Waterloo Witnesses (Hardback)
Military and Civilian Accounts of the 1815 Campaign
As reviewed on Zack White's The Napoleonicist podcast
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Vivid and entertaining. A most enjoyable account of the dramatic events of 1815 told through the words of those who were there. - Rory Muir, author of Wellington: Waterloo and the Fortunes of Peace
The events of Sunday, 18 June, stand as the defining moment of the year 1815, if not of an entire era. The allied victory over Napoleon’s French army at the Battle of Waterloo reshaped governments and boundaries, made or broke fortunes and touched thousands of lives in ways both large and small, and it has been analysed, dissected and refought on paper a hundred times.
Perhaps, though, the very best words ever written about that momentous campaign are the first-person accounts recorded as events unfolded. It is these vivid accounts that Kristine Hughes has collected together in order to convey the hopes, fears and aspirations of their authors. They inject the story of the battle with a level of humanity that reclaims it from the realm of legend and restores it to the people who witnessed it.
In chronological order, Hughes weaves these accounts together, presenting a novel view of the campaign and battle as they were experienced by both military men and civilians. The result is a fascinating and varied picture of the individuals involved and the society of the period. Their words make compelling reading.
Editor's ChoiceThe Armourer, October 2021
It's a very different but utterly compelling way to tell the story anew.
A brilliant, inspiring and original work! Writers, students and historians alike will be indebted to the author for many years come.Joshua Provan, author Bullocks, Grain and Good Madeira: The Maratha and Jat Campaigns 1803-1806.
It’s refreshing to see a new perspective on such an important event. Hughes weaves the story of Waterloo together wonderfully, allowing the reader to see events through the eyes of those who lived through those dark days. I would recommend this book to all historians of military and social history alike.Marcus Cribb, English Heritage. Manager of Apsley House and Wellington Arch
Hughes is an engaging writer, whose light touch and keen eye for a good anecdote or pithy quote ensures that the book is an effortless read. The book is thoughtfully written, setting the scene incredibly well, and providing a wealth of interesting information while pivoting rapidly from extract to pertinent extract, drawing the reader in, and not relenting until the last shots have been fired.Zack White, Host The Napoleonicist Podcast
The story of the Battle of Waterloo makes gripping reading and all the more so when it is told in the words of those who were there. For anyone who is not familiar with the material concerned, this new work is a very good place to start.Charles Esdaile, author of Walking Waterloo: A Guide and Peninsular Eyewitnesses
(This) impressive and assured debut chronicles eyewitness accounts that are by turns heartbreaking and inspiring. Waterloo Witnesses vividly evokes a shifting world, from the debating chamber to the drawing room and into the heat of battle.Catherine Curzon, author of The Daughters of George III: Sisters & Princesses
Vivid and entertaining. A most enjoyable account of the dramatic events of 1815 told through the words of those who were there.Rory Muir, author of Wellington: Waterloo and the Fortunes of Peace
A thoroughly enjoyable read. As ever with eyewitness accounts the battle memory is defined by location, visibility and context and therefore (as Siborne found) can produce conflicting views and must be rationalised to gain a general perspective. Of much greater impact are the eyewitness accounts of the battlefield on the 19th June 1815, the day after battle. Here the impact of fear and confusion is replaced with cold accounts of the condition of the casualties. Most interesting are the accounts that detail the rapid looting of the dead (and wounded) some even during the course of the battle. Also, the despatch of wounded men and animals as a saving grace from the pain and anguish that could not be solved by medical efforts, and the efforts to dispose of the dead, human and animal. An absorbing read.Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide