Book Review
Waterloo - Rout and Retreat
Waterloo - Rout and Retreat - The French Perspective
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by: Fay Baker [ AWESOME_ODP ]


The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18th June 1815, near Waterloo in Belgium between the French Army commanded by Napolean Bonaparte and a coalition of British led Allied army which was commanded by the Duke of Wellington and Prussian troops under the Command of Field Marshal Blucher. Napolean’s army was defeated and this marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

The following is taken from the Pen and Sword website:

This, the fourth volume in Andrew Field's highly praised study of the Waterloo campaign from the French perspective, depicts in vivid detail the often neglected final phase – the rout and retreat of Napoleon's army. The text is based exclusively on French eyewitness accounts which give an inside view of the immediate aftermath of the battle and carry the story through to the army's disbandment in late 1815. Many French officers and soldiers wrote more about the retreat than they did about the catastrophe of Waterloo itself. Their recollections give a fascinating insight to the psyche of the French soldier. They also provide a first-hand record of their experiences and the range of their reactions, from those who deserted the colours and made their way home, to those who continued to serve faithfully when all was lost. Napoleon’s own flight from Waterloo is an essential part of the narrative, but the main emphasis is on the fate of the beaten French army as it was experienced by eyewitnesses who lived through the last days of the campaign.


This hard back book is published by Pen and Sword Military is written by Andrew W Field and priced at £25. The book contains 348 pages with maps scattered throughout the text, with a colour dust cover designed by Jon Wilkinson. This is the last volume in the four volume collection which studies the campaign from the French perspective. The text in these volumes is taken from eyewitness accounts from the French.

The list of contents is as follows:
List of Maps
Chapter 1 The Rout from Waterloo
Chapter 2 Napolean’s Flight
Chapter 3 19 June
Chapter 4 20 June
Chapter 5 21 June
Chapter 6 Napolean Abdicates
Chapter 7 22 June
Chapter 8 23 June
Chapter 9 24 June
Chapter 10 25 June
Chapter 11 26 June
Chapter 12 27 June
Chapter 13 28 June
Chapter 14 29 June
Chapter 15 Paris
Chapter 16 ‘The Brigands of the Loire’
Chapter 17 The Disbandment of the Army
Appendix A: French Order of Battle based on Parade States of 23-26 June 1815
Appendix B: Situation of the French Army at Paris, 1 July 1815
Select Bibliography

Many French Officers and troops wrote about their experiences, but they wrote more about the retreat from Waterloo, rather than the battle itself. This book along with the others in the series gives a fascinating insight into the mind set of those involved, including some who deserted their posts and made their way back home.

Even though the war was lost, there were still soldiers that were faithful to their leaders. Many of the descriptions in this book are very moving. I found the following words written by Captain Duthilt particularly moving: Everyone ran off at once through the caissons…carried along, numb, they passed over the heaps of dead and trampled the wounded..,without hearing their cries of pain, they fled mixed together without leaders. Captain Duthilt only left the battlefield himself when all hope was lost.


This book is well written, but contains mainly text with a few maps scattered throughout. It gives a fascinating insight into the lives of those who took part and how war affects those who are caught up in it. There are not many books that give the reader the perspective from the losing side of a battle, but it is refreshing to read. History is only taught from the winning side, but to understand what happened you need to know both sides.
Fay Baker takes a look at 'Waterloo - Rout and Retreat - The French Perspective' from Pen and Sword and shares her thoughts on it.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 9781526701718
  Suggested Retail: £25.00
  PUBLISHED: Sep 16, 2019

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Hold on.... ah!
SEP 17, 2019 - 10:24 AM