Discovered: ‘EXTREMELY RARE’ Skeletons Of Men And Horses Killed Over 200 Years Ago At Battle Of Waterloo
Archeologists have uncovered ‘extremely rare’ remains of men and horses killed during the Battle of Waterloo more than 200 years ago.
Academics and a team of military veterans digging near Brussels in modern-day Belgium have unearthed the complete skeleton of a man, believed to be a soldier under the command of the Duke of Wellington, who died during the pivotal clash with Napoleon’s French army.
The soldier’s remains have been unearthed in a ditch close to a farmhouse in Mont-Saint-Jean, south of Brussels, which is thought to have housed one of Wellington’s field hospitals. His body is thought to have been dumped there after he died during treatment, alongside severed arms and legs removed during amputations.
Elsewhere, dig teams have uncovered the bones of horses killed during the battle – which were used to pull cannons and ammunition, as well as being used by mounted soldiers.
‘I’ve been a battlefield archaeologist for 20 years and have never seen anything like it. We won’t get any closer to the harsh reality of Waterloo than this,’ said Professor Tony Pollard, an archeologist from Glasgow University.
Archeologists and veterans excavating the site of the Battle of Waterloo have uncovered the ‘extremely rare’ complete skeleton of a soldier buried in a ditch near a British field hospital
The remains are thought to belong to a soldier who died of wounds inflicted by Napoleon’s men, before he was hastily buried alongside empty ammunition crates and limbs amputated from his comrades
Archeologists have also uncovered the remains of thousands of horses that died in the battle – with the animals used to two ammunition, cannons and by mounted soldiers
The Duke of Wellington held up Napoleon’s forces in a battle near Waterloo – in modern-day Belgium – on June 18, 1815, long enough for Prussian reinforcements to arrive and tip the battle in his favour (a painting depicts the moment Wellington is told the Prussians will be coming to his aid)
As many as 20,000 men were killed on June 18, 1815, when an allied army under the command of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington met forces under the command of Emperor Napoleon on the battlefield at Waterloo.
Napoleon, fresh out of exile off the coast of Italy after defeat to a coalition of his European neighbours the year previous, was once again trying to establish a French empire on the continent.
Outnumbered by his opponents, he was trying to divide and conquer: First by engaging and defeating the Prussian army led by Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher at the Battle of Ligny on June 16.
Blücher suffered heavy losses and was forced to retreat, before Napoleon turned his attention to armies under the command of Wellington which had withdrawn to Waterloo.
June 18 dawned calm as Napoleon waited for the muddy battlefield to dry out before attacking – a tactical mistake as, unbeknownst to him, the Prussians were regrouping close by and only needed Wellington’s men to hold up the French for long enough for them to rejoin the fight.
Wellington withstood multiple attacks by the French against defensive positions at Mont-Saint-Jean that afternoon before the Prussians were able to arrive in sufficient numbers to inflict heavy casualties.
A last-ditch attack on allied positions with the Imperial Guard that evening failed and ended with the route of Napoleon’s army, the capture of the Imperial Coach, and the end of the French dictator’s wars in Europe.