Wellington said it was a ‘damned near fought thing’. What if it had gone the other way?
He bruised a Prussian army the rebounded and saved a British/Dutch army that just barely held him off all day. But he still had no hope against a huge Russian army that would contest his demand that Russia only do business with French-dominated Europe, and not with Britain with its huge navy.
Well, even if Napo won and killed/fled all the Dutch/British of Wellington, there still was Blücher with the Prussian army, a Britto/Spanish army on the Pyrénées, an austrian army in Italy and on the Rhine, a Russian army in Germany (that was making fast march to Paris since the news of Napo’s return)…You get the idea.
And there were a shortage of French manpower too. 24 years of constant war had this kind of effect.
The only “what if…” merely plausible (except total win in the early years, like successful landing in Britain after a victory at Trafalgar) is in 1813: the Allies were very afraid of the capacities of the french army and offered peace, with the return to the 1805 frontiers. That would have let an Imperial France, but Napo toughs he can have more…he was wrong.
Yes, I think it is clear that Napoleon’s dream of a worldwide French empire was impossible by that point, and the political forces aganst him were very powerful. I’m just wondering how history might have changed if he had a Waterloo victory in his ppcket?
Success at Waterloo would basically would have had to have been immediately followed by breaking Blücher which was the original idea (to defeat them detail). Assuming substantial losses for a defeated Blücher at Waterloo that likely would have been much easier than otherwise.
But that still leaves the other Coalition armies intact as you note. Napoleon would have very likely needed to pull a few more miraculous victories out of his ass with steadily dwindling resources to push the Coalition to the bargaining table. It’s not utterly impossible - he was that good tactically. But it is pretty unlikely. Napoleon wasn’t preordained to lose his campaign to regain the throne, but it was always a tremendous long shot.
James Bond would have been Jacques Lien.
US-americans would have been called “bagel-eating-surrender-monkeys” at some point. Wrongly and in bad faith.
ABBA would not have won the ESC in 1974.
Canada’s official language would be French. Only French. Alaska would be French too, part of Canada.
The United Kingdom would be four separate, independent republics.
There would be less team sports, more individual sports, and sports would involve balls less often. Specially balls that are not spherical. Tennis would still be a thing, though.
You were defeated, I won the war…
Doesn’t have the same ring to it.
That’s a fair enough humorous aside, but had Napoleon won would “Waterloo” have been in use as a synonym for “notable defeat for a major military figure”?
Probably not, it wouldn’t have been as notable a defeat for Wellington as it was for Boney (being career-ending)
Which begs the question, which battle post 1815 and pre 1974 would fill that void? would it simply have been the next battle that did bring Napoleon down?
If so, would he have had the decency to lose in a location with a three-syllable name so the rest of the song still scans?
If he defeats Wellington and Blucher he have to deal with multiple armies as said.
His aim would be go defeat them in detail. Which he could well have done, and he had done stuff like that before.
The issue is what next. The Allies weren’t going to back down.
War continues into 1816/1817. And Napoleon loses again.
Even if he won, would he have lived past 1821 (discounting the Helena arsenic theory)?
Without him, the Napoleonic Wars are like the (first) Hundred Years War, the Frondes, Vietnam, Algeria: conflicts where French common sense finally prevails and they move on.
And Napo wasn’t the same as 10 years prior, neither his army: the bulk of the Grande Armée died in Russia and the ranks were filled with young recruits.
His generals weren’t as good either, especially thinking at saving theirs gains (various kingdoms and so).
His adversaries were more informed and bonus: they knew he could be defeated since they’ve done that the prior year. And they were not afraid of an invasion of Britain like in 1805, not even of Germany…
Probably generally true, but one arguably critical failure Napoleon likely made in the Waterloo campaign is he left probably his best general all time in Paris. He had reason to and it might just have been worth it if he won Waterloo without him. But he stood a better chance of winning with him and winning was critical so he probably should have brought him.
Napoleon was a capable political leader who introduced many worthy reforms, reduced corruption and was that rare combination of able general and enlightened despot.
However, his constant military focus, though often successful, completely exhausted France. His relatives were less worthy rulers than he was, failing to win over important countries like Spain. Eventually his exhausted soldiers would have united against him in protest against his constant warmongering. If his opponents had not united to do so first.
Over the medium term I don’t think much would have changed. England and Austria-Hungary would have struck again after he continued to provoke them.
He was also missing Berthier, his consumate general staff officer. Instead, he had Soult fulfilling that role. Soult’s badly worded order to Grouchy contributed to the ability of the Prussians to evade Grouchy and arrive at the late stages of the Waterloo battle.
Wellington commented to his staff that he needed either Blücher or nightfall to win the battle. Soult and Grouchy combined gave Blücher the opportunity.