For the second post in the series see here: Part 2
Flushed with the experience of all those lovely ladies (see Part 2) on our way to the battle reenactment, we finally were let in to the grandstands and made our way to the standing area at the far side of the battlefield.
Originally we thought that we would be disadvantaged standing for nearly 4 hours waiting and then watching the battle instead of paying extra for a seat, but in the long run I think we had a better deal and a better view.
One criticism about the event I did have was that the tannoy commentary was atrocious on the saturday (I believe people had complained after the friday battle and the commentary was supposed to have been rectified - but not in my opinion)
Standing on the field a few hours before the actual battle started at 8pm we did get to see the armies march on as well as the placement of the massed batteries of cannon. Small cavalry engagements took place as well as a few minor skirmishes between scouting parties of light troops.
Then it was suddenly 8pm. The battle, which would recreate the allied counter attack, started with a crescendo of cannon fire and the charge of cavalry across the ground. Donzelots division marched in perfect precision down the slope towards La Haye Sainte, soon to be repulsed by the garrisoned troops and allied counter attacks from cavalry.
The Scots Greys thundered across the field through the French ranks just as 200 years ago and reached the gun line only to be chased down by fresh Lancers!
The far side of the battlefield encompassing Hougoumont was a haze of thick smoke and nothing could be seen for the most part. Occassionally the fog of war would part and suddenly a blur of blue movement would be seen (from the French Troops) then a savage massive volley of fire from the redcoated defenders.
We watched mesmerized solidly for the whole two hours and it was right in front of our position that the Prussians marched on the French Flank and also placed a full battery of guns which when fired in unison shook the ground under our feet.
Suddenly a huge cry of Viv La France was heard and the ranks of the Imperial Guard advanced on the weakened allied line. As they crested the ridge, a huge body of red coated guardsmen stood up and loosed such a fusilade into the pack ranks of the Old Guard that the quivered...stopped...then turned. The Old Guard was retrating, the allies advanced and Napoleon was seen to be fleeing the field. Wellington had secured his victory and the face of European history had bee changed.
What an incredible sight and feeling to be stood on the same ground and although of a smaller scale, relive that fateful battle. Very priviledged to be able to attend the Waterloo Bicentenary.