back, at the right shoulder, and knocked him off his horse to several yards distance. The Duke at first imagined he was killed; for he said afterwards, he had Waterloo 3never in all the fighting he had ever been in seen a man rise again after such a wound. Seeing he was alive (for he bounded up again and then sank down), he ran to him, and stooping down, took him by the hand. Sir William begged the Duke, as the last favour he could have it in his power to do him, to exert his authority to take away the crowd that gathered round him, and to let him have his last moments in peace to himself. The Duke bade him farewell, and endeavoured to draw away the Staff, who oppressed him; they wanted to take leave of him, and wondered at his calmness. He was left, as they imagined, to die; but his cousin, Delancey Barclay, who had seen him fall, went to him instantly, and tried to prevail upon him to be removed to the rear, as he was in imminent danger of being crushed by the artillery, which was fast approaching the spot; and also there was danger of his falling into the hands of the enemy. He entreated to be left on the ground, and said it was impossible he could live; that they might be of more use to others, and he only begged to remain on the field. But as he spoke with ease, and Colonel Barclay saw that the ball had not entered, he insisted on moving him, and he took the opinion of a surgeon, who thought he might live, and got some soldiers to carry him in a blanket to a barn at the side of the road, a little to the rear… 


Meanwhile, Gunner John Edwards of the Royal Horse Artillery (might he even have been part of the rapidly advancing unit that threatened to ride over the fallen De Lancey?) was by now also in the thick of it:

The french Emperial Guardes dressed in steel armour back and brest plates, they way about 32 pounds, charged up the maine road till thay came within 600 yardes they extended rite and left of the road. Wee fired case shot at them and swep them of like a swathe of grass before a syth. The ground was cuvvered with men and waterloo 2horses in 5 minutes. wee limbered up but before wee could move one yard the french was all round us. Me and four more of our Gunners left the gun and formed up with the 1st German Horse and charged the french cavallery, wee swept through them four times. with a good horse and a sharpe sord I caused 5 of them to fall to the ground. my horse reseved 4 cuts as I could not guard my horse and my self at one time. wee soon got our gun in action againe, only 4 men to man her and up to our knees in mud. Colonel Ross lost 5 horses shot under him. My gun was struck several times with the french shots.



About ramblesofawriter

Writer, thinker, tea drinker.
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