Early in the afternoon of June 19th 2015 in the little village of Waterloo, south of Brussels in Belgium, the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte walked in the gardens of his battle headquarters in the farmhouse of Le Caillou with his wife Josephine. The next day his imperial army would be hurled into battle against the multi-national alliance commanded by the English general Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
Just 200 years earlier, by nightfall on the nexty day, the Emperor Napoleon's troops would have come within a whisker of victory, then failed and then were routed, starting a headlong flight back into France and the final days of Emperor Napoleon before he was exiled to the South Atlantic island of Helena and consigned to history.
200 years later, in June 2015, Travel Gumbo's representative attended the huge reenactment on the battle field of Waterloo and here are a few of the characters whom he encountered, starting, of course with the (real life descendant of) Emperor and his wife.
The Emperor was in a ebullient mood and greeted his many supporters who lustily shouted "Vive l' Empereur" at the top of their voices.
Strolling around the large tented bivouac housing Napoleon's troops, many fascinating soldiers and their officers could be glimpsed.
Strict historical detail was the order of the day.
The Old Imperial Guard, tested by many campaigns, were Napoleon's best shock troops and were kept in reserve for the final 'putsch' in the battle.
His officers were dressed in their finest uniforms for the battle.
A mere 2 miles away in the bivouac of the opposing allied troops were gathering battled-hardened soldiers of half a dozen nations, drawn by the single resolve of stopping and defeating the Emperor. Tough Scots fusiliers, hardened by the Peninsular Wars, stood side by side with the German Legion and Dutch troops, some accompanied by their wives or sweethearts who were to be seen throughout the camp.
Gunners prepared their canons for the coming battle.
Whilst soldiers prepared their muskets and equipment.
Within a few short hours, the canons would commence their scything fire, the lancers and dragoons would make their sorties with lance and sabre and the killing would begin...