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Calling all armchair generals! Gather your forces and prepare for battle. I’ve got a special treat for you today: a free printable Battle of Waterloo map and activity pages to help bring history alive for your kids! There are Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte coloring pages, a maze, and a special cryptogram for the kiddos to decipher! So grab your crayons and colored pencils, and let’s take a trip back in time to one of the most famous battles in history.
A printable Battle of Waterloo map and a little history lesson!
Bonaparte and Wellington: a couple of real characters
On June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo (or La Belle Alliance, as it is also known) was fought near the village of Waterloo in present-day Belgium. The French Army, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, faced the Anglo-Allied Army commanded by the Duke of Wellington.
Napoleon was one of the most brilliant military commanders in history. His army was almost invincible. His French troops had conquered much of Europe and were feared by all who opposed them.
The Duke of Wellington was a British Army general who had never lost a major battle. He was tasked with leading the coalition forces against Napoleon. This coalition opposing Napoleon included British troops and the King’s German Legion of Hanoverians, as well as forces from the Netherlands, Belgian, Nassau, and more!
Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher’s Prussian army also fought alongside the Duke of Wellington for the last part of the battle–a much-needed help for Wellington’s forces to secure the victory on the Waterloo battlefield!
In the end, Napoleon was defeated and forced to abdicate the throne for the second time. The Battle of Waterloo marked the end of Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France.
The Prussian Army saved the day!
When the Battle of Waterloo began, the French forces had numerical superiority but were unable to break through the Allied armies’ line.
In response to cavalry charges by Marshal Ney, the British infantry squares held firm and eventually repelled repeated attacks by French infantry and cavalry.
When Prussian troops arrived late in the afternoon–having been delayed due to terrible road conditions from bad weather–they helped drive back Napoleon’s reinforcements and seal his defeat.
A bad day for Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon was not at his best on the day of the battle. He had been ill with severe stomach problems and was not thinking clearly. As a result, he made several errors in judgment that cost his army dearly.
In the end, Napoleon was defeated by a combination of poor strategy and unrelenting opposition. As “Le Petit Caporal” famously conceded to one of his officers when he realised that his side was about to be defeated, “Come general, the affair is over, we have lost the day. Let us be off.”
Since then, “Waterloo” has become synonymous with a complete rout or emphatic defeat. In this case, it was a combination of Napoleon’s own errors and the tenacity of his opponents that brought about his downfall. As such, it is a cautionary tale for all would-be conquerors: even the greatest military mind can be undone by poor conditions and good old-fashioned resistance.
New tactics at play at the end of the Napoleonic wars
The close result and widespread casualties – over 25% for both sides – reflected the ferocity with which the battle was fought. The nature of warfare had changed since earlier battles in the Napoleonic Wars; new tactics used by both Wellington and Napoleon would be repeated in later 19th century European conflicts.
Napoleon dethroned and exiled to Saint Helena
The Battle of Waterloo was an important event in history because it resulted in the end of Napoleon’s reign as Emperor of France. It also changed the course of European history.
But despite its importance, the Battle of Waterloo was actually something of a fluke. If not for bad weather and the arrival of Prussian reinforcements at just the right moment, things could have ended very differently indeed. And who knows? If that had been the case, perhaps we’d all be speaking French today…
Battle of Waterloo printables
If you’re interested in learning more about this famous battle, I highly recommend downloading the free printable Battle of Waterloo map and all of our activities! They’re perfect for kids who are interested in history and want to learn more about one of the most iconic battles ever fought.
>>Click here for answer to the cryptogram!<<
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A hilarious historical Easter egg about Napoleon!
You guys, I found the CUTEST book about Napoleon. Without giving too much away, it tells of a time when Napoleon and his troops were stopped in their tracks by a bunch of…rabbits. Ha! It was “Bunnyloo,” according to the book!
This book was really charming. I had just opened the package, gave it a quick read, and left the book on the table, when it was promptly discovered by little eyes and the reading began–unbidden (which is the BEST!) And then I heard chuckles coming from the peanut gallery.
Pssst: here is the answer to the cryptogram from above!
“The reason most people fail instead of succeed is they trade what they want most for what they want at the moment.”