by Andrew W. Field
Croydon, UK: Pen and Sword, 2012. Pp. x, 310.
Illus., maps, diagr., appends., notes, biblio., index. $50.00. ISBN: 1781590435
The French View of the “Nearest Run Thing“ at Waterloo
This is the companion volume to Field’s Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras, The French Perspective. As he did for Quatre Bras, in this work Field delves into considerable
on the organization, command, and
the operations and tactics of the French
Army during the decisive battle at Waterloo, two days after the twin battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny
French soldiers’ accounts
a compelling case for the narrowness of the margin between victory and defeat at Waterloo.
presents evidence disproving
the contention often
British accounts that the French “came on in the same old way, and were beaten in the same old way.” The French are shown to have introduced new tactics
including the famous Divisional Column used by d’Erlon’s I Corps
specifically designed to
defeat the British dispositions
. These tactics might have broken Wellington’s army
not for the intervention of the Prussian Army late on the afternoon of June 18th on the French right at Placenoit.
Field also dissects the important decisions of Napoleon, Marshal Ney, and other high-level French officers that shaped the campaign, in this way clearing up many questions regarding the mistakes that led the French Army to defeat at Waterloo
, perhaps most notably
the disastrous massed cavalry charges
or the wholly unnecessary waste of troops at Hougomont.
In conjunction with the Quatre Bras volume (and a hoped for Ligny one as well), Field helps us understand
Wellington called Waterloo “the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life” and gain a
appreciation for the
ée du Nord
: Dr. Alexander Stavropoulos received his Ph.D. in History from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013. Currently an Adjunct Professor at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, his previous reviews for StrategyPage include .
Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras: The French Perspective