Napoleon at Waterloo versus the volcano – Napoleon lost

Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo caused in part by Indonesian volcanic eruption

Electrically charged volcanic ash short-circuited Earth’s atmosphere in 1815, causing global poor weather and Napoleon’s defeat, says new research.

Historians know that rainy and muddy conditions helped the Allied army defeat the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. The June 1815 event changed the course of European history.

Two months prior, a volcano named Mount Tambora erupted on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, killing 100,000 people and plunging the Earth into a ‘year without a summer’ in 1816.

Now, Dr Matthew Genge from Imperial College London has discovered that electrified volcanic ash from eruptions can ‘short-circuit’ the electrical current of the ionosphere – the upper level of the atmosphere that is responsible for cloud formation.

The findings, published today in Geology, could confirm the suggested link between the eruption and Napoleon’s defeat.

Dr Genge, from Imperial’s Department of Earth Science and Engineering, suggests that the Tambora eruption short-circuited the ionosphere, ultimately leading to a pulse of cloud formation. This brought heavy rain across Europe that contributed to Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat.


On June 16, 1815, he defeated the Prussians under Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher at Ligny, and sent 33,000 men, or about one-third of his total force, in pursuit of the retreating Prussians. On June 18, Napoleon led his remaining 72,000 troops against the Duke of Wellington’s 68,000-man allied army, which had taken up a strong position 12 miles south of Brussels near the village of Waterloo. In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher’s troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon.

The paper shows that eruptions can hurl ash much higher than previously thought into the atmosphere – up to 100 kilometres above ground.

Dr Genge said: “Previously, geologists thought that volcanic ash gets trapped in the lower atmosphere, because volcanic plumes rise buoyantly. My research, however, shows that ash can be shot into the upper atmosphere by electrical forces.”

A series of experiments showed that that electrostatic forces could lift ash far higher than by buoyancy alone. Dr Genge created a model to calculate how far charged volcanic ash could levitate, and found that particles smaller than 0.2 millionths of a metre in diameter could reach the ionosphere during large eruptions.

He said: “Volcanic plumes and ash both can have negative electrical charges and thus the plume repels the ash, propelling it high in the atmosphere. The effect works very much like the way two magnets are pushed away from each other if their poles match.”

The experimental results are consistent with historical records from other eruptions.

Weather records are sparse for 1815, so to test his theory, Dr Genge examined weather records following the 1883 eruption of another Indonesian volcano, Krakatau.

The data showed lower average temperatures and reduced rainfall almost immediately after the eruption began, and global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after.

He also found reports of ionosphere disturbance after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines, which could have been caused by charged ash in the ionosphere from the volcano plume.

In addition, a special cloud type appeared more frequently than usual following the Krakatau eruption. Noctilucent clouds are rare and luminous, and form in the ionosphere. Dr Genge suggests these clouds therefore provide evidence for the electrostatic levitation of ash from large volcanic eruptions.

Dr Genge said:

“Vigo Hugo in the novel Les Miserables said of the Battle of Waterloo: ‘an unseasonably clouded sky sufficed to bring about the collapse of a World.’


Now we are a step closer to understanding Tambora’s part in the Battle from half a world away.”


The paper:

222 thoughts on “Napoleon at Waterloo versus the volcano – Napoleon lost

  1. Very interesting. Of course there is no proof that the eruption caused the wet weather that affected the battle. It rains a fair bit in Belgium with around ten rainy days in June, the month of the battle. Victor Hugo whilst a great author was obviously not an expert on Belgium’s weather!

    • Definitely! What matters is the change from “normal” weather, so if Belgium is that wet usually, attributing the outcome of Waterloo to a volcano does seem a stretch.

    • From my reading it only rained for about 2 days immediately prior to the battle. Memoirs from such as Georgiana Lennox (the daughter of the Duchess of Richmond) are quite specific that casualties from the initial phases of the battle made it back to Brussels before the rains started.

      • Now when theoden king of Rohan takes his people to helms deep and sauraman sends his uruk Kai ten thousand strong to wipe them out. It starts to rain that night. Are we saying that an eruption from Mount Doom caused that rain. And did it make any difference? The uruk Kai breeched the hammerhelm and it took a Calvary charge from eomer third Marshall of the riddermark on saromans left flank to turn the tide of the battle.

    • Victor Hugo whilst a great author was obviously not an expert on Belgium’s weather!

      Similarly, whoever wrote the following probably wasn’t a military tactician.

      In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry.

      Everybody’s an armchair quarterback. The Battle of Agincourt was in large part decided by the mud. What would have happened if Napoleon had charged through the mud? We don’t know. Probably Napoleon did. We can’t call his delay a blunder because we don’t know what would have happened if he didn’t delay.

      Scholars tend to be arrogant and tend not to see their own blind spots.

      • Rain also played a major part in French defeat at Crecy in 1346. God is clearly not a Frenchman, and to adapt a phrase: the sun never sets on the anglophone empire.

      • Commie Bob,

        Yet Agincourt was in October, when heavy rain is not uncommon.

        Mud has featured in every war in northern France and Belgium.

      • Bingo! Some military scholar thinks he’s a better general than Napoleon. Imagine what Alexander the Mediocre could have accomplished if he was as smart as that guy!
        He should be a climate scientist in his spare time!

    • Are there any reports or documentation of the French forces being unduly hampered by rain and mud in their attack? I have never read aything about it.

      • I remember a television programme about Waterloo by a military historian, who showed that the initial artillery bombardment by the French was not very effective because a) Wellington got his troops to lie down behind the ridge he was defending and b) the cannonballs went splat into the mud and caused much less damage than if they had hit dry ground and ricocheted through troops standing in line.
        It does seem that Napoleon lost the battle as much as Wellington won it.

        • Picking the ground on which you are going to fight is as much a part of military strategy as is what you do with your troops once the fighting does start.

          • My favorite example is Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours. The Arab commander felt compelled to attack up hill into a forest because his troops were unprepared for the oncoming winter.

            That, in turn, reminds me of Stalin’s miserably unprepared troops attacking Finland in mountainous terrain, in winter, and getting their behinds kicked. link

          • Finland is mostly flat, with some low mountains in the north, in Lapland. There was fighting in the north, around Petsamo, but most of the Winter War was fought in the south, plus a little in the center.

            The main obstacles for the Red Army were forest, river, lake and bog, through and across which ran few roads.

          • The point is that because of the strategic situation Napoleon had to allow Wellington the luxury of picking the battle field. Thus giving up Napoleons most important skill, the ability to out maneuver his enemy which he did almost every single time with out fail. Wellington didn’t out maneuver Napoleon, Napoleon gave him the choice out of strategic Nesessity. Napoleon knew he had very little chance to pull off the miracle of defeating all of the enemies he was facing and that he had to gamble, he did and he lost.

          • As noted, Napoleon didn’t have to let Wellington pick the battlefield. But he did, because he thought the Allies were making a mistake. That was just one of the French commands many costly errors.

            He had won other major victories by letting his enemies make positional errors or luring them into making such mistakes. This time, he was wrong, not Wellington.

            The rain might have hampered the French cavalry’s ability effectively to pursue the defeated Allies after QB, but it also might have been another command error.

            Not that Wellington was flawless. He apparently forgot about 17,000 troops at his second position at Halle.


        • It does seem that Napoleon lost the battle ……

          YUP, ……. “might” does not always triumph over ”smarts”.

          Napoleon’s “smarts” were also lacking when he launched his “attack” on Russia (Moscow) in the dead of the Russian winter. It cost him a defeat and loss of ¾ of a million soldiers.

        • Wellington’s plan was to fight a defensive battle, holding the French advance, until the Prussians could come to his support. The rain/mud delayed the French attack and so helped Wellington, but the rain/mud delayed the Prussian march to the battlefield, and so helped Napoleon.

          You could argue the case either way, but Napoleon lost so it makes a good excuse for his failure to win

        • I ran a computer model of the battle and Napoleon won! I’m just waiting for the French to rewrite history.

      • Yes. Napoleon liked to maneuver his artillery, and the mud made that impossible early in the morning. Also long-range bombardment required solid cannon balls, which would stick in the mud, instead of bouncing along the ground, killing or hideously wounding all in their path.

        Plus, of course infantry and cavalry are also impaired by mud. As the French were on the attack, mud hurt them more than the Allies. The Prussians of course were also on the march, though.

        Nobody knows when the battle actually started. Wellington said 10 AM, but other eye witnesses on both sides say not until 11:30, when the ground had dried up some.

      • And Nathan Rotschild pulled artful bit of deceit in London, leading to him and his heirs dominating world banking ever since.

        He was known to have the fasted couriers around and that he would have knowledge of the victor before even the King of England. As all waited at the exchange in London, he came out with a glum face and did not say anything. Everyone went into panic selling. He waited for prices to go through the floor then bought everything he could get his hands on.

        Once the true victory was announced proces shot back up and Nathan became one of the richest men in London.

        He later said ” If I can control a countries money, I care not who writes the laws. ”

        A principal which applies in spades 200 years later.

      • Possibly relevant. What are the odds of the French losing a battle to the English in the last 500 or so years?

    • This was during the Dalton Minimum so yes the local weather could have been affected by the combination of the volcanic aerosols and the quiet sun.

    • The text says

      “The data showed lower average temperatures and reduced rainfall almost immediately after the eruption began, and global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after.”

      From where do you get that “wet weather” claims.

  2. Sailed past Tambora in November, 2010. The shapes at the base of the slope, produced by the lava of previous eruptions, looked very much like a “sleeping green dragon” to me.

  3. Couldn’t possibly have been that Wellington was a better commander and the allied troops were better than their counterparts.

    Nope, it needed a volcano to beat Napoleon.

    • Do you mean that Wellington counted on the volcano whereas Napoleon failed to account for its efects? Maybe Napoleon was one of those climate neg… er, skeptics, who vote for Trump lol

      Now seriously, it didn’t need a volcano. Any other unpredictable scenario that favored Wellington could have worked as well. In this case it was some heavy rain at the right time, whether or not the volcano triggered it.

    • 1) Napoleon & company were at the bottom of a long up-hill rise, charging into Wellington, who’s troops could maneuver out of sight on the reverse side of the hill.

      2) Napoleon’s Cavalry made a suicidal charge up the hill into Wellington’s guns (goodbye Cavalry)

      3) Napoleon wasn’t feeling well on the day of battle (at least a major hemorrhoids)

      • Javert Chip

        As I have said on this blog before, haemorrhoids are Gods curse on mankind. Nothing the devil can eject from the bowels of the earth will ever compare to what God inflicted on the bowels of man.

        It appears on this occasion, God chose a side.

    • Napoleon’s supporters do cite his illness, just as do Lee’s at Gettysburg.

      But the fact remained that he and Ney, to whom he gave more command authority than was wise, to put it mildly, made grievous errors which cost them the battle and campaign.

      Among Nappy’s mistakes was not accepting his daring, dashing, literally colorful cavalry commander Marshal Murat back into his service. Unlike the plodding Grouchy, with a third of Nappy’s army, Murat would have ridden to the sound of the guns, instead of dumbly continuing to follow the Prussians. The trailing French infantry could have held up the Prussians, while the cavalry could have arrived on the field in time to turn the tide at Waterloo. The next day, Grouchy did beat Prussian III Corps at Wavre, when it didn’t matter.

      After stealing a march on the Allies and Prussians to set up the battles of Ligny and Quatres Bras, Nappy and Ney then dithered, sending D’Erlon’s corps marching back and forth between the two fights, without its participating in either. Had D’Erlon arrived at QB, Wellington would have been whipped then and there. If at Ligny, then the Prussians would have been too weakened to fight at Waterloo and Plancenoit.

      At Waterloo, Nappy let the supposedly diversionary attack on Wellington’s right, at Hougoumont, spiral out of control. In hind sight, he should have gone straight for the Dutch-Belgian troops on the Allied left, with everything he had, horse, foot and guns, as early as he could.

      Contrary to popular belief, however, Wellington did need to funnel troops and guns to his right to hold onto Hougoumont, weakening his center. But the French threw in somewhat more, the reverse of what Nappy planned.

      When the ailing Nappy went to lie down, Ney idiotically launched an unsupported cavalry attack, without artillery to blast the compact Allied defensive squares to pieces, then bringing up infantry to finish off the shattered squares.

      Just some of the Emperor’s mistakes which gave victory to the Iron Duke and Prince Bluecher.

      • Sgt

        “In hind sight, he should have gone straight for the Dutch-Belgian troops on the Allied left, with everything he had, horse, foot and guns, as early as he could.”

        Were we all blessed with hindsight, we wouldn’t be debating climate change today.

        • True.

          Nappy was relying on Grouchy to slow down Bluecher, so thought he had more time than he did. He also expected Wellington to weaken his center more than he did.

        • He had no choice, Wellington and Blucher were only about 20% of the enemies invading France. Every second he waited was more time for his enemies to combine. He had near zero chance of winning but if he had any it was defeating his enemies one army at a time before they combined, hench he had to force the issue, but this necessitated ceding the choice of battle field to his enemy.

          Everyone keeps discussing tactics but it was the strategic situation that drove Napoleons decisions, he made bad ones but frankly had very little control over it.

          • The Prussian and Anglo-Allies were more than 20% of Nappy’s enemies in 1815, and probably more dangerous than the Austrians, Russians, and motley assorted Germans, Swiss, Italians and Scandinavians. Let us not forget Lichtenstein, Sardinia and French royalists. And “Austrians” includes Hungarians, Czechs and what have you from the recently defunct Holy Roman Empire, which, as per Voltaire, wasn’t holy, Roman or much of an empire.

            In June, the Anglo-Allies and Prussians had over 200,000 men in the field. The other Seventh Coalition allies had about 337,000 troops threatening the eastern French frontiers.

          • Except your numbers are wrong the combined force facing Napoleon was less than 120 000 and and the rest of the combined armies threatening France was closer to 450,000

          • Nope.

            Wellington had 85,000, with the 17,000 at Halle/ With the ~5000 dead and wounded from QB, that’s 90,000 at the start of the campaign. At Ligny, Bluecher had 84,000, for a total in both armies of 174,000, and neither of those figures includes all Prussian and Anglo-Allied forces in theater.

            Dunno how you derived 450,000 for the other coalition troops. Maybe includes some Russian forces still on the march. But my figure for the frontier battles on the Rhine and Italian borders are generally accepted. I linked to the sources.

  4. I suppose somewhere there was something that happened which will be discovered to be the reason for the Patriots losing the Super Bowl.

  5. …In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry. The delay in fighting gave Blucher’s troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon. …

    Um. It also meant that the Prussians had to undertake a forced march in wet conditions, which must have slowed them down. Sounds like six of one and half a dozen of the other.

    Napoleon was the decision-taker on the ground. I would say that his blunder was allowing the Prussian Army to retreat in good order, and not giving Grouchy specific enough orders to pursue them effectively with his right wing. The several battles between the three armies depended very much on maneuver, and the commanders all knew what the conditions were.

    Incidentally, the medical fraternity claim that Napoleon was suffering from piles, and it was this that caused his tactical mistakes on the day. Every profession wants to claim that their specialty was the crucial consideration….

    • “It also meant that the Prussians had to undertake a forced march in wet conditions, which must have slowed them down. Sounds like six of one and half a dozen of the other.”

      I saw a video in which it was claimed that the reason for waiting for the ground to dry out was to allow his solid cannon balls to bounce along it, wreaking havoc on troops in their path, instead of bogging down in the mud. (Napoleon was originally an artillery officer.) I gathered that this was what made them so lethal—they didn’t have to hit their target on the fly—and they kept on going even after tearing through their first hits.

    • I understood Napoleon suffered from Ulcerative Bowel Syndrome (UBS)! Far more discomforting than Haemahroids!

    • Exactly what did Wellington do to out general him? Other than taking high ground and wait for Napoleon to attack him. He had the clear advantage and still almost lost, Napoleon was gambling he knew it and nearly pulled it off.

      • Bob b,
        Picking the high ground and defending are the actions of a good commander, and
        he won.

        • Lee is the prime example correct, but than again when he had to change and be the attacker how did it work for him?

          Wellington didn’t have to be the aggressor so where is the genius (was Mead a genius?)? Napoleon did and almost pulled it off. I am not saying Wellington was a bad general that got lucky, he made solid practical choices a won, but he had the advantage off not needed to gamble. Wellington didn’t out general Napoleon, he just didn’t lose to him, though it was probably closer than it should have been.

          Like Alexander before him Napoleon stands out in history as one of the great generals because he won almost every battle he fought in and he was the aggressor almost every time. Napoleon didn’t lose because of Wellington or Tambora or even just the rain. He lost because his giant ego made him attack Russia, a logistical nightmare that he had almost no chance of winning. If he hadn’t Waterlow would never have happened and Wellington would just be a relatively minor general in english history.

          Napoleon could have in the end had Russia (or at least the valuable parts of it) if he was patient and had simply taken small bits year after year and forced the Russians to attack him to take it back, but the gambling aggressor that he was would not allow it, so in the end what made him a great general was also what undid him.

          • On Saint Helena Napoleon said that Wellington’s choice of where to make a stand was wrong (he should have said risky) because there was no nearby cover to retreat to—the forest being ten miles back—if French forces had made a breakthrough.

            The author who quoted him then countered that Napoleon had lost his best troops, but Wellington had conserved his (mostly his regulars from Spain) in the reserves. Thus, any breakthrough would have run into a second line of resistance and bogged down in a melée and hand-to-hand combat. During which, or during an allied retreat, the Prussians would have begun arriving behind the French, diverting French forces and heartening Wellington’s soldiers.

            Wellington said afterwards that he firmly beloved that Blucher would fulfill his promise to join him. Blucher did all he could, and more than most other generals, with a forced night-time march.

          • “On Saint Helena Napoleon said that Wellington’s choice of where to make a stand was wrong (he should have said risky) because there was no nearby cover to retreat to—the forest being ten miles back—if French forces had made a breakthrough”

            This is my point Wellington was relying on Bloucher and it almost blew up in his face.

          • “… because there was no nearby cover to retreat to.”

            All the more reason for Wellingtons guys to understand that they will not be retreating … no second thoughts … all in. I’m not saying Wellington did this, but others have.

          • Wellington also defeated French forces in the Spanish Peninsula Campaign in the late 18th C! He’d fought him before & knew how he operated I would suggest!

          • And Andrew Jackson beat Waterloo veterans in New Orleans with a rag tag force, what’s the point?

          • Rifles versus muskets, the more accurate further ranged weapon won the day! It took the British Army many years to finally adopt a rifle, basically because they were slower to load, despite their advantages, plus the British Army had relied on its volley fire for many years. In the early days of WW1 in a couple of calvary charges against British lines, with the British armed with the Lee-Enfield rifle, (using the James Paris-Lee bolt action, the fastest in the world for many a year), the German High Command were told that the British were armed with at least 4 machine guns per company, when in fact only on machine gun was issued per company! Just sayin!

          • Same British tactics resulted in the burning of Washington DC.
            Rifles had some advantages but the reload time was a huge disadvantage. The British rarely fired more then one or two volleys before charging the position and driving the enemy off the field. You are way over simplifying it, the technological situation was almost identical to the revalotion.

          • Both the British Army and King’s German Legion had rifles. Britain had learned their value in America, while German (and later Austrian) armies had had jaeger since c. 1631.

            British Green Jackets were armed with the Baker rifle. Even today British regiments descended from Rifle Brigade units say “Fix swords!” rather than “Fix bayonets”, since rifles were shorter than muskets, so needed longer knives on the end when formed in square to repel cavalry.


          • Go through it battle by battle, rarely was he out number, in the 2 or 3 major battles that weren’t tactile maneuver battles he had strong defensive position. Again competent good general nothing on the level of Bonaparte’s achievements. He did lose several smaller actions and sieges.
            Again if it wasn’t for Waterloo a battle he had all the advantages in and should have won Wellington would only be a footnote in history.

          • Wellington and the Portuguese were badly outnumbered at Bussaco and Fuentes de Oñoro, and opposed by French veterans. At Salamanca, both sides were about even in number.

            In battles in which he did have more troops, Wellington’s numbers were inflated by often unreliable Spanish forces. These were often sieges, in which defenders are typically outnumbered.

            Even without Waterloo, Wellington would be remembered as one of the best British (Irish) generals, based upon India, Iberia and southern France. He had already been made a duke in 1814 for his successes.

          • Possibly possibly. Always difficult to tell with a 200 word post 🙂

            Late 18th/early 19th isn’t really my Special Topic so open to correction but my understanding has always been that the British were one of the first armies to formally equip units with rifles. Use of rifles by irregular troops of course had been going on for a long time. Generally speaking. I think.

            20th century I am more prepared to argue about.


            “According to a popular theory, the earliest known Jäger unit was a company formed in about 1631 in Hesse-Kassel, under William V, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel. Wilhelm supposedly formed an elite light infantry unit for the Hessian Army, around a core drawn from his personal staff of gamekeepers (Revierjäger; “game preserve hunter”), forest rangers and/or professional hunters.”

            Regardless of the historical truth of this 17th century origin “theory”, the Russians, Germans, Austrians, etc. did have Jaeger or Schuetzen units before the British:


            This list doesn’t mention those of the HRE, ie Austrian-Hungarian empire=monarchy before 1806.


            The 18th century Austrians had a repeating air rifle, made famous by Lewis and Clark:


          • Craig,

            My comment is under moderation, probably due to too many links.

            The short answer is that Germans, Austrians and Russians had rifle units in the 18th century, if not indeed in the 17th.

            The most distinctive 18th century weapon of such units was an Austrian repeating air rifle, one of which Lewis and Clark carried with them on their expedition for President Jefferson west to the mouth of the Columbia River and back.

            OK, now I see that it has been approved, but will leave this reply up too.

          • Sorta.

            The British army could be argued to be early adopters with the rifle, bringing in the Baker Rifle in 1800 for their ‘light’ (read skirmishing) units. Open to correction but I don’t think any of the other continental armies issued rifles at this scale for many years.

            The machine gun/1914 comment is a bit out. British organisation had two Vickers or Maxim weapons at Battalion level. Battalions at that stage were 4 companys giving a rough slice as 1/2 a gun per company.

            The normal discussion on this period makes a major point of this, pointing out that the Germans had much more weapons c.f. the British but it is a bit apples to different apples. Germans had their weapons at Regimental level (equal to the Brigade under British terms) and from memory had 12 guns. This works out to 4 per battalion, although in practice being Regimental support they were easier to concentrate when needed.

            What also needs to be considered is that machine guns were not wonder weapons and the claims that a single weapon had the same firepower as an entire infantry company are a bit difficult to back. Practical rate of fire was about 150-200 rpm which in pure bullets in the air terms is about the same as 20 riflemen.

            (then you get into discussions about suppression fire vs aimed fire and all sorts of other apples to oranges discussions and we digress.)

            Studying the early BEF vs German battles is tricky. Lot of recycled myths and jingo creeps in.

          • The British army was actually a late adopter of rifles, but had more than the French.

            Germans and Austrians adopted rifles in the 18th and even 17th centuries.

            And of course Americans, building on the German tradition, in the 18th century. Our Pennsylvania rifles owed to the “Dutch”, ie German. settlements there.

          • The British did experiment with Fergunson’s breech-loading rifle during the American Revolution, but didn’t adopt it.

            But by 1777, continental European armies already fielded standardized muzzle-loading rifles in specialist units.

          • Walter,

            While there might have been time for the survivors of NO to reach Belgium, the fact remains that some high quality regiments were destroyed there which would have come in handy against the French.

            It wasn’t just the battle losses, but the ravages of disease.

          • Bob,

            Napoleon’s goal in attacking Russia wasn’t just to occupy the parts of the Russian Empire which he needed to enforce his Continental System shutting Britain out of trade with Europe.

            Crazy as it might seem, he wanted ultimately to reach India via Russia, the Caspian Sea and Persia, there to kill the British lion in its Asian lair. He tried via Egypt, but that hadn’t worked out.

            Having liberated Poland, he could have done the same for the Baltic States and Finland. But he was hunting bigger game.

            It wasn’t just the cold winter, but typhus in the summer and fall which did in his army. He took comfort in the fact that most of those who died in his service in Russia weren’t Frenchmen.

        • That’s also how Sherman tanks beat German tanks in the Battle of Arracourt, by positioning and use of tank killers-Hellcats.

        • The point is because of the strategic situation Napoleon had to let Wellington pick the field of Battle. Wellington didnt screw it up but he didn’t out maneveur Napoleon either, he had the advantage and he took it, competent but not brilliant.

          • Considering the French surprised the English (et al) by their quick arrival in the Quatre Bras area, to the extent that a ball for Wellington and many of his senior officers was interrupted with the news of Napoleon’s imminent arrival, please explain exactly how Napoleon “…had to let Wellington pick the field of battle”.

          • Already have about ten times. If you are trying to say Wellington didn’t pick the battle field I am not sure how to even answer that

      • Bob B,
        Good generalship on the day ?
        Fortifying two forward positions, forming a line on a reverse slope, getting line infantry to lay down, keeping a very large reserve, weakening the left (where he hoped the Prussians would show up.
        Poor generalship ?
        Losing the heavy cavalry early on.

        • Again i never said that Wellington wasn’t competent, he clearly was, but he also had huge advantages the most important of which was time on his hands. Napoleon’s army was hodgepodge and he had too many enemies to confront, he was forced to gamble and he did and lost. Wellington knew all of this and took advantage and won but there was no decisive action that Wellington took that won the battle there was no brilliant maneuvering there was good competent planning. He should have won and he did, but it was much closer than it probably should have been.

          Again does Mead deserve as much praise and adulation as Wellington? He didn’t need anybody to come along and swing the battle in his favor, he performed just as well or better in a very similar situation. He wasn’t fighting a hodgepodge army, he was facing the best general of his day who had never lost, he didn’t have an allied army that showed up in the nick of time to save his bacon, he picked an ideal position and conducted a well disciplined defense battle plan.

          Montgomery was in a very similar situation at El Alamein, he had all the advantages and he won because he didn’t do anything stupid to lose it. Did he prove to be a brilliant general in the end?

          Wellington was a good competent general that had the good sense to take advantage of the battle situation. Reverse it, would he be able to accomplish what Napoleon did prior to this battle or Alexander the great or Rommel, the answer is no, Nelson was a genius and innovative, Wellington was not .

          • Wellington never lost a significant battle during the entire Peninsular campaign, while fighting with usually numerically inferior forces against the best of Napoleon’s Marshals. If you think Wellington was not innovative, try looking at the lines of Torres Vedras. How many generals would have had the chutzpah to wall off an entire peninsular, and furthermore do it without either the French or his political masters in England finding out?

          • Yes it’s right up there with Caesar at Alesia.
            Come on! he fortified a rear position in case he had to fall back to it.

          • Bob B,
            Wellington was fighting a defensive action at Waterloo. What brilliant manoeuvres does a brilliant general make when fighting a defensive action. That’s a difficult one, especially in an age when you had very limited intel and the fear of what you could not see and did not know vastly outweighed what you did know.
            The manoeuvres that he did make, mostly worked. for example
            Feeding just enough of the guard into Hougumont to keep it in allied hands.
            Keeping the centre of balance of his army right behind where the next attack came.
            Counter attacking at the right moment, when the attack of the Imperial Guard was repelled
            Most important (in my mind) he was in the right spot at each crisis point. This lent a massive morale boost to the units that most needed it and prevented a mass rout.
            As far as rifles go, the British had only three battalions, iirc, which were useful, but not decisive. I think the French young guard had a battalion also.
            As far as a hodgepodge army goes, the anglo allied army was much more of a mixed bag than the French. Only a third of the line infantry were high quality and even the British guards battalions were considered to be not quite as good as the Imperial Old Guard.

            FYI. The manoeuvres that didn’t work included sending a battalion of Hanoverians into the smoke to reinforce Hougumont. The battalion was in line formation when they should have moved more slowly as a square. There was a regiment of cuirassiers nearby. Its not recorded what happened (as far as I know/) but none of the battalion was seen or heard from again.

          • Wellington did a fine job, never said he didn’t. What I said was he had every advantage so he should have won. If Napoleon only had Wellington forces to deal with and the time to maneuver him into a position of his choosing the outcome would have been different but he didn’t and Wellington didn’t do anything stupid so Napoleon lost.

          • Bob B,
            Lets put it another way. The battle could have gone either way, I don’t know of anyone who disputes that.
            It went Wellingtons way.

            What you have to realise is, for that era, the French moved very fast. Your intel was 15 minutes away but the French were on you in 5 minutes. The skill was being in the right place 10 minutes early. Wellington had that skill.

            So far as the ACW is concerned, maybe we could talk about that separately.

          • The problem with citing Napoleon’s supposed disadvantages, is that he permitted those disadvantages to become critical factors. Napoleon-romantics want to make exuses of them, but the reality is that the really good commanders do not permit their weaknesses to become critically factors.

            The advantage of the aggressor is to choose the time and place of the battle….. so citing Wellington’s position is an admissions that Wellington’s out-generalled Napoleon.

            Napoleon relied on his artillery. Wellington countered by taking up positions that negated it’s effectiveness. Napoleon didn’t adapt in turn.

            Napoleon never did learn from the series of defeats inflicted in the Peninsular, that attacking in Column against high-quality infantry deployed in Line, was a poor worked against poor infantry, but not against the English. Simple mathematics are against you when only the front ranks of your column can’t fire, while the whole of the opposing line can fire at your formation.

            Another weakness of Napoleon was revealed in his orders to his Marshals in the Peninsular…… he never came to grips with the effects of the terrain, conditions and populace of Spain. He issued impossible orders as though carrying them out was as simple as moving pieces on a chess-board.

            Glorious failures don’t count. Napoleon eww – or should have known – his weaknesses. His failure to deal with them effectively, are failures in Generalship.

          • The French did develop tactics to adapt the column attack to stubborn, rapidly firing infantry. At Waterloo, they tried but didn’t always succeed in putting the new, wedge-like formations into effect.

          • For the thousandth time the strategic situation forced Napoleon to attack and allow Wellington to pick the battle field, Wellington did not out maneuver him.
            Napoleon was making a huge gamble and it failed but just barely.
            If the strategic situation had been what it was prior to Russia Napoleon would have out maneuvered Wellington like he did everyone else and probably defeated him easily, however true to Wellington compentacy he probably would have avoided total disaster and would have found a way to save most of his army.
            Blucher performed the heroics by getting his army back in good order after a defeat, out maneuvering his pursuer and showing up at the right place at the right time, that was brilliant and I think Wellington himself makes that clear in his comments.

          • Wellington picked his ground, which he had scouted previously. Nappy made the mistake of allowing the Allies to form up on ground of their choosing. Unlike the Duke, Nappy didn’t know the lay of the land beyond the ridge.

            The battle wouldn’t even have happened had Nappy and Ney destroyed Wellington at Quatres Bras, as they would have done had d’Erlon’s corps been brought into the fight.

            Still, it’s doubtful that any other Allied general could have beaten Napoleon that day. Wellington made good decisions at critical junctures, and the French didn’t.

          • No he did not. He had fewer men, his army was multinational, making command very difficult, and much of it was quite raw. The French were more experienced and more motivated and Napoleon was the unchallenged commander.

            Wellington’s only advantage we as the ground, which he choose.

          • Eternal Optimist,

            While you’re right that Wellington fed only limited reinforcements directly into the farmhouse at Hougoumont, he had to commit some 12,000 men and guns badly needed in his center, in order to keep open the way along the hollow to bring ammo and supplies to the troops besieged at the farm.

          • and it was that large formation. mostly guardsmen, that fired into the flank of the attack of the French imperial guard

          • Wellington’s army was far more hodgepodge than Napoleon’s.

            In fact, 64% of his troops at Waterloo were non-British/Irish, ie Hanoverian and other Germans, Netherlandish and Belgian.

          • Fair point but Napoleons Army was bereft of officers that had any experience with the solders the were leading, in fact while the units themselves had many veteran soldiers the officer corp was a total mishmash. Wellington’s forces were from many country’s but they were still cohesive units with a proper officer Corp.

            No matter how you slice it Wellington had every advantage, but the most important of these was that Napoleon had to win and win now. He had a million enemy soldiers converging on France and the only chance he had ( which frankly probably was zero) was if he could defeat Wellington and Blucher immediatly and then try to hit the next group of invaders before they could come together and crush him. This allowed Wellington to pick the time and the place and take Napoleons biggest strength away from him, his genius of our maneuvering his enemy’s. Still If Blucher hadn’t shown up Wellington may very well have lost with all his advantages. Even if Wellington has lost Napoleon was still doomed.

            Napoleon lost in Russia and that’s the facts.

          • Wellington did not have every advantage. Fighting on the defense was surely a big one, but on the field in the morning, the Duke was outnumbered and facing troops of generally superior quality, with more horse and guns. His Netherlandish and Belgian allies, and even some of the Germans, had previously fought for the French Empire.

            Without Napoleon’s and Ney’s many mistakes, Wellington would have lost. But Nappy wouldn’t have been able to pursue him relentlessly, since he needed to turn to finish off Bluecher.

            But, as you note, the French situation was essentially hopeless, as long as the coalition allies stuck together.

          • Wellington won. What “brilliant maneuver” did he need? Wellington held the farmhouses for as long as possible and forced Napoleon to expend large numbers of troops in them. That was key. And most battles are lost not won, by the army that makes fewest mistakes. And as many historians have shown, once a battle began in the 19th century, the control a general had over their troops was minimal.

          • Alexander was a better general than Napoleon. Arguably the best ever. Not so sure about Rommel, who wasn’t even the best German general of WWII.

            Nelson should indeed get the most credit for defeating Napoleon. Whether he would or could have invaded Britain can’t be known, but Trafalgar meant that he had to turn his splendid Grande Armee away from the Channel and march it at blazing speed into the heart of the continent, to victory over Russia, Austria and German states at Austerlitz, at least as great a triumph on land as was Nelson’s at sea.

            Trafalgar also led to the Continental System, which proved Napoleon’s downfall, when he invaded Russia in order to enforce the embargo. It also drew him toward India, in order to strike the British Empire in its treasure chest.

            But Wellington was the best of all the coalition generals against whom Nappy fought, with the possible exceptions of Bagration and Kutuzov. Don’t think he ever faced the ever victorious Suvorov.

        • “The Prussian soldier, historian, and theorist Carl von Clausewitz, who as a young colonel had served as chief-of-staff to Thielmann’s Prussian III Corps during the Waterloo campaign, expressed the following opinion:

          Bonaparte and the authors who support him have always attempted to portray the great catastrophes that befell him as the result of chance. They seek to make their readers believe that through his great wisdom and extraordinary energy the whole project had already moved forward with the greatest confidence, that complete success was but a hair’s breadth away, when treachery, accident, or even fate, as they sometimes call it, ruined everything. He and his supporters do not want to admit that huge mistakes, sheer recklessness, and, above all, overreaching ambition that exceeded all realistic possibilities, were the true causes.

          — Carl von Clausewitz.[192] “

          • Bob, Read again Clausewitz’s quote you kindly provided and then re-read all that you wrote early.

            Every battle is a close run thing. Seemingly minor mistakes can cost victory. Seemingly good strategic and tactical decisions do not necessarily lead to victory. As we all should know winning very battle does not win the war.

            Suggest you also re-read the “Art of War” by Sun Tzu. His writings were basically the textbook for North Korea and North Vietnam.

          • I don’t have to reread it, Clausewitz is saying he had little chance of winning from the get go. So how does this make Wellington the revered general he is? Again Everyone knows Wellington’s name What did he do that Meade didn’t?

          • I don’t think its fair to say that Wellington had all the advantages.

            first off, there are advantages that last the whole battle.
            Then there are advantages that are temporary, and can be squandered or used to great advantage.

            The French had some terrific battle advantages:-
            They moved very fast.
            They had a lot of heavy cavalry.
            They had a grand battery concept
            They had a very large Guard corps
            They had a large proportion of light infantry cf with the allies
            They had more cannon
            On average , they were more experienced

            The anglo-allies had some terrific advantages
            two forward strongholds, Hougumont and la haye sainte
            slope to hide behind
            early mud
            good possibility the Prussians would reinforce the left
            good solid infantry battalions with excellent firepower in the reserve

          • EO,

            True. But some Allied light infantry had rifles. Most of the German troops defending La Haye Sainte were armed with Baker rifles.

          • ok. sgt
            The problem with having a super weapon, like the baker rifle, at waterloo, is that the supply network does not cover it. So when the ammo runs out you are left with a three foot club. The rifles performed very well…till the ammo ran out.
            La Haye Sainte defence did not rely on rifles. But the line infantry ALSO ran out of ammo, mainly due to marauding French light cavalry, the proximity of I corps and the grand battery.
            The rifles pulled back to the sandpit and were replenished… the Kings German Legion had a tougher time

          • EO,

            I don’t see the Baker as a super weapon, but it clearly helped defend La Haye Sainte, where allies could hunker down to reload.

            Wellington was able, at cost, to keep Hougoumont supplied with ammo, but not La Haye Sainte. Yet its mostly German garrison held out just long enough.

            Regular British light infantry also had a modified Brown Bess musket, but dunno if it were used at Waterloo. It featured a brass grip behind the trigger guard and a rear sight. With a patched ball, it offered superior accuracy than a standard musket, while retaining faster reloading than a rifle.

            Of course in a pinch you can also shoot an unpatched ball out of a rifle at close range.

          • The main points here are that the rifle was not decisive. The resupply of La Haye Sainte was not decisive. What was decisive was the fortifying of the forward position cost the French at least an hour.
            Fortifying an outpost seems an obvious strategy in this day and age..
            because if it gets by passed, we just whistle and the troops come back to the main line. In those days, they would be lost.
            Wellington made the judgement that the French would be compelled to attack, because it(La Haye Sainte) covered the main road to Brussells.

            again, he was right.

          • He had every strategic advantage and more than his share of tactical advantage. Name one strategic advantage Napoleon had.

          • Surprise ?
            he crossed the border whilst the allies were at a ball, considering what Napoleon might do next

          • Napoleon had the advantage of initiative, by stealing a march on the Allies before the battles of Ligny and QB. He squandered part of that advantage by not destroying either enemy army, due to tactical blundering.

            But the French still could have kept Wellington from seizing his preferred position. They didn’t because Nappy thought Wellington was making a mistake. He wasn’t familiar with Wellington or veteran British forces. Those whom he had personally fought in Spain weren’t of the post-Peninsular War class.

            Nappy also had local manpower superiority, which would have been irresistible if Grouchy had ridden to the sound of the guns, as Murat would have done and as the Emperor reasonable expected he’d do, despite his orders.

            Yet even without Grouchy, the French advantage in cavalry and guns should have proved decisive, had Nappy and Ney not made so many mistakes and Wellington so few.

          • B.B.

            No one forced Napoleon to leave Elba and commence another campaign. The timing was his choice.

            That was his advantage….. the choice to not commence the campaign if – and this is your claim – the advantages were all without his enemy.

          • BB….

            Every time you try to claim that Bonaparte was beaten as the result of an “unavoidable” strategic situation, you are admitting that he wasn’t a good enough commander to comprehend this when he commenced his campaign, or to develop an effective counter-strategy.

        • Throughout the day, Wellington maintained reasonably strict firing discipline, especially in the face of the cavalry and, most impressively, in the face of “squares” of the “immortals”, Napoleon’s Imperial guards. They stood their ground and defended the line.

  6. The quote makes a serious error.

    “In a fatal blunder, Napoleon waited until mid-day to give the command to attack in order to let the ground dry.”

    This is simply incorrect. Napoleon had less than half his army on the field until noon. Most of it was strung out on the road back towards Charleroi for 10 miles during the night of June 17-18. He’d once started a major battle at Eylau in 1807 with only half his army available at day-start, and it went badly. A tactical mistake he never repeated.

    • The above article speculates that the volcano caused poor weather during the Waterloo campaign.
      There were other French army Corps blocking allied advances across the length of the eastern border.
      These forces fought defensive and delaying battles, in general, very successfully.
      The reason forces so inferior in numbers were able to stall or stop the advances of armies ten times their size was the weather had turned to crap. Rain and in some of the high elevations snow. This part of the 100 days campaign are well worth reading, many times it is the history which is not flashy that holds the key

      It was not just Waterloo.
      I cannot say if the volcano was the cause of the poor weather but myself I always wondered.


      • True. The mighty coalition was gathering yet again against France. Eventually it would have crushed Nappy.

        Maybe the volcano played a role, but rain in mid-June in Western Europe isn’t that odd. The Allies attacked Normandy on D-Day because our WX ships knew a break in the storms was coming, but the Germans didn’t, which is why Rommel was absent on June 6, 1944. The US Mulberry harbor was destroyed by a storm on 19 June.

  7. Wasn’t Napoleon identified as the second of Nostradamus’s antichrists? So clearly god caused Tambora to erupt to destroy him and save the world from the devil. Clear scientific evidence of the existence of GOD!

    OK sillness off now.

      • Obviously a fan of rugby – won that in 2003 – but as an Englishman he plays fair and lets Jonny Foreigner win so we don’t have to keep apologising. Sorry to take up your time.

          • We call that cricket – now that’s a game the man upstairs can appreciate. We can play for five days and still end up with a draw :0) Actually, my daughter is pretty good throwing one of your funny-shaped balls forward (she’s a javelin thrower) – actually got complimented in Central Park last year.

          • I have watched almost every sport now to man but for some reason i never spent any time on Cricket, weird since its the second most watched sport in the world. Maybe I’ll make a point learning the game.
            Unfortunately there aren’t any good women’s Football leagues out there for her to compete in.

  8. Napolean lost because he, and his marshals, screwed up. Rain is a fact of life in the field, and it was his job to account for it. It’s not like it suddenly started raining on top of the Imperial Guard when he sent them forward, or caused Grouchy to go marching off to oblivion.

        • Actually if he said it at all, it would likely have been in Greek – “kubus aneriphtho”. Greek was the formal language of the Roman aristocracy in the Republic period

          • Unless he said it for his men to hear, who didn’t have the benefit of an aristocratic education. Although many if not most legionaries could read and write Latin in the West or Greek in the East.

      • Just a guess, but Wellington defending the top of a hill was probably better for maneuvering than French marching up a muddy hill.

  9. Never mind the iosphere, methinks there’s been a ‘short circuit’ between this guy’s ears and/or inside his computer.
    Possibly a Windows 10 Computer Model he used was it?
    Certainly for the scrapheap in either case

  10. There is doubt over the story that Napoleon delayed to allow the ground to dry out. The French have always used every excuse going to explain why Napoleon lost: they don’t need any new ones!

  11. Off-topic, but related.

    Is there a discernible effect on west coast weather due to the recent volcanic eruption in Hawaii?

    Dry weather in California is not unusual in August, but Seattle seems to be unusually dry. The dryness likely is making the fires, wild or not, worse.

    • Nothing unusual for Seattle or the PNW. All joking aside about how much rain we get, truth is between the 4th of July and October our norm is to not get a lot of rain if any. That means all our spring brush growth just sits there waiting on a spark to get the party started.

    • The Pacific NW is usually dry during the summer. What makes for a bad fire season is a snowy winter, producing more grass and other small fuel in the spring. When all this material dries out by July and August, fires will be worse, whether set by people or lightning. More people in the woods means more ignition sources.

      Fires are made worse by letting fuels build up by stopping grazing and suppressing natural fires, and by not thinning the forests.

  12. Surely if Wellington had lost, the cause would be Tambora’s eruption. There is no way to win an argument with a zealot.

  13. So the fact that Napoleon was not well to begin with and his wife ignored his letters to return to him, all of which has a real bearing on judgment, had nothing to do with his defeat?
    Okay, sure.
    Prior to this, he had sent a letter to his Austrian wife Marie Louise asking her to come with her (his) son to his Champs de Mai coronation, and received no answer. In addition, ships carrying two British regiments bound for America (remember that attempt to try to take back the colonies, anyone?) were turned back twice by storms and were sent to the Continent to join Old Hookey.
    Blame it on the weather if you like, but there were many other factors involved, including Napoleon’s poor health.

  14. Heavens, what nonsense. Maybe some Brits will fall for anything associated with Waterloo, but Napoleon was bound to lose the war against the grand allience, ashes or no ashes. Even a French victory at Waterloo would not have changed that.

    • So in saying that, you are saying that Napoleon was an incompetent strategist for leaving Elba and leading his nation into a campaign that he should have known to be unwinnable.

  15. I dispute the clam that Napolean’s defeat was due to bad weath. That bad weather seriously hindered von Blucher’s march to aid Wellington – his troops had to march all night thru miserable weather , and he had to guess where they would be needed the next day. The hero in Napolean’s defeat was von Blucher, not some volcano. Get real, people.

    • Blucher came very late to the field. While might claim “The delay in fighting gave Blucher’s troops, who had eluded their pursuers, time to march to Waterloo and join the battle by the late afternoon”, Wellington is reliably recorded as saying at 5.45 p.m. “I would to God that either nightfall or the Prussians would come”. The Prussians did not appear until well after 6 p.m. when the battle had been raging for over six hours.

      By the time the Prussians appeared, Napoleon had effectively admitted defeat and was beginning to withdraw. Wellington’s troops were too exhausted at that point to give chase, so it was the (relatively) fresh Prussian troops arriving that were able to give the coup de grace to Napoleon. However, it was Wellington’s troops that did the heavy lifting.

      • “Wellington himself wrote in his official dispatch back to London:

        I should not do justice to my own feelings, or to Marshal Blücher and the Prussian army, if I did not attribute the successful result of this arduous day to the cordial and timely assistance I received from them. The operation of General Bülow upon the enemy’s flank was a most decisive one; and, even if I had not found myself in a situation to make the attack which produced the final result, it would have forced the enemy to retire if his attacks should have failed, and would have prevented him from taking advantage of them if they should unfortunately have succeeded”.[180]””

      • No, the Prussians came into action on the French flank at Plancenoite during the afternoon which was why Napoleon was short of troops in the centre. It was when his final attack with the Imperial Guard failed and they fell back in disorder that the French broke amid cries of ‘sauve qui peut!’. Not a planned withdrawal by any means.

      • Roger,

        You neglect the Prussian attack on the French right at Plancenoit, which drew off elite Guard units the French needed against Wellington.

  16. From the description the “experiment” was the running of a computer model. This is a misuse of the term experiment. It is really just an exercise in hypothesizing. A true experiment has actual physician processes and observations. While the theory may be true it requires real world observations for validation.

  17. It is generally accepted that Tambora affected global weather the following year, but to say an eruption in April (eruptions lasted into July) affected European weather in June seems a stretch.

  18. Wellington defeated the French in Portugal and Spain and at Waterloo.
    Winners win and losers make excuses.

  19. Not following this. First he says that the volcano caused rain that helped defeat Napoleon. Then he says:

    “The data showed lower average temperatures and reduced rainfall almost immediately after the eruption began, and global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after.”

    Say what? Which is it, more rain or less?

    For further info see my post Missing the Missing Summer. The claimed volcanic temperature effect is NOT visible in contemporary temperature records.

    Is this study correct about electrostatic forces? Could be, although bear in mind, the author presents zero actual evidence for his claim, just model results.

    Skepticism furthers …


    • Ah, Willis, I noticed the same thing. And I had to scroll down quite a bit to see that someone else had seen it.

  20. …The data showed lower average temperatures and reduced rainfall almost immediately after the eruption began, and global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after….

    OK, so there was less rain worldwide, but more at Waterloo, both caused by Tambora? Note to my Brit friends: don’t take a jackhammer to those statues of Wellington just yet. Perhaps somebody should tell Dr Matthew that it does tend rain a lot in Belgium. An average of 132 days per year (about every third day, on average). That’s what makes all those trees grow. It also tends to get cold and snowy there at times, as a (sadly now deceased) friend found out when he was visiting there in 1944 with the 101st Div.

  21. All you Britts picking on the French need to remember that a gang of ragtag swamp bunnies and hill folk lead by old hickory Colonel Andrew Jackson with the help of Jean Lafitte kicked major General Edward Packenham’s butt at the battle of New Orleans at which Packenham was killed.

    Though the French do not have exactly a stellar record in battle they were a great help in the foundation of the US of A as well. Of course as many of us gun collectors like to say, I have a great French battle rifle for sale, never fired and only dropped once.

    • The Spanish and Dutch also provided important aid in the form of men, materiel and money to the American rebels during the Revolution.

    • AS WW1 showed, the finest troops in the world will fail if marched into heavy fire directed by competent troops protected by entrenchments and earthworks.

      NEw Orleans was a failure by the British Commander whose uninspired tactics gave all the advantage to the defenders.

      Many a Divisional Commander has failed to make the step up to successful command of an Army. (Recalling the number of unsuccessful Commanders on the Northern side of the American Civil War should illustrate the point) . Unfortunately, it is also true that the only way to find out, is to give your man an army and watch what happens….

      In the case of NO, the Americans were well led, and the English were not. That is the only valid conclusion.

      • The British force wasn’t all English. While not as polyglot as the American mishmash, it did include Scots Highlander and black West African regiments, plus some Indians.

  22. All this talk about whether the weather in Belgium caused Napoleon’s loss, but little about the claim that a volcano in Indonesia caused abnormal rain in Europe. Concerning this claim, color me confused:

    “The experimental results are consistent with historical records from other eruptions.

    Weather records are sparse for 1815, so to test his theory, Dr Genge examined weather records following the 1883 eruption of another Indonesian volcano, Krakatau.

    The data showed lower average temperatures and reduced rainfall almost immediately after the eruption began, and global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after.”

    To confirm his speculation that Tambora’s eruption caused excess rain in Europe, the author cites a decrease in global rainfall concurrent with Krakatau’s eruption??????


    • OOPS, Willis made this point while I was typing. Had I seen his entry, I would have gone for a morning bike ride, instead.


  23. The mention of “electrostatic levitation” is interesting.
    Only a few weeks ago, I read about a very small spider that spins a fine but long thread. And due to electrostatic forces goes “flying”.
    Bob Hoye

  24. “Now, Dr Matthew Genge from Imperial College London has discovered that electrified volcanic ash from eruptions can ‘short-circuit’ the electrical current of the ionosphere – the upper level of the atmosphere that is responsible for cloud formation.”

    short-circuit the ionosphere? the level responsible for cloud formation?

    Here’s the abstract:

    Large volcanic eruptions cause short-term climate change owing to the convective rise of fine ash and aerosols into the stratosphere. Volcanic plumes are, however, also associated with large net electrical charges that can also in infuence the dynamics of their ash particles. Here I show that electrostatic levitation of ash from plumes with a net charge is capable of injecting volcanic particles <500 nm in diameter into the ionosphere in large eruptions lasting more than a few hours. Measured disturbances in the ionosphere during eruptions, and the first discovery of polar mesospheric clouds after the A.D. 1883 Krakatau (Indonesia) eruption, are both consistent with levitation of ash into the mesosphere. Supervolcano eruptions are likely to inject signicant quantities of charged ash into the ionosphere, resulting in disturbance or collapse of the global electrical circuit on time scales of 102 s. Because atmospheric electrical potential moderates cloud formation, large eruptions may have abrupt effects on climate through radiative forcing. Average air temperature and precipitation records from the 1883 eruption of Krakatau are consistent with a sudden effect on climate.

    collapse of the global electrical circuit on time scales of 102 s?
    Because atmospheric electrical potential moderates cloud formation?
    large eruptions may have abrupt effects on climate through radiative forcing?

    Fantasy science. I’m going back to fantasy post-hoc generaling.

  25. “Vigo Hugo in the novel Les Miserables said of the Battle of Waterloo: ‘an unseasonably clouded sky sufficed to bring about the collapse of a World.’

    Victor Hugo…

  26. Why stop at a science finding when you can rewrite history as a bonus headline writing opportunity.

  27. What a complete load of tosh. I cannot believe this is the sort of BS which “academia” sanctions these days.

    Napoleon was beaten at Waterloo by a better general, and British units (mostly English infantry regiments in an Allied Army) who refused to be intimidated by Napoleonic tactics.

    Wellington had, about a week before Waterloo (the incident at the Ball in Brussels), determined where he would meet ‘Boney. He knew the ground at Waterloo; he anticipated ‘Boney’s line of march. He had alternatives in mind too, should Napoleon change his line of march.

    The Iron Duke (as he subsequently became known) knew the limitations of his Allied army. He knew he would have to fight a battle that did not require manoeuvre. He knew that most of the Allied contingents could not be relied upon to stand against the French columns and artillery (eg the Dutch who broke before the battle even really started). He calculated the risks, and positioned himself to minimise them while at the same time playing the such strengths (mostly British Army strengths of discipline – no army has a monopoly on courage) as he had.

    Wellington knew and understood French tactics. He had beaten the Marshals time and again in the Peninsular War. He was the master of using the reverse slope; he made his men lie down under fire; his infantry regimental officers knew that rate and concentration of musketry above all else won battles. Wellington instilled in his officers and men a complete confidence in his tactical foresight, and above all he made them believe they could win.

    On the day of the battle, Wellington’s presence in the frontline (he was almost captured by French cavalry on one occasion, dashing into an infantry square at the last moment) and his steadfast refusal to deploy his reserve until he knew the French were exhausted, despite catastrophic losses in some places in the line (the 27th Inniskilling’s suffered 63% casualties in the centre, the men dying in their square), is what won. He refused to reinforce La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont, he was miserly everywhere else.

    As Wellington himself reportedly said afterwards “…they came up in the same old way, and we sent them away in the same old way…”. He kept his army in hand (except for the British cavalry, which notoriously could never be kept in hand once it charged), and he timed his counter-attack to perfection. That is what shattered to French – when the saw the Guards crumble under British infantry fire, and then routed by cavalry, they knew they were beaten. Wellington was also gracious enough to honour Napoleon and the French Army by saying it was a “near run thing”. That is a general speaking who knows his own limitations, but also knows he won…

    The weather had absolutely FA to do with the result.

    Wellington had won Waterloo without the Prussians arriving – they simply turned a victory into a (very useful) rout. Napoleon, who held Wellington in contempt as “the Sepoy general”, had learned (as had his Marshals in Spain and Portugal) India was a proving ground for great general officers (go and look up Assaye and the Mahratta Wars if you doubt that). Sepoys were great soldiers in their own right, worthy of being led by great generals and Wellington is not the only great British general to have learned his trade in India. I digress, but anyone who thinks the contrary should look up the various sub-continental wars of the 19th Century and the magnificent contributions of the Indian Army to the Allied cause in two World Wars.

    I’m now really riled up as you can probably tell – but I am sick unto death of pseudo-academics coming up with utter BS, and the great unwashed sucking it all up because they really are too ill-educated to know better. This sort of revisionist BS is the way civilisation falls ultimately. When people who are too thick to be permitted an opinion are allowed to broadcast it for consumption by the rest of the retarded herd….

    Have at me now, I care not.

    • Knock Out,

      Only 36% of the troops in the Anglo-Allied army at Waterloo were British (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish). The rest all spoke one dialect or another of German (Hanoverians, Netherlander, Walloon and Flemish).

      Netherlandish-Belgian troops saved the day at Quatres Bras and again at Waterloo. When the line of the British and German infantry was broken there
      by Nappy’s Middle Guard, the situation became critical. Wellington ordered General Chasse to bring his Netherland division quickly.

      The “Dutch” line held until shot to pieces by overwhelming French musketry and cannon fire. Two militia battalions did break, after witnessing such slaughter, endured by brigades already more than decimated at QB. But the third militia battalion, held in reserve, rallied them to stop the French. Due to his wounds from QB, its commander had himself tied onto his horse rather than go into hospital.

      Wellington did not win Waterloo without the Prussians. Long before Bluecher arrived, his men were fighting French Guardsmen at Plancenoit. Without Napoleon’s need to divert those elite soldiers to hold off the Prussians, the Emperor’s afternoon attacks would have succeeded, as they almost did without them.

      Wellington was a good general, often thought to be defensive minded, but he had previously demonstrated the ability to attack as well, in India and Iberia.

      However, Napoleon lost because of his own mistakes, including those made before the campaign began. But even if he had beaten the Anglo-Allied and Prussian armies, he was doomed yet again, since the coalition wouldn’t have given up. Austria. Russia and smaller German states would have returned, plus probably Sweden and Denmark, and united with the remnants of the British, Allied and Prussian armies, once more to crush the French.

      • Not arguing too hard – I wrote in high dudgeon. Either way the outcome had nothing to do with the weather or volcanoes.

        Wellington beat Napoleon because he was the better general on the day. He played to his army’s strengths, and minimised the exposure of his Allied forces weaknesses. Longford’s Years of the Sword is still the very best complete work on Wellington. Holmes is good too, but more generic.

        The Anglo-Allied army was made up of 26,000 British, who had a core of veteran soldiers; 31,000 Germans which included 5,100 King’s German Legion, who were experienced and highly trained; 12,000 Hanoverians some of whom had received only basic training; 5,450 Brunswickers, who were young and inexperienced, but who had proved their quality at Quatre Bras on 16 June; 7,200 Nassauers, who were again untried and an unknown quality; and finally 15,200 Dutch and Belgian troops, of whom Wellington expected little and suspected their loyalty as many had previously served with the French army. Wellington divided the forces into corps.

        based on WD, xii, 486-7 © University of Southampton

        • By your accounting, that’s ~38% rather than 36% British-Irish.

          Yes, Hooky made fewer mistakes than did Nappy at Waterloo and QB. So that means theDuke was the better general during that campaign, despite the Emperor’s having humbugged him at the outset.

          • As I said, I am not arguing too hard.

            You will however also appreciate how the balance of infantry were engaged throughout the day. The main fighting fell on the British and Hanoverians.

            The Dutch-Belgian contingents were mostly spared exposure as (with notable exceptions), they were considered unreliable. The British regiments were interspersed along the main line of the ridge to “stiffen” things, ably assisted by the Hanoverians.

            This is not to detract from the fact that the army was an Allied army and the British units made up only around a third of it. All units engaged (even those Dutch/Belgian units which broke quite early and were pulled back to regroup) fought well.

            The way he approached dispositions is another example of Wellington’s capabilities – he knew how to fight with European Allies eg from Portugal and Spain. He knew how to get the best out of both his British regiments and his Allies. He knew who to protect as far as possible and who could take the pounding.

            Napoleon is on balance probably the greatest general Europe saw post-Renaissance and before WW2. I suspect he would have fitted right in, intellectually speaking, with the likes of Manstein, Rommel and Guderian.

            He was better than the great French Marshals of the late 17th and early-mid 18th century like Turenne, Louis (‘Le Grande Conde”), de Saxe and Louis (Duc de Vendome), and Marlborough or Eugene. He trumps Wallenstein or King Gustav Adolph Wasa of the early/mid-17th Century.

            It’s uncontroversial that few could move armies like Napoleon did. His Austerlitz campaign is brilliant, as was that before Marengo and the Jena/Auerstadt campaign. March divided fight united taken to a new level. But it is also forgotten that Wellington was a master of strategic manoeuvre and logistics. And very patient.

            In the end, they were a two well-matched generals on the day – Wellington’s gambles paid off, Boney’s didn’t. Wellington himself acknowledged that by saying it was a “near run thing”.

            Whatever you might think, a blasted volcano in Indonesia had precisely nothing to do with the outcome – the idiot who came up with this paper should have his funding withdrawn. That’d stop him spewing nonsense.

  28. This is complete rot. Napoleon lost at Waterloo because he was a serial loser.

    Not content with his catastrophic losses in Egypt (a mere 15,000 French troops killed in action and 15,000 by disease), he then attacked the Iberian peninsula and managed to lose several hundred thousand troops. While that was going on, he simultaneously decided to invade Russia (no doubt deluding himself that he would be welcomed with garlands, rose petals and hot Russian women!) That debacle cost France 210,000 dead, 150,000 wounded, and 50,000 deserted.

    So Waterloo with his 41,000 casualties must have seemed like a walk in the park – except that he only fielded 71,000 troops in the first place. And 41/72 = 58% – is not a good casualty rate.

    And yet he is still highly regarded in some circles! Wonders never cease.

  29. So it was a volcano that triggered the sale of sovereign lands by the French with pressure by budget analysts and recorded as the Louisiana Purchase?

  30. It’s plausible. Negative space charge will decrease the repulsion between negatively charged droplets, and this might produce an episode of rain, but a whole season? Possibly. Can anybody point to a site where space charge at altitude is measured regularly, as for example by weather balloons? This might be important.

  31. global rainfall was lower during the eruption than either period before or after“. So the rain after the eruption was caused by the eruption, and the rain before the eruption was caused by ….. ???

    • Besides which, the eruption was still going on in June, although not as explosively as in April.

      So, globally at least, if not locally, rainfall should have been lower then.

      In any case, rain in France and Belgium in June isn’t unusual. However the rainstorm of June 17 and the morning of the 18th brought an unusually heavy downpour.

      The article by Dennis Wheeler and Gaston Demarée, “The weather of the Waterloo campaign 16 to 18 1815,” cites passages from those who had firsthand experience in the battle.

      An excerpt from a letter written by Private William Wheeler of the 51st Kings Infantry reads, “…[a]nd as it began to rain the road soon became very heavy…the rain increased, the thunder and lightning approached nearer, and with it came the enemy…the rain beating with violence, the guns roaring, repeated bright flashes of lightning attended with tremendous volleys of Thunder that shook the very earth…”

      Private John Lewis of the 95th Rifles wrote, “…[t]he rain fell so hard that the oldest soldiers there never saw the like…”

      Napoleon planned his attack for 8 A.M., but some experts believe it was closer to eleven that he struck. Besides the wet ground slowing the progress of Napoleon’s heavy artillery, one must consider that cannon shot was meant to fall short of the target and skip along the ground to do the most damage. Under muddy conditions, the effectiveness of the weapon was compromised. The cavalry could not easily move forward. Captain Cotter of the South Lincolnshire regiment spoke of, “…[m]ud through which we sank more than ankle deep….” The cavalry’s charge was slowed from a gallop to a canter. A mist rose and mixed with gun smoke. Winds, however, did not sweep away the “veritable fog of war.”

      The French infantry at last heading for the Anglo-Dutch lines crossed through fields of wet rye. Muskets and rifles which had been loaded before the march would no doubt have misfired because of damp powder. Napoleon’s assault would have suffered more than Wellington’s defensive lines under such conditions.

  32. Did the volcano/weather cause Napoleon’s defeat or drive Wellington and the Allies’ victory?

    Same event, same outcome, different narrative.

  33. I am a bit confused. Because of a dearth of weather records in 1815 (Tambora) the authors used Krakatau (1883) as a surrogate. But, the evidence shows less rain around the time of the Krakatau eruption, not more rain. Tambora erupted in mid April and Waterloo was fought in mid June – two months apart.

  34. A humorous take on all this.
    (A volcano is not mentioned.)

    ***Please note that the Web designer is not American and blaming the Web designer for America’s history is illogical. Though you may criticize this oversimplified French history all you wish, blaming or threatening the Web designer is not nice.

    We are still accepting submissions from history researchers.
    Last update: May 4, 2005.

    – Gallic Wars
    – Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian. [Or at ths time in history, a Roman -ed.]

    – Hundred Years War
    – Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; “France’s armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman.” Sainted.

    – Italian Wars
    – Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

    – Wars of Religion
    – France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots

    – Thirty Years War
    – France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

    – War of Revolution
    – Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

    – The Dutch War
    – Tied

    – War of the Augsburg League/King William’s War/French and Indian War
    – Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

    – War of the Spanish Succession
    – Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved every since.

    – American Revolution
    – In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as “de Gaulle Syndrome”, and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; “France only wins when America does most of the fighting.”

    – French Revolution
    – Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.

    – The Napoleonic Wars
    – Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

    – The Franco-Prussian War
    – Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France’s ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

    – World War I
    – Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States [Entering the war late -ed.]. Thousands of French women find out what it’s like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn’t call her “Fraulein.” Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

    – World War II
    – Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

    – War in Indochina
    – Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu

    – Algerian Rebellion
    – Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; “We can always beat the French.” This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

    – War on Terrorism
    – France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald’s.

    The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be “Can we count on the French?”, but rather “How long until France collapses?”

    “Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. All you do is leave behind a lot of noisy baggage.”

    Or, better still, the quote from last week’s Wall Street Journal: “They’re there when they need you.”

    With only an hour and a half of research, Jonathan Duczkowski provided the following losses:

    Norse invasions, 841-911.
    After having their way with the French for 70 years, the Norse are bribed by a French King named Charles the Simple (really!) who gave them Normandy in return for peace. Normans proceed to become just about the only positive military bonus in France’s [favour] for next 500 years.

    Andrew Ouellette posts this in response:

    1066 A.D. William The Conquerer Duke and Ruler of France Launches the Largest Invasion in the history of the world no other was as large until the same trip was taken in reverse on June 6th 1944 William Fights Harold for the Throne of England Which old king Edward rightfully left to William but Harold Usurped the throne Will fights the Saxons (English)wins and the French Rule England for the Next 80 Years. then the French start the largest building and economic infrastructure since the fall of the Roman Empire the Norman Economy skyrockets and the Normans inadvertantly start England to become a major world Power Vive La France-

    Matt Davis posts this in response to Andrew Ouellette above:

    Oh dear. We seem to have overlooked some basic facts. Firstly, Philip the First (1060 – 1108) was King of France at the time of the Norman invasion of 1066 – William was Duke of Normandy and, incidentally, directly descended from the Vikings. William was, therefore, as alien to France as the experience of victory. Since Philip did not invade England, the victory at Hastings was Norman – not French. Normandy may be a part of France now but it most certainly wasn’t in 1066. Therefore, William’s coronation as King of England had nothing whatsoever to do with the French. As usual, they were nowhere near the place when the fighting was going on. The mistaken belief that 1066 was a French victory leads to the Third Rule of French Warfare; “When incapable of any victory whatsoever – claim someone else’s”.

    Mexico, 1863-1864.
    France attempts to take advantage of Mexico’s weakness following its thorough thrashing by the U.S. 20 years earlier (“Halls of Montezuma”). Not surprisingly, the only unit to distinguish itself is the French Foreign Legion (consisting of, by definition, non-Frenchmen). Booted out of the country a little over a year after arrival.

    Panama jungles 1881-1890.
    No one but nature to fight, France still loses; canal is eventually built by the U.S. 1904-1914.

    Napoleonic Wars.
    Should be noted that the Grand Armee was largely (~%50) composed of non-Frenchmen after 1804 or so. Mainly disgruntled minorities and anti-monarchists. Not surprisingly, these performed better than the French on many occasions.

    Haiti, 1791-1804.
    French defeated by rebellion after sacrificing 4,000 Poles to yellow fever. Shows another rule of French warfare; when in doubt, send an ally.

    India, 1673-1813.
    British were far more charming than French, ended up victors. Therefore the British are well known for their tea, and the French for their whine (er, wine…). Ensures 200 years of bad teeth in England.

    Barbary Wars, middle ages-1830.
    Pirates in North Africa continually harass European shipping in Meditteranean. France’s solution: pay them to leave us alone. America’s solution: kick their asses (“the Shores of Tripoli”). [America’s] first overseas victories, won 1801-1815.

    1798-1801, Quasi-War with U.S.
    French privateers (semi-legal pirates) attack U.S. shipping. U.S. fights France at sea for 3 years; French eventually cave; sets precedent for next 200 years of Franco-American relations.

    Moors in Spain, late 700s-early 800s.
    Even with Charlemagne leading them against an enemy living in a hostile land, French are unable to make much progress. Hide behind Pyrennes until the modern day.

    French-on-French losses (probably should be counted as victories too, just to be fair):

    1208: Albigenses Crusade, French massacared by French.
    When asked how to differentiate a heretic from the faithful, response was “Kill them all. God will know His own.” Lesson: French are badasses when fighting unarmed men, women and children.

    St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, August 24, 1572.
    Once again, French-on-French slaughter.

    Third Crusade.
    Philip Augustus of France throws hissy-fit, leaves Crusade for Richard the Lion Heart to finish.

    Seventh Crusade.
    St. Louis of France leads Crusade to Egypt. Resoundingly crushed.

    [Eighth] Crusade.
    St. Louis back in action, this time in Tunis. See Seventh Crusade.

    Also should be noted that France attempted to hide behind the Maginot line, sticking their head in the sand and pretending that the Germans would enter France that way. By doing so, the Germans would have been breaking with their traditional route of invading France, entering through Belgium (Napoleonic Wars, Franco-Prussian War, World War I, etc.). French ignored this though, and put all their effort into these defenses.

    Thomas Whiteley has submitted this addition to me:

    Seven year War 1756-1763
    Lost: after getting hammered by Frederick the Great of Prussia (yep, the Germans again) at Rossbach, the French were held off for the remainder of the War by Frederick of Brunswick and a hodge-podge army including some Brits. War also saw France kicked out of Canada (Wolfe at Quebec) and India (Clive at Plassey).

    Richard Mann, an American in France wants to add the following:

    The French consider the departure of the French from Algeria in 1962-63, after 130 years on colonialism, as a French victory and especially consider C. de Gaulle as a hero for ‘leading’ said victory over the unwilling French public who were very much against the departure. This ended their colonialism. About 2 million ungrateful Algerians lost their lives in this shoddy affair.

    From here:

    • The Albigensians weren’t French yet. And the people of what is now southern France wouldn’t be for centuries. They spoke dialects of Occitan, related to Catalan, not French.

      St. Bernadette of Loudres was thought stupid at school, but her problems stemmed from her speaking the Gascon dialect of Occitan, not French.

      France had success under Louis XIV, despite John Churchill and Eugene of Savoy.

      And France won the 100 Years’ War not just because of the cross-dressing, teenaged girl schizophrenic, but because of its advances in artillery.

      It also didn’t help that English King Henry VI inherited the madness of his French king grandfather.

    • I went on a tour of the Tower of London and the Yeoman Warder’s patter included ‘anyone here from France? Put both hands up so we can recognise you!’

  35. Classic false science red herrings.

    A) Speculate about Tambora’s eruption effects on Belgium’s weather.
    B) Use speculation about Krakatau as support for their Tambora’s speculative eruption effects on Belgium’s weather.
    C) Include assumptions about Pinatubo’s eruption.

    D) Ignore Napoleon’s illness contribution towards Waterloo battle errors.
    E) Ignore Napoleon’s commanders’ poor choices towards battlefield mistakes:
    – i) e.g., the Cavalry charge without infantry support
    – ii) e.g. 2, Napoleon’s troops chasing von Blucher wilfully failing to “march to the sound of the guns”.

    Not to forget:
    1) The Coalition Alliance aggressively did not allow Napoleon time to organize and conquer countries one by one.
    2) Napoleon escapes Elba in March 1815, Wellington and Coalition forces engage Napoleon at Waterloo on June 18th, 1815.
    3) Wellington’s soldiers were well trained.
    4) Napoleon’s troops were rushed, poorly trained, and not a unified coordinated fighting force.
    5) Wellington’s commanders and troops made effective selections for battlefield position and preparation.
    6) Von Blucher’s “marching to the sound of the guns” and timely reinforcing Coalition Alliance troops and positions.
    7) Virtually the entire world learned Napoleon’s tactics and use of artillery during Napoleon’s earlier campaigns.

    Ignored in most Waterloo discussions, that while France was willing to follow Napoleon, Napoleon was not the confident decisive commanding leader he used to be.
    A) Perhaps, lurking at the back of Napoleon’s mind was the defeats these same countries inflicted on Napoleon before sending Napoleon into exile.

    a) Ignoring the tendency for horses to whinny in fear when von Blucher’s name is mentioned. (Young Frankenstein). Von Blucher was not known for treating horses well.

    • The French also mistreated horses. Their cavalry stank as a result.

      So did the British, but in a different way, by bobbing their tails, which in Spain they needed to flick flies.

      • If you haven’t watched “Young Frankenstein”, watch it!

        Apparently, von Blucher was well known for abusing horses, hence the inclusion into Young Frankenstein as a history footnote in a Mel Blanc comedy.

        • I saw it when it came out. Many great scenes.

          If Bluecher sexually abused mares (presumably), he wasn’t the only Prussian to do so. I doubt that he did, but one Prussian trooper definitely did.

          IIRC, the bestiality-practicing cavalryman was sentenced to death, but homosexual King Frederick the Great pardoned him. You might want to check up on this, since my memory is fading rapidly.

          I also don’t know if the tale (!) of Catherine the Great’s equine love-related accidental demise be apocryphal or not.

  36. Waterloo 20 June 1815
    At last after he had left the town, he found in a little meadow on the right a small bivouac fire made by some soldiers. He stopped by it to warm himself and said to General Corbineau,
    “Et bien Monsieur, we have done a fine thing.”
    General Corbineau saluted him and replied,
    “Sire, it is the utter ruin of France.”

    Jardin Ainé; Equerry to the Emperor Napoleon

    • “We” being British, Irish, Prussian, Netherlandish (including Belgian), Hanoverian, Nassauaer, Brunswicker, etc? The British, even broadly defined, constituted a small portion of the two armies which beat Napoleon.

      Not to mention Wellington’s French-American chief of staff. A famous street on Manhattan honors his Tory family.

      Named in honor of the British general occupying NYC until April 1778 (despite having resigned the previous year after the disaster for Britain of Saratoga).

  37. “Vigo Hugo”? Who’s that? I know of literature by Victor Hugo. On the other hand, Terre Haute, IN, is in Vigo County.

  38. Ironically, guys like former CIA Director Brennan want more of that year-without-a-summer insanity. in June 2016, on the 200th anniversary of that dreary, Frankenstein summer, Brennan praised efforts like Stratospheric Aerosol Injection (SAI) for cooling down the planet “like volcanoes do.”

    Brennan is not known for his intelligence, though he did head an “intelligence” agency. Perhaps he already knows that we live in an Ice Age and that history shows that cooling typically leads to famines and societal collapses — like the Greek Dark Ages (1100-800 BC), the Medieval (post-Roman) Dark Ages (500-850 AD) and the Little Ice Age (1350-1850 AD).

  39. Missing the woods for the trees here?? The subject is the volcano, Napoleon was collateral damage.

    Funny. If volcanic ash did Napoleaon in in 1815 or 16 – whatever- when there were no coal burning boilers, is it different but achieving similar results now after hundred plus years of coal burning power plants worldwide? Something to think about.

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