Charles Esdaile joins me to discuss his latest research on what happens if you try to wargame the Battle of Waterloo on a boardgame, and we discuss about why boardgame designers want the allies to lose at Waterloo...
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though I wasn't fond of a wargaming month of the Napoleonicist - it was very enjoyable to listen to this podcast again and listening to Professor Emeritus Charles Esdailes point of view about Belle Alliance - where in fact a agree with almost everything, apart that Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte were of no matter, in my view they were channeling the French attacks on only two possible approaches head on with Wellington's center, he prevented the manoeuvering of Boney.
I have only recently been informed that my name appeared in this podcast. Having listened and thoroughly enjoyed it, I would like to make a couple of comments.
Firstly, Charles states categorically that the French VI Corps did not arrive on the battlefield until about two o'clock. Whilst there is primary evidence that the 4th Division (Durutte) of I Corps (d'Erlon) did not arrive until after the battle had started, I know of no primary evidence that supports Charles' statement that the VI Corps did not. If he, or any reader can supply me with that I would be very interested and grateful.
Charles also mentions that in the podcast that I did with Gareth Glover that we both agreed that Hougoumont took an important part in the battle. In fact, I argued just the opposite and agree with everything Charles said! In fact, as a result of our discussion, I wrote a paper on this very subject that is available on the Napoleon Series, https://www.napoleon-series.org/military-information/battles-and-campaigns/the-true-tactical-significance-of-the-chateau-of-hougoumont-during-the-battle-of-waterloo/
Finally, Charles mentions that I state in Waterloo, The French Perspective, that Napoleon ordered VI Corps to the right flank prior to the Prussian arrival on the battlefield as they had been spotted on their approach march (as claimed by a number of eye-witness accounts, not just Napoleon). This suggests that I take this view also. In fact, later in the book I describe the appearance of the Prussians and the surprise of VI Corps when finding themselves in contact with them, which undermines Napoleon's (and others') earlier claims. In my defence, the book is the 'French perspective' not the 'Field perspective'. In 2022 I certainly support Charles' view that Napoleon was unaware of the Prussian presence until they arrived on the battlefield, perhaps in a way I did not reflect in 2010-11 when I was writing and researching the book (over ten years ago now; where does the time go?!!).