Apr 122012
 

Author Guest Post

I’m delighted to be a stop on Regina Jeffers’ Blog Tour for her new release, The Disappearance of Georgiana!  In her guest post today, she gives readers a little bit of history about the Battle of Waterloo and explains its connection to her novel!  Thank you, Regina, for including Austenesque Reviews on your blog tour!  We wish you the best of luck in your new release!

The Battle of Waterloo
 
Did the Weather Change History?

Background:

The Battle of Waterloo was fought thirteen kilometers south of Brussels between the French, under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Allied armies commanded by the Duke of Wellington from Britain and the 72-year-old General Blücher from Prussia. The French defeat at Waterloo drew to a close 23 years of war beginning with the French Revolutionary wars in 1792 and continuing through the Napoleonic Wars. There was a brief eleven-month respite when Napoleon was forced to abdicate, exiled to the island of Elba. However, the unpopularity of Louis XVIII and the economic and social instability of France motivated Napoleon’s return to Paris in March 1815. The Allies soon declared war once again. Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo marked the end of the Emperor’s final bid for power, the so-called ‘100 Days,’ and the final chapter in his remarkable career.

Why did Napoleon lose?

Wellington described his victory as a ‘damned near-run thing.’ The battle was closely fought, and either side could have won, but mistakes in communication, leadership, and judgment led, ultimately, to the French defeat.

Communication was key. The fastest way to communicate was by sending messages with horseback riders, but this created a delay in instructions being carried out, and there was a high chance of the messages being intercepted and never arriving. Given the numbers of troops involved and the distances involved, potentially fatal results could easily occur if communications failed, and Napoleon did not have any system in place to ensure that the orders had been received.

In his choice of leaders, Napoleon’s judgment was poor. Marshal Grouchy was said to be a great General, but he was out of his depth in this battle. He showed little initiative and was tardy in his pursuit of the Prussians, giving them time to regroup. Ney also proved unreliable as a leader, failing to take advantage of his situation in the precursory battle at Quatre-Bras and then in leading the cavalry, unsupported by infantry and artillery, at Waterloo.

The Battle of Waterloo took the lives of 47,000 soldiers and occurred in an area as small as 6.5 km by 3.5 km.

For an hour by hour breakdown of the battle’s events, visit BBC History (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/battle_waterloo_01.shtml). And, of course, the Waterloo 1815 website has magnificent details(http://www.napoleon-battles.com/).

One of the elements outside Napoleon’s direct control, but one that brought about many of his woes was the weather from June 16-18, 1815. Both the French and the Allies experienced the same conditions, and the blame for the loss most likely can be attributed to the fact that Napoleon’s arrogance and inflated self-confidence stood in the way of reason.

The area around Waterloo experienced heavy rains on June 17 and the morning of the 18th. Some military strategists suggest that the soaked ground might have delayed the battle and would have given the Prussian army the time to join forces with Wellington. One must remember that even Victor Hugo spoke of the influence of weather on the battle’s outcome. In chapter 3 of Les Misérables, the commentator says, “If it had not rained in the night between the 17th and the 18th of June, 1815, the fate of Europe would have been different. A few drops of water, more or less, decided the downfall of Napoleon. All that Providence required in order to make Waterloo the end of Austerlitz was a little more rain, and a cloud traversing the sky out of season sufficed to make a world crumble.””

Dennis Wheeler and Gaston Demarée’s article, “The weather of the Waterloo campaign 16 to 18 1815,” cites several passages from those who experienced the battle firsthand.

From the letters of Private William Wheeler of the 51stKings Infantry comes this excerpt, “…[a]nd as it began to rain the road soon became very heavy…the rain increased, the thunder and lightning approached nearer, and with it came the enemy…the rain beating with violence, the guns roaring, repeated bright flashes of lightning attended with tremendous volleys of Thunder that shook the very earth…”

And Private John Lewis of the 95thRifles wrote home to say, “…[t]he rain fell so hard that the oldest soldiers there never saw the like…””

Napoleon planned to attack at 8 A.M., but some experts estimate that it was closer to eleven before he struck. Besides the soft ground slowing the progress of Napoleon’s heavy artillery, one must take into consideration the concept that cannon shot was designed to fall short of the target and then skip along the ground for the most damage. In muddy conditions, the weapon’s effectiveness was compromised. The cavalry could not move forward easily. Captain Cotter of the South Lincolnshire regiment wrote of, “…[m]ud through which we sank more than ankle deep….” The cavalry charge was reduced from a gallop to a canter. A damp mist rose and mixed with the guns’ smoke. However, the winds did not carry away the “veritable fog of war.”

Finally, the French infantry advancing towards the Anglo-Dutch lines reportedly crossed through fields of wet rye. Muskets and rifles loaded prior to the march would likely misfire because of damp powder. Napoleon’s assault would have suffered more than would have Wellington’s defensive lines under such conditions.

So, how do the events at Waterloo fit into my newest novel? In The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam returns from his service under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo to find an even greater personal disaster awaiting him. His new wife, his cousin Georgiana Darcy, was to meet him at the Fitzwilliam estate in Scotland. However, Georgiana has been told that he did not survive the Battle of Waterloo, and in a state of grief, she has run from the manor house and is presumed to have lost her life on the unforgiving moors.

GIVEAWAY!!!  Today Author Regina Jeffers generously brings with her ONE BRAND NEW copy of The Disappearance of Georgiana for me to giveaway!!
 

All you have to do is leave a comment on this guestpost. (To save your inbox from unwanted spam, please don’t leave your email address.) Just check back to see if you win! Fortunately for our international friends, the giveaway is open worldwide!    Thank you, Regina!!

This contest ends April 30th!!!  Best of luck and thank you for entering!

 


Regina, is one of four authors visiting Austenesque Reviews this month.

 

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  59 Responses to “Guest Post + Giveaway with Regina Jeffers”

  1.  

    This sounds great! ssandmoen@yahoo.com

  2.  

    This sounds wonderful – and with a giveaway that is INTERNATIONAL!
    Many Thanks!

  3.  

    Shanna,
    Thank you for stopping by today. Although the book has only been out for a week, it is getting some good buzz, for which I am very thankful.

  4.  

    Samantha,
    “Disappearance” is what is known as a cozy mystery – no CSI effect in this one.
    Thank you for reading the post.

  5.  

    Elizabeth Bennet is my literary hero. Georgiana Darcy, not so much. But perhaps this book will sway me more to her side. Sounds interesting! And I’m glad Darcy takes Elizabeth along for the hunt.

  6.  

    Though I have been terrible at keeping up with my must-read blogs lately, I am nevertheless rewarded, landing here just as one of my favorite authors visits a favorite blog, and offering a giveaway, no less! My timing couldn’t be better. Ms. Jeffers is a formidable writer, and it sounds like this might be one of her most complex Austenesque novels yet. I can’t wait to read it!

    •  

      Hello, Alexa. I have missed crossing paths with you of late. Thank you for the kind words.
      This book is a follow up to my “Christmas at Pemberley.” I have another novel that will be released in early 2013 that keeps the story line going.

  7.  

    I have read good reviews of this book. Can’t wait to read it!

    drcopeland(at)hotmail(dot)com

  8.  

    This books looks so interesting! Thanks for the background information.

  9.  

    Regina is a wealth of knowledge and 5 star books! Great post! I started TDOGD last night and am loving it. (no need to enter me into drawing)

  10.  

    I have been hearing so many good things about this book! I cannot wait to read it!
    Thanks so much for the giveaway! 🙂

  11.  

    Every time I read another review I want this book even more. Thanks for the giveaway!

  12.  

    That’s fascinating how such epic moments in history can be turned on something like rain. Regina’s story sounds great. It sounds almost like a Shakespearean tragedy for first Col. Fitz and then Georgiana presumed dead.

    Thanks for the opportunity to win it!

  13.  

    Oh my!!! I loved all of the history & details about Waterloo – helps you to understand what Fitzwilliam was doing/involved with during his time in service to Wellington. I had just put this book on my “to-read” list the other day when I saw it featured here on the blog. All of the extra details/info and the summary of this story makes me want to read it all the more!! Sounds very intriguing… and who doesn’t love more Austen??! I can never have “enough” of Austen – I LOVE these continuations!! Thank you both, Meredith & Regina, for the wonderful review and thank you both, also, for the giveaway!! 🙂

  14.  

    Regina, my friend, interesting post. Now for my two cents.

    Certainly, the weather influenced the battle—on both sides. The wet conditions slowed down the French, and slowed down the Prussians. The French cannonballs effectiveness was hampered by the mud, but so were the British shells. The French infantry had to slog up the sloppy hill to get at Wellington’s troops, but they would have still had to deal with Wellington’s reverse slope tactics and the effectiveness of the British squares against cavalry in dry conditions. Remember Spain.

    IMHO, French apologies like Victor Hugo miss the point. By 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was not the same general he had been before the invasion of Russia in 1812. He was ill and he was overconfident. He dismissed the warnings from his generals of Wellington’s abilities. Napoleon’s marshals were not up to snuff—his best men had not rallied to his banner. The French did as well as they did because of their great fighting abilities and the green “infamous” army Wellington had to contend with. Certainly the French could have won at Waterloo, but if Wellington had the crack troops that were still in Canada and returning from Louisiana, because of the stupid War of 1812, the Iron Duke may have completely routed the Emperor.

    Wars and battles are full of “what-ifs.” I think a better turning point was the Russian Invasion in 1812. Say Napoleon did not try to take Moscow, and still had those 500,000 men. Would all Europe be speaking French now?

    I’ve got to get your book. Please do not enter me in the contest.

    •  

      Jack, I always welcome your two cents worth.
      Personally, I have always felt that by this time the French fought with less than an enthusiastic effort. They had been at war for too many years and on too many fronts. (It reminds me of the U.S. in several of our past and current efforts.)
      True, Napoleon had read too many of his own headlines.

  15.  

    Liked all the information given on this historic battle. Thank you for an informative post. Thanks for the chance to win specially for making it open to all. Much appreciated.

    mystica123athotmaildotcom

  16.  

    Thank you very much for the interesting overview and the giveaway! I’d love to have the chance to read your book.

  17.  

    There is no doubt that the weather contributed to how the battle of Waterloo was fought. The rain had been torrential–there are accounts of the night before of cavalry officers and dragoons standing between their tightly packed horses to sleep in order both to keep the horses calm because of the thunder, but also to keep warm and slighter dryer under the horse blankets. Other accounts report that the fires couldn’t be kept lit in such rain so the troops resorted to standing about and ‘dancing’ to keep warm. So probably it’s fair to say that everyone was bone-tired by the time battle commenced.

    There are other reasons cited though too–Napoleon was and had been suffering extremely from piles and therefore sitting on a horse was exceedingly painful and his attention was not as focused as it might have been. Also, the French cavalry had never recovered from the loss of 450,000 horses on the Russian campaign of 1812–not only had those fine, superbly-trained animals not survived, but in losing Prussia and Saxony as his allies, Napoleon had not been able to remount his cavalry at the annual horse fairs in Germany that were the best in Europe. Thus, by 1814, he was conscripting farm horses…and I’m not saying they’re not grand pulling ploughs, they just might not be so great under heavy fire.

    And as you’ve mentioned, the sodden ground would be very slow. If there’s mud as there would have been after even two horses had gone before, the rest of the horses would have had to trot or even walk to avoid slipping and falling. So “charge at a trot” is probably as close as they got to excitement…Also in mud, it’s impossible to keep your line and formation. It’s too uncertain underfoot.

    Andrew Roberts’ slim volume, “The Battle of Waterloo” is undoubtedly the clearest, most concise account of the battle and his battle diagrams are top hole. Nick Foulkes’ “Dancing into Battle” is a most moving and fascinating account of the weeks before Waterloo as well as the of the battles of both Quartre-Bras and Waterloo, following the accounts of many who fought there, or who were tourists or who came with their husbands…

    •  

      Thank you for including several more sources on Waterloo. I have many more details that I could have included, but I wanted to focus on the weather because dreams of the blood and the mud haunt Col. Fitzwilliam in my latest novel.

  18.  

    My boss is a military historian, whose area of specialty is Napoleon. So I hear a LOT of Napoleon stories, haha…but I love the idea of Napoleon playing some sort of a role in the world of my Jane Austen figures. Even, you know, if it is slightly tangentially-related ;o)

    This book just sounds more and more awesome :o)

  19.  

    I love these history facts to refresh my knowledge. I am sure the book is superb.

  20.  

    One think I liked about this novel is that it doesn’t shy away from the possibility of Fitzwilliam having PSTD. I can’t fathom watching your friend lose his arm and knowing that he’s the lucky one. These poor soldiers not only put their lives on the line, but also their sanity.

    There are some days that I’m stressed out enough that one of my kids is unlucky enough to leave a mess for me to clean up, and it sets me off.

    •  

      Angie, I hope to use some form of post traumatic symptoms in the future for Edward Fitzwilliam, but I haven’t decided the extent. I grew up in the Vietnam era, and I know more than one former soldier who suffered. How could one not suffer? There is no glory in war.

  21.  

    I am not a war buff but I always love seeing Waterloo and Wellington mixed with Jane Austen’s characters. With the warfare lasting so many years, how could JA’s cast *not* be affected. I am excited about your new story and wish it could be a movie that I could watch!

    ~ June

    •  

      The war’s effect could not be completely ignored. Although Austen makes few references to the war, even in the “villages” that represented ALL of England in Austen’s works, the people did not remain untouched.

  22.  

    Interesting post! I know very little about the Battle of Waterloo. I can’t wait to read this book! Each new post and review I read about it only makes me more eager! Thanks for the giveaway!!=)

  23.  

    I love the historical info and the book sounds great.

  24.  

    Congratulations, Regina on your book release. It sounds fun and interesting since I love reading history. Adding it in my tbr list. And thanks for the giveaway.

  25.  

    “The Disappearance of Georgiana” looks great, I do not think I have another Austen inspired novel that has Georgina as its focus. I would like to add this one to the Austen inspired bookshelves. Thank you for this interesting post.

    •  

      There are a few who use Georgiana as the main character. A couple of my Austen Author friends have penned novels based around Georgiana. I could be in error, but Ibelieve this is the only one that is a mystery, however.

  26.  

    Kelli, the book has gotten some great early buzz. I hope you enjoy it.

  27.  

    I think it makes the book more real when an author attends to the facts of the historical period.

  28.  

    Sylvia, I am pleased that you stopped by to read the post and to enter the giveaway.

  29.  

    Congrats on the new release! Loved the post. Thanks!

  30.  

    I have always thought that Georgiana is more than just a shy girl, so i think I am going to love this book!

    •  

      Maria, we think alike. I believe Darcy is more like his father. The older Mr. Darcy was attracted to Lady Anne because of her “spirit.” Therefore, Darcy cannot keep his eyes nor his mind long from Elizabeth Bennet.
      In P&P, Georgiana was a shy girl of 16, but in this novel she is closer to nineteen and has lived with Elizabeth for several years. She has learned self confidence, but she inherited her adventurous spirit from her late mother.

  31.  

    I can’t wait to read this book! I have enjoyed your other books.

  32.  

    delited to find another opp to win this exciting adventure! TY Regina! and may i say how lovely is your choice of Georgiana for the cover !?!

  33.  

    This sounds like a great story, Regina. I can’t wait to read it, and the cover is beautiful.

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