Published 6th March 2015
If a particular event or subject or person of historical importance holds a fascination for you, it is rewarding to expand you knowledge and build your understanding of your subject. Some people or subject areas attract so much interest that there is almost unlimited reading matter available to satiate even the keenest thirst for related knowledge.
One such subject is the Battle of Waterloo. In this, the 200th anniversary of that conflict, interest has never been more keen and the amount of work written about it, including by those who were there, ensures there is no shortage of interesting material.
Colonel John Gurwood was born in 1790, originally working for a merchant he later joined the army and served under Wellington for many years. He was badly wounded several times, including an incident at the start of the Battle of Waterloo which meant he missed the chief part of the action, much to his chagrin. He became Wellington's Private Secretary and under this guise edited the publication of his Dispatches, which he worked on until his death. His bravery at an early battle in his career was publicly questioned by William Napier and this, together with failing health, seem to have broken him and he cut his own throat on Christmas Day 1845.
On the opposing side was Louis Bourrienne: He was close friend and confidant of Napoleon from childhood, but became somewhat too keen on advancing his own interests and fell into disgrace. In later years, Napoleon refused all contact with him, but despite this he published his memoirs of their time as cohorts, which gives an insight into the non-military aspects of Napoleon's life.
The early 19th century was a great time for the production of prints, and Waterloo provided many evocative images which would sell well to a public who were fascinated by the heroics of those people involved and proud of their country's splendid victory.
So one not only has scenes selected from the day of battle itself, such as Blucher and Wellington's meeting towards the end of day at the inn at La Belle Alliance, but also images of Wellington in heroic poses having triumphed. Even more general images of battle, showing the wounded if not perhaps the full horror of war had a market and still do.