William Godwin's Diary


The allies defeated Napoleon’s army at Waterloo, south of Brussels, bringing to a close the Hundred Days. Napoleon had established his 128,000 troops in three columns on 14 June and two days later moved his army between Wellington's more dispersed force, which consisted of 100,000 mostly raw recruits, and Marshal Blücher’s 117,000-strong Prussian army, camped to the east. The same day, Marshal Ney's attack was repelled by the British at Quatre Bras, while the Prussians sustained heavy casualties from Napoleon's forces at Ligny, with historians still debating whether Wellington disingenously promised Blücher support. On 18 June Napoleon attacked Wellington at Waterloo, where the British infantry succeeded in resisting the French cavalry until the decisive arrival of the Prussian army in the evening. Wellington famously described the battle ‘a damned close run thing’.

See Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People: England 1783-1846 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 236-7.