Nick Haynes discusses one of the greatest historical controversies arising from the Battle of Waterloo.
‘The 52nd and the Rout of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard at Waterloo’
Wednesday 11th April 2018. 7.00pm – 8.30pm.
Doors open 6.45pm.
Of the many controversies arising from the Battle of Waterloo, that surrounding the role of the 52nd in the rout of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard in the last stages of the battle remains one of the most hotly-debated. Resentment at Wellington’s failure to recognise the 52nd’s key role led the Regiment’s George Gawler to take to the pages of the United Services Journal in 1834.
Thirty years later, the Rev William Leeke, one of the most junior ensigns at his first battle, published , in 1866, the history of the Regiment at Waterloo.”It is beginning to be more and more widely understood” he opened his Preface with, “that a very great injustice has been done to Lord Seaton and the 52nd Light Infantry, which regiment he commanded [as Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Colborne] by those who have attempted in subsequent years, to write the history of that great battle.” Latest to advance the cause of his old regiment is Nigel Sale with ‘The Lie at the Heart of Waterloo’ (2014). There are those from the French perspective, such as Paul Dawson, who contend that the 52nd were only opposed by line infantry and not the Imperial Guard at all! (‘Au Pas de Charge!’, 2015, and ‘Waterloo: The Truth at Last’, 2017).
Nick Haynes grappled with all but Dawson’s latest book when compiling the guidebook for The Rifles Battlefield Study of the Waterloo Campaign in 2015. He returns to the fray, armed with new material -including from Dawson’s latest book- and will present his appraisal of the source material, including maps from Leeke’s annotated copy of William Siborne’s Waterloo Mapbook. The presentation will be illustrated throughout from the collections of SOFO and the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.
Painting by Christa Hook, used by kind permission of Hugh Dumas.