Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Effect Of Weather At The Battle Of Waterloo

The role played by weather at the defeat Napoleon suffered at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. History records that on the Waterloo Battlefield some 21 Kilometres south of Brussels, Belgium more than 70,000 men were killed or wounded in just a few hours.

The British Duke of Wellington chose the battlefield and held the high grounds. Although Napoleon’s French army outnumbered Wellington’s troops, Napoleon needed to defeat the enemy before nightfall because Wellington was to receive reinforcement from the Prussian army that night.

A torrential rain fell during the night before the battle. The ground, saturated by the rain was softened to a quagmire. To ensure an early defeat of Wellington, Napoleon wanted to begin his attack at first light. However, his attack could not be made until several hours later.

The primary reason for the delay was the condition of the ground, which had to dry somewhat before the conflict could begin. The mud also lessen the effectiveness of the cannons, so favoured by Napoleon. First, the range of fire was reduced, owing to the difficulty of moving those heavy machine in the mud. Second, the cannon balls were intended to ricochet of the ground and hence cause additional damage to Wellington’s troops. However, that did not happen because the soft wet ground absorbed much of the energy. This proved to be a disaster for Napoleon and his troops.

Thus, because of the extreme weather, the army of Napoleon was defeated, and he was taken to exile.

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