The Boar and The Leopard

A Novel of Napoleon, Wellington and the Struggle of Waterloo

Excerpt:

Yet another French delay gave Wellington the time he needed to reinforce his postition.  However, Ney's battery caused considerable damage, at close range. The Prince of Orange was wounded.  Wellington personally brought up the Brunswickers, and called for Chasse's Division, on the far right.

He was reassured that Ziethen would be arriving on his left flank.  Later, he would call on his cavalry from that side.  Every gun was called up.  A Belgo-Dutch cavalry division redeployed with what was left of Somerset and Posonby's men to present a show of strength for the French and lift the morale of the troops in their vicinity.

The tired and bealeagured Allied infantry gazed up at the horsemen who were just as worn; Timothy and Michael, recognizing they were being held in high esteem, tried their best to show strength.

More cavalry reinforcements arrived from the left, under Vivian and Vandeleur, at 7:00 p.m.  The morale of the troops in the center further improved.

For the French, the right flank was secure, as was Plancenoit.  Nine Imperial Guard battalions returned to the reserve.  On the north-east horizon, the Prussians could be seen massing.  Napoleon called for the Guard: 'La Garde au Feu' ("Send up the Guard").

Chills ran up his spine, as Danton watched Generals, Drouot and Fraint, head up their battalions.  At 7:00 p.m. they went forward, Napoleon leading them part of the way.  Seeing Zeithen's Prussians, in the distance, the Emperor ordered Ney to announce it was Grouchy.  "I set off at a gallop, with my hat raised on the point of my sabre, and rode down the line shouting "'Vive 'Empereur!  Soldats, voila Grouchy!"'

The troops roared, and Danton became very excited.  There was no need to try and calm himself, or the men, he thought.  They were on their way to victory!

Hougoumont was reinforced by Wellington.  Ziethen was anticipated on his left.  All the cavalry reserve were in place in the center.

Around the smoldering wreck of Hougoumont, Benoit remained in the stalemate situation.  With the rest of his comrades, and the chateau's defenders.  They had traded shots throughout the battle.  Now that the Guard was finally going forward, they had something to hope for.  There goes Danton he thought, as the Middle Guard (Danton's battalion) and the Old Guard could be seen on the heights to his right.

This what you wanted old friend he thought farther, as they marched to glory, knowing his desire.  Benoit's engagement picked up in intensity, as more of Jerome's reinforcements entered the Wood, and Foy's men pressed forward to their immediate right.

The Young Guard remained behind as Napoleon's bodyguard.  Two battalions faced west in the direction of Hougoumont.  The rest beat, and cried 'Vive le' Empreur'.

They headed in the direction of Wellington's right center, to the left of La Haie Sainte, where it was stronger.  "As the attacking force moved forward, the chausseurs inclined to their left,"-General Maitland of the British Guards.  "The grenadiers asceneded the acclivity toward our position in a more direct course...moving towards that part of the eminence occupied by the Brigade of Guards."

As they neared the Allied lines, clouds of smoke defined the immediate horizon, and the enemy's volleys tore into their ranks.  Danton was farther back from the front of the column, and could only imagine what hell was being unleashed on the men ahead.  As he heard the piercing irruption of gunfire.  His company, and others, soon veered off, to deal with Brunswickers near La Haie Sainte.