The Legacy of Mr. Jinnah 1876-1948

 

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Exactly 70 years to the day, on December 25, 1947, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah agreed to be photographed reading Dawn – the newspaper he had founded. The headline on the front page of Dawn that day read: ‘71 today’. The trace of a whimsical smile on Mr Jinnah’s lips is unmistakable as he is seen glancing at the newspaper. | Photo: Press Information Department (PID) 

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MR. JINNAH BY AYESHA JALAL

In one of the more unforgettable contemporary recollections of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Beverely Nichols in Verdict on India described the lanky and stylishly dressed barrister as the “most important man in Asia”. Looking every bit like a gentleman of Spain, of the old diplomatic school, the monocle-wearing leader of the All-India Muslim League held a pivotal place in India’s future. “If Gandhi goes, there is Nehru, Rajagopalachari, Patel and a dozen others. But if Jinnah goes, who is there?” Without the Quaid-i-Azam to steer the course, the Muslim League was a divisive and potentially explosive force that “might run completely off the rails, and charge through India with fire and slaughter”; it might even “start another war”. As long as Jinnah was around, nothing disastrous was likely to happen and so, Nichols quipped, “a great deal hangs on the grey silk cord of that monocle”.

 If the British journalist overstated Jinnah’s importance, he had put his finger on an essential piece of the sub-continental political puzzle on the eve of British decolonization in India. Jinnah was a crucial link between the Congress and the Muslim League, which, if broken, could catapult India into disaster.

While regaling journalists at a tea party in his honour at Allahabad in April 1942, two years after the formal orchestration of the demand for Pakistan by the Muslim League, Jinnah had emphatically denied harbouring the “slightest ill-will” against Hindus or any other community. Charged with fomenting hatred and bigotry, he retorted: “I … honestly believe that the day will come when not only Muslims but this great community of Hindus will also bless, if not during my lifetime, after I am dead, [in the] the memory of my name.”

Drawing an analogy between himself and the first man to appear on the street with an umbrella, only to be laughed and scorned at by the crowd that had never seen an umbrella before, he said self-assuredly, “You may laugh at me”, but time will soon come when “you will not only understand what the Umbrella is but … use it to the advantage of every one of you”.

Jinnah’s prediction that posterity would come to look kindly on the umbrella he had unfurled in the form of his demand for Pakistan remains unrealised. Confusing the end result with what he had been after all along, his admirers and detractors alike hold him responsible for dismembering the unity of India.

But, then, the Pakistan that emerged in 1947 was a mere shadow of what he had wanted. Let down by his own followers, outmanoeuvred by the Congress and squeezed by Britain’s last viceroy, Jinnah was made to accept a settlement he had rejected in 1944 and 1946.

His early death in September 1948 deprived Pakistan of a much-needed steadying hand at the helm during an uncertain and perilous time. With no one of Jinnah’s stature and constitutional acumen around to read the riot act, constitutional propriety and strict adherence to the rule of law were early casualties of the withering struggle between the newly-created centre and the provinces as well as the main institutions of the state.

Repeated suspensions of the democratic process by military regimes have ensured that even after seven decades of independence, Pakistanis are bitterly disagreed on the principles and practices of constitutional government as well as the sharing of rights and responsibilities between the state and the citizen. So, while there is no denying the centrality of Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s iconographic location in Pakistani national consciousness, there is a gaping chasm between the nationalist icon and the savvy politician.

Across the 1947 divide, clashing representations of Jinnah and his politics highlight the fissures in the Indian national imaginary. The unanimous rage that exploded as Indian nationalism, whether of the ‘secular’ or the ‘communal’ variety, in the wake of Jaswant Singh’s book on the Muslim League leader is evidence of Jinnah’s negative standing in the Indian psyche.

Left to an adoring following in Pakistan and equally impassioned detractors in India, the clear-headed lawyer who never missed a cue has been reduced to a jumble of contradictions that mostly cancel each other out. Jinnah’s demonization in the Indian nationalist pantheon as the communal monster who divided mother India contrasts with his positive representation in Pakistan as a revered son of Islam, even an esteemed religious leader (maulana), who strove to safeguard Muslim interests in India. Misleading representations of one of modern South Asia’s leading politicians might not have withstood the test of history if they did not serve the nationalist self-projections of both India and Pakistan.

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QUAID-I-AZAM Mohammad Ali Jinnah during his last visit to Dhaka, then East Pakistan. It was during this trip that he declared, at a mammoth public gathering on March 21, 1948, “Having failed to prevent the establishment of Pakistan … the enemies of Pakistan have turned their attention to disrupting the state by creating a split among the Muslims of Pakistan… If you want to build up yourself into a nation, for God’s sake give up this provincialism.” | Photo: PID. 

Nations need heroes and Pakistanis have a right to be proud of their greatest hero. But popular memories too need to be informed by some bare facts and meaningful ideas. Fed on improbable myths and the limitations of the great men’s approach to history, Pakistanis have been constrained from engaging in an informed and open debate on whether their country merits being called Jinnah’s Pakistan. Is Jinnah at all relevant to the current Pakistani predicament?

Even the most approximate answer requires training our sights on matters that most concern Pakistanis – rule of law and a balance between state institutions that is conducive to social justice, economic opportunities and peaceful coexistence. Fed on state-sponsored national yarns about the past, Pakistanis are at a loss how to settle matters of national identity and the nature of the state – democratic or authoritarian, secular or Islamic.

The rise of Hindu majoritarianism in secular India and seemingly unending convulsions of religious bigotry amid state paralysis, if not compliance, in Islamic Pakistan is causing widespread dismay, confusion and disenchantment among a cross-section of citizens on both sides of the international border.

This is why reassessing the legacy of the man, who is universally held responsible for a partition that he had assiduously tried avoiding, is so necessary. But to do so meaningfully, one has to go beyond the simplistic distinction between the secular and the religious on which so many of the national myths of India and Pakistan are based.

There is no doubt that after the Muslim League’s election debacle in 1937, Jinnah made a conscious effort to display his Muslim identity. On key public occasions, he donned the sherwani – the traditional Muslim dress – rather than his well-tailored Western suits, and made more of an effort to appear as a mass politician. This was in some contrast to the days when his oratorical powers were restricted to the quiet of council chambers in the central legislature.

But the aloofness that characterised his earlier life did not give way to a new-found affinity with the teeming multitude. A champion of mass education as the key to the democratisation and freedom of India, Jinnah lacked the populist touch of a Gandhi.

Solitary in disposition, he used the distance between himself and his followers to command esteem and, most importantly, authority. Every bit the politician, Jinnah had a keen sense of timing and spectacle. Making the most of the adulation showered upon him by Muslims, he launched a powerful challenge against the Congress’s claim to speak on behalf of all Indians.

 

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The beautiful Ruttie Jinnah was Mr Jinnah’s second wife. The couple fell in love in Darjeeling in 1916. Two years later, they were married, after Ruttie, who was a Parsi, converted to Islam despite virulent family opposition. | Photo: National Archives, Islamabad 

However, even while banding with segments of the Muslim ulema for political purposes, he remained to the core a constitutionalist with a distaste for rabble rousers who made cynical use of religion. He distanced himself from the humdrum of theological disputes about divinity, prophecy or ritual. “I know of no religion apart from human activity,” he had written to Gandhi on January 1, 1940, since it “provides a moral basis for all other activities”. Religion for him was meaningless if it did not mean identifying with the whole of mankind and “that I could not do unless I took part in politics”.

 Jinnah’s expansive humanism is in stark contrast with the shocking disregard for the freedom of religious conscience in the country he created, a result of the political gamesmanship resorted to by authoritarian rulers and self-styled ideologues of Islam in post-colonial Pakistan.

In terms of his most deep-seated political values and objectives, Jinnah was remarkably consistent throughout his long and chequered political career. He had begun his journey as a Congressman seeking a share of power for Indians at the all-India centre.

Since Muslims were a minority in the limited system of representation in colonial India, he became an ardent champion of minority rights as a necessary step towards a Hindu-Muslim concordat and Congress-League cooperation. The provincial bias in British constitutional reforms after 1919 tested the resilience of a centralist politician with all-India ambitions.

As a constitutionalist of rare skill and vision, Jinnah tried reconciling communitarian and provincial interests while holding out an olive branch to the Congress. While his insistence on national status for Indian Muslims became absolute after 1940, the demand for a separate and sovereign state was open to negotiation until the late summer of 1946.

Jinnah was acutely aware that almost as many members of the Muslim nation would reside in Hindustan as in the specifically-Muslim homeland. The claim to nationhood was not an inevitable overture to completely separate statehood. An analytical distinction between a division of sovereignty within India and a partition of the provinces enables a precise understanding of the demand for a ‘Pakistan’. On achieving Pakistan, Jinnah was categorical that equal citizenship and an assurance of minority rights would form the basis of the new state.

 

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The Quaid-i-Azam in conversation with Altaf Husain, the first editor of Dawn Karachi, who visited Mr Jinnah to wish him a happy birthday on December 25, 1947. | Photo: PID. 

The Quaid-i-Azam was checkmated at the end game of the Raj by the votaries of unitary and monolithic sovereignty. Yet his constitutional insights into the imperative of forging a new Indian union once the British relinquished power at the centre resonated well with a long South Asian political tradition of layered and shared sovereignties.

The four decades since the end of World War II were the heyday of indivisible sovereignty across the globe. Since the late 1980s there has been a perceptible weakening in the hold of that dogma. Jinnah’s legacy is especially pertinent to the enterprise of rethinking sovereignty in South Asia and beyond in the 21st century. If Pakistan and India can shed the deadweight of the colonial inheritance of non-negotiable sovereignty and hard borders which has been at the root of so many of their animosities, a South Asian union may yet come into being under the capacious cover of Jinnah’s metaphorical umbrella.

His expectation that Hindus quite as much as Muslims would one day bless the memory of his name remains unfulfilled. But moves in that direction have been in evidence more recently. In 1999, the Indian prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, made a point of visiting the venue where the Lahore Resolution of 1940 was adopted by the Muslim League. This was followed in 2005 by Hindu nationalist leader Lal Krishna Advani’s homage to the founding father of Pakistan at his mausoleum in Karachi.

On the 141st birthday of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, it is worth recalling Bengali Congress leader Sarat Chandra Bose’s obituary comment, paying “tribute to the memory of one who was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat and, greatest of all, as a man of action.”

The importance of being Mr Jinnah by Ayesha Jalal. The writer is Mary Richardson Professor of History and Director of the Centre for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies at Tufts University, Massachusetts, United States of America.

 

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THE ENIGMATIC MR. JINNAH

As the nation celebrates Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s 141st birthday, we look back at a rare collection of photographs that attempt to reveal the various facets of his personality.

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After becoming the youngest ‘Indian’ student to be called to the Bar on April 29, 1896, at Lincoln’s Inn (London), Mr Jinnah moved to Bombay and began working as a lawyer. Within a few years, he became one of the leading lawyers in the subcontinent. 
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Mr Jinnah on the grounds of his Hampstead home in the early 1930s. He moved to London with his daughter Dina and sister Miss Fatima Jinnah after the Second Round Table Conference ended in failure. During the four years of this self-imposed exile, Mr Jinnah had a thriving practice as a Privy Council lawyer. In 1934, he returned to India to assume the presidency of the All-India Muslim League. 
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Mr Jinnah smiling broadly by his standards while standing next to his friend and political ally, Mohammad Amir Ahmed Khan, the Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad. 
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 Mr Jinnah seen relaxing at the famous Cecil’s Hotel in Simla. 
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 Mr Jinnah and Miss Fatima Jinnah arrived in Karachi on August 7, 1947. A week later, Pakistan came into being after years of struggle on August 14, 1947.| Photo: PID.
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 Mr Jinnah seated next to his old-time friend, Pestonjee H. J. Rustomjee, in Bombay in the early 1900s. At the back is Pestonjee’s daughter, Homi. Incidentally, Pestonjee H. J. Rustomjee was the maternal uncle of Ardeshir Cowasjee, the esteemed Dawn columnist. 
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Mr Jinnah relaxing by a stream, donning a solar hat, in Mussoorie, a hill station. 
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 Mr Jinnah wearing, during a picnic, what was soon going to be termed the ‘Jinnah cap’. 
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 Mr Jinnah is about to record his response to Lord Mountbatten’s June 3 Plan about the partition of India into two dominions. 
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Mr Jinnah was welcomed by Khawaja Nazimuddin (left) when he arrived at the Governor-General House in Dhaka. This was Mr Jinnah’s first visit to East Pakistan as Governor-General, which turned out to be his last as well. 

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THE WIT AND HUMOUR OF THE QUAID BY HASSANALLY A. RAHMAN

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Elegantly dressed in a suit and wearing a hat, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is seen relaxing on a bench during a visit to Simla. | Photo: PID 

 The following are excerpts from an article under the same headline that was published in Dawn on December 25, 1976, as part of a supplement marking the Quaid-i-Azam’s birth centenary.

All those who knew Quaid-i-Azam intimately, know very well that he did never crack a joke merely for the sake of raising a laugh. He was too self-controlling and disciplined a man to waste time on little things. One thing he valued most was, Time. Time, he knew, can never return. Shakespeare said: “Oh! Call back yesterday / bid time return”. But Quaid-i-Azam never had the need to do so. He used every minute of his life as carefully as he wanted to. Punctuality, keeping appointments and never wasting a moment was his second nature.

He was [once] arguing an appeal before the full bench of Bombay High Court. He argued the whole day. The working time was up to 5pm. The judges asked: “Mr. Jinnah, how much more time would you need to finish your side?” He replied: “My Lord, hardly 15 minutes.”

Then the senior judge [on the bench] said: “Could you continue for a few minutes longer today and finish your address?” Normally, when a High Court judge says so, no lawyer would decline. But not so with Mohammad Ali Jinnah. “My Lord, I would love to do so, but I have a very important appointment which I can just make in time if I leave the court at once.”

The junior-most judge sitting on the left side of the chief justice whispered to him to insist that the case be finished on the day. “That is all right, Mr. Jinnah. We also have an appointment, but we like to finish this today so that judgment can be delivered on Monday.” Out came the reply from this great lawyer, shooting like a gun: “My Lords, the difference between your Lordships and myself is that (raising his voice) I keep my appointments.”

The three judges, Englishmen, all went more red in their face than they already were. They all rose as if in a huff. Everybody got up and while the advocates bowed fully, the judges seemed only to nod. It was thought that the solicitor, who had instructed Jinnah, felt that this may affect the result of the case. The next morning the judges appeared in a very good mood.

Advocacy

Mr Jinnah was absolutely on the top of the profession. Therefore, naturally many lawyers tried their best to be allowed to work with Mohammad Ali Jinnah but very few could be taken. Mr. Frank Mores, then Editor of Indian Express, once wrote: “Watch him in the court room as he argues his case. Few lawyers can command a more attentive audience. No man is more adroit in presenting his case. If to achieve the maximum result with minimum effort is the hallmark of artistry, Mr. Jinnah is an artist in his craft. He likes to get down to the bare bones of his brief in stating the essentials of his case. His manner is masterly. The drab court rooms acquire an atmosphere as he speaks. Juniors crane their necks forward to follow every movement of his tall well-groomed figure. Senior counsel listen closely, the judge is all attention; such was the great status of this top lawyer.”

Once a very close friend whose request Mr. Jinnah could not decline came with his son who had just returned from England as a full-fledged barrister. He said: “Jinnah, please take my son in your chamber and make him a good lawyer.”

“Of course, yes,” said Jinnah. “He is welcomed to work in my chambers. I will teach him all I can. But I cannot transmit my brilliance to him”. Then slowly he added: “He must make his own brilliance.” This went into the heart of the young barrister and he worked so hard on the briefs and the law that one day he too became a great lawyer, but nowhere near the height of Mr. Jinnah.

People’s enthusiasm

It was around 1936-37 that Quaid-i-Azam came to Karachi and appeared before the Chief Court of Sind, as it then was, and appeared in a very important case and three lawyers of Karachi appeared against him. He had made a name as a lawyer long ago and in politics also he figured as a giant personality.

Consequently, the rush to the court room consisting of lawyers, students and politicians was so great that the court room was full to the brim. The entrance to the court room had to be closed to stop any noise, so that judicial work could be carried on with a decorum and dignity befitting the occasion. But at the end of every hour, the door was ordered to be opened so that those who wanted to go out or come in could do so. When the first opening of the door at 12 O’clock occurred, there was such a noise of rush that it appeared that the judges would lose their temper.

“My Lords,” said Jinnah in very sweet, melodious voice, “these are my admirers. Please do not mind. I hope you are not jealous.”

There was a beam of smile on the faces of judges and they appeared to be magnetically charmed by the words of the great persuasive man. The door remained opened and Quaid-i-Azam looked back on the crowd, raising his left hand indicating that he desired them to keep quiet. The atmosphere became absolute pin-drop silence as if by magic. The case proceeded for two days.

Quaid and students

The Quaid-i-Azam was fond of students. He loved them immensely. He always exhorted them to study hard. “Without education”, he said, “all is darkness. Seek the light of Education”. He was most attached to the Aligarh Muslim students. He used to visit the Aligarh University as often as he could. In fact, in his will, he left the entire residue of his property worth crores of rupees to be shared by the Aligarh University, Sind Madressah and Islamia College, Peshawar.

On one occasion at Aligarh after a hard day’s work of meeting people, addressing the students as he was sitting in a relaxed mood, he was told that one student, Mohammad Noman, was a very fine artist of mimicry. He could impersonate and talk or make a speech with all the mannerism of his subject. Quaid-i-Azam was told that this student could impersonate him to such a degree that if heard with closed eyes, Quaid-i-Azam will think that it was he himself who was speaking, and he will think as if he himself was talking to Quaid-i-Azam.

Quaid-i-Azam sent for the student at once. The student asked for 10 minutes’ time to prepare himself. After 10 minutes the student turned up dressed in dark gray Sherwani, a Jinnah cap and a monocle, like Quaid-i-Azam. Of course, he could not look like Quaid-i-Azam, but the appearance on the whole was somewhat similar.

Then the student put on his monocle and addressed an imaginary audience. The voice, the words, the gestures, the look on his face and everything appeared like Quaid-i-Azam. In fact, if he had spoken behind a screen without being seen, the audience would have taken him to be Quaid-i-Azam speaking himself. Quaid-i-Azam was very much pleased with the performance. But when it was finished, the culmination came unexpectedly. Quaid-i-Azam took off his own cap and monocle and presented to the student, saying: “Now this will make it absolutely authentic.”

Purdah

In November 1947, Quaid-i-Azam was in Lahore and he personally supervised operation of the rehabilitation of refugees. One-day Quaid-i-Azam was invited to a girls college. The girls and ladies of the staff did not observe purdah as he addressed them.

When back at Government House, Quaid-i-Azam was in a humorous mood and wanted to know why the ladies did not observe purdah. His sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah, said: “That was because they regarded you as an old man.”

“That is not a compliment to me,” said Quaid-i-Azam. Liaquat Ali Khan, who was present, said: “That was because they regarded you as a father”.

“Yes, that makes some sense.”

Man of character

Quaid-i-Azam was a man of such a strong character that he could not be easily attracted toward anyone, including women. Excepting his wife, there is no instance whatsoever of anyone at whom he glanced in love.

Once in Bombay, where he had gone to an English club to relax after hard day’s work, he played cards. The game was called Forfeit. It was played among four persons – two gentlemen and two ladies. Tradition required that the lady who lost the game must offer to be kissed by the gentlemen who won. The lady indeed was very attractive, and she offered Quaid-i-Azam to be kissed by him. Quaid-i-Azam said: “My lady, I waived my rights. I cannot kiss a lady unless I fall in love with her.”

Rose between thorns

On the 14th day of August 1947, Lord Mountbatten with his wife came to Karachi for the investiture ceremony of the Governor-General of Pakistan. After Quaid-i-Azam was sworn in, the new State of Pakistan was handed over to him legally, constitutionally and with proper ceremony.

Lord Mountbatten proposed that Quaid-i-Azam be photographed with Lord and Lady Mountbatten. Quaid took it for granted, that, as usual etiquette requires, the lady will stand between the gentlemen. So, he told Lady Mountbatten: “Now you will be photographed as the rose between the two thorns”. But Mountbatten insisted that Jinnah should stand in the middle. He said that being a Governor-General etiquette requires that Quaid-i-Azam should be in the centre. Naturally, Quaid-i-Azam yielded.

And when Quaid-i-Azam stood between the two, Mountbatten said to him: “Now you are the rose between two thorns.” He was right.

Whenever Quaid-i-Azam was cornered in a difficult situation, he proved greater than his opponent. His political enemies always wanted to publicise that Quaid-i-Azam was always with the Congress, but when the opportunity came he switched over to Muslim League.

In December 1940, Quaid-i-Azam visited London along with the Viceroy and Congress leaders. He furnished details about Pakistan issue and quoted facts and figures as to how the Congress had betrayed the trust of the Muslims. One correspondent said to him: “Oh, you were also in the Congress once.” Jinnah retorted: “Oh, my dear friend, at one time I was in a primary school as well!”

Trick countered

In 1946, political agitation both by Congress and Muslim League had reached its zenith. The British government, always master of the art of side-tracking the main issue, suggested to Jawaharlal Nehru that as very soon India will be handed over to them, so as a beginning some Hindus and some Muslims should be taken in the Interim Cabinet. Before that there was no such thing. The body which was functioning was the Viceroy’s Executive Council. But Jawaharlal Nehru insisted that it should be called a Cabinet. Example was shown that the Viceroy himself calls it a Cabinet.

Quaid-i-Azam refused to do so. He said the Cabinet is a constitutional body the members of which are selected from the members of Parliament by the leader of majority. Here, there is no such thing. It is purely an Executive Council and it cannot become a Cabinet merely because you call it a Cabinet. A donkey does not become an elephant because you call it an elephant.

Call for honesty

Gandhi always used to speak about his inner voice. He seemed to create an impression that there is something spiritual within him, which, in time of necessity, gives him guidance and he obeys it and calls it his inner voice. As a matter of fact, Gandhi often changed his opinion and suddenly took the opposite stand. Quaid-i-Azam called it a somersault.

Once having committed himself to a certain point of view, he took a dramatically opposite stance. On the next day, Gandhi maintained that his inner voice dictated him to take the opposite view. Quaid-i-Azam lost his temper and shouted:

“To hell with this Inner Voice. Why can’t he be honest and admit that he had made a mistake.”

In June 1947, partition was announced by Lord Mountbatten. He insisted on an immediate acceptance of the plan. Quaid-i-Azam said he was not competent to convey acceptance of his own accord and that he had to consult his Working Committee. The Viceroy said that if such was his attitude, the Congress would refuse acceptance and Muslim League would lose its Pakistan. Quaid-i-Azam shrugged his shoulders and said: “What must be, must be.”

In July 1948, Mr. M. A. H. Ispahani went to Ziarat where Quaid-i-Azam was seriously ill. He pleaded with Quaid-i-Azam that he should take complete rest as his life was most precious. Quaid-i-Azam smiled and said:

My boy there was a time when soon after partition and until 1948, I was worried whether Pakistan would survive. Many unexpected and terrible shocks were administered by India soon after we parted company with them. But we pulled through and nothing will ever worry us so much again. I have no worries now. Men may come, and men may go. But Pakistan is truly and firmly established and will go on with Allah’s grace forever”

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JINNAH IN THE EYES OF HIS COLLEAGUES

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Mr Jinnah was always aesthetically dressed whether he was wearing a traditional attire, a three-piece suit during his early years as a young lawyer in Bombay, even when caught unawares on camera during a contemplative moment wearing a white suit, or in an overcoat during the Simla Conference.

 Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan

Liaquat

Honesty without humbug – an honesty which even his severest critics have never called in question; an honesty which seeks no shelter in sanctimonious spiritual impedimenta; which abjures alike the halo and the high place, the beard and the bargain, the mystic voice and the money value – an unemotional shrewdness which strips facts down to their naked reality, but makes him pace the floor till the early hours of the morning examining and re-examining, weighing and valuing each detail of the decision upon which the very life or death of his people might depend – perseverance which recognises no obstacle as unsurmountable; intellectual acumen which can see the whole in detail and the detail as part of the whole – such is the man and statesman, the Quaid-i-Azam of ninety million Indian Muslims, the Disraeli of Indian politics – Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Haji Abdullah Haroon

Abdullah Haroon

Jinnah is the uncrowned king of Muslim India. In the Islamic world as a whole, he happens to be the greatest Muslim statesman of this age. In the matter of service to Islam his record is great and glorious. In the future history of Muslim India, he will figure as a great benefactor of Mussalmans. He created awakening among the Muslims of India and brought them under one banner at a most critical time in their history when they were about to meet with the same fate which had met the unfortunate Dravidians some centuries ago. He is the founder of a new India in which all nations can live happily together. May God give him long life.

Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman

Khaliquzzaman

Muslim India will be celebrating the birthday of the Quaid-i-Azam in a manner befitting the occasion; his name has become known to the Muslims of India and even beyond its borders to the Muslims of the world. His lifelong service to the community and devotion to the cause of Islam have rightly won him his unique position. In nationalist quarters he once occupied a respectable place but is now considered to be a separationist and a communalist of the worst order. Time alone will testify whether his politics of today is not in the interest of peace and goodwill of the communities in the future.

Qazi Muhammad Isa

Isa

Our beloved and esteemed Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah is at this most critical time in the history of the world moulding the destinies of ninety million Muslims, who live unitedly, as never before under the banner of the mighty Muslim organisation – the All-India Muslim League.

Our beloved Quaid-i-Azam at the 1940 Annual Session of the All-India Muslim league, held at Lahore, sounded a clarion call, and exhorted us all to gather under the banner of the League, and laid down in a clear and no uncertain manner the line of action which the Muslim Nation must take to ensure its honourable existence in India.

God has come to our rescue, and gifted us with a leader, great in trials, mature in his judgement, infinite in his affections for his fellow Muslims, and who stands like the premonitory, who not only stands four squares to all the waves of intrigues and hatred, but against whom all these waves are repelled.

Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad

Mahmoodabad

He is our teacher, preceptor and guide – that is how we of the younger generation regard our great Quaid. He received our allegiance and, having received it, taught us what true and honest politics is; and has guided us on the right political path. He has steered our mind clear of pseudo-nationalism to a right perception of the implications of that patriotism for the Indian Muslim which, while not forgetting the true interests of the Motherland, holds fast to Islam; and above all he has, by making it his own by the clarity of his exposition and the irrefutability of his arguments, given an irresistible momentum to that life-giving movement – the movement for the creation of sovereign Muslim States in those parts of India where Islam pervades i.e. Eastern and North Western India. May he live long to see the consummation of this inspiring ideal.

Shah Nawaz Khan

Shah Nawaz Khan

I deem it a great pleasure to express my deep appreciation for the noble services rendered by Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the cause of the upliftment of the Muslim masses. He commands the confidence of 90 million Indian Musalmans, who look to him for guidance and are ready to do anything which the Quaid-i-Azam orders them to do. His name is a watchword in every village and town of my province and I take the liberty to assert that no Muslim leader has, so far, commanded that much respect or confidence of the Muslim masses like the Quaid-i-Azam.

Sirdar M. Aurangzeb Khan

Aurangzeb

When Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar was being removed on a stretcher to the boat which was to take him to England for the First Round Table Conference, ardent disciples asked him as to who after him was to lead Muslim politics in India in the stormy times ahead. “Mr Jinnah and none else,” he prayerfully blurted out… “If great God puts it in Mr Jinnah’s head to take up the job.”

I may be permitted to at once connect Dr Iqbal’s last wish with the prayer of Muhammad Ali. In the annual meeting of Bazm-e-Iqbal last March when Mr Jinnah was presiding, Sir Abdul Qadir read a passage from a letter of Dr Iqbal to a friend (that friend during Doctor Saheb’s last illness wrote to him praying for his speedy recovery) and pray listen to the reply of the Poet of the East:

“My message has been duly delivered. My time is up. Instead of praying for me you should pray for the lives of Ataturk and Mr Jinnah who have yet to fulfil their missions.”

Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan

Sikandar Hyat

I associate myself whole-heartedly with the celebrations of the 64th birthday of Mr Jinnah. His unique services to the Mussalmans and to India entitle him to the respect and admiration of all patriotic Indians; and so far as the Muslims are concerned, his contribution, at this psychological moment, has deservedly earned him the title of Quaid-i-Azam. Even his worst critics cannot but recognise his great ability, integrity and sense of public duty. May he live long to complete the organisation of the Mussalmans, so that with the other elements in the country they may contribute their best in the building up of a new India wherein the best in the culture and life of each section may be fully safeguarded and effectively guaranteed, and no class or party tyranny may be permitted.

Khawaja Nazimuddin

Nazimuddin

I wish to begin with a frank confession. Not many years ago, the politics of Mr Jinnah did not quite appeal to me and I was inclined to be sceptical of the ideals which Mr Jinnah was holding up before the Muslims of India. It did not, however, take long for me, like many others, to realise that the lead which Mr Jinnah was giving in 1936 was the only correct lead in the circumstances rapidly developing in the country.

If today, 90 million Muslims now stand shoulder to shoulder in a solid phalanx under the banner of the All-India Muslim League, if machinations to reduce Muslims to the position of a perpetual and powerless minority depending for their very lives on the mercy of others have failed, the credit goes primarily to one man: Mohammad Ali Jinnah. This is no mean achievement.

Sir Cowasjee Jahangir

Cowasjee

If there is one characteristic, more than another, which distinguishes Mr Jinnah in public life, it is his sturdy independence. Nothing will sidetrack him from what he considers is the path of truth, righteousness and equity. No amount of opposition, no threats and no danger will daunt him, in his determination. He is a man full of courage and tenacity. He has never put self or his own interests before those of his country. Such men are rarely found in public life. He stands today not only as the acknowledged leader of the millions of his community but also as one of the foremost men in the public life of India. May Providence continue to give him health and strength to serve India in general and his great community in particular.

Nawab M. Ismail Khan

Ismail Khan

Mr. Jinnah’s sagacity, penetrating intellect, rapid grasp of the most intricate problems and luminous insight coupled with calmness of temper and complete personal disinterestedness have enabled him to rise to that unique and pre-eminent position among the Mussalmans of India, which no other Muslim leader in recent years, however great his services, and however high his personal quality, has held among his fellow Muslims.

For the past few years by organizing the Mussalmans politically under the banner of Muslim League, he has succeeded in infusing into them a spirit of self-reliance and self-respect, and has thus saved them from the doom which threatens every nation split up in small factions of warring political creeds and ideologies.

Sir Hormasji Pherozshah Modi

Pherozeshah

Mr. Jinnah has long been one of the dominant figures of our political life. His has been a chequered career, with many apparent contradictions, but throughout it certain fundamental characteristics have stood out. He is fearless and straightforward, seeks no popularity and is singularly free from political intrigue. He is a lone figure; very few have really known him or have penetrated the armour of his aloofness. An arresting personality – one may dislike or condemn, but cannot ignore him – his contribution to the political life of India has been outstanding. As one who has known Mr Jinnah for many years, I can wish him nothing better than that he may long continue to occupy the place he has created for himself.

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THE SOLE STATESMAN BY ARDESHIR COWASJEE

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Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Miss Fatima Jinnah (extreme left) arrive in Peshawar in 1948. | Photo: PID 

The following are excerpts from five columns by the writer published in Dawn on June 18, 2000, July 2, 2000, July 9, 2000, July 16, 2000 and December 25, 2011.

…Mohammad Ali Jinnah was a proud man, proud for good reason; by the overriding force of his indomitable will, and that alone, he carved out a country for us. Not following the form of his day, Jinnah did not go to jail for a single day, never embarked on a hunger strike, did not encourage rowdy protest marches, he abhorred any form of violence…

“Do your duty and have faith in God. There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan.”’

This conviction was soon to be proved wrong. His buoyant optimism and his firm certitude in the future of this country clouded his perception of the calibre and character of the leaders who would immediately and later follow him. He failed to conceive that through their lack of ability, lack of integrity, their avarice, their unquenchable greed, their hunger for power, pomp, pelf and position, they would be the undoing of Pakistan.

He was the sole statesman this country has had. Those who followed were small men, narrow of thought… Within a quarter of a century, half of Jinnah’s Pakistan was lost… It is now an overpopulated, illiterate, bankrupt country…

When Jinnah addressed the first constituent assembly of the country on August 11th 1947, he embodied in his speech the core of his philosophy… his vision for the state he had founded. It was a fine piece of rhetoric; too fine, too moral, too democratic, too liberal, too full of justice, too idealistic for the Philistines. This speech…has been subject to distortion; it has inspired fear in successive governments which would have been far happier had it never been delivered…

On August 11th, 1947, before the flag of Pakistan had even been unfurled, Jinnah told his people and their future legislators:

“You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

That same day, he made it clear to the future legislators and administrators that “the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order...” He told them he would not tolerate the evils of bribery, corruption, black marketeering and “this great evil, the evil of nepotism and jobbery.”

Little did he know that day that these prime evils were to become prerequisites for the survival of the politicians in and out of uniform, and of the administrators of all ranks and grades for the maintenance of their power.

In a way, it was fortunate that Jinnah did not live long enough to see the negation of his principles… A man of high ideals – his disillusion would have been too great to bear…

No set of documents exists which spells out the “ideology of Pakistan”. Thus, every man… is entitled to his own conception of what this ideology is. However, it would be logical to assume that the ideology should rightly spring from what our sole statesman envisaged for the country he created…

There are many who hold that the Objectives Resolution, which came into being a mere six months after [his] death, is the embodiment of the “ideology”.

The Objectives Resolution, the text of which, in English and in Urdu, was embossed on brass plaques and once mounted in the hall of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, has been pronounced by successive democratic and other leaders to be a reminder to us all of the purpose of the creation of Pakistan… But it was not the true English text of the original Objectives Resolution which was sanctified. The plaque gave a modified version of this Resolution. The original stipulated that “adequate provision shall be made for the minorities freely to profess and practise their religions and develop their cultures.” On the plaque, in the English version, the word “freely” was deliberately omitted…

Those alive today who knew Mohammad Ali Jinnah… were well aware of what he wanted. He achieved his ambition and founded for us what he intended to be a democratic, forward-looking, modern, secular state…

In the last 53 years this country has changed its name and status three times. It started as a dominion, which it remained until 1956, when under the constitution promulgated that year, it became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In 1962, Field Marshal Ayub Khan, who had abrogated the 1956 Constitution, when he took over in 1958, promulgated his constitution and declared it to be simply the Republic of Pakistan. Then he became a politician… and by his First Constitutional Amendment Order of 1963, we again became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Now to a press conference held by Mohammad Ali Jinnah on July 14, 1947, in New Delhi. I quote relevant portions:

“Q. Could you as Governor General make a brief statement on the minorities’ problem?

  1. …I shall not depart from what I said repeatedly… Minorities to whichever community they may belong, will be safeguarded… There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship… They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed. They will have their rights and privileges and no doubt along with this goes the obligations of citizenship…
  2. Will Pakistan be a secular or theocratic state?
  3. You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means…”

Now to what Mohammad Ali Jinnah had to say on the future constitution of Pakistan, in his broadcast to the American people in February 1948:

“The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed… I do not know what the ultimate shape… is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam… Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. Islam has taught the equality of men, justice and fair play… In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission…”

For those who wish to interpret it [what Jinnah decreed for Pakistan] their own way, it conforms merely to narrow expedient government vision; and to the bigots and the intolerant who sadly make up the majority of the 180 million, it has been discarded or distorted into wishing what they wish it to mean.

His creed is nationally long gone. ‘Secular’ is almost a treasonous word, tolerance an equally treasonous practice, as bigotry is largely the order of the day. Jinnah’s Pakistan became virtually moribund on his death and received the final fatal blow in 1949 when his trusted lieutenants brought in the Objectives Resolution. From then on, it was a steady downhill dive to where this truncated country now finds itself – isolated and distrusted by much of the world which is concerned about its erratic policies and practices.

This story is the final part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of ‘70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Visit the archive to read all reports.

AJ2

HBL has been an indelible part of the nation’s fabric since independence, enabling the dreams of millions of Pakistanis. At HBL, we salute the dreamers and dedicate the nation’s 70th anniversary to you. Jahan Khwab, Wahan HBL.

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Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination

THE MASTERMINDS 

Osama bin Laden has issued orders for the assassination of President Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. According to the information, Bin Laden planned to send the explosives through a Pakistani national called Musa Tariq who was en route to Dera Ismail Khan. Citing the intelligence, the document also claims that “Osama bin Laden is personally supervising the operation and for this purpose has moved to Afghanistan.”

Abu Ahmad Al Kuwaiti, Bin Laden’s trusted courier and one of the few people who had access to him in the last days. Kuwaiti was a Pakistani whose real name was Ibrahim Saeed. A speaker of Arabic and Pashto, Saeed lived with Bin Laden for many years in the Abbottabad compound and was his only link to the outside world. It was Saeed’s phone calls that inadvertently led the US to Bin Laden’s lair, where Saeed was also killed alongside his master.

Mustafa Abu Al Yazid aka Sheikh Saeed al Masri (Abu Obaidah, Sheikh Abdul Hameed as Ameer-e-Khuruj [Leader of the Revolt], Sheikh Abdul Hameed aka Abu Obaidah al Masri) : Al Qaeda’s chief paymaster since the 1990s. The most crucial piece of evidence linking Al Masri to the assassination was recovered from Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad after the raid. The document seen by Eos contains a memo delivered to Bin Laden just two days after the assassination. The memo from Al Masri, delivered via courier, refers to the ‘special task’ and informs Bin Laden of the successful “operation in ‘Pindi”, confirming it was his men who murdered Benazir. “More good is to come in revenge for our brothers and sisters in Hafsa and Lal mosques,” reads the memo.

Benazir was not directly involved in the Red Mosque siege, though she was the only politician who had openly supported the operation against it. In this context, however, the reference to the Red Mosque is a wide-ranging pretext for all operations against the Pakistani state and its leaders.

Despite a career in militancy spanning three decades, relatively little is known about the man who would lead Al Qaeda’s revolt in Pakistan. No photograph of Abu Obaidah exists, but disparate pieces of information come together to form a clearer picture. Al Masri was originally from the Sharqia governorate in the Nile Delta in Egypt, but is thought to be a Sudanese citizen. Described as a ‘journeyman fighter’ from the first generation of jihadis, he was a veteran of the wars in 

  • Afghanistan
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina  
  • Chechnya.

Al Masri was a seasoned operator in Pakistan. According to intelligence sources:

• he was a key planner in the bombing of the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in November 1995 which killed 17 people.

His mentor Ayman Al Zawahiri masterminded the attack. Benazir Bhutto was prime minister at the time and said the attack was “retribution for the extradition of Ramzi Yousef”, an Al Qaeda militant who had been handed over to the US.

Twelve years later, Al Masri would be back in Pakistan to kill Benazir Bhutto. Bin Laden needed an experienced and dedicated head of operations in Pakistan to lead the new strategy. He appointed an Egyptian called Sheikh Abdul Hameed as Ameer-e-Khuruj [Leader of the Revolt] to direct the war inside Pakistan. Sheikh Abdul Hameed aka Abu Obaidah al Masri, the man mentioned in Major Haroon’s confession as the planner of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Al Masri was already the head of Al Qaeda’s external operations and responsible for

• the London bombings
• near-successful attempt to blow up 18 transatlantic airliners mid-flight.

It was now time to turn their guns on their host country. In the months that followed, Al Qaeda was to shake Pakistan to its foundations.

Abu Obaidah al Masri: died within last two months of April 2008, probably of hepatitis. – Saleem Shahzad; assassinated journalist and terrorism expert.

Sarwar Khan struggled to breathe as he opened his eyes in the suffocating darkness. Only a few hours earlier he had been at his desk in Islamabad finishing up an ordinary day’s work. Now the Ahmadi businessman was nailed inside a coffin, gasping for air. His captors had injected him with sedatives and were attempting to transport him out of the city in an ambulance, disguised as a corpse — but the dose was wearing off, giving way to Sarwar’s blood-curdling screams. As the kidnappers stopped to subdue their human freight, a taxi driver on the highway witnessed the suspicious activity and called the authorities.

The police action that followed that day in February 2009 led to the capture of one of the most influential Al Qaeda strategists and ideologues in the organization’s history. Major Haroon Ashiq was arrested from the outskirts of Peshawar while trying to smuggle Sarwar Khan into the tribal areas. A former Special Services Group (SSG) commando, Haroon had left the army after 2001 and joined hands with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) before graduating to the highest ranks of Al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan.

Major Haroon, it emerged, had been a mastermind of the Mumbai attacks the previous year and also a key player in some of the most spectacular militant operations in Pakistan in living memory. These included: 
• a sustained campaign of attacks on NATO supply lines,
• the murder of a former head of the elite SSG Major General Faisal Alvi
• the kidnapping of Karachi-based filmmaker Satish Anand.

Haroon’s role in Al Qaeda was not merely operational but also strategic and visionary. He was one of the only Pakistanis to be elected a member of the organization’s Shura (council) and is credited with reviving its flagging fortunes after 2003 in a massive overhaul of the group’s organizational structure and tactics. Kidnapping for ransom was also a new tactic developed under him to help Al Qaeda out of a severe financial crunch.

Major Haroon admitted his role in all these acts but one of the most important pieces of information he gave to interrogators was about a case in which he claimed not to have been involved at all: the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. The morning after the assassination 10 years ago, as the country convulsed with grief and chaos, the government of Gen Musharraf announced that secret agencies had intercepted a phone call to Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which indicated that the former prime minister had been assassinated by Mehsud’s men.

Major Haroon’s confession:
Haroon told his interrogators that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was ordered by Osama bin Laden and that Baitullah Mehsud had been tasked to carry out the plan. Haroon claimed the emissary between Bin Laden and Mehsud was a militant called Abu Obaidah Al Masri who was in charge of Al Qaeda’s Pakistan operation.
Haroon said he was given this information by Ilyas Kashmiri. Kashmiri, himself a former SSG officer surged through jihadi ranks to become one of Bin Laden’s closest lieutenants and was also tipped by US counterterrorism experts to replace him as leader of Al Qaeda after the Abbottabad raid.

Kashmiri and Major Haroon were the principal architects of the Mumbai attacks and worked closely together on a number of operations. Eos has obtained a confidential FIA document containing details of Haroon’s confession in which he confirms that the October 18th assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto was also masterminded by Abu Obaidah al Masri and carried out through Baitullah’s men. The same network succeeded in assassinating Bhutto two months later in Rawalpindi.

In the document, Haroon also comments on the ‘superb’ planning and execution of the attack from an operational point of view and says he knew she would be vulnerable based on his assessment of her public rallies. “Benazir Bhutto was daring and bold lady and he (Haroon) was confident that she would definitely give chance to the assailants and that what she did [sic],” reads the report. Major Haroon is currently incarcerated in a special security block in Adiala Jail where he is considered one of the prison’s most fearsome inmates.

These revelations did not come as a surprise to officials close to the investigation who had long suspected an Al Qaeda link in Benazir’s murder, but were unable to establish it as part of the official investigation because of lack of evidence. Investigators who eventually brought the case against eight accused in the Benazir murder readily admit they were unable to prosecute the masterminds of the assassination, only nab the low-level operatives.

“By the time the investigation came to us the evidence was destroyed, links broken,” says a senior member of the FIA-led JIT that worked on Benazir’s murder case speaking on condition of anonymity. “But the conspiracy began even before she set foot in Pakistan. The intelligence chatter was loud and shattering. It was the Arabs in the northwest…the Mirali/ Miranshah group who were entrenched there. The TTP was working for them.” The investigator is convinced that there was a strong Al Qaeda link. “I believe Beitullah did [it] at the behest of the Arabs.”
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In August 2009, the Benazir murder investigation was transferred from the Punjab Police to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the wishes of President Asif Ali Zardari. The Punjab Police inquiry under Additional IG CTD Chaudhry Abdul Majeed had been severely criticized for its incompetence by the UN Inquiry Commission among others. The new probe under DIG Khalid Qureshi of the FIA was able to piece together a much more detailed picture of what happened at the lower level of the plot.
According to investigators, there were at least five tiers in the planning hierarchy of the assassination. At the top of the pyramid were the masterminds, then came the planners, followed by the facilitators, then the handlers and lastly, the bombers themselves. In all, at least nine people are thought to have been involved. Another three people are accused of having knowledge of the plot. The perpetrators at each stage did not know the conspirators higher up and were only in touch with the cell directly above them. “You have to understand these people are the best in the world,” says an FIA official who worked on the investigation. “Many of them have been trained in clandestine operations and know the protocols. There are natural ‘cut-outs’ built into the plan.”
According to the official charge sheet, a key part of the attack was planned in Madrassa Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak by former students of the seminary:
• Nadir alias Qari Ismail,
• Nasrullah alias Ahmed
• Abdullah alias Saddam.
It is alleged that these facilitators were being run by a senior planner:
• Ibad-ur-Rehman alias Farooq Chattan
who also provided the suicide jackets. The Haqqania trio collected the suicide bombers
• Bilal
• Ikramullah
from South Waziristan and brought them back to Akora Khattak.

Nasrullah then took the boys to Rawalpindi where they linked up with the handlers, locally based cousins
• Hasnain Gul
• Muhammad Rafaqat

who were later arrested. Copies of the sworn confessions of Hasnain and Rafaqat obtained by Eos reveal details of how the two 15-year-old bombers were transported to Liaquat Bagh and how the handlers conducted the reconnaissance of the venue earlier the same day. Forensic analysis of call data records of the accused, corroborated through mobile tower geofencing, confirm Hasnain and Rafaqat’s accounts of their movements on 27th December, the two bombers present in Liaquat Bagh on 27th December. Bilal alias Saeed and Ikramullah. These names are corroborated by the confessions of the handlers Hasnain and Rafaqat. In the end, investigators maintain that only one individual detonated his explosives and that this was Bilal alias Saeed. The other would-be suicide bomber, Ikramullah, escaped from the scene and has been declared a proclaimed offender.
DNA reports, however, appear to contradict the claim that there was only one assailant. Personal effects of the bomber recovered from the house of handler Hasnain Gul including a shawl, cap and pair of joggers, were tested against the remains of three individuals found at the crime scene. The DNA profiles of two individuals found on the shawl and in the joggers, match the remains of two individuals from the crime scene. In effect, this means that another individual who came into contact with the shawl and joggers found from Hasnain’s house, perished in the blast. Eos has obtained exclusive access to DNA reports that prove the existence of this possible third attacker.

The report was prepared by the FBI’s DNA laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, at the request of the FIA-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT). Its findings were originally included in an initial version of the challan submitted to the court, but this was later dropped without explanation. This version of the charge sheet states: “Comparison report of FBI Lab has corroborated Hasnain Gul’s confessional statement by confirming that 02 terrorists who left shawl and pair of joggers and cap in Hasnain Gul’s residence were killed in the blast on crime scene in Liaquat Bagh on 27-12-2007.”

Sources close to the investigation say the report lost evidentiary value because representatives from the FBI refused to come to Pakistan to testify before the court, rendering the report inadmissible under Pakistani law of evidence.

Another reason it became untenable was because Pakistani investigators could not establish a ‘chain of custody’ relating to the human remains which were first collected by officials of another agency, who were later untraceable by the FIA. “It is possible that the identity of Bilal and Saeed, has been collapsed into one individual,” said one journalist who has followed the case closely.

Evidence for the existence of a third bomber comes from two other sources. The phone call between Baitullah Mehsud and one Maulvi Sahib, intercepted by the security agency, contains a reference to three bombers. The conversation makes a clear distinction between Bilal and Saeed. Elsewhere, in a document prepared by the Interior Ministry, Saeed is referred to as Abdullah alias Saeed ‘the long-necked one’.

The document claims that Abdullah alias Saeed, along with Bilal, Ikramullah and Nasrullah was also part of a failed plan to kill Benazir Bhutto in Arbab Niaz stadium in Peshawar on the 26th of December, a day before the assassination.
The assailants were not able to get close enough to Ms. Bhutto’s vehicle because of tight security and decided to move overnight to Rawalpindi where they were picked up by local handlers Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat. The account relating to an attempt in Peshawar the previous day is corroborated by Hasnain Gul’s confession who says he was told by Nasrullah that they had tried to launch but failed in Peshawar. However, there is no mention of Abdullah alias Saeed in any of the confessions in which the handlers admit to receiving only two bombers. The ‘long-necked one’ appears to vanish from the face of the earth. Some speculate that a third, hitherto unknown, terrorist cell could have been used to transport the third bomber to Liaquat Bagh.

  • The other men standing trial are Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman and Rasheed Ahmed Turabi, all three accused of having knowledge of the conspiracy. Aitzaz Shah, then a 15-year-old boy, was arrested from Dera Ismail Khan in January 2008. Police say he admitted to knowing about the plot to kill Benazir Bhutto and was prepared as a suicide bomber to target her if the first plan failed. He also identified the voice of Baitullah Mehsud on the phone call intercepted by the security services in which he (Mehsud) is told of the successful operation by one Maulvi sahib. Though not made part of the challan, intelligence sources believe that Maulvi sahib is a man called Azizullah, also a prominent upper-tier planner. Another individual, Maulvi Naseeb, a former teacher at Madrassa Haqqania, was also involved in ‘preparing’ the boys ‘for jannah’ in Akora Khattak. His role has also not been established in the challan. Both Azizullah and Naseeb have been reported killed.
  • Nasrullah and Qari Ismail were killed at a check post in Mohmand agency, on the 15th of January, 2008, as they tried to flee from police. They were transporting a 15-year-old suicide bomber who blew himself up in the car. Qari was killed instantly and Nasrullah died a few days later in hospital. Investigators say he (Nasrullah) was a key figure in the conspiracy with Al Qaeda links who knew the identities of people higher up in the chain. Analysis of call data records from Nasrullah’s phone show he was constantly in touch with a number that was used in the ransom negotiations of Karachi-based businessmen Satish Anand and Aqeel Haji. Major Haroon Ashiq and his close comrade Ilyas Kashmiri were involved in these kidnappings.
  • Ibad-ur-Rehman alias Farooq Chattan, the alleged chief planner, was killed in a drone strike in Khyber agency on 15th May, 2010. Officials says his case is particularly confounding as he always remained a step ahead of police despite solid intelligence about his location. It is also pointed out that he was killed in the first-ever drone strike in Khyber Agency.
  • Abdullah alias Saddam was killed while handling an explosive device on 31st May, 2008 at Mamad Gatt, Mohmand Agency and he was buried in his native village Lakaro in Mohmand Agency.
  • Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a drone strike on 5th August, 2009 in South Waziristan during a conjugal visit with his second wife.

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Former Interior Minister Rehman Malik: informant in Miranshah, “There were reports that six people had been sent down from FATA to carry out the attack. That corresponds to the information we were subsequently able to gather about the bombers and their handlers.”

Who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Eos explores the evidence unearthed during the investigation into the former premier’s assassination.

The writer is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is also a producer of BBC’s podcast series The Assassination presented by Owen Bennett-Jones. He tweets @ZiadZafar

Courtesy of : Dawn, EOS, December 24th, 2017

 

Battle of Waterloo

 

DSCF6380
Charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo.
  • Date: 18 June 1815
  • Location: Waterloo, Present day Belgium; 15 km (9.3 mi) south of Brussels
  • Coordinates: N50.68016°; E4.41169°
  • Result: Decisive Coalition victory

Belligerents

First French Empire

Seventh Coalition:

  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands
  • Kingdom of Hanover
  • Nassau (state) Nassau
  • Brunswick
  • Prussia

Commanders and leaders

France

  • Napoleon Bonaparte
  • Michel Ney

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

  • Duke of Wellington

Kingdom of Prussia

  • Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher
Strength
 France Anglo-Allies  
Total 73,000 Total 118,000
  • Infantry
50,700 Anglo-Allies
  • 68,000
  • Cavalry
14,390
  • United Kingdom
  • British King’s German Legion
  • 25,000
  • 6,000
  • Artillery and Engineers
8050
  • Netherlands
  • Hanover
  • Brunswick
  • Nassau
  • Prussians
  • 17,000
  • 11,000
  • 6,000
  • 3,000
  • 50,000
  • Guns
252
  • Guns
156
Casualties and losses
                   
Total 41,000 Total 24,000
     Anglo & Allies 17,000
Killed 24,000 to 26,000 Killed 3,500
Wounded and Captured 6,000 to 7,000 Wounded 10,200
Missing 15,000 Missing 3,300
 Prussia
Total 7,000
Killed 1,200
    Wounded 4,400
    Missing 1,400

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815, near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. A French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: an Anglo-led Allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, Prince of Wahlstatt.

Upon Napoleon’s return to power in March 1815, many states that had opposed him formed the Seventh Coalition, and began to mobilize armies. Wellington and Blücher’s armies were cantoned close to the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack them in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other members of the coalition. Napoleon successfully attacked the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny, while at the same time attacking the British at the Battle of Quatre Bras. Despite holding his ground at Quatre Bras, the defeat of the Prussians forced Wellington to withdraw to Waterloo.

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Napoleon sent a third of his forces to pursue the Prussians, who had withdrawn parallel to Wellington. This resulted in the separate and simultaneous Battle of Wavre with the Prussian rear-guard. Upon learning that the Prussian army was able to support him, Wellington decided to offer battle on the Mont-Saint-Jean escarpment, across the Brussels road. Here he withstood repeated attacks by the French throughout the afternoon, aided by the progressively arriving Prussians.

In the evening Napoleon committed his last reserves to a desperate final attack, which was narrowly beaten back. With the Prussians breaking through on the French right flank, Wellington’s Anglo-allied army counter-attacked in the centre, and the French army was routed. Waterloo was the decisive engagement of the Waterloo Campaign and Napoleon’s last. According to Wellington, the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”. Napoleon abdicated 4 days later, and on 7 July coalition forces entered Paris.

The defeat at Waterloo ended Napoleon’s rule as Emperor of the French, and marked the end of his Hundred Days return from exile. The battle also ended the First French Empire, and set a chronological milestone between serial European wars and decades of relative peace.

Waterloo Campaign

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The strategic situation in Western Europe in 1815: 250,000 Frenchmen faced a coalition of about 850,000 soldiers on four fronts. Napoleon was forced to leave 20,000 men in Western France to reduce a royalist insurrection. 

On 13 March 1815, six days before Napoleon reached Paris, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw. Four days later, the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria, and Prussia mobilised armies to defeat Napoleon. Critically outnumbered, Napoleon knew that once his attempts at dissuading one or more of the Seventh Coalition allies from invading France had failed, his only chance of remaining in power was to attack before the coalition mobilised.

Had Napoleon succeeded in destroying the existing coalition forces south of Brussels before they were reinforced, he may have been able to drive the British back to the sea, and knock the Prussians out of the war. Crucially this would have bought him time to recruit and train more men before turning his armies against the Austrians and Russians. An additional consideration for Napoleon was that a French victory might cause French speaking sympathisers in Belgium to launch a friendly revolution. Also, coalition troops in Belgium were largely second-line, as many units were of dubious quality and loyalty, and most of British veterans of the Peninsular War had been sent to North America to fight in the War of 1812.

 

 Left: The resurgent Napoleon’s strategy was to isolate the Allied and Prussian armies and annihilate each one separately; Right: The 1st Duke of Wellington, commander of the Anglo-allied army

Wellington’s initial dispositions were intended to counter the threat of Napoleon enveloping the Coalition armies by moving through Mons to the south-west of Brussels. This would have pushed Wellington closer to Blücher, but may have cut Wellington’s communications with his base at Ostend. In order to delay Wellington’s deployment, Napoleon spread false intelligence which suggested that Wellington’s supply chain from the channel ports would be cut.

By June, Napoleon had raised total army strength of about 300,000 men. The force at his disposal at Waterloo was less than one third that size, but the rank and file were nearly all loyal and experienced soldiers. Napoleon divided his army into a left wing commanded by Marshal Ney, a right wing commanded by Marshal Grouchy and a reserve under his command (although all three elements remained close enough to support one another). Crossing the frontier near Charleroi before dawn on 15 June, the French rapidly overran Coalition outposts, securing Napoleon’s “central position” between Wellington’s and Blücher’s armies. He hoped this would prevent them from combining, and he would be able to destroy first the Prussians, then Wellington’s army.

Only very late on the night of 15 June was Wellington certain that the Charleroi attack was the main French thrust. In the early hours of 16 June, at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels, he received a dispatch from the Prince of Orange and was shocked by the speed of Napoleon’s advance. He hastily ordered his army to concentrate on Quatre Bras, where the Prince of Orange, with the brigade of Prince Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, was holding a tenuous position against the soldiers of Ney’s left wing.

Ney’s orders were to secure the crossroads of Quatre Bras, so that he could later swing east and reinforce Napoleon if necessary. Ney, found the crossroads of Quatre Bras lightly held by the Prince of Orange, who repelled Ney’s initial attacks but was gradually driven back by overwhelming numbers of French troops. First reinforcements, and then Wellington arrived. He took command and drove Ney back, securing the crossroads by early evening, too late to send help to the Prussians, who had already been defeated.

Meanwhile on 16 June, Napoleon attacked and defeated Blücher’s Prussians at the Battle of Ligny using part of the reserve and the right wing of his army. The Prussian centre gave way under heavy French assaults, but the flanks held their ground. The Prussian retreat from Ligny went uninterrupted and seemingly unnoticed by the French. The bulk of their rearguard units held their positions until about midnight, and some elements did not move out until the following morning, ignored by the French. Crucially, the Prussians did not retreat to the east, along their own lines of communication. Instead, they too fell back northwards—parallel to Wellington’s line of march, still within supporting distance and in communication with him throughout. The Prussians rallied on Bülow’s IV Corps, which had not been engaged at Ligny and was in a strong position south of Wavre.

With the Prussian retreat from Ligney, Wellington’s position at Quatre Bras was untenable. The next day he withdrew northwards, to a defensive position he had reconnoitred the previous year—the low ridge of Mont-Saint-Jean, south of the village of Waterloo and the Sonian Forest.

Napoleon, with the reserves, made a late start on 17 June and joined Ney at Quatre Bras at 13:00 to attack Wellington’s army but found the position empty. The French pursued Wellington’s retreating army to Waterloo, however due to bad weather, mud and the head start that Napoleon’s tardy advance had allowed Wellington, apart from a cavalry action at Genappe, there was no other substantial engagement.

Before leaving Ligny, Napoleon had ordered Grouchy, who commanded of the right wing, to follow up the retreating Prussians with 33,000 men. A late start, uncertainty about the direction the Prussians had taken, and the vagueness of the orders given to him, meant that Grouchy was too late to prevent the Prussian army reaching Wavre, from where it could march to support Wellington. More importantly the heavily outnumbered Prussian rear-guard was able to use the River Dyle to enable a savage and prolonged action to delay Grouchy.

As the 17 June drew to a close, Wellington’s army had arrived at its position at Waterloo, with the main body of Napoleon’s army following. Blücher’s army was gathering in and around Wavre, around 8 miles (13 km) to the east of the city. Early on the morning of the 18th, Wellington received an assurance from Blucher that the Prussian army would support him. He decided to hold his ground and give battle.

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Armies

Order of Battle of the Waterloo Campaign

Three armies were involved in the battle

  • o   Napoleon’s Armée du Nord
  • o   A multinational army under Wellington
  • o   A Prussian Army under Blücher.
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 Marshal Michel Ney, who exercised tactical control of the greater part of the French forces for most of the battle 

 

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William, Prince of Orange, commander of the Anglo-allied I Corps 

 

The French army of around 69,000 consisted of 48,000 infantry, 14,000 cavalry, and 7,000 artillery with 250 guns. Napoleon had used conscription to fill the ranks of the French army throughout his rule, but he did not conscript men for the 1815 campaign. His troops were mainly veterans with considerable experience and a fierce devotion to their Emperor. The cavalry in particular was both numerous and formidable, and included fourteen regiments of armoured heavy cavalry, and seven of highly versatile lancers who were armed with lances, sabres and fire-arms.

However as the army took shape, French officers were allocated to units as they presented themselves for duty, so that many units were commanded by officers the soldiers didn’t know, and often didn’t trust. Crucially some of these officers had little experience in working together as a unified force, so that support for other units was often not given.

The French army was forced to march through rain and black coal-dust mud to reach Waterloo, and then to contend with mud and rain as it slept in the open. Little food was available for the soldiers, but nevertheless the veteran French soldiers were fiercely loyal to Napoleon.

Wellington later said that he had “an infamous army, very weak and ill-equipped, and a very inexperienced Staff“. His troops consisted of 67,000 men: 50,000 infantry, 11,000 cavalry, and 6,000 artillery with 150 guns. Of these, 25,000 were British, with another 6,000 from the King’s German Legion (KGL). All of the British Army troops were regular soldiers but only 7,000 of them were Peninsular War veterans. In addition, there were 17,000 Dutch and Belgian troops, 11,000 from Hanover, 6,000 from Brunswick, and 3,000 from Nassau.

Many of the troops in the Coalition armies were inexperienced. The Dutch army had been re-established in 1815, following the earlier defeat of Napoleon. With the exception of the British and some from Hanover and Brunswick who had fought with the British army in Spain, many of the professional soldiers in the Coalition armies had spent some of their time in the French army or in armies allied to the Napoleonic regime. The historian Barbero states that in this heterogeneous army the difference between British and foreign troops did not prove significant under fire.

Wellington was also acutely short of heavy cavalry, having only seven British and three Dutch regiments. The Duke of York imposed many of his staff officers on Wellington, including his second-in-command the Earl of Uxbridge. Uxbridge commanded the cavalry and had carte blanche from Wellington to commit these forces at his discretion. Wellington stationed a further 17,000 troops at Halle, 8 miles (13 km) away to the west. They were not recalled to participate in the battle but were to serve as a fallback position should the battle be lost. They were mostly composed of Dutch troops under Prince of Orange’s younger brother Prince Frederick of the Netherlands. They were placed as a guard against any possible wide flanking movement by the French forces, and also to act as a rearguard if Wellington was forced to retreat towards Antwerp and the coast.

The Prussian army was in the throes of reorganisation. In 1815, the former Reserve regiments, Legions, and Freikorps volunteer formations from the wars of 1813–1814 were in the process of being absorbed into the line, along with many Landwehr (militia) regiments. The Landwehr were mostly untrained and unequipped when they arrived in Belgium. The Prussian cavalry were in a similar state. Its artillery was also reorganising and did not give its best performance – guns and equipment continued to arrive during and after the battle.

Off-setting these handicaps the Prussian Army had excellent and professional leadership in its General Staff organisation. These officers came from four schools developed for this purpose and thus worked to a common standard of training. This system was in marked contrast to the conflicting, vague orders issued by the French army. This staff system ensured that before Ligny, three-quarters of the Prussian army concentrated for battle with 24 hours notice.

After Ligny, the Prussian army, although defeated, was able to realign its supply train, reorganise itself, and intervene decisively on the Waterloo battlefield within 48 hours. Two and a half Prussian army corps, or 48,000 men, were engaged at Waterloo; two brigades under Bülow, commander of IV Corps, attacked Lobau at 16:30, while Zieten’s I Corps and parts of Pirch I’s II Corps engaged at about 18:00.

Battlefield

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A view of the battlefield from the Lion’s mound. On the top right are the buildings of La Haye Sainte

 

The Waterloo position was a strong one. It consisted of a long ridge running east-west, perpendicular to, and bisected by, the main road to Brussels. Along the crest of the ridge ran the Ohain road, a deep sunken lane. Near the crossroads with the Brussels road was a large elm tree that was roughly in the centre of Wellington’s position and served as his command post for much of the day. Wellington deployed his infantry in a line just behind the crest of the ridge following the Ohain road.

Using the reverse slope, as he had many times previously, Wellington concealed his strength from the French, with the exception of his skirmishers and artillery. The length of front of the battlefield was also relatively short at 2.5 miles (4.0 km). This allowed Wellington to draw up his forces in depth, which he did in the centre and on the right, all the way towards the village of Braine-l’Alleud, in the expectation that the Prussians would reinforce his left during the day.

1816 Map
An 1816 map showing the local geography, with Waterloo defending the approach to Brussels 

In front of the ridge, there were three positions that could be fortified. On the extreme right were the château, garden, and orchard of Hougoumont. This was a large and well-built country house, initially hidden in trees. The house faced north along a sunken, covered lane (usually described by the British as “the hollow-way”) along which it could be supplied. On the extreme left was the hamlet of Papelotte.

Both Hougoumont and Papelotte were fortified and garrisoned, and thus anchored Wellington’s flanks securely. Papelotte also commanded the road to Wavre that the Prussians would use to send reinforcements to Wellington’s position. On the western side of the main road, and in front of the rest of Wellington’s line, was the farmhouse and orchard of La Haye Sainte, which was garrisoned with 400 light infantry of the King’s German Legion. On the opposite side of the road was a disused sand quarry, where the 95th Rifles were posted as sharpshooters.

Wellington’s forces positioning presented a formidable challenge to any attacking force. Any attempt to turn Wellington’s right would entail taking the entrenched Hougoumont position. Any attack on his right centre would mean the attackers would have to march between enfilading fire from Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte. On the left, any attack would also be enfiladed by fire from La Haye Sainte and its adjoining sandpit, and any attempt at turning the left flank would entail fighting through the lanes and hedgerows surrounding Papelotte and the other garrisoned buildings on that flank, and some very wet ground in the Smohain defile.

The French army formed on the slopes of another ridge to the south. Napoleon could not see Wellington’s positions, so he drew his forces up symmetrically about the Brussels road. On the right was I Corps under d’Erlon with 16,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, plus a cavalry reserve of 4,700. On the left was II Corps under Reille with 13,000 infantry, and 1,300 cavalry, and a cavalry reserve of 4,600. In the centre about the road south of the inn La Belle Alliance were a reserve including Lobau’s VI Corps with 6,000 men, the 13,000 infantry of the Imperial Guard, and a cavalry reserve of 2,000. In the right rear of the French position was the substantial village of Plancenoit, and at the extreme right, the Bois de Paris wood. Napoleon initially commanded the battle from Rossomme farm, where he could see the entire battlefield, but moved to a position near La Belle Alliance early in the afternoon. Command on the battlefield (which was largely hidden from his view) was delegated to Ney.

Battle Preparation

 

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Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who had led one of the coalition armies defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig, commanded the Prussian army. 

Wellington rose at around 02:00 or 03:00 on 18 June, and wrote letters until dawn. He had earlier written to Blücher confirming that he would give battle at Mont-Saint-Jean if Blücher could provide him with at least one corps; otherwise he would retreat towards Brussels. At a late-night council, Blücher’s chief of staff, August Neidhardt von Gneisenau, had been distrustful of Wellington’s strategy, but Blücher persuaded him that they should march to join Wellington’s army. In the morning Wellington duly received a reply from Blücher, promising to support him with three corps.

From 06:00 Wellington was in the field supervising the deployment of his forces. At Wavre, the Prussian IV Corps under Bülow was designated to lead the march to Waterloo as it was in the best shape, not having been involved in the Battle of Ligny. Although they had not taken casualties, IV Corps had been marching for two days, covering the retreat of the three other corps of the Prussian army from the battlefield of Ligny. They had been posted farthest away from the battlefield, and progress was very slow. The roads were in poor condition after the night’s heavy rain, and Bülow’s men had to pass through the congested streets of Wavre and move 88 artillery pieces. Matters were not helped when a fire broke out in Wavre, blocking several streets along Bülow’s intended route. As a result, the last part of the corps left at 10:00, six hours after the leading elements had moved out towards Waterloo. Bülow’s men were followed to Waterloo first by I Corps and then by II Corps.

Napoleon breakfasted off silver plate at Le Caillou, the house where he had spent the night. When Soult suggested that Grouchy should be recalled joining the main force, Napoleon said,

Just because you have all been beaten by Wellington, you think he’s a good general. I tell you Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad troops, and this affair is nothing more than eating breakfast”.

Napoleon’s surprisingly dismissive statements should not be taken at face value, given the Emperor’s maxim that “in war, morale is everything” and that praising the enemy is always wrong, as it reduces one’s morale. Indeed, he had been seen engaging in such pre-battle, morale-boosting harangues on a number of occasions in the past and on the morning of the battle of Waterloo he had to deal with his chief of staff’s pessimism and nervousness and had to respond to several persistent and almost defeatist objections from some of his senior generals.

Later on, being told by his brother, Jerome, of some gossip overheard by a waiter between British officers at lunch at the ‘King of Spain’ inn in Genappe that the Prussians were to march over from Wavre, Napoleon declared that the Prussians would need at least two days to recover and would be dealt with by Grouchy.  Surprisingly, Jerome’s overheard gossip aside, the French commanders present at the pre-battle conference at Le Caillou had no information about the alarming proximity of the Prussians and did not suspect that Blücher’s men would start erupting onto the field of battle in great numbers just five hours later.

Battle of Mont-Saint-Jean

Napoleon had delayed the start of the battle owing to the sodden ground, which would have made manoeuvring cavalry and artillery difficult. In addition, many of his forces had bivouacked well to the south of La Belle Alliance. At 10:00, in response to a dispatch he had received from Grouchy six hours earlier, he sent a reply telling Grouchy to “head for Wavre [to Grouchy’s north] in order to draw near to us [to the west of Grouchy]” and then “push before him” the Prussians to arrive at Waterloo “as soon as possible”.

At 11:00, Napoleon drafted his general order: Reille’s Corps on the left and d’Erlon’s Corps to the right were to attack the village of Mont-Saint-Jean and keep abreast of one another. This order assumed Wellington’s battle-line was in the village, rather than at the more forward position on the ridge. To enable this, Jerome’s division would make an initial attack on Hougoumont, which Napoleon expected would draw in Wellington’s reserves, since its loss would threaten his communications with the sea. A grande batterie of the reserve artillery of I, II, and VI Corps was to then bombard the centre of Wellington’s position from about 13:00. D’Erlon’s corps would then attack Wellington’s left, break through, and roll up his line from east to west. In his memoirs, Napoleon wrote that his intention was to separate Wellington’s army from the Prussians and drive it back towards the sea.

Hougoumon

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Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who had led one of the coalition armies defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig, commanded the Prussian army. 

The historian Andrew Roberts notes that “It is a curious fact about the Battle of Waterloo that no one is absolutely certain when it actually began“. Wellington recorded in his dispatches that at “about ten o’clock [Napoleon] commenced a furious attack upon our post at Hougoumont”. Other sources state that the attack began around 11:30.  The house and its immediate environs were defended by four light companies of Guards, and the wood and park by Hanoverian Jäger and the 1/2nd Nassau. The initial attack by Bauduin’s brigade emptied the wood and park, but was driven back by heavy British artillery fire, and cost Bauduin his life. As the British guns were distracted by a duel with French artillery, a second attack by Soye’s brigade and what had been Bauduin’s succeeded in reaching the north gate of the house. Sous-Lieutenant Legros, a French officer, broke the gate open with an axe, and some French troops managed to enter the courtyard.  The 2nd Coldstream Guards and 2/3rd Foot Guards arrived to support the defence. There was a fierce melee, and the British managed to close the gate on the French troops streaming in. The Frenchmen trapped in the courtyard were all killed. Only a young drummer boy was spared.

 

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Gate on the north side assaulted by the 1st Légère who were led by sous-lieutenant Legros.

Fighting continued around Hougoumont all afternoon. Its surroundings were heavily invested by French light infantry, and coordinated attacks were made against the troops behind Hougoumont. Wellington’s army defended the house and the hollow way running north from it. In the afternoon, Napoleon personally ordered the house to be shelled to set it on fire, resulting in the destruction of all but the chapel. Du Plat’s brigade of the King’s German Legion was brought forward to defend the hollow way, which they had to do without senior officers. Eventually they were relieved by the 71st Foot, a British infantry regiment. Adam’s brigade was further reinforced by Hugh Halkett’s 3rd Hanoverian Brigade, and successfully repulsed further infantry and cavalry attacks sent by Reille. Hougoumont held out until the end of the battle.

I had occupied that post with a detachment from General Byng’s brigade of Guards, which was in position in its rear; and it was some time under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonald, and afterwards of Colonel Home; and I am happy to add that it was maintained, throughout the day, with the utmost gallantry by these brave troops, notwithstanding the repeated efforts of large bodies of the enemy to obtain possession of it. — Wellington

When I reached Lloyd’s abandoned guns, I stood near them for about a minute to contemplate the scene: it was grand beyond description. Hougoumont and its wood sent up a broad flame through the dark masses of smoke that overhung the field; beneath this cloud the French were indistinctly visible. Here a waving mass of long red feathers could be seen; there, gleams as from a sheet of steel showed that the cuirassiers were moving; 400 cannon were belching forth fire and death on every side; the roaring and shouting were indistinguishably commixed—together they gave me an idea of a labouring volcano. Bodies of infantry and cavalry were pouring down on us, and it was time to leave contemplation, so I moved towards our columns, which were standing up in square.— Major Macready, Light Division, 30th British Regiment, Halkett’s brigade

The fighting at Hougoumont has often been characterised as a diversionary attack to draw in Wellington’s reserves which escalated into an all-day battle and drew in French reserves instead.  In fact there is a good case to believe that both Napoleon and Wellington thought that holding Hougoumont was key to winning the battle. Hougoumont was a part of the battlefield that Napoleon could see clearly, and he continued to direct resources towards it and its surroundings all afternoon (33 battalions in all, 14,000 troops). Similarly, though the house never contained a large number of troops, Wellington devoted 21 battalions (12,000 troops) over the course of the afternoon in keeping the hollow way open to allow fresh troops and ammunition to reach the buildings. He moved several artillery batteries from his hard-pressed centre to support Hougoumont, and later stated that “the success of the battle turned upon closing the gates at Hougoumont”.

First French infantry attack

The 80 guns of Napoleon’s grande batterie drew up in the centre. These opened fire at 11:50, according to Lord Hill (commander of the Anglo-allied II Corps), while other sources put the time between noon and 13:30. The grande batterie was too far back to aim accurately, and the only other troops they could see were skirmishers of the regiments of Kempt and Pack, and Perponcher’s 2nd Dutch division (the others were employing Wellington’s characteristic “reverse slope defence”). Nevertheless, the bombardment caused a large number of casualties. Though some projectiles buried themselves in the soft soil, most found their marks on the reverse slope of the ridge. The bombardment forced the cavalry of the Union Brigade (in third line) to move to its left, as did the Scots Greys, to reduce their casualty rate.

At about 13:00, Napoleon saw the first columns of Prussians around the village of Lasne-Chapelle-Saint-Lambert, four or five miles (three hours march for an army) away from his right flank. Napoleon’s reaction was to have Marshal Soult send a message to Grouchy telling him to come towards the battlefield and attack the arriving Prussians. Grouchy, however, had been executing Napoleon’s previous orders to follow the Prussians “with your sword against his back” towards Wavre, and was by then too far away to reach Waterloo. Grouchy was advised by his subordinate, Gérard, to “march to the sound of the guns”, but stuck to his orders and engaged the Prussian III Corps rear guard under the command of Lieutenant-General Baron Johann von Thielmann at the Battle of Wavre. Moreover, Soult’s letter ordering Grouchy to move quickly to join Napoleon and attack Bülow would not actually reach Grouchy until after 20:00

A little after 13:00, I Corps’ attack began. D’Erlon, like Ney, had encountered Wellington in Spain, and was aware of the British commander’s favoured tactic of using massed short-range musketry to drive off infantry columns. Rather than use the usual nine-deep French columns deployed abreast of one another, therefore, each division advanced in closely spaced battalion lines behind one another. This allowed them to concentrate their fire, but it did not leave room for them to change formation.

The formation was initially effective. Its leftmost division, under François-Xavier Donzelot, advanced on La Haye Sainte. The farmhouse was defended by the King’s German Legion. While one French battalion engaged the defenders from the front,  the following battalions fanned out to either side and, with the support of several squadrons of cuirassiers, succeeded in isolating the farmhouse. The King’s German Legion resolutely defended the farmhouse. Each time the French tried to scale the walls the outnumbered Germans somehow held them off. The Prince of Orange saw that La Haye Sainte had been cut off and tried to reinforce it by sending forward the Hanoverian Lüneberg Battalion in line. Cuirassiers concealed in a fold in the ground caught and destroyed it in minutes and then rode on past La Haye Sainte, almost to the crest of the ridge, where they covered d’Erlon’s left flank as his attack developed.

At about 13:30, d’Erlon started to advance his three other divisions, some 14,000 men over a front of about 1,000 metres (1,100 yards), against Wellington’s left wing. At the point they aimed for they faced 6,000 men: the first line consisted of the Dutch 1st “Brigade van Bylandt” of the 2nd Dutch division, flanked by the British brigades of Kempt and Pack on either side. The second line consisted of British and Hanoverian troops under Sir Thomas Picton, who were lying down in dead ground behind the ridge. All had suffered badly at Quatre Bras. In addition, the Bijlandt brigade had been ordered to deploy its skirmishers in the hollow road and on the forward slope. The rest of the brigade was lying down just behind the road.

At the moment these skirmishers were rejoining their parent battalions, the brigade was ordered to its feet and started to return fire. On the left of the brigade, where the 7th Dutch Militia stood, a “few files were shot down and an opening in the line thus occurred”. The battalion had no reserves and was unable to close the gap. D’Erlon’s troops pushed through this gap in the line and the remaining battalions in the Bylandt brigade (8th Dutch Militia and Belgian 7th Line Battalion) were forced to retreat to the square of the 5th Dutch Militia, which was in reserve between Picton’s troops, about 100 paces to the rear. There they regrouped under the command of Colonel Van Zuylen van Nijevelt. A moment later the Prince of Orange ordered a counterattack, which actually occurred around 10 minutes later. Bylandt was wounded and retired off the field, passing command of the brigade to Lt. Kol. De Jongh.

D’Erlon’s men ascended the slope and advanced on the sunken road, Chemin d’Ohain, that ran from behind La Haye Sainte and continued east. It was lined on both sides by thick hedges, with Bylandt’s brigade just across the road while the British brigades had been lying down some 100 yards back from the road, Pack’s to Bylandt’s left and Kempt’s to Bylandt’s right. Kempt’s 1,900 men were engaged by Bourgeois’ brigade of 1,900 men of Quiot’s division. In the centre, Donzelot’s division had pushed back Bylandt’s brigade. On the right of the French advance was Marcognet’s division led by Grenier’s brigade consisting of the 45e Régiment de Ligne and followed by the 25e Régiment de Ligne, somewhat less than 2,000 men, and behind them, Nogue’s brigade of the 21e and 45e regiments. Opposing them on the other side of the road was Pack’s 9th Brigade consisting of three Scottish regiments: the Royal Scots, the 42nd Black Watch, the 92nd Gordons and the 44th Foot totaling something over 2,000 men. A very even fight between British and French infantry was about to occur.

The French advance drove in the British skirmishers and reached the sunken road. As they did so, Pack’s men stood up, formed into a four deep line formation for fear of the French cavalry, advanced, and opened fire. However, a firefight had been anticipated and the French infantry had accordingly advanced in more linear formation. Now, fully deployed into line, they returned fire and successfully pressed the British troops; although the attack faltered at the centre, the line in front of d’Erlon’s right started to crumble. Picton was killed shortly after ordering the counter-attack and the British and Hanoverian troops also began to give way under the pressure of numbers. Pack’s regiments, all four ranks deep, advanced to attack the French in the road but faltered and began to fire on the French instead of charging. The 42nd Black Watch halted at the hedge and the resulting fire-fight drove back the British 92nd Foot while the leading French 45e Ligne burst through the hedge cheering. Along the sunken road, the French were forcing the Allies back, the British line was dispersing, and at two o’clock in the afternoon Napoleon was winning the Battle of Waterloo.

Reports from Baron von Muffling, the Prussian liaison officer attached to Wellington’s army, relate that: “After 3 o’clock the Duke’s situation became critical, unless the succour of the Prussian army arrived soon.”

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Charge of the British Heavy Cavalry 

Our officers of cavalry have acquired a trick of galloping at everything. They never consider the situation, never think of manoeuvring before an enemy, and never keep back or provide a reserve.— Wellington

At this crucial juncture, Uxbridge ordered his two brigades of British heavy cavalry—formed unseen behind the ridge—to charge in support of the hard-pressed infantry. The 1st Brigade, known as the Household Brigade, commanded by Major-General Lord Edward Somerset, consisted of guards regiments: the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, the Royal Horse Guards (the Blues), and the 1st (King’s) Dragoon Guards. The 2nd Brigade, also known as the Union Brigade, commanded by Major-General Sir William Ponsonby, was so called as it consisted of an English, the 1st (The Royals); a Scottish, 2nd (‘Scots Greys’); and an Irish, 6th (Inniskilling); regiment of heavy dragoons.

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 British Household Cavalry charging

 

More than 20 years of warfare had eroded the numbers of suitable cavalry mounts available on the European continent; this resulted in the British heavy cavalry entering the 1815 campaign with the finest horses of any contemporary cavalry arm.

British cavalry troopers also received excellent mounted swordsmanship training. They were, however, inferior to the French in manoeuvring in large formations, cavalier in attitude, and unlike the infantry some units had scant experience of warfare. The Scots Greys, for example, had not been in action since 1795. According to Wellington, though they were superior individual horsemen, they were inflexible and lacked tactical ability.

“I considered one squadron a match for two French, I didn’t like to see four British opposed to four French: and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers”.

The two brigades had a combined field strength of about 2,000 (2,651 official strength); they charged with the 47-year-old Uxbridge leading them and a very inadequate number of squadrons held in reserve. There is evidence that Uxbridge

gave an order, the morning of the battle, to all cavalry brigade commanders to commit their commands on their own initiative, as direct orders from himself might not always be forthcoming, and to “support movements to their front“. It appears that Uxbridge expected the brigades of Sir John Ormsby Vandeleur, Hussey Vivian and the Dutch cavalry to provide support to the British heavies. Uxbridge later regretted leading the charge in person, saying “I committed a great mistake“, when he should have been organising an adequate reserve to move forward in support.

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Sergeant Ewart of the Scots Greys capturing the eagle of the 45ème Ligne by Richard Ansdell 

 

The Household Brigade crossed the crest of the Allied position and charged downhill. The cuirassiers guarding d’Erlon’s left flank were still dispersed, and so were swept over the deeply sunken main road and then routed. The sunken lane acted as a trap, funnelling the flight of the French cavalry to their own right and away from the British cavalry. Some of the cuirassiers then found themselves hemmed in by the steep sides of the sunken lane, with a confused mass of their own infantry in front of them, the 95th Rifles firing at them from the north side of the lane, and Somerset’s heavy cavalry still pressing them from behind. The novelty of fighting armoured foes impressed the British cavalrymen, as was recorded by the commander of the Household Brigade.

 The blows of the sabres on the cuirasses sounded like braziers at work. — Lord Edward Somerset

Continuing their attack, the squadrons on the left of the Household Brigade then destroyed Aulard’s brigade. Despite attempts to recall them, they continued past La Haye Sainte and found themselves at the bottom of the hill on blown horses facing Schmitz’s brigade formed in squares. To their left, the Union Brigade suddenly swept through the infantry lines (giving rise to the legend that some of the 92nd Gordon Highland Regiment clung onto their stirrups and accompanied them into the charge). From the centre leftwards, the Royal Dragoons destroyed Bourgeois’ brigade, capturing the eagle of the 105th Ligne. The Inniskillings routed the other brigade of Quoit’s division, and the Scots Greys came upon the lead French regiment, 45th Ligne, as it was still reforming after having crossed the sunken road and broken through the hedge row in pursuit of the British infantry. The Greys captured the eagle of the 45th Ligne and overwhelmed Grenier’s brigade. These would be the only two eagles captured from the French during the battle. On Wellington’s extreme left, Durutte’s division had time to form squares and fend off groups of Greys.

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Private of the Chevau-légers of the line (lancers) who routed the Union Brigade. 

 

As with the Household Cavalry, the officers of the Royals and Inniskillings found it very difficult to rein back their troops, who lost all cohesion. Having taken casualties, and still trying to reorder themselves, the Scots Greys and the rest of the Union Brigade found themselves before the main French lines. Their horses were blown, and they were still in disorder without any idea of what their next collective objective was. Some attacked nearby gun batteries of the Grande Battery.  Though the Greys had neither the time nor means to disable the cannon or carry them off, they put very many out of action as the gun crews were killed or fled the battlefield. Sergeant Major Dickinson of the Greys stated that his regiment was rallied before going on to attack the French artillery: Hamilton, the regimental commander, rather than holding them back cried out to his men “Charge, charge the guns!”.

Napoleon promptly responded by ordering a counter-attack by the cuirassier brigades of Farine and Travers and Jaquinot’s two Chevau-léger (lancer) regiments in the I Corps light cavalry division. Disorganized and milling about the bottom of the valley between Hougoumont and La Belle Alliance, the Scots Greys and the rest of the British heavy cavalry were taken by surprise by the countercharge of Milhaud’s cuirassiers, joined by lancers from Baron Jaquinot’s 1st Cavalry Division.

As Ponsonby tried to rally his men against the French cuirassers, he was attacked by Jaquinot’s lancers and captured. A nearby party of Scots Greys saw the capture and attempted to rescue their brigade commander. However, the French lancer who had captured Ponsonby killed him and then used his lance to kill three of the Scots Greys who had attempted the rescue.

By the time Ponsonby died, the momentum had entirely returned in favour of the French. Milhaud’s and Jaquinot’s cavalrymen drove the Union Brigade from the valley. The result was very heavy losses for the British cavalry. A countercharge, by British light dragoons under Major-General Vandeleur and Dutch–Belgian light dragoons and hussars under Major-General Ghigny on the left wing, and Dutch–Belgian carabiniers under Major-General Trip in the centre, repelled the French cavalry.

All figures quoted for the losses of the cavalry brigades because of this charge are estimates, as casualties were only noted down after the day of the battle and were for the battle as a whole. Some historians, Barbero for example, believe the official rolls tend to overestimate the number of cavalrymen present in their squadrons on the field of battle and that the proportionate losses were, as a result, considerably higher than the numbers on paper might suggest. The Union Brigade lost heavily in both officers and men killed (including its commander, William Ponsonby, and Colonel Hamilton of the Scots Greys) and wounded. The 2nd Life Guards and the King’s Dragoon Guards of the Household Brigade also lost heavily (with Colonel Fuller, commander of the King’s DG, killed). However, the 1st Life Guards, on the extreme right of the charge, and the Blues, who formed a reserve, had kept their cohesion and consequently suffered significantly fewer casualties. On the rolls the official, or paper strength, for both Brigades is given as 2,651 while Barbero and others estimate the actual strength at around 2,000 and the official recorded losses for the two heavy cavalry brigades during the battle was 1,205 troopers and 1,303 horses.

Some historians, such as Chandler and Weller, assert that the British heavy cavalry were destroyed as a viable force following their first, epic charge. Barbero states that the Scots Grey were practically wiped out and that the other two regiments of the Union Brigade suffered comparable losses. Other historians, such as Clark-Kennedy and Wood, citing British eyewitness accounts, describe the continuing role of the heavy cavalry after their charge. The heavy brigades, far from being ineffective, continued to provide valuable services. They countercharged French cavalry numerous times (both brigades), halted a combined cavalry and infantry attack (Household Brigade only), were used to bolster the morale of those units in their vicinity at times of crisis, and filled gaps in the Anglo-allied line caused by high casualties in infantry formations (both brigades). This service was rendered at a very high cost, as close combat with French cavalry, carbine fire, infantry musketry and—more deadly than all of these—artillery fire steadily eroded the number of effectives in the two brigades. At 6 o’clock in the afternoon the whole Union Brigade could field only 3 squadrons, though these countercharged French cavalry, losing half their number in the process. At the end of the fighting the two brigades, by this time combined, could muster one squadron.

14,000 French troops of D’Erlon’s I Corps had been committed to this attack. The I Corps had been driven in rout back across the valley costing Napoleon 3,000 casualties including over 2,000 prisoners taken.  Also some valuable time was lost, the charge had dispersed numerous units and it would take until 16:00 hours for D’Erlon’s shaken corps to reform. And although elements of the Prussians now began to appear on the field to his right, Napoleon had already ordered Lobau’s VI corps to move to the right flank to hold them back before D’Erlon’s attack began.

The French cavalry attack

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Marshal Ney leading the French cavalry charge, from Louis Dumoulin’s Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo. 

 

A little before 16:00, Ney noted an apparent exodus from Wellington’s centre. He mistook the movement of casualties to the rear for the beginnings of a retreat, and sought to exploit it. Following the defeat of d’Erlon’s Corps, Ney had few infantry reserves left, as most of the infantry had been committed either to the futile Hougoumont attack or to the defence of the French right. Ney therefore tried to break Wellington’s centre with cavalry alone. Initially Milhaud’s reserve cavalry corps of cuirassiers and Lefebvre-Desnoëttes’ light cavalry division of the Imperial Guard, some 4,800 sabres, were committed. When these were repulsed, Kellermann’s heavy cavalry corps and Guyot’s heavy cavalry of the Guard were added to the massed assault, a total of around 9,000 cavalry in 67 squadrons. When Napoleon saw the charge he said it was an hour too soon.

Wellington’s infantry responded by forming squares (hollow box-formations four ranks deep). Squares were much smaller than usually depicted in paintings of the battle – a 500-man battalion square would have been no more than 60 feet (18 m) in length on a side. Squares that stood their ground were deadly to cavalry, as cavalry could not engage with soldiers behind a hedge of bayonets, but were themselves vulnerable to fire from the squares. Horses would not charge a square, nor could they be outflanked, but they were vulnerable to artillery or infantry. Wellington ordered his artillery crews to take shelter within the squares as the cavalry approached, and to return to their guns and resume fire as they retreated.

Witnesses in the British infantry recorded as many as 12 assaults, though this probably includes successive waves of the same general attack; the number of general assaults was undoubtedly far fewer. Kellermann, recognising the futility of the attacks, tried to reserve the elite carabinier brigade from joining in, but eventually Ney spotted them and insisted on their involvement.

A British eyewitness of the first French cavalry attack, an officer in the Foot Guards, recorded his impressions very lucidly and somewhat poetically:

About four p.m., the enemy’s artillery in front of us ceased firing all of a sudden, and we saw large masses of cavalry advance: not a man present who survived could have forgotten in afterlife the awful grandeur of that charge. You discovered at a distance what appeared to be an overwhelming, long moving line, which, ever advancing, glittered like a stormy wave of the sea when it catches the sunlight. On they came until they got near enough, whilst the very earth seemed to vibrate beneath the thundering tramp of the mounted host. One might suppose that nothing could have resisted the shock of this terrible moving mass. They were the famous cuirassiers, almost all old soldiers, who had distinguished themselves on most of the battlefields of Europe. In an almost incredibly short period they were within twenty yards of us, shouting “Vive l’Empereur!” The word of command, “Prepare to receive cavalry”, had been given, every man in the front ranks knelt, and a wall bristling with steel, held together by steady hands, presented itself to the infuriated cuirassiers.— Captain Rees Howell Gronow, Foot Guards

 

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“The artillery officers had the range so accurately, that every shot and shell fell into the very centre of their masses” (Original inscription and drawing after George Jones).

This type of massed cavalry attack relied almost entirely on psychological shock for effect. Close artillery support could disrupt infantry squares and allow cavalry to penetrate; at Waterloo, however, co-operation between the French cavalry and artillery was not impressive. The French artillery did not get close enough to the Anglo-allied infantry in sufficient numbers to be decisive. Artillery fire between charges did produce mounting casualties, but most of this fire was at relatively long range and was often indirect, at targets beyond the ridge. If infantry being attacked held firm in their square defensive formations, and were not panicked, cavalry on their own could do very little damage to them. The French cavalry attacks were repeatedly repelled by the steadfast infantry squares, the harrying fire of British artillery as the French cavalry recoiled down the slopes to regroup, and the decisive countercharges of Wellington’s light cavalry regiments, the Dutch heavy cavalry brigade, and the remaining effectives of the Household Cavalry. At least one artillery officer disobeyed Wellington’s order to seek shelter in the adjacent squares during the charges. Captain Mercer, who commanded ‘G’ Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, thought the Brunswick troops on either side of hims so shaky that he kept his battery of six nine-pounders in action against the cavalry throughout, to great effect:

 

I  thus allowed them to advance unmolested until the head of the column might have been about fifty or sixty yards from us, and then gave the word, “Fire!” The effect was terrible. Nearly the whole leading rank fell at once; and the round shot, penetrating the column carried confusion throughout its extent … the discharge of every gun was followed by a fall of men and horses like that of grass before the mower’s scythe.— Captain Cavalié Mercer, RHA

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A British square puts up dogged resistance against attacking French cavalry

 For reasons that remain unclear, no attempt was made to spike other allied guns while they were in French possession. In line with Wellington’s orders, gunners were able to return to their pieces and fire into the French cavalry as they withdrew after each attack. After numerous costly but fruitless attacks on the Mont-Saint-Jean ridge, the French cavalry was spent. Their casualties cannot easily be estimated. Senior French cavalry officers, in particular the generals, experienced heavy losses. Four divisional commanders were wounded, nine brigadiers wounded, and one killed – testament to their courage and their habit of leading from the front. Illustratively, Houssaye reports that the Grenadiers à Cheval numbered 796 of all ranks on 15 June, but just 462 on 19 June, while the Empress Dragoons lost 416 of 816 over the same period. Overall Guyot’s Guard heavy cavalry division lost 47% of its strength.

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Second French infantry attack

Eventually it became obvious, even to Ney, that cavalry alone were achieving little. Belatedly, he organised a combined-arms attack, using Bachelu’s division and Tissot’s regiment of Foy’s division from Reille’s II Corps (about 6,500 infantrymen) plus those French cavalry that remained in a fit state to fight. This assault was directed along much the same route as the previous heavy cavalry attacks (between Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte). It was halted by a charge of the Household Brigade cavalry led by Uxbridge. The British cavalry were unable, however, to break the French infantry, and fell back with losses from musketry fire.

Uxbridge recorded that he tried to lead the Dutch Carabiniers, under Major-General Trip, to renew the attack and that they refused to follow him. Other members of the British cavalry staff also commented on this occurrence. However, there is no support for this incident in Dutch or Belgian sources. Meanwhile, Bachelu’s and Tissot’s men and their cavalry supports were being hard hit by fire from artillery and from Adam’s infantry brigade, and they eventually fell back.

Although the French cavalry caused few direct casualties to Wellington’s centre, artillery fire onto his infantry squares caused many. Wellington’s cavalry, except for Sir John Vandeleur’s and Sir Hussey Vivian’s brigades on the far left, had all been committed to the fight, and had taken significant losses. The situation appeared so desperate that the Cumberland Hussars, the only Hanoverian cavalry regiment present, fled the field spreading alarm all the way to Brussels.

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The storming of La Haye Sainte by Knötel 

 

French capture of La Haye Sainte

At approximately the same time as Ney’s combined-arms assault on the centre-right of Wellington’s line, rallied elements of D’Erlon’s I Corps, spearheaded by the 13th Légère, renewed the attack on La Haye Sainte and this time were successful, partly because the King’s German Legion’s ammunition ran out. However, the Germans had held the centre of the battlefield for almost the entire day, and this had stalled the French advance.  Ney then moved horse artillery up towards Wellington’s centre and began to pulverise the infantry squares at short range with canister. The 30th and 73rd Regiments suffered such heavy losses that they had to combine to form a viable square.

The possession of La Haye Sainte by the French was a very dangerous incident. It uncovered the very centre of the Anglo-Allied army, and established the enemy within 60 yards of that centre. The French lost no time in taking advantage of this, by pushing forward infantry supported by guns, which enabled them to maintain a most destructive fire upon Alten’s left and Kempt’s right …— Captain James Shaw, 43rd Foot, Chief of Staff 3rd Division,

The success Napoleon needed to continue his offensive had occurred. Ney was on the verge of breaking the Allied centre. Along with this artillery fire a multitude of French tirailleurs occupied the dominant positions behind La Haye Sainte and poured an effective fire into the squares. The situation was now so dire that the 33rd Regiment’s colours and all of Halkett’s brigade’s colours were sent to the rear for safety, described by historian Alessandro Barbero as, “… a measure that was without precedent”. Wellington, noticing the slackening of fire from La Haye Sainte, with his staff rode closer to it. French skirmishers appeared around the building and fired on the British command as it struggled to get away through the hedgerow along the road. Alten ordered a single battalion, the Fifth KGL to recapture the farm. Their Colonel Ompteda obeyed and chased off some French skirmishers until French cuirassiers fell on his open flank, killed him, destroyed his battalion and took its colour. A Dutch–Belgian cavalry regiment ordered to charge, retreated from the field instead, fired on by their own infantry. Merlen’s Light Cavalry Brigade charged the French artillery taking position near La Haye Sainte but were shot to pieces and the brigade fell apart. The Netherlands Cavalry Division, Wellington’s last cavalry reserve behind the centre having lost half their strength was now useless and the French cavalry, despite its losses, were masters of the field compelling the allied infantry to remain in square. More and more French artillery was brought forward.

A French battery advanced to within 300 yards of the 1/1st Nassau square causing heavy casualties. When the Nassauers attempted to attack the battery they were ridden down by a squadron of cuirassiers . Yet another battery deployed on theflank of Mercer’s battery and shot up its horses and limbers and pushed Mercer back. Mercer later recalled,

“The rapidity and precision of this fire was quite appaling. Every shot almost took effect, and I certainly expected we should all be annihilated. … The saddle-bags, in many instances were torn from horses’ backs … One shell I saw explode under the two finest wheel-horses in the troop down they dropped”.

French tirailleurs occupied the dominant positions, especially one on a knoll overlooking the square of the 27th. Unable tobreak square to drive off the French infantry because of the presence of French cavalry and artillery, the 27th had to remain in that formation and endure the fire of the tirailleurs. That fire nearly annihilated the 27th Foot, the Inniskillings, who lost two-thirds of their strength within that three or four hours.

The banks on the road side, the garden wall, the knoll and sandpit swarmed with skirmishers, who seemed determined to keep down our fire in front; those behind the artificial bank seemed more intent upon destroying the 27th, who at this time, it may literally be said, were lying dead in square; their loss after La Haye Sainte had fallen was awful, without the satisfaction of having scarcely fired a shot, and many of our troops in rear of the ridge were similarly situated. — Edward Cotton, 7th Hussars

During this time many of Wellington’s generals and aides were killed or wounded including Somerset, Canning, de Lancey, Alten and Cooke. The situation was now critical and Wellington, trapped in an infantry square and ignorant of events beyond it, was desperate for the arrival of help from the Prussians. He later wrote The time they occupied in approaching seemed interminable. Both they and my watch seemed to have stuck fast.

  • Arrival of the Prussian IV Corps: Plancenoit
  • Prussians attack out of the Wood of Paris
  • Night or the Prussians must come. — Wellington

The first Prussian corps to arrive in strength was Bülow’s IV Corps. Bülow’s objective was Plancenoit, which the Prussians intended to use as a springboard into the rear of the French positions. Blücher intended to secure his right upon the Châteaux Frichermont using the Bois de Paris road. Blücher and Wellington had been exchanging communications since 10:00 and had agreed to this advance on Frichermont if Wellington’s centre was under attack.  General Bülow noted that the way to Plancenoit lay open and that the time was 16:30.

At about this time, the 15th Brigade IV Corps was sent to link up with the Nassauers of Wellington’s left flank in the Frichermont-La Haie area, with the brigade’s horse artillery battery and additional brigade artillery deployed to its left in support. Napoleon sent Lobau’s corps to stop the rest of Bülow’s IV Corps proceeding to Plancenoit. The 15th Brigade threw Lobau’s troops out of Frichermont with a determined bayonet charge, then proceeded up the Frichermont heights, battering French Chasseurs with 12-pounder artillery fire, and pushed on to Plancenoit. This sent Lobau’s corps into retreat to the Plancenoit area, driving Lobau past the rear of the Armee Du Nord’s right flank and directly threatening its only line of retreat. Hiller’s 16th Brigade also pushed forward with six battalions against Plancenoit.

Napoleon had dispatched all eight battalions of the Young Guard to reinforce Lobau, who was now seriously pressed. The Young Guard counter-attacked and, after very hard fighting, secured Plancenoit, but were themselves counter-attacked and driven out. Napoleon sent two battalions of the Middle/Old Guard into Plancenoit and after ferocious bayonet fighting—they did not deign to fire their muskets—this force recaptured the village.

Zieten’s flank march

7

Throughout the late afternoon, Zieten’s I Corps had been arriving in greater strength in the area just north of La Haie. General Müffling, Prussian liaison to Wellington, rode to meet I Corps. Zieten had by this time brought up his 1st Brigade, but had become concerned at the sight of stragglers and casualties from the Nassau units on Wellington’s left and from the Prussian 15th Brigade. These troops appeared to be withdrawing and Zieten, fearing that his own troops would be caught up in a general retreat, was starting to move away from Wellington’s flank and towards the Prussian main body near Plancenoit. Zieten had also received a direct order from Blücher to support Bülow, which Zieten obeyed and marched to Bülow’s aid.

Müffling saw this movement away and persuaded Zieten to support Wellington’s left flank. Müffling warned Zieten that “The battle is lost if the corps does not keep on the move and immediately support the English army“. Zieten resumed his march to support Wellington directly, and the arrival of his troops allowed Wellington to reinforce his crumbling centre by moving cavalry from his left.

The French were expecting Grouchy to march to their support from Wavre, and when Zieten’s I Corps appeared at Waterloo instead of Grouchy, “the shock of disillusionment shattered French morale” and “the sight of Zieten’s arrival caused turmoil to rage in Napoleon’s army”. I Corps proceeded to attack the French troops before Papelotte and by 19:30 the French position was bent into a rough horseshoe shape. The ends of the line were now based on Hougoumont on the left,

Plancenoit on the right, and the centre on La Haie. Durutte had taken the positions of La Haie and Papelotte in a series of attacks, but now retreated behind Smohain without opposing the Prussian 24th Regiment as it retook both.

The 24th advanced against the new French position, was repulsed, and returned to the attack supported by Silesian Schützen (riflemen) and the F/1st Landwehr. The French initially fell back before the renewed assault, but now began seriously to contest ground, attempting to regain Smohain and hold on to the ridgeline and the last few houses of Papelotte.

The 24th Regiment linked up with a Highlander battalion on its far right and along with the 13th Landwehr regiment and cavalry support threw the French out of these positions. Further attacks by the 13th Landwehr and the 15th Brigade drove the French from Frichermont. Durutte’s division, finding itself about to be charged by massed squadrons of Zieten’s I Corps cavalry reserve, retreated from the battlefield. The soldiers of D’Erlon’s Corps alongside this attack on Durutte’s division also broke and fled in panic, while to the west the French Middle Guard were assaulting Wellington’s centre.

The Prussian I Corps then advanced towards the Brussels road and the only line of retreat available to the French.

Attack of the Imperial Guard

Meanwhile, with Wellington’s centre exposed by the fall of La Haye Sainte and the Plancenoit front temporarily stabilised, Napoleon committed his last reserve, the hitherto-undefeated Imperial Guard infantry. This attack, mounted at around 19:30,

was intended to break through Wellington’s centre and roll up his line away from the Prussians. Although it is one of the most celebrated passages of arms in military history, it had been unclear which units participated. It appears that it was mounted by five battalions of the Middle Guard, and not by the grenadiers or chasseurs of the Old Guard. Three Old Guard battalions did move forward and formed the attack’s second line, though they remained in reserve and did not directly assault the allied line.

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Napoleon addresses the Old Guard as it prepares to attack the Anglo-allied centre at Waterloo. 

I saw four regiments of the middle guard, conducted by the Emperor, arriving. With these troops, he wished to renew the attack, and penetrate the centre of the enemy. He ordered me to lead them on; generals, officers and soldiers all displayed the greatest intrepidity; but this body of troops was too weak to resist, for a long time, the forces opposed to it by the enemy, and it was soon necessary to renounce the hope which this attack had, for a few moments, inspired. — Marshal M. Ney.

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Grenadier of the Old Guard, by Edouard 

Napoleon himself oversaw the initial deployment of the Middle and Old Guard. The Middle Guard formed in battalion squares, each about 550 men strong, with the 1st/3rd Grenadiers, led by Generals Friant and Poret de Morvan, on the right along the road, to their left and rear was General Harlet leading the square of the 4th Grenadiers, then the 1st/3rd Chasseurs under General Michel, next the 2nd/3rd Chasseurs and finally the large single square of two battalions of 800 soldiers of the 4thChasseurs led by General Henrion. Two batteries of Imperial Guard Horse Artillery accompanied them with sections of two guns between the squares. Each square was led by a general and Marshal Ney, mounted on his 5th horse of the day, led theadvance. Behind them, in reserve, were the three battalions of the Old Guard, right to left 1st/2nd Grenadiers, 2nd/2nd Chasseurs and 1st/2nd Chasseurs. Napoleon left Ney to conduct the assault, however Ney led the Middle Guard on an oblique towards the Allied centre right instead of attacking straight up the centre. Napoleon sent Ney’s senior ADC Colonel Crabbé to order Ney to adjust, but Crabbé was unable to get there in time.

Other troops rallied to support the advance of the Guard. On the left infantry from Reille’s corps that was not engaged with Hougoumont and cavalry advanced. On the right all the now rallied elements of D’Érlon’s corps once again ascended the ridge and engaged the allied line. Of these, Pégot’s brigade broke into skirmish order and moved north and west of La Haye Sainte and provided fire support to Ney, once again unhorsed, and Friant’s 1st/3rd Grenadiers. The Guards first received fire from some Brunswick battalions, but the return fire of the grenadiers forced them to retire. Next, Colin Halket’s brigade front line consisting of the 30th Foot and 73rd traded fire but they were driven back in confusion into the 33rd and 69th regiments, Halket was shot in the face and seriously wounded and the whole brigade retreated in a mob. Other allied troops began to give way as well. A counterattack by the Nassauers and the remains of Kielmansegge’s brigade from the allied second line, led by the Prince of Orange, was also thrown back and the Prince of Orange was seriously wounded. General Harlet brought up the 4th Grenadiers and the allied centre was now in serious danger of breaking.

It was at this moment that the timely arrival of the Dutch General Chassé turned the tide in favour of the allies. Chassé’s relatively fresh Dutch division was sent against them, led by a battery of Dutch horse-artillery commanded by Captain Krahmer de Bichin. The battery opened a destructive fire into the 1st/3rd Grenadiers’ flank. This still did not stop the Guard’s advance, so Chassé ordered his first brigade (Colonel Hendrik Detmers) to charge the outnumbered French with the bayonet, who faltered and broke. The 4th Grenadiers, seeing their comrades retreat and having suffered heavy casualties themselves, now wheeled right about and retired.

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British 10th Hussars of Vivian’s Brigade (red shakos – blue uniforms) attacking mixed French troops, including a square of Guard grenadiers (left, middle distance) in the final stages of the battle.

To the left of the 4th Grenadiers were the two squares of the 1st/ and 2nd/3rd Chasseurs who angled further to the west and had suffered more from artillery fire than the grenadiers. But as their advance mounted the ridge they found it apparently abandoned and covered with dead. Suddenly 1,500 British Foot Guards under Maitland who had been lying down to protect themselves from the French artillery rose and devastated them with point-blank volleys. The chasseurs deployed to answer the fire, but some 300 fell from the first volley, including Colonel Mallet and General Michel, and both battalion commanders. A bayonet charge by the Foot Guards then broke the leaderless squares, which fell back onto the following column. The 4th Chasseurs battalion, 800 strong, now came up onto the exposed battalions of British Foot Guards, who lost all cohesion and dashed back up the slope as a disorganized crowd with the chasseurs in pursuit. At the crest the chasseurs came upon the battery that had caused severe casualties on the 1st and 2nd/3rd Chasseurs, they opened fire and swept away the gunners. The left flank of their square now came under fire from a heavy formation of British skirmishers, which the chasseurs drove back. But the skirmishers were replaced by the 52nd Light Infantry, led by John Colborne, which wheeled in line onto the chasseurs’ flank and poured a devastating fire into them. The chasseurs returned a very sharp fire which killed or wounded some 150 men of the 52nd. The 52nd then charged, and under this onslaught, the chasseurs broke.

The last of the Guard retreated headlong. A ripple of panic passed through the French lines as the astounding news spread: “La Garde recule. Sauve qui peut!” (“The Guard is retreating. Every man for himself!”) Wellington now stood up in Copenhagen’s stirrups and waved his hat in the air to signal a general advance. His army rushed forward from the lines and threw themselves upon the retreating French. The surviving Imperial Guard rallied on their three reserve battalions (some sources say four) just south of La Haye Sainte for a last stand. A charge from Adam’s Brigade and the Hanoverian Landwehr Osnabrück Battalion, plus Vivian’s and Vandeleur’s relatively fresh cavalry brigades to their right, threw them into confusion. Those left in semi-cohesive units retreated towards La Belle Alliance. It was during this retreat that some of the Guards were invited to surrender, eliciting the famous, if apocryphal retort “La Garde meurt, elle ne se rend pas!” (“The Guard dies, it does not surrender!”).

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Prussian capture of Plancenoit 

 

At about the same time, the Prussian 5th, 14th, and 16th Brigades were starting to push through Plancenoit, in the third assault of the day. The church was by now on fire, while its graveyard—the French centre of resistance—had corpses strewn about “as if by a whirlwind”. Five Guard battalions were deployed in support of the Young Guard, virtually all of which was now committed to the defence, along with remnants of Lobau’s corps. The key to the Plancenoit position proved to be the Chantelet woods to the south. Pirch’s II Corps had arrived with two brigades and reinforced the attack of IV Corps, advancing through the woods.

The 25th Regiment’s musketeer battalions threw the 1/2e Grenadiers (Old Guard) out of the Chantelet woods, outflanking Plancenoit and forcing a retreat. The Old Guard retreated in good order until they met the mass of troops retreating in panic, and became part of that rout. The Prussian IV Corps advanced beyond Plancenoit to find masses of French retreating in disorder from British pursuit. The Prussians were unable to fire for fear of hitting Wellington’s units. This was the fifth and final time that Plancenoit changed hands.

French forces not retreating with the Guard were surrounded in their positions and eliminated, neither side asking for nor offering quarter. The French Young Guard Division reported 96 per cent casualties, and two-thirds of Lobau’s Corps ceased to exist.

Despite their great courage and stamina, the French Guards fighting in the village began to show signs of wavering. The church was already on fire with columns of red flame coming out of the windows aisles and doors. In the village itself—still the scene of bitter house-to-house fighting—everything was burning, adding to the confusion. However, once Major von Witzleben’s manoeuvre was accomplished and the French Guards saw their flank and rear threatened, they began to withdraw. The Guard Chasseurs under General Pelet formed the rearguard. The remnants of the Guard left in a great rush, leaving large masses of artillery, equipment and ammunition wagons in the wake of their retreat. The evacuation of Plancenoit led to the loss of the position that was to be used to cover the withdrawal of the French Army to Charleroi. The Guard fell back from Plancenoit in the direction of Maison du Roi and Caillou. Unlike other parts of the battlefield, there were no cries of “Sauve qui peut!” here. Instead, the cry “Sauvons nos aigles! (“Let’s save our eagles!”) could be heard.— Official History of the 25th Regiment, 4 Corps,

French disintegration

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Lord Hill invites the last remnants of the French Imperial Guard to surrender, painted by Robert Alexander Hillingford

The French right, left, and centre had all now failed. The last cohesive French force consisted of two battalions of the Old Guard stationed around La Belle Alliance; they had been so placed to act as a final reserve and to protect Napoleon in the event of a French retreat. He hoped to rally the French army behind them, but as retreat turned into rout, they too were forced to withdraw, one on either side of La Belle Alliance, in square as protection against Coalition cavalry. Until persuaded that the battle was lost, and he should leave, Napoleon commanded the square to the left of the inn.  Adam’s Brigade charged and forced back this square, while the Prussians engaged the other.

As dusk fell, both squares withdrew in relatively good order, but the French artillery and everything else fell into the hands of the allies. The retreating Guards were surrounded by thousands of fleeing, broken French troops. Coalition cavalry harried the fugitives until about 23:00, with Gneisenau pursuing them as far as Genappe before ordering a halt. There, Napoleon’s abandoned carriage was captured, still containing diamonds left behind in the rush to escape. These became part of King Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia’s crown jewels; one Major Keller of the F/15th received the Pour le Mérite with oak leaves for the feat. By this time 78 guns and 2,000 prisoners had also been taken, including more generals.

There remained to us still four squares of the Old Guard to protect the retreat. These brave grenadiers, the choice of the army, forced successively to retire, yielded ground foot by foot, till, overwhelmed by numbers, they were almost annihilated. From that moment, a retrograde movement was declared, and the army formed nothing but a confused mass. There was not, however, a total rout, nor the cry of sauve qui peut, as has been calumniously stated in the bulletin. — Marshal M. Ney

In the middle of the position occupied by the French army, and exactly upon the height, is a farm (sic), called La Belle Alliance. The march of all the Prussian columns was directed towards this farm, which was visible from every side. It was there that Napoleon was during the battle; it was thence that he gave his orders, that he flattered himself with the hopes of victory; and it was there that his ruin was decided. There, too, it was that, by happy chance, Field Marshal Blücher and Lord Wellington met in the dark, and mutually saluted each other as victors. — General Gneisenau

Other sources agree that the meeting of the commanders took place near La Belle Alliance, with this occurring at around 21:00.However, historian Peter Hofschröer has written that Wellington and Blücher met at Genappe around 22:00, signifying the end of the battle

  • Aftermath
  • Waterloo Campaign
  • Invasion of France and the occupation of Paris (18 June-7 July)
  • Treaty of Paris (1815)
DSCF6396
The morning after the battle of Waterloo”, by John Heaviside Clark, 1816.

Waterloo cost Wellington around 15,000 dead or wounded and Blücher some 7,000 (810 of which were suffered by just one unit: the 18th Regiment, which served in Bülow’s 15th Brigade, had fought at both Frichermont and Plancenoit, and won 33 Iron Crosses). Napoleon’s losses were 24,000 to 26,000 killed or wounded and included 6,000 to 7,000 captured with an additional 15,000 deserting subsequent to the battle and over the following days.

22 June. This morning I went to visit the field of battle, which is a little beyond the village of Waterloo, on the plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean; but on arrival there the sight was too horrible to behold. I felt sick in the stomach and was obliged  to return. The multitude of carcasses, the heaps of wounded men with mangled limbs unable to move, and perishing from not having their wounds dressed or from hunger, as the Allies were, of course, obliged to take their surgeons and waggons with  them, formed a spectacle I shall never forget. The wounded, both of the Allies and the French, remain in an equally deplorable state.— Major W. E. Frye After Waterloo: Reminiscences of European Travel 1815–1819.

1815
Invasion of France by the Seventh Coalition armies in 1815 

At 10:30 on 19 June General Grouchy, still following his orders, defeated General Thielemann at Wavre and withdrew in good order—though at the cost of 33,000 French troops that never reached the Waterloo battlefield. Wellington sent his official dispatch describing the battle to England on 19 June 1815; it arrived in London on 21 June 1815 and was published as a London Gazette Extraordinary on 22 June. Wellington, Blücher and other Coalition forces advanced upon Paris.

Napoleon announced his second abdication on 24 June 1815. In the final skirmish of the Napoleonic Wars, Marshal Davout, Napoleon’s minister of war, was defeated by Blücher at Issy on 3 July 1815. Allegedly, Napoleon tried to escape to North America, but the Royal Navy was blockading French ports to forestall such a move. He finally surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon on 15 July. There was a campaign against French fortresses that still held out; Longwy capitulated on 13 September 1815, the last to do so. The Treaty of Paris was signed on 20 November 1815. Louis XVIII was restored to the throne of France and Napoleon was exiled to Saint Helena, where he died in 1821.

Royal Highness, – Exposed to the factions which divide my country, and to the enmity of the great Powers of Europe, I have terminated my political career; and I come, like Themistocles, to throw myself upon the hospitality (m’asseoir sur le foyer) of the British people. I claim from your Royal Highness the protections of the laws, and throw myself upon the most powerful, the most constant, and the most generous of my enemies. — Napoleon. (Letter of surrender to the Prince Regent; translation)

 Maitland’s 1st Foot Guards, who had defeated the Chasseurs of the Guard, were thought to have defeated the Grenadiers, although they had only faced Chasseurs of the newly raised Middle Guard. They were nevertheless awarded the title of Grenadier Guards in recognition of their feat and adopted bearskins in the style of the Grenadiers. Britain’s Household Cavalry likewise adopted the cuirass in 1821 in recognition of their success against their armoured French counterparts. The effectiveness of the lance was noted by all participants and this weapon subsequently became more widespread throughout Europe; the British converted their first light cavalry regiment to lancers in 1816, their uniforms, of Polish origin, were based on those of the Imperial Guard lancers.

Analysis

Waterloo was a decisive battle in more than one sense. Every generation in Europe up to the outbreak of the First World War looked back at Waterloo as the turning point that dictated the course of subsequent world history. In retrospect, it was seen as the event that ushered in the Concert of Europe, an era characterised by relative peace, material prosperity and technological progress. The battle definitively ended the series of wars that had convulsed Europe, and involved many other regions of the world, since the French Revolution of the early 1790s. It also ended the First French Empire and the political and military career of Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the greatest commanders and statesmen in history

It was followed by almost four decades of international peace in Europe. No further major conflict occurred until the Crimean War. Changes to the configuration of European states, as refashioned after Waterloo, included the formation of the Holy Alliance of reactionary governments intent on repressing revolutionary and democratic ideas, and the reshaping of the former Holy Roman Empire into a German Confederation increasingly marked by the political dominance of Prussia. The bicentenary of Waterloo has prompted renewed attention to the geopolitical and economic legacy of the battle and the century of relative transatlantic peace which followed.

Views on the reasons for Napoleon’s defeat

General Antoine-Henri, Baron Jomini, one of the leading military writers on the Napoleonic art of war, had many very cogent explanations of the reasons behind Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo.

In my opinion, four principal causes led to this disaster:

  1. The first, and most influential, was the arrival, skilfully combined, of Blücher, and the false movement that favoured this arrival;
  2. The second, was the admirable firmness of the British infantry, joined to the sang-froid and aplomb of its chiefs;
  3. The third, was the horrible weather, that had softened the ground, and rendered the offensive movements so toilsome, and retarded till one o’clock the attack that should have been made in the morning;
  4. The fourth, was the inconceivable formation  of the first corps, in masses very much too deep for the first grand attack. — Antoine-Henri Jomini

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”.

Neither army beat Napoleon alone. But whatever the part played by Prussian troops in the actual moment when the Imperial Guard was repulsed, it is difficult to see how Wellington could have staved off defeat, when his centre had been almost shattered, his reserves were almost all committed, the French right remained unmolested and the Imperial Guard intact. …. Blücher may not have been totally responsible for victory over Napoleon, but he deserved full credit for preventing a British defeat”. Steele (2014) writes: “Blücher’s arrival not only diverted vital reinforcements, but also forced Napoleon to accelerate his effort against Wellington. The tide of battle had been turned by the hard-driving Blücher. As his Prussians pushed in Napoleon’s flank. Wellington was able to shift to the offensive”.

Through courtesy of Wikipedia.org