Battle of Waterloo

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser.

(This report is the first the people of the colony knew of the battle of Waterloo - 7 months after the event.

20 January 1816

Government and General Orders.

Government House, Sydney, Friday, 19th January, 1816.

By the Ship Fanny, Captain Wallis, which arrived in this Port yesterday from England, His Excellency the Governor has received the gratifying Intelligence of some brilliant and most important victories obtained by our Armies under the Command of the illustrious Duke Of Wellington, in Conjunction with those of our Ally, the King of Prussia, commanded by Prince Blucher, terminating in the total Defeat of Bonaparte, "the faithless Disturber of Europe, and Destroyer of the human Race;" and finally in his surrendering himself to the Commander of a British Man of War:-

His Excellency therefore orders and directs, that the following Extracts from the London Gazettes shall he made public through this Colony by the Medium of a Sydney Gazette Extraordinary. By Command of His Excellency, J. T. Campbell, Secretary.

Downing Street-, June 22, 1815- Major the Honorable H. Percy arrived late last night with a Dispatch from Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, K.G. to Earl Bathurst, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the War Department; of which the following is a copy:-

Waterloo, June 19, 1815. My Lord - Bonaparte having collected the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, and 6th corps of the French army and the Imperial Guards, and nearly all the cavalry on the Sambre, and between that river and the Meuse, between the 10th and 14th of the month, advanced on the 15th and attacked the Prussian posts at Thuin and Lobez, on the Sambre, at day light in the morning.

I did not hear these events till the evening of the 15th, and I immediately ordered the troops to prepare to march; and afterwards to march to their left, as soon as I had intelligence from other quarters to prove that the enemy's movements upon Charleroy was the real attack.

The enemy drove the Prussian posts from the Sambre on that day; and General Zieten, who commanded the corps which had been at Charleroi, retired upon Fleurns; and Marshal Prince Blucher concentrated the Prussian army upon Sombref, holding the villages in front of his position of St. Amand and Ligny.

The enemy continued his march along the road from Charleroy towards Bruxelles, and on the same evening, the 15th, attacked a brigade of the army of the Netherlands, under the Prince de Weimar, posted at Frasne, and forced it back to the farm house on the same road, called Les Quatre Bras.

The Prince of Orange immediately reinforced this brigade with another of the same division, under General Perponcher, and in the morning early regained part of the ground which had been lost, so as to have the command of the communication leading from Nivelles and Bruxelles, with Marshal Blucher's position.

In the mean time I had directed the whole army to march upon Les Quatre Bras, and the 5th division, under Lieut. General Sir Thomas Picton, arrived at about half past two in the day, followed by the corps of troops under the Duke of Brunswick, and afterwards by the contingent of Nassau.

At this time the enemy commenced an attack upon Prince Blucher with his whole force, excepting the 1st and 2d corps, and a corps of cavalry under General Kellerman, with which he attacked our post at Les Quatre Bras.

The Prussian army maintained their position with their usual gallantry and perseverance, against a great disparity of numbers, as the 4th corps of their army, under General Bulow, had not joined, and I was not able lo assist them as I wished, as I was attacked myself, and the troops, the cavalry in particular, which had a long distance to march, had not arrived.

We maintained our position also, and completely defeated and repulsed all the enemy's attempts to get possession of it. The enemy repeatedly attacked us with a large body of infantry and cavalry, supported by a numerous and powerful artillery; he made several charges with the cavalry upon our infantry, but all were repulsed in the steadiest manner.

In this affair His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, the Duke of Brunswick, and Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton, and Major General Sir James Kempt, and Sir Denis Pack, who were engaged from the commencement of the enemy's attack, highly distinguished themselves, as well as Lieut. General Charles Baron Alten, Major General Sir C. Hakket, Lieut. General Cooke, and Major Generals Maitland and Byng, as they successively arrived.

The troops of the 5th division, and those of the Brunswick corps, were long and severely engaged, and conducted themselves with the utmost gallantry.

I must particularly mention the 28th 42d, 78th, and 92d regiments, and the battalion of Hanoverians.

Our loss was great, as your Lordship will perceive by the inclosed return; and I have particularly to regret His Serene Highness the Duke of Brunswick, who fell, fighting gallantly at the head of his troops.

Although Marshal Blucher had maintained his position at Sambrief, he still found himself much weakened by the severity of the contest in which he had been engaged, and as the fourth corps had not arrived, he determined to fall back, and concentrate his army upon Wavre; and he marched in the night after the battle was over.

This movement of the Marshal's rendered necessary a corresponding one on my part; and I retired from the farm of Quatre Bras upon Genappe, and thence upon the Waterloo the next morning, the 17th, at ten o'clock.

The enemy made no effort to pursue Marshal Blucher.

On the contrary, a patrole which I sent to Sambrief in the morning, found all quiet, and the enemy's videttes fell back as the patrole advanced. Neither did he attempt to molest our march to the rear, although made in the middle of the day, excepting by following, with a huge body of cavaly, brought from his right, the cavalry under the Earl of Uxbridge.

This gave Lord Uxbridge an opportunity of charging them with the 1st Life Guards, upon their debouche from the village of Genappe upon which occasion His Lordship has declared himself to be well satisfied with that regiment.

The position which I look up in front of Waterloo crossed the high roads from Charleroy and Nivelle, and had its right thrown back to a ravine near Merke Braine, which was occupied, and its left extended to a height above the hamlet Ter la Haye, which was likewise occupied. In front of the right centre and near the Nivelle road, we occupied the house and garden of Hougoumont, which covered the return of that flank; and in front of the left centre, we occupied the farm of La Haye Sainte.

By our left we communicated with Marshal Prince Blucher, at Wavre through Ohaim; and the Marshal had promised me, that in case we should be attacked, he would support me with one or more corps, as might be necessary.

The enemy collected his army, with the exception of the third corps, which had been sent to observe Marshal Blucher, on a range of heights in our front, in the course of the night of the 17th and yesterday morning; and at about ten o'clock he commenced a furious attack upon our post at Hougoumont.

I had occupied that post with a detachment from General Byng's brigade of guards, which was in position in its rear; and it was for some time under the command of Lieut. Colonel Macdonnel, and afterwards of Colonel Home; and I am happy to add, that it was maintained throughout the day with the utmost gallantry by these brave troops, notwithstanding the repeated efforts of large bodies of the enemy to obtain possession of it.

This attack upon the right of our centre was accompanied by a very heavy canonade upon our whole line, which was destined to support the repeated attacks of cavalry and infantry occasionally mixed, but sometimes separate, which were made upon it.

In one of these the enemy carried the farm house of La Haye Sainte, as the detachment of the light battalion of the Legion which occupied it had expended all its ammunition, and the enemy occupied the only communication there was with them.

The enemy repeatedly charged our infantry with his cavalry, but these attacks were uniformly unsuccessful, and they afforded opportunities to our cavalry to charge, in one of which Lord E. Somerset's brigade, consisting of the Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, and 1st Dragoon Guards, highly distinguished themselves, as did that of Major General Sir W. Ponsonby, having taken many prisoners and an eagle.

These attacks were repeated till about seven in the evening, when the enemy made a desperate effort with the cavalry and infantry, supported by the fire of artillery, to force our left centre near the farm of La Haye Sainte, which, after a severe contest, was defeated; and having observed that the troops retired from the attack in great confusion, and that the march of General Bulow's corps by Euschermoute upon Plauchenorte and La Belle Alliance, had began to take effect, and as I could perceive the fire of his cannon, and as Marshal Prince Blucher had joined in person, with a corps of his army to the left of our line by Ohaim, I determined to attack the enemy, and immediately advanced the whole line of infantry, supported by the cavalry and artillery.

The attack succeeded in every point; the enemy was forced from his position on the heights and fled in the utmost confusion, leaving behind him, as far as I could judge, one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, with their ammunition, which fell into our hands.

I continued the pursuit till long after dark, and then discontinued it only on account of the fatigue of our troops, who had been engaged during twelve hours, and because I found myself on the same road with Marshal Blucher, who assured me of his intention to follow the enemy throughout the night; he has sent me word this morning that he had taken sixty pieces of cannon belonging to the Imperial Guard, and several carriages, baggage, &c. belonging to Bonaparte, in Gehappe.

I propose to move, this morning, upon Nevilles, and not to discontinue my operations.

Your Lordship will observe, that such a desperate action could not be fought, and such advantages could not be gained without great loss; and I am sorry to add, that ours has been immense.

In Lieutenant Gen. Sir Thomas Picton, his Majesty has sustained the loss of an Officer who has frequently distinguished himself in his service, and he fell, gloriously leading his division to charge with bayonets, by which one of the most serious attacks made by the enemy on our position was defeated.

The Earl of Uxbridge, after having successfully got through this arduous day, received a wound, by almost the last shot fired, which will, I am afraid, deprive his Majesty for some time of his services.

His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange distinguished himself by his gallantry and conduct, till he received a wound from a musket ball through the shoulder, which obliged him to quit the field.

It gives me the greatest satisfaction to assure your Lordship, that the army never, upon any occasion, conducted itself better.

The division of guards, under Lieut. Gen. Cooke, who is severely wounded, Major General Maitland and Major General Byng, set an example which was followed by all; and there is no Officer, nor description of troops, that did not behave well.

I must, however, particularly mention, for His Royal Highness's approbation, Lieut. General Sir H. Clinton, Major General Adam, Lieutenant General Charles Baron Allen, severely wounded; Major Gen Sir Colin Halket, severely wounded; Colonel Omteda, Colonel Mitchell, commanding a brigade of the 4th division; Major Generals Sir James Kempt I and Sir Dennis Pack, Major Gen. Lambert, Major General Lord E. Somerset, Major General Sir W. Ponsonby, Major General Sir C. Grant, and Major General Sir H. Vivian; Major General Sir O. Vandeleur; Major General Count Dornberg.

I am also particularly indebted to General Lord Hill, for his assistance upon this as upon all former occasions.

The Artillery and Engineer departments were conducted much to my satisfaction by Colonel Sir G. Wood and Colonel Smyth; and I had every reason to be satisfied with the conduct of the Adjutant General, Major General Barnes, who was wounded; & of the Quarter Master General, Colonel Delaney, who was killed by a cannon shot in the middle of the action. Lieutenant Colonel the Honorable Sir Alexander Gordon, who has died of his wounds, was a most promising officer, and is a serious loss to his Majesty's service.

General Kruse, of the Nassau service, likewise conducted himself much to my satisfaction, as did General Trip, commanding the heavy brigade of cavalry, and General Vanhope, commanding a brigade of infantry of the King of the Netherlands.

General Pozzo di Borgo; General Baron Vincent, General Muffling, and General Allava, were in the field during the action, and rendered me every assistance in their power.

Baron Vincent is wounded, but I hope not severely; and General Pozzo di Borgo received a contusion.

I should not do justice to my feelings, or to Marshal Blucher and the Prussian army, if I did not attribute the successful result of this arduous day, to the cordial and timely assistance I received from them.

The operation of General Bulow, upon the enemy's flank, was a decisive one; and even if I had not found myself in a situation to make the attack, which produced the final result, it would have forced the enemy to retire, if his attacks should have failed, and would have prevented him from taking advantage of them, if they should unfortunately have succeeded.

I send, with this dispatch, two eagles, taken by the troops in this action, which Major Percy will have the honour of laying at the feet of his Royal Highness.

I beg leave to recommend him to your Lordship's protection. I have the honour, &c. (Signed) Wellington.

P.S. Since writing the above, I have received a report, that Major General Sir William Ponsonby is killed; and, in announcing this intelligence to your Lordship, I have to add the expression of my grief, for the fate of an Officer, who had already rendered very brilliant and important services, and was an ornament to his profession.

2d P. S. I have not yet got the returns of killed and wounded, but I inclose a list of Officers killed and wounded on the two days, as far as the same can be made out without the returns; & I am very happy to add, that Colonel DeLancy is not dead, and that strong hopes of his recovery are entertained.