Or epaulettes, or bearskin, or wing, or aigrett. The recent debate on the final moments of the La Garde at Waterloo has got me thinking.
In period, and still today, we have a fascination with elites. Books lionise them. Wargamers shower them with modifiers, to the point it’s almost impossible for Napoleon to lose at Waterloo. Yet then, as now, even elites fail. For every Entebbe there is an Eagle Claw. For ever Embassy Siege there is a Bravo Two Zero. For every Marengo there is a Waterloo.
”The moral is to the physical as three is to one” Napoleon is reputed to have said. Yet all the trappings of an elite do eventually run out. In the end, on that Mint St Jean ridge being ‘La Garde’ could not outweigh being outnumbered, badly deployed or outgunned.
So my question is, elite unit/formation status. How much of that was true or how much is it about our romantic or sentimental desires?