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Napoleonic Day

A BATTLE LOST AND WON

Ties of Blood: 9

The long years of war in Europe seemed to have come to an end with the banishment of the Emperor Napoleon to the Mediterranean island of Elba. Peace descended on the continent and its nations settled to reconciling their differences over the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield.

The British army which had served Lord Wellington so well in his Peninsular campaigns was broken up. A number of regiments were sent to North America, where there had been a war since 1812, when the United States invaded Canada. There was heavy fighting, with significant losses for both sides. But, by the beginning of 1815, even this unhappy conflict had come to an end.

It appeared that normal, peace-time life could resume: businessmen needed to repair the losses of the long years of war and it was possible for the curious to remind themselves of what lay on the far side of the English Channel. Europe’s major cities quickly became playgrounds for the fashionable set.

But the peace was to be short-lived. Napoleon wearied of his exile. He believed that his destiny was to rule Europe, not a small island. In the spring of 1815 he was back in Paris and there was little doubt that the continent would once again be plunged into war.

There would be one last battle – and few involved would escape its bitter sting.