In the last attack of the Imperial Guard at Waterloo, as the five battalions selected Old Guard battalions attacked, “…Instead of striking straight ahead, along the short, relatively sheltered route into Wellington’s wrecked center, Ney led the five battalions northwestward along the same diagonal track where he had sent the cavalry. Anglo-Dutch guns behind Chateau Goumont enfiladed their advance. Ney moved with them on foot, losing all control of the action.”
“Raked front and flank by artillery fire, the first battalion attacked just west of the Brussels highway, routing the Brunswickers and driving Halkett’s battered troops. But Chasse, arriving with a Dutch-Belgian brigade and battery, overwhelmed it by a flank attack. Minutes later, the second battalion momentarily broke into Wellington’s center. The third column (two battalions, which had linked up during their advance) collided with Maitland’s brigade and was driven downhill after a savage fight. The fifth battalion, pushing through intense artillery fire, drove Maitland back, but was itself outflanked by Adam.”-Esposito and Elting Atlas, Map 167.
This short summary of the action is clearly supported by the narratives in William Siborne’s History of the Waterloo Campaign and Henry Houssaye’s Napoleon and the Campaign of 1815: Waterloo. Both narratives are extensively supported by evidence from both sides of the battle.
On page 383 of Nick Lipscombe’s Wellington’s Guns, the author states that ‘The withdrawal of the Imperial Guard was a controlled retreat rather than an ungraceful rout; nevertheless the allied artillery was so decimated that very few batteries were able to assist the infantry and cavalry in their pursuit of the French.
The sources, supported by primary source material as well as credible secondary sources, clearly indicate that, contrary to an ahistorical ‘idea’ posted earlier on this forum (“The Guard Surrenders, It Doesn’t Die”), the Imperial Guard incurred heavy losses at Waterloo, fighting hard not only in the last attack, but with the two battalions fighting in Plancenoit fighting their way out at the end of the battle saving their eagle and the two battalions of the 1st Grenadiers withdrawing intact and in perfect order at the end of the action.
-History of the Waterloo Campaign by William Siborne:
"Captain William Siborne became an ensign in the 9th Foot in 1813 and was sent to France in 1815 as part of a battalion despatched to reinforce Wellington s army. A notable topographer, after the events that year he was commissioned to create a scale model of the Battle of Waterloo, for which he carried out extensive research, writing to officers in the allied forces present to obtain information. The subsequent correspondence amounted to the largest single collection of primary source material on the subject ever assembled. After he had completed his model, which is today on public display in the National Army Museum in London, he used the mass of information he had gathered to produce his History of the Waterloo Campaign, which was at the time the most detailed account of the operations of 1815 and is still considered a classic work on the subject. Siborne s history of Waterloo, the latest addition to Frontline's growing Napoleonic Library, is essential and gripping reading for all those who are interested in how this famous battle was fought and won."