The Battle of Waterloo, fought on June 18, 1815, was Napoleon Bonaparte's last battle. His defeat led swiftly to his final overthrow as ruler of France. After his exile to Elba, he had reinstalled himself on the throne of France for a Hundred Days. During this time, the forces of the rest of Europe, the United Kingdom, Prussia and the Russian Empire converged on him, commanded by the United Kingdom's Duke of Wellington, and Prussia's Gebhard von Blücher.
As far back as 13 March 1815, six days before Napoleon reached Paris, the powers at the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw; four days later the United Kingdom, Russia, Austria and Prussia bound themselves to put 150,000 men each into the field to end his rule. Napoleon knew that, once his attempts at dissuading one or more of the Seventh Coalition allies from invading France had failed, his only chance of remaining in power was to attack before the Coalition put together an overwhelming force. If he could destroy the existing Coalition forces south of Brussels before they were reinforced, he might be able to drive the British back to the sea and knock the Prussians out of the war.
Napoleon divided his army into a left wing, commanded by Marshal Ney, a right wing commanded by Marshal Grouchy and a reserve, which he commanded personally (although all three elements remained close enough to support one another). Crossing the Netherlands' frontier at Thuin near Charleroi, the French drove in Coalition outposts and secured Napoleon's favoured "central position" - at the junction between Wellington's Allied army to his north-west, and Blücher's Prussian to his north-east. Although the Coalition members were well informed of Napoleon's movements, Wellington did not react to the news of the outbreak of hostilities until the evening of June 15.
As Napoleon considered the Prussians the greater threat, he moved against them first, attacking their outposts at Thuin near Charleroi, before...
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