NAPOLEON & WELLINGTON AT WATERLOO - JUNE 18,1815
The Horse in America: 1776 Napoleon & Wellington at Waterloo - June 18 1815In 1805, Napoleon's planned invasion of Britain was delayed with his defeat by Nelson at Trafalgar. and ended by his ill-fated march on Moscow in 1812. Though forced to abdicate, Napoleon escaped from exile, returned to France and reassembled his army in an attempt to regain control of his empire. On June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo proved to be the last major engagement in European history where massed cavalry was used as the principal assault force. Wellington commanded some 13,000 English, Dutch, and Prussian horsemen, and Napoleon nearly 16,000 cavalry troops. At the end of the day's fighting, Wellington's cavalry was victorious, but the cost of the battle was great for both sides. It is estimated that 75 percent of the approximate 45,000 horses who took part in the Battle of Waterloo were killed or wounded by day's end. While Wellington's cavalry proved crucial at Waterloo, he, an infantry officer at heart, was never overly enamored with his mounted forces. From experience at the hunt, he knew only too well how the exhilaration of a mad dash across country could overwhelm the better judgment of even the most staid cavalry commanders. As such, he tended to use his cavalry sparingly. Noting the tendency for his cavalry's lapses in discipline, and propensity for independent action, Wellington noted that in the past they 'had got him into several scrapes', a situation he could ill afford at Waterloo.