Lockdown Lectures: The 52nd Foot at Waterloo
Archived Lecture Available Now (First Broadcast 1st March 2021)
Following the popularity of our first Lockdown Lecture, The Pegasus Bridge Story, our next online talk sees historian Gareth Glover delve into the history of The Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry to address the debate surrounding The 52nd Foot at Waterloo and the part they really played in the famous battle.
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Now, thanks to the uncovering of the previously unpublished journal of Charles Holman of the 52nd Foot, Gareth Glover is able to piece together the exact sequence of events in those final, fatal moments of the great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?
The lecture can be viewed on this page via your web browser (Google Chrome recommended for best viewing experience), including highlights from the live Q&A session that followed the live event.
If you enjoy the lecture, please consider a donation to the Museum - we are currently unable to open to visitors under lockdown restrictions and need your support now more than ever.