Monday, January 12, 2015

Waterloo 1815: Wavre, Plancenoit & the Race to Paris

The third and final book, eh booklet, of my recent purchase.  A triumph for me is that I have actually now read all three.  This is a rarity as normally book purchases go on to the great book pile, just next to lead mountain over near the tower of DVDs.  (Digressing, there is actually a word for this: Tsundoku.  See this post from the Inky Fool to learn more.)

This book followed the same format and indeed included some of the same text as its companion Waterloo 1815: Quatre Bras & Ligny.  Again the editing could have been better, but the number of errors seemed less, although I might just be getting used to them.  Having just refought the battle twice, the Plancenoit section was the part of most immediate interest.  The march is well covered and supported by useful photos.  Again the book is also meant as a tour guide which is both frustrating and inspiring.

Eighteen months ago I had read Hyde Kelly's 1905 book on Warve and Grouchy's subsequent retreat, a copy of which is available as a downloadable PDF here.  So I knew a bit about the retreat.  What was new for me in the Hofschroer book was the account of the sieges of the border fortresses.

The Prussian attack on Plancenoit is impressive given the troop quality and the distance and conditions of the march.  Weight of numbers certainly helps and Plancenoit makes an interesting contrast with the Prussian defence of Warve where they were out numbered two to one, but held a strong defensive position.  At Plancenoit, another good defensive position, the French are outnumbered three to one.  A cannon or musket ball takes no account of whether the target is guard or landwher.


  1. I really enjoyed this book to SoY

  2. Were these books (booklets?) later publications or rewrites of Peter Hofschroer's double-volume "1815 The Waterloo campaign"? I found the second volume a few months back: "The German Victory", which gave an account of Waterloo, Plancenoit and Wavre and the final defeat of the French (including the sieges of the border forts and the operations around Paris).

    I find the author's stance more than a little partisan, but that might be just as well, given the Anglo-centric accounts to which we have become accustomed.

    1. This book was a 2014 reprint of a book that was first published in 2006. Its companion was published in 2005. I don't have his double volume 1815 - The Waterloo Campaign, but they were published in 1998 and 1999 (based on a list that appears in Wikipedia). So definitely later publications. I doubt if they are rewrites and possibly more just condensed material with possibly the addition of tour guide information.

      I grew up thinking there was only British at Waterloo and the Prussians arrived too late, so there is some historical bias to overcome I expect :-)

      I should say my growing up knowledge was based on the availability of Airfix figure sets.