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Old 05 Oct 07, 10:43
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Zouave Zouave is offline
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"Hougoumont" by Robert Gibb.



The small Chateau of Hougoumont stood before the extreme right of the Allied position at Waterloo. Napoleon planned to draw Wellington's reserve to the Allied right flank in defence of Hougoumont and then attack through the centre left of the British and allies front near La Haye Sainte. The Duke of Wellington formed the view that the Chateau was the key to his flank and garrisoned it with the light companies of the Coldstream ( 2nd Foot Guards ) and 3rd Foot Guards ( Nassauers, Hanoverians, Brunswickers, KGL and British Guards held the woods around the Hougoumont Chateau ). Wellington had placed Lieutenant-Colonel James MacDonell of the Coldstream Guards in charge at Hougoumont, with the words "defend the post to the last extremity". This MacDonell certainly did and Hougoumont was not taken in nearly nine hours of continuous fighting.
The battle of Waterloo started with a furious attack upon Hougoumont. This first attack failed and it set a pattern for the rest of the day. The French next attacked to the west of the farm, where the open ground was held by the 3rd Foot Guards. They were overwhelmed and forced to retire through the North Gate pursued by the French. Hougoumont nearly fell when a determined attack by Sous-Lieutenant Legros - nicknamed "L'Enforceur" or "The Smasher" - wielding a huge sappers axe, managed to break through the gate ( see picture ). Despite trying to shut the gate, 30 Frenchmen forced their way through. Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonell called on three Coldstream officers to help him close the gate, they were joined by Cpl. James Graham and his brother Joseph, also a Corporal, and four men from the 3rd Foot Guards. Between them they managed to close the North Gate and secure it. All of the Frenchmen who entered, apart from a young drummer boy, were killed in a desperate hand to hand fight.

Hougoumont, at the end of the battle...

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Last edited by Zouave; 28 Mar 09 at 20:21..
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