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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Napoleonic Era

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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider.

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  #1  
Old 11 Sep 11, 15:31
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French Cuirassiers and the giant ravine/sunken road at Waterloo

Myth or fact?

We all know the story... French cuirassiers rushed forward and fell into the sunken road of Ohain.

Did this really happened (to some degree)?

Before someone say something... I'm not trying to find an excuse for Napoleon's defeat.

I just want to get the facts straight.



Picture posted by Von Junzt.
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  #2  
Old 11 Sep 11, 16:37
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No, it's fiction. The French cavalry did cross it during the charges, but probably didn't even notice it. There is no ravine into which French cuirassiers fell.

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  #3  
Old 11 Sep 11, 22:44
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*Concur* it was a myth.
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  #4  
Old 12 Sep 11, 00:04
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Chemin d'Ohain

According Coppens 'book (le Chemin d'Ohain), the famous ravine was only a 700m long sligtly sunken road with trees and bushes on its southern (french facing) side. The great charges are the subject of Coppen's Tome 5 -les vertes bornes- carnets de la campagne de 1815- édition La Belle Alliance.
Coppen's is THE guy who spends its entire life to sudy Waterloo ( a neutral belgian and not a godon storyteller)

The cuirassiers falling by hundred is only a romantic view or a godon's propaganda to make people forget that the most famous occurence of a charging cavalry falling in an undiscovered ravine took place during the battle of Talavera in 1809 (23rd Light dragoons) and brought an everlasting laughter .

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Last edited by gboue; 12 Sep 11 at 00:16..
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  #5  
Old 12 Sep 11, 05:28
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I've been down the sunken road with Strat and the Major in 2009. It was deep enough iirc to certainly stop a cavalry charge. You may wish to ask them as my memory is a bit hazy.
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Old 12 Sep 11, 08:11
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sunken road memories

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
It was deep enough iirc to certainly stop a cavalry charge.
I have visited the battlefield many times, (my familly used to live up to WWII in a not too far village), the landscape which can be visited today is not what it was during the early 19th century, the sunken road was dug as the romantic godons storyteller wanted it to be dug.

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  #7  
Old 12 Sep 11, 11:25
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My God, where did you got this picture?! , they're falling cca 3 meters (if not more) down! No way there was such a sunken road, I believe. Anyway, today's landscape is diferent now at Waterloo. Time and wars have probably made their part in changing it. Like some said, it should be a fact that there was no such sunken road, it's even hard to believe-Jesus, it's looking like they're falling into the Grait Canyon, isn't it?!



And on this one it's even worse! Like falling into a WWI trench...
The only thing which stopped the charges of the Cuirassiers were probably the British squares.

Cherrs, and look ahead while riding!
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Old 12 Sep 11, 12:47
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My missus has just told me that the sunken road was about 5m deep (she came on the tour as well). It was also wooded so no cavalry charge would be possible now. Then? I don't know?
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Old 12 Sep 11, 19:20
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There was a sunken road. But it was dug up with much of the ridge to build the Lion Mound. Wherever you saw the road Noodle, it can't have been the original. These paintings are fanciful, but there is a famous account (by Mercer I think) of cavalry riding en masse up the road and being caught in some murderous fire. The account tells of most of the participants being wiped out but this has been disputed as well.
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Old 13 Sep 11, 03:09
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Thumbs up

About a hundred Curryasars got nobbled at the back of Hugomonte by an English Light Infantry Battalion... if memory serves?

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Old 13 Sep 11, 03:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
I've been down the sunken road with Strat and the Major in 2009. It was deep enough iirc to certainly stop a cavalry charge. You may wish to ask them as my memory is a bit hazy.
Memory does serve you well Nick.
During the tour there we came across at least one sunken road a couple of meters deep that would have stopped any cavalry charge.
It was screened by trees, so not likely any cavalry would charge through these trees but that was in 2009.
How it would have looked in 1815 I'm reluctant to say.
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Old 13 Sep 11, 08:44
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I've found this photo on Google Earth while checking out the Waterloo area.
The road looks a bit sunken and its the only picture of a more or less sunken road i've found there... The time factor is here the main problem I guess...

Cheers.
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Old 13 Sep 11, 11:23
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That pictures shows the far western end of "les Vertes Bornes", north of Hougoumont. Even if the cavalry attacks took place there , the main effort was a bit more to the east, the between the crossroads and west of the lion mound, on the part that was levelled when the mound was built. It was a sunken road, NOT A RAVINE. That ravine was invented and/or popularised by Victor Hugo.

The sunken road was an obstacle and certainly broke the impetus, but it was not the reason why the charges didn't succeed.

The reason for that was that the squares were not sufficiently weakened.
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Old 14 Sep 11, 08:30
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Like I said, this is the only picture i found of an sunken road there... It's true, this place shouldn't be corect. Anyway, I can't imagine founding a 3m sunken road there today...
Any news from others?


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Old 14 Sep 11, 09:47
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This deeper sunken road Nick, Stratego and I came across in the summer of 2009 ran east-west
and was well east of the road from la Belle Alliance to la Haye Saint farms (the current N5)
so definitely in the eastern part of the battlefield.
and just a couple of 100 meters south/south-west of Pappelote.

BTW: the locality of Ohain (as in the title of the painting) is located 2 km further NE, off the battlefield, where AFAIK there was no fighting in June 1815.
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Last edited by Major Sennef; 14 Sep 11 at 13:59..
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