Friday, November 1, 2013

Waterloo, Beglium

Executive summary by darmansjah

About a Half Hour south of Brussels, Waterloo, the only fully preserved battlefield in Europe, offers a Continental version of Gettysburg. First, a bit of background: In 1814, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated his crown and was exiled to the Italian island of Elba. He escaped, made his way back to France, and took power again. No way, said the British (under the Duke of Wellington) and the Prussians (led by Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher), who were poised to invade France. Napoleon took the initiative and led his army to confront the allies near the tiny Belgian village of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. Some 185,000 troops fought, 48,000 were killed or wounded, and the English language gained the classic expression to “meet your waterloo” (ultimate defeat ) as Napoleon certainly did.

“If Napoleon had wont at Waterloo, the catchphrase to the history of the world would be different,” says military history expert Caleb Carr. “There were just a lot of impressive guys on both sides. Start with Napoleon, one of history’s greatest figures. You also had  to Duke of Wellington, and von Blucher, an amazing character who was 72 years old and charging around the battlefield.”

Join the battle at the hamlet of Lion’s Mound, where a visitors center offers a treasure hunt book for children and two movies chronicle the conflict. Across the road is the Waterloo Wax Museum, where a giant fresco bring the conflict alive.

From there is  a bird’s-eye vies of the battlefield and its memorial, the Lion’s Mound, a 131-foot-high, man-made come of earth named for the iron lion that crowns it. On summer week ends, the battlefield reverberates with cavalry, cannon fire, and reensactors in uniform. “Waterloo has taken on the status of a great battle”, says Carr, “but it was really something that transcended military history.”

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