University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > The Longest Afternoon: How Four Hundred Germans Decided the Battle of Waterloo

The Longest Afternoon: How Four Hundred Germans Decided the Battle of Waterloo

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The battle of Waterloo is one of the most examined episodes in history. Remarkably, however, there is no individual study of the event on which the whole struggle hinged: the epic defence of the vital farmhouse of La Haye Sainte at the heart of the battlefield by the riflemen of the Second Light Battalion, the King’s German Legion, under their intrepid commander Major Georg Baring between about 1.30 and 6.30 pm on Sunday 18th June 1815. Beset on all sides by French infantry, shelled by Napoleon’s guns, and ridden down by the emperor’s cavalry whenever they ventured out of their burning buildings, Baring’s men were eventually forced to withdraw with heavy casualties, not before they had delayed Napoleon for five critical hours. A mere four hundred men had decided the battle of Waterloo and with it the fate of Europe. Prof. Simms will offer some preliminary remarks on his project which is in its infancy.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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