Monday, 3 November 2014

In der Beschränkung zeigt sich den Meister

Brendan Simms has written a beautiful short book on the defence of the La Haye Sainte farm during the Battle of Waterloo. Its garrison throughout the day consisted mostly of Germans and Simms adds new life to their story by introducing a lot of new first hand accounts and academic literature.

The book focuses on the events during the battle, but also offers a good introduction to the King’s German Legion and its role in the long struggle against Napoleon, and a very interesting post-script on the legacy of Waterloo in Hannoverian military history.

My only and minor quibble is that it overemphasises the importance of the farm to the outcome of the battle, but I guess that to justify the writing of the book.

In the torrent of English language books published leading up to the 200th anniversary it stands out for fresh perspective and research. Probably the final account of the struggle for La Haye Sainte from the allied perspective for the foreseeable future.

Take away: given that all three farms across the allied front (La Haye Sainte, Hougoumont and Papelotte) fell or almost fell due to a lack of ammunition, you wonder why arrangements for supply hadn’t been made. Didn’t the British army encounter this problem in their battles in the Peninsula

Brendan Simms, The Longest Afternoon. The 400 Men Who Decided The Battle Of Waterloo.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting, I'll add this to my list. Sometimes I think I've read all I want to about Waterloo, but then a book like this comes along. I would be interested to see what he has to say about the Prince of Orange's order to Ompteda to try to retake LHS, and Ompteda's subsequent death. Sad business.
    Yes, it is curious that LHS and the other kep points weren't better supplied. Perhaps that reflects difficulties of logistics among a polyglot army?


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