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Edinburgh at Waterloo: Early Exchanges

Waterloo archive anecdotes: 15 June 1815


Jun 15, 2015

200 years ago, armies from Britain, the Netherlands, Prussia and Germany faced the French Grande Armée of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The British Army and their German and Dutch/Belgian allies were under the overall command of Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. The Prussian Army was commanded by Marshall Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher.

Although the campaign takes its name from the conclusive battle at Waterloo on 18 June, the first action took place south of Waterloo at a place called Quatre Bras, a strategically important crossroads. In the late afternoon of 15 June 1815, Wellington's forces engaged with the left wing of the French forces led by Marshal Michel Ney. one of Napoleon's most trusted commanders. Blücher's army were to the east, near Ligny, preparing to engage with the French right wing.

Combat took place within the newly created United Kingdom of the Netherlands. Today, Quatre Bras, Ligny and Waterloo are part of modern Belgium.

Within Wellington’s army many Scottish soldiers played significant roles in the Waterloo campaign and, in this week of ‘Waterloo 200’, each day we will be highlighting Waterloo anecdotes with links to Edinburgh. EWH have also produced a Waterloo Trail (click here) which highlights Edinburgh’s connections to the campaign.

Our thanks to The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Museum at Edinburgh Castle for the illustration below of the Duke of Wellington raising his hat to the Scots Greys at Quatre Bras. The Scottish Waterloo victory medal illustrated above is one of the exhibits which can be seen until 27 Sept 2015 at the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition ‘Waterloo. After the Battle’.



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