Arthur Wesley was born on May 1, 1979 in Dublin, to the first Earl of Mornington. As a child, he attended Eton school and later he went on to a military academy in France. At the age of eighteen, he was commissioned and became lieutenant colonel of the thirty-third foot. He was then sent to fight in India, where he commanded a division against Tipu Sultan. He also became governor of Mysore (1799) and commander in chief against the Marathas. With his success, Arthur then returned to England in 1805 with a knighthood.
After Wellington s arrival, he was given new assignments, which he disapproved. He had a long journey to Hanover, followed by a brigade in Hastings. Although he had no interests in these assignments, he felt he must serve whenever duty required.
king s salt, and, therefore, I conceive it to be my duty to serve with
unhesitating zeal and cheerfulness, when and wherever the king
or his government may think properly to employ me.”
After his tasks Wellington went on a brief military expedition in Copenhagen and defeated a small Danish force, which made the Danes firm allies with Napoleon. In 1808, Portuguese rose against Napoloen, and Wellington was ordered to support them.
Wellington s first defeat was against General Andoche Junot s columns at Vimiero. Wellington was then sent back to Ireland as chief secretary. After the British evacuated Spain, Wellington persuaded the British government to let him back into Portugal to fight, thinking the country could be saved. Wellington arrived at Lisbon, surprising Marshal Nicholas-Jean de Dieu Soult, capturing Oporto, and chasing the French back into Spain. He then headed back to his portuguese base, defeating Marshal Andre Massena at Bussaco on the way. Wellington at this point has gained his soldiers trust.
Wellington s next move was to capture the spanish fortresses, Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, which he finally captured after many attempts. On August 12, 1812, Wellington entered Madrid after defeating 40,000 frenchmen in forty minutes at Salamanca in July. He then tried to attack Burgos, which he failed and retreated back to Portugal. On July 21, 1813, Wellington moved the french back to Virtoria, but the french escaped into the pyrennes because of Wellington s drunken troops. Before invading France, Wellington decided to begin operations to take San Sebastian and Pampeluna. On April 10, 1814, Wellington marched into Toulouse, France and defeated Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult to end the peninsular wars.
After Wellington s great victories in the peninsular wars, he received the title “Duke of Wellington”. His next mission was to defeat Napoleon, who was seen as an outlaw and a fugitive. The allied coalition -formed against France between 1792 and 1815- raised five armies. An Anglo-dutch army of 90,000 men commanded by Wellington and a Prussian army of 225,000 men commanded by Gebhard Leberech von Blucher were to operate in the Brussels region into France. An Austrian army of 225,000 men commanded by Karl Phillip zu Schwarzenberg was to operate on the upper and middle rhine; a Russian army of 170,000 men under Barclay de Tolly was formed for safety. The last army consisted of 60,000 Austro-Italians lead by Johann Maria Frimont, which was to operate in northen Italy.
With this setup, Napoleon created a plan. His plan was to go into Charleroi, which was located between Wellington s and Blucher s armies. Napoleon was to attack the Prussians and the British, then he would take out the allies later. Before Napoleon got to the Sambre River, he divided up his troops; one to take the English in Quatre Bras the other to take the Prussians at Ligny. ( See A on map1)
“I have ordered the army to concentrate on Quatre Bras; but we shall not
stop him there, and if so, I must fight him here.” Wellington passed his
thumb-nail over the map just south of the Waterloo position.
On June 16, 1815, Napoleon attacked the Prussians with 350,000 men, while Wellington waited for Ney s army in Quatre Bras. Ney s army finally attacked in about 2:30 in the afternoon. Wellington was happy to see reinforcements from Brussels, led by Sir Thomas Picton, who helped Wellington slow down Ney s attack. If it weren t for one of Napoleon s General, Wellington would have been defeated. 20,000 men led by D erlon were to come and help Ney, but they were diverted to Ligny by the General. The troops then turned back to Quatre Bras, but it was to late to fight.
Wellington left Quatre Bras and setup a defense line in Mt. St. Jean.(See D on map 1) Napoleon advanced to Mt. St. Jean on June 18 , unaware Blucher was coming from Wavre.(See D on map 1)Napoleon first attacked Hougomont , led by Napoleon s younger brother, Prince Jerome Bonaparte.(See A on map 2) The French failed to capture Hougomont, even though the British were outnumbered. Napoleon s next move was to advance D erlon s 20,000 men to La Haye Sainte. La Haye Sainte was a high walled farm house, which protected Wellington s troops.(See B on map 2) Napoleon also sent men to attack Blucher, once he learned the Prussians were attacking his right flank.(See C on map 2)
D erlon failed to capture La Haye Sainte, so Napoleon ordered Ney to do the job. Ney placed 10,000 in between La Haye Sainte and Hougomont , where Wellington s men were waiting for him in squares of about 50 to 100 troops.(See D on map 2) The British squares were unstoppable; every time Ney charged he was shut down. Ney decided to go after La Haye Sainte, but he needed more men. Napoleon could not give out more men because he needed more troops to defend the Prussians. Ney lead his army to General Maitland s brigade of British guards. The British, out of sight, waited for their orders.
” Now Maitland, now s your time,” ordered Wellington.
The brigade rose and the British shot down the head of the French columns. In the first minute of firing, 300 French troops dropped to the ground. The French troops started to slowly vanish, until the survivors ran. Wellington and Blucher have defeated Napoleon. Ney made it back to Paris, where he was executed six months later when the Bourbons returned to power. Napoleon fled to the west coast of France, where he surrender to the British navy blockading the harbor. He was then exiled to the island of St. Helena and became a martyr.
Wellington returned home with much honor from his people. This marked the end of his military career and the start of his political career. Wellington became Prime Minister of England. Even though he was thought of as a great military leader, Wellington is said to be the worst Prime Minister.