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Waterloo: the horrors for the wounded

The Battle of Waterloo saw many men and horses being horribly wounded and sometimes even waiting days for being attended to, or put out of their misery.

At the end of the battle there were the most horrific scenes as vengeful Prussian soldiers showed no mercy for the wounded French grognards left behind when the battle was lost. This is shown in two accounts from Netherlands soldiers, who were quite upset to what they witnessed. One of these is from Sergeant Wetering, serving in the 4th National Militia Battalion:

I don’t think it will be necessary to describe how the battlefield looked like, as all day long it had been fought with the utmost tenacity. There were thousands of dead and wounded on this battlefield. The rain that had fallen the day before also enlarged the misery. At some places one was forced to walk up to the ankles through puddles of blood mixed with rainwater. We pursued the French up to the stone road to Jemappe [sic]. Then the Prussian lancers came pushing through us. Then the duty for us was done on this glorious day. We marched to within ¼ of an hour reach of Jemappe. There our brigade commander Colonel Ditmers catched up with us and ordered our captain to halt and set up bivouac. He requested our captain to tell us he was satisfied of our behaviour and especially during the skirmishing and that he would notify the divisional general of this. Along the highroad stood a farm building. This was set up for an ambulance, which was full of wounded. Here a fire started during the night and soon the entire building was a prey of the flames. (Oh, those unfortunate wounded.)

Wounded on the battlefield of Waterloo

Another example is that from 2nd Lieutenant Roorda van Eysinga serving in the 19th National Militia Battalion:

But before I continue, I must tell of an example of the Prussian revenge. When in the morning they noticed that French wounded had crawled inside a farm, either to get bandaged or hide, they  lit the building. Horrifying were the cries of the unhappy ones to get saved. Captains De Haan, Menso and lieutenant-adjutant Van Dijk hurried there to save the unhappy ones; ladders were used to carry them from the burning building. I did what I could to be of any help; we managed to save many and when we thought there were no more, we heard that some were still on the attic, who were unable to get down. Ladders were placed at all openings, the flames grew bigger and bigger and we were in danger to suffocate by the smoke, or to be squashed under the crushing timber. At last we managed to save the last one. Shortly there after the roof of the building violently crushed. A French officer wept with gratitude. We spoke to him and he said: “Voila les Hollandais encore braves et généreux. J’ai toujours dit, que cette noble nation malgré tous les revers, qu’elle a essuyé de notre part, ne peut se changer. Il est vrai que les Hollandais sont constants dans les calamités, intrépides guerriers au champ de bataille, et généreux envers leurs prisonniers. Messieurs! je vous jure que ma reconnaissance sera inaltérable, et que vos nobles exploits me fourniront matière d’inspirer les Français avec un respect dû à vos mérites.” I answered: “Monsieur! nous sommes très sensibles à votre sincère reconnaissance, mais les sentiment d’avoir rempli notre devoir, nous recompense autant, que nous vous prions bien humblement de ne plus nous adresser des louanges à cet sujet.”

Let us always remember that even when we write about history, tell about a battle, there were men and animals who sacrificed their lives...