The Objects

19th Jun 1815

ewan mcgowan 1.jpg
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Source: Longue-vue du commandant Fabry
Longue-vue télescopique à trois développements
8959 ; Cc 203
Localisation : Paris, musée de l'Armée
Photo (C) Paris - Musée de l'Armée, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Pascal Segrette

Fabry's telescope shows Napoleon that the Prussians are coming...

Contributed by: Ewan McGowan

This telescope is believed to be the one passed to Napoleon during the battle of Waterloo and that made him aware of the imminent arrival of the Prussian army.

The late start to the battle, at around midday, and the inability of the French army to break Wellington's combined British, Dutch and German forces meant that this sighting would have all but confirmed defeat to Napoleon.
A supposedly diversionary French assault on Hougoumont farm by Jérôme Bonaparte became transformed into his own costly private battle. Heavy French causalities were also sustained by D'Erlon's corps, who had marched directly at an Allied army which had remained unscathed by earlier cannonades because of their position on the rear slopes of Mont Saint-Jean.

The failure of these initial attacks combined with the discipline exercised by Wellington's army proved crucial. Their mettle was particularly apparent in the face of repeated cavalry charges, led bravely if somewhat unclearly by Marshall Ney. By the time the British centre had been weakened and exposed by the combined infantry and cavalry force, it was too late for the French to take advantage. Napoleon was forced into relocating crucial divisions to try to hold off the Prussian army seen approaching from the east. By the evening the French army was outnumbered and outflanked and Napoleon was defeated on the field of battle for the last time.

This research was completed with funding from the University of Warwick Undergraduate Research Support Scheme.