The Waterloo battle has begun at Hougoumont farm                            

View point one


This is on the lane about 150 yards beyond the crossing of the Charleroi road. Fierce fighting had begun at Hougoumont farm, but here the first great action of the day took place at about 2 p.m. the attack of the French infantry and the charge of the British cavalry.


This point can be reached by car, but it causes difficulties to park on the lane, and the parking of many cars would spoil the atmosphere of the place for all visitors; so we suggest you should walk there if you can. It is a third of a mile from the Lion Hill, and the walk can sometimes be shortened by finding a parking-space on the right of the lane before the crossroads.  From the Lion Hill to the crossroads you are still on ground which has been altered. The lane was much narrower at the time of the battle, and it ran between high banks on both sides. But on the south side, the ground was dug away to a depth of six to ten feet to provide the material for the Lion Hill, so the bank on that side has disappeared. Unfortunately, this digging included the spot near the crossroads which Wellington chose for his battle headquarters, so that one cannot now see the field as he saw it Com there.


       


A short distance down the main road, on the right, there is a memorial to Lieut. Col. Gordon, who was Wellington's ADC. This was erected before the Lion Hill, and was not disturbed. It now stands on a mound, and the top of that mound is the original ground level.


On the right of the crossroads, a tree has been planted to replace a solitary elm which marked Wellington's command post. The original tree, of course, grew on top of the bank, and within a few years af the battle it had been cut into small pieces by souvenir hunters. On the opposite corner, there is another Belgian memorial.


But beyond the crossroads, you begin to see the battlefield as it was. Here the lane has not changed, except that it was probably unpaved in 1815, and that it had a holly hedge on each side. This part of the line was manned by the Rifle Brigade close to the crossroads, and beyond by four Scottish regiments of Sir Thomas Picton's infantry division: the Black Watch, the Cameron Highlanders, the First Royal Scots and the Gordons.


Next beyond them was a Belgian regiment and behind, two or three hundred yards back Com the lane, the three cavalry regiments of the Union Brigade - the Inniskillens, the Royals and the Scots Greys: 1,200 mounted men.





Standing here, you see every fold in the valley as the infantry saw them when they took up their positions in the morning. That year, it was planted with rye. It still is, in rotation with other crops, but rye in those days grew much higher than it does now; sometimes, when a file of men marched through it, only their bayonets could be seen. And that morning, the valley was quite empty and very muddy, and much of the rye had already been trampled down by troops who camped there in heavy rain the night before.



Continue tour Wellington's heavy cavalry charge on the french infantry



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