Today is a pretty big anniversary for history geeks, it is the 197th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. So yes, there will be some pretty big commemorations in another three years when the bicentenary rolls around. To mark this historic day I thought I’d post a bit of a guide for anyone who might make the pilgrimage to this iconic battlefield.
When I was a young history geek I used to associate with some rough-looking sorts who belonged to the local black-powder group. At the age of about fifteen I was taught to fire a musket. It is a skill that I haven’t yet found an everyday practical use for, but it offered a fascinating insight into a period of warfare that many people struggle to comprehend. Why are the soldiers wearing bright colours? Why do they just stand in a line like that? Why waste time carrying flags and blowing trumpets? Fire a musket and you’ll understand.
Fast forward a few years from those humble beginnings and as an “adult” I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit the Battlefield at Waterloo – the scene of the last and most iconic battle of the Napoleonic Wars. It was a fascinating trip to make and I urge anyone with an interest in history to put it on their bucket list. In case you do then here are a few hints from an experienced Waterloo veteran.
If you are traveling from Brussels then you’ll be wanting to get off at Waterloo – which isn’t nearly as well signposted as the more well-known Waterloo Station. Also trains in Belgium go rather fast so don’t fall asleep or you might end up in another country.
It is about a ten minute walk from the station to the town of Waterloo. If you read your history books then you will remember that the battle wasn’t actually fought at Waterloo, but nearby. While in the town pop into the information centre which will issue you with maps and across the road is the original inn that the Duke of Wellington used as his headquarters before the battle. It is now a fantastic museum where you can see the former resting place of Lord Uxbridge’s leg. Continue reading