BLOG Thursday 28 May
Death of a gunner at Waterloo
'After my visit to HQ, I arrive at the site of the confrontation and climb the Lion Monument. Maps and diagrams can never tell the whole story, and from here it is so much easier to visualise the stages of the battle. The height of Wellington's ridge was altered in his lifetime but the landscape below is still the same, including the farms. I now walk westward along the ridge, site of Wellington's right flank, to see some of the areas where the cavalry charges took place, both the initial charge of the Allied brigades under Uxbridge and the desperate charges by the French cavalry, ordered by Marshal Ney late in the afternoon. I am on my quest to discover more about my great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Lord, and see how his brother, John Lord, most likely met his death. I am interested in the way the British infantry defended their position against cavalry charges; they formed squares, with three ranks of soldiers on each side and 600 soldiers per square. I am also keenly aware of the huge sacrifice among the English cavalry. From a total strength estimated around 2,500, up to two thirds of of the men died or were wounded, and more horses were killed.
'My family folklore has it that Joseph Lord was in the 1st Life Guards, in the Household Cavalry Brigade under Somerset. This is consistent with information from a military-service website, where a John Lord is listed as a gunner in the same brigade. Here, where he died, I feel I am on the right track to begin to imagine their experiences.'
BLOG Wednesday 20 May
Our man at Waterloo
My novel The Chase, which ends during the Battle of Waterloo, will be re-released by Endeavour Press as an eBook later this year, so I'm bringing you despatches from the front from my friend Bruce Lord, currently visiting the battlefields.
'While I'm looking at the situation from the Allied perspective, I'm equally moved by the experiences of their opponents, especially the ordinary foot soldiers of the Armée du Nord. Among the exhibits is a piece of artillery from the battle, kept in the courtyard. I've read that the British soldiers who fired these cannon at the countless marauding French cavalry, as they came over the crest of the hill, had to wait until the last possible moment and then dive between the wheels, hoping for protection, or run for the nearest square. Their role was no less dangerous than that of the infantry and cavalry and I can't help but reflect how lucky one would be to survive in such a battle.'
Readers, see the Literary Mentor facebook pages for Bruce's images from Waterloo.