Friday 30 June 2023

Waterloo 1815 - Mud in the morning

Historical background

After escaping from his exile on Elba Napoleon returned to France and again gained imperial power. Most of his former enemies as Austria, Prussia, Russia and Great Britain declared war on him personally (not on France!), but Napoleon made the first move and pushed his army northwards to confront the opposing armies nearest to the French border - a British/allied force under the so far undefeated Duke of Wellington and a Prussian force under the old Fürst Blücher, both in Belgium. Napoleon succeeded in driving both armies away from each other and defeated the Prussians in battle at Ligny while Marechal Ney hold the British at bay at Quatre Bras. Two days later at Waterloo (or better said Mont St. Jean) Napoleon wanted to strike the decisive hammerblow to Wellington's multinational army (British, Dutch/Belgians, Nassauers, Brunswickers, Hanoverians). It was a hard struggle with the odds changing several times. By early evening it looked bad for Wellington, but than the remnants of the Prussian army arrived after forced marches on the battlefield after escaping the French persuing troops under Marechal Grouchy and the battle was finally decided. The French had to retreat and Napoleon had again to go to exile, this time to the isolated island of St. Helena in the Atlantic ocean where he died in 1821.

The moment depicted is the hard work of French guard artillerymen to get their gun in position. The night before it rained heavily and the ground was very muddy, therefore a difficult and exhausting process.

The diorama

The figures and the gun are from Esci. The figures are all in very static and not very lifelike poses, so much conversions had to be done. As the gun is very simplified (a problem with most soft plastic artillery) a lot of details had to be added to achieve a more realistic look. 

Groundwork consists of plaster, MIG dark mud, some colour variations, Faller grass, puddles are made with Vallejo still water with a little colour added. 

The cornfield is made of reed (H0-scale from an unknown manufacturer), spice, Faller grass, glue and paint. The height of wheat was about 1,6 metres, much higher than today. Contrary to many paintings the wheat was still green, becoming fully bright yellow only one month after the battle. 

Photos (click to enlarge)

Video (YouTube)


David Chandler - Waterloo, the hundred Days
Geoffrey Wootten - Waterloo 1815 (Osprey Campaign 15)
John Franklin - Waterloo 1815 (3) (Osprey Campaign 280)
Frank Bauer - Waterloo 18. Juni 1815
Mark Adkin - The Waterloo companion
William Siborne - History of the Waterloo compaign
Andrew Uffindell, Michael Corum - On the Fields of Glory
Ugo Pericoli - Uniformes des Armeés de Waterloo 1815
Philip Haythornthwaite - Unfiorms of Waterloo in color
Stephen E. Maughan - Neopleon's imperial guard (Recreated in colour photographs)
Stephen E. Maughan - Napoleon's line infantry and artillery (Recreated in colour photographs)
Andre Jouineau - Officers and soldiers of the French imperial guard (1)
Ludovic Letrun - Artillery and the Gribeauval system (1)
Robert Wilkinson-Latham - Napoleon's artillery (Osprey Men-at-Arms 54)
Philip Haythornthwaite - Napoleon's specialist troops (Osprey Men-at-Arms 199)
Terence Wise - Artillery Equipments of the Napoleonic wars (Osprey Men-at-Arms 96)
Rene Chartrand - Napoleon's guns 1792-1815: 1 field artillery (Osprey New Vanguard 66)