Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.” —Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, June 19, 1815
The Battle of Waterloo — a series of bloody encounters between French, Anglo-Dutch, and Prussian armies fought over four days — culminated with Napoleon’s final defeat on June 18, 1815.
It was a major historical event, and yet its bicentennial has come and gone essentially without notice.
From 1789 until 1815, wars of the French Revolution and the era of Napoleon wrested Europe from the era of “limited warfare” (from 1648 until the French Revolution) into a modern era of enormous bloodletting intensified by the rise of nationalism and the Industrial Revolution. It was a historical perfect storm unleashed in full fury a century later in two global wars.
The aftermath: the terror-stricken world of today.
Anglo-Dutch forces under Sir Arthur Wellington suffered 15,000 casualties. Napoleon’s army lost twice that number, including 7,000 captured. England’s Prussian ally suffered 7,000 dead. Napoleon, declared an international outlaw by the Congress of Vienna, finally was consigned to the remote south Atlantic rock of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.