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Lockdown Lectures: The 52nd Foot at Waterloo

The 52nd Foot at Waterloo – Watch The Archived Lecture Now

Lockdown Lectures: The 52nd Foot at Waterloo

As the Battle of Waterloo reached its momentous climax, Napoleon's Imperial Guard marched towards the Duke of Wellington s thinning red line. The Imperial Guard had never tasted defeat and nothing, it seemed, could stop it smashing through the British ranks. But when the Imperial Guard  was sent reeling back in disorder, the credit for defeating them would go to the 1st Foot Guards - then renamed the Grenadier Guards in honour of their actions.

However, the 52nd Foot also contributed to the defeat of the Imperial Guard yet received no comparable recognition. The controversy of which corps deserved the credit for defeating the Imperial Guard has continued for decades, even centuries, a contentious subject over which much ink has been spilled.

Now, thanks to the uncovering of the previously unpublished journal of Charles Holman of the 52nd Foot, Gareth Glover is able to piece together the exact sequence of events in those final, fatal moments of the great battle. Along with numerous other first-hand accounts, he has been able to understand the most likely sequence of events, the reaction to these events immediately after the battle and how it was seen within the army in the days after the victory.

Who did Wellington honour at the time? How did the Foot Guards gain much of the credit in London? Was there an establishment cover-up? Were the 52nd robbed of their glory? Do the recent much-publicised arguments stand up to impartial scrutiny?

Watch the video below in your browser now, including highlights from the live Q&A session.

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