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First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

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First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby MarkW » March 1st, 2016, 3:56 pm

From Reille at the wood or British, Webber-Smith i think, at the advancing Column?
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby Dominique T. » March 1st, 2016, 4:12 pm

As usually at the beginning of a battle, three shot by a battery of the Guard at 11h35.
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby MarkW » March 1st, 2016, 4:34 pm

thanks Dom, for all i have read i really thought that was a bit of a myth and untruth thrown into the movie Waterloo...doesn't Webber-Smith or Cleeves claim theres was the first cannon fired (Glover material) or are they referring to the first British guns then?

were they fired as a signal or a the woods? isnt giving a signal a stupid idea?

Cheers again Dom...i feel like such a rookie with your response despite decades of reading and scores of books on the topic - i am laughing at myself right now :)

fyi i emailed you directly a few minutes ago
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby John Franklin » March 1st, 2016, 4:59 pm

MarkW,

There was no preliminary bombardment of the wood at Hougoumont. The French advanced towards the position and were met by fire from the height above the farm complex. Captain Andreas Cleeve's states that his battery, No.4 King's German Legion Foot Artillery, was the first to fire upon the French that day. His statement is echoed by 1st Lieutenant Ludwig von Wissell of the same battery.

Kind regards

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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby Dominique T. » March 1st, 2016, 5:20 pm

I agree " There was no preliminary bombardment of the wood at Hougoumont"

The 3 shots were a signal to synchronise operations. Of course, the enemy also heard it...
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby Dominique T. » March 1st, 2016, 5:30 pm

I'm sure it was used at Wagram, but I just found that according to Kellermann and Mauduit (so 2 different sources) it was an allied shot that gave the signal.
Bas and 't Serclaes : a shot from the Sandham battery.
Another witness in the same book : a shot ordered by Sir G. Wood, on Wellington's order.
De Craan : allied shot
Napoleon in 1818 : by Reille
Napoleon in 1820 : the English
Thiers : the French
Houssaye : the French
Margerit : the French
Heymès : the great battery of the Guard.
Pontécoulant : the great battery of the Guard.
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby MarkW » March 1st, 2016, 5:41 pm

thanks Dom and John, that clears it up: three guns near to Reille sounded the signal to go; Cleeves first gun fired in battle to kill....?

Dom, your last remark with regard to first firing from, say Napoleon, was he referring to what?

As always, love picking your brains for clarity

One thing for you Dom and John - if you had only one book to take with you on a desert island, about Waterloo, what would it be?

Mark
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby John Franklin » March 1st, 2016, 6:54 pm

MarkW,

That's easy for me to answer: Waterloo Lectures by Charles Chesney, first published 1868.

Chesney's book, based upon the lectures he gave at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, is a superb example of concise analytical diagnosis of the facts, rather than the falsehoods which have blighted the history of the Waterloo campaign so extraordinarily. Here's a link to Chesney's background: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_C ... is_Chesney

Highly recommended.

John
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby Dominique T. » March 1st, 2016, 7:28 pm

MarkW wrote:Dom, your last remark with regard to first firing from, say Napoleon, was he referring to what?


In 1818 : Reille started firing around 11o' clock (which is too early)
In 1820 : 40 pièces of English artillery.

According to the Prince of Orange, it's the French with a battery in support of tirailleurs.

One book only, that is a bit difficult. I do like Mark Adkin's Waterloo Companion, even if there are some errors, it's very hand to find something.
And there are also Les Carnets de la Campagne, very complete and with a lot of pirmary sources, but it's in 14 volumes.
It's the source of what I gave above.
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Re: First cannon fire at Waterloo, on 18th...

Postby Mark » March 2nd, 2016, 9:19 am

I would like to echo John's words regarding Chesney's Waterloo Lectures. In fact, it was John who recommended it to me and I found it extremely useful when writing my own book on Waterloo.

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Mark Simner BA (Hons) MSc | Web: http://marksimner.me.uk | Twitter @marksimner
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