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Did Any Women Fight At The Battle Of Waterloo?

Fact or Fiction?

There were many women present on the battlefield of Waterloo on the 18th June 1815 (as there were on many battlefields throughout history), including some pregnant women. However it has always been a contentious subject as to whether any of these women actually took part in the fighting of the battle itself.

Many troops at the battle had their wives with them, and a significant number of these women stayed on the battlefield throughout the engagement.  Photo: © Historical Aviation Film Unit

During the wars of the 17th-19th centuries, many women followed their husbands or partners who were soldiers and worked as camp followers, providing essential services like cooking, cleaning, and nursing. Others were present at battles as spectators, and it is know that at Waterloo some members of the aristocracy came to watch the battle. There are also accounts of women helping with the wounded and dying soldiers after the battle had ended.

Gareth Glover has discovered (from primary sources) that there were indeed women present on the battlefield, dressed in uniform who took part in the fighting. These women were found during the recovery and disposal of the casualties from the battle in the following days, so it is quite likely that many more women were present, who were not killed or wounded.

Checkout the video of Gareth's talk at Waterloo, and the details of his book, below.

British troops on the battlefield at Waterloo (in 2015). The haze in this photograph is the 'fog of war' that is created by the black powder smoke from all the muskets and cannon firing on the battlefield. Women were not allowed to serve in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars.  

Waterloo: Myth and Reality — the Book More has probably been written about the Waterloo campaign than almost any other in history. It was the climax of the Napoleonic Wars and forms a watershed in both European and world history.

However, the lethal combination of national bias, willful distortion and simple error has unfortunately led to the constantly regurgitated traditional 'accepted' version being significantly wrong regarding many episodes in the campaign.

Oft-repeated claims have morphed into established fact and, with the bicentenary of this famous battle soon to be commemorated, it is high time that these are challenged and finally dismissed. Gareth Glover has spent a decade uncovering hundreds of previously unpublished eyewitness accounts of the battle and campaign, which have highlighted many of these myths and errors.

In this ground-breaking history, based on extensive primary research of all the nations involved, he provides a very readable and beautifully balanced account of the entire campaign while challenging these distorted claims and myths, and he provides clear evidence to back his version of events.

This short video is part of talk by Gareth Glover presented in Waterloo, just days before the bicentenary of the battle, where he discusses various issue from his new book Waterloo: Myth and Reality. For more details see: http://garethglovercollection.com

Gareth's thoughtful reassessment of this decisive episode in world history is stimulating reading for those already familiar with the Napoleonic period and it forms a fascinating introduction for those who are discovering this campaign for the first time.

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