BAYKO BARON 12a
18th June 1815
La Haye, a solidly built farmhouse on the Brussels/Charleroi road is fortified by Baring's KGL (King's German Legion) troops
A roadblock is erected, while greenclad riflemen take position in the nearby sand-pit
On the slope of Mt St Jean behind, the men of Bilandt's Dutch brigade - badly mauled at Quatre Bras two days before - now hold the forward slope. The bulk of the Allied army however lies concealed beyond the summit.
On the far side of the valley the French Staff fluff their feathers and wait for the ground to dry
At 11.45 am, the Emperor gives the order and General Reille's division launches the opening attack, against the Allied right at Hougomont - to draw Wellington's reserves in that direction
Meanwhile the 'Little Sisters' pulverise the Allied centre behind La Haye in preparation
At 1.30 Napoleon judges the battle ripe and orders D'Erlon's division forward - they pass through the gun line and across the valley in dense columns-of-brigade, a cumbersome and unhandy formation, but one that gives great psychological weight.
The chasseurs and tirailleurs of the Light Infantry shake out into skirmish order to clear the orchard
Pounded and left exposed Bilandt's brigade breaks in the face of the oncoming steamroller, the sand-pit becomes untenable
The orchard is lost
The farmhouse is engulfed as D'Erlons columns sweep on up the slope towards the crest and victory!!
Watching them come the Duke calmly issues his orders
Sir Dennis Pack's Brigade - a thin red line of highlanders moves up to meet the oncoming horde
A crashing volley brings the densely packed columns of Frenchmen to a halt
Timed to perfection Wellington now unleashes Ponsonby's Heavy Brigade - led by the North British Dragoons (Scots Greys). Unable to form square the French brigade columns disintegrate
Carried away by their exultation the British Dragoons charge on, smashing the entire division, then hurling themselves across the valley at the French artillery - they are beyond recall
All that remains is for the highlanders to round up their prisoners and the eagle they have taken
Across the valley the Emperor watches the entire debacle in glum disbelief - it has brought on an attack of his dyspepsia that will shortly take him out of command for a vital hour - But before that...
French lancers and cuirassiers pounce on the blown and disorganised British Dragoons - barely half will make it back to the British lines and the entire Heavy Brigade will be of no further use - but the centre and La Haye have been saved
Brunswickers from Ompteda's Brigade move forward to clear the enemy away from the rear of La Haye and reopen contact with Baring's besieged defenders - (when the farm eventually falls later that afternoon, only 42 of over 400 will escape from it alive)
you can see an alternative photo-set at: