By David HOWARTH
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Additional resources for Waterloo: A Near Run Thing
At two o’clock in the morning, in the inn he had requisitioned in Waterloo, this drastic choice was still in front of him - and that was almost the hour when the retreat, if it was to be retreat, would have to be ordered. It was not until then that a Prussian aide came riding in with Blücher’s answer. It was addressed to Muffling. ‘Your Excellency will assure the Duke of Wellington from me that, ill as I am, I shall place myself at the head of my troops, and attack the right of the French, in case they undertake anything against his Grace.
James’s Palace. But scenting battle, he had persuaded Sir Thomas to take him to Belgium as an extra aide, had borrowed £200 and used it to win £600 at a gambling house in St. James’s Square, and with that had bought an outfit he thought was suitable for an aide, including two first-rate horses from Tattersall’s which he dispatched to Ostend with his groom. He arrived on the field much better turned out than his general with the rusty civilian hat. But Sir Thomas did not really need him, and the regiment had suffered badly at Quatre Bras, so he was sent to rejoin it.
The general’s shambling gait had a possible explanation that Mercer never heard of: he had been wounded in the hip at Quatre Bras, and for fear of being invalided out he had not told anyone about it except his valet. The orchard where Mercer spent the night was close to the sand pit, on the other side of the main road. It belonged to a farm called La Haye Sainte, but by the time his day’s work was done, the farm buildings were already crammed with officers and men: so after his hectic day, he spent the night in as much discomfort as anyone.