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Waterloo Charge was a mistake?


Waterloo may be a good analogy, but it had nothing to do with Napoleon counting on "offensive bluster" (whatever that means).

Napoleon had more, seasoned, well trained trained troops, more cannon, and good generals. Many point to the blunder of Marshall Ney, who used his 10,000 Calvary to charge the British "squares". Horses aren't going to crash into massed bodies of humans, especially when those humans are brandishing muskets with long bayonets.

Had Napoleon used his cannon to shell the British squares, then attacked with his infantry, he would have probably carried the day.

It's impossible to know why Ney charged. He was executed by the new French government in 1815. There's an interesting possibility from a newly discovered letter. (Outlined by a piece by Andrew Roberts in the London Sunday Telegraph, 1-30-2005).

"Captain Fortune de Brack - hitherto entirely unknown to history - was a 26-year-old officer in the elite 2nd Guard Lancers, part of the cavalry section of Napoleon's Imperial Guard, and an aide-de-camp during the Moscow retreat. Fortune was, perhaps, an unfortunate name for a man who haplessly compromised France's military might. Writing to a friend in 1835, 20 years after the battle, he admitted setting off the charge entirely by mistake. His letter superbly captures the febrile atmosphere of a cavalry regiment awaiting the order to charge.It seems that de Brack had mistaken a movement in the Anglo-Allied lines for a retreat, and loudly called for an attack. Officers around de Brack then pushed forward to see for themselves, whereupon, as he put it: "The right-hand file of our regimental line followed them." This movement was automatically copied along the regiment, merely "to restore the alignment". Adjacent regiments followed suit, so that further along the line the Dragoons and the Grenadiers-a-Cheval - impatient for the command to charge from Ney - believed that the order had been given. As de Brack explained: "They set off - and we followed!"...

A good Cutlass battle indeed.



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ten thousand horse, be a wodner to watch -- red (posted: 10/8/2018) 
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