Waterloo, a village in Belgium, on the outskirts of the forest of Soignes, 8 m. S. by E. of Brussels; pop. in 1871, 2,935. Near this village was fought, June 18 1815, the battle between the allied English, Netherland, and German troops under Wellington, and the French under Napoleon, which resulted in the complete overthrow of the French emperor. On June 14 the forces of Wellington, comprising about 1)2,000 British, Hanoverian/Brunswick, Nassau, and Netherland troops, were cantoned between the river Scheldt and Nivelles, the duke having his headquarters and reserves at Brussels; while Blücher, with three corps of Prussians, about 90,000 men, occupied Namur, Charleroi, and the adjacent country on both sides of the Sambre. Napoleon decided to attack the Anglo-Prussian troops before the other contingents of the coalition could reach the frontier, and on the evening of the 14th advanced from Beaumont toward the point of junction between Blucher and Wellington, with 124,000 mon. On the 15th he drove in the Prussian outposts S. of the Sambre and entered Charleroi, which was evacuated by the Prussians, who by 2 A. M. of the 16th were concentrated to the number of 80,000 at Ligny, between St. Amand and Sombreffe, facing the Sambre. At 5 P. M. on the 15th Wellington issued orders to the outlying divisions of his forces to concentrate at Quatre-Bras, an important strategic point where four roads meet, from Brussels, Charleroi, Nivelles, and Namur. At 4 o'clock next morning the whole army was moving in the same direction, followed by Wellington, who, for the purpose of allaying public fear, had attended a ball given at Brussels by the duchess of Richmond. Napoleon, having sent Ney with 40,000 men to occupy Quatre-Bras and prevent the junction of the English with the Prussians, moved with the rest of his army toward Fleurus, and at half-past 2 in the afternoon of the 16th attacked Blücher at Ligny. Ney, after fatal hesitation, engaged the Anglo-Netherland forces under command of the prince of Orange at Quatre-Bras, 7 m. from Ligny, whither Wellington had ridden to confer with Blücher. After an engagement of five hours, the Prussians were defeated at Ligny, and retreated toward Wavre; but at Quatre-Bras the allied forces held their ground until the British divisions of Picton and Cooke arrived, when the French retired, having failed to carry the position, but succeeded in hindering the junction of the English with the Prussians. Wellington's troops passed the night of the 16th on the field near Quatre-Bras, and at 10 A. M. of the 17th, the defeat of the Prussians and their line of retreat having been ascertained, moved toward Waterloo, where they arrived in the evening.

By arrangement Blücher, if defeated, was to join Wellington at Waterloo with the least possible delay. On the morning of the 17th Napoleon, having directed Marshal Grouchy with 34,000 men and 96 guns to "follow up the enemy," proceeded with the main body of his army toward Waterloo, hoping to defeat Wellington's army before it could be reënforced by Blucher, He arrived too late in the day to give battle, and both armies bivouacked on the field. The allied forces occupied a semicircular ridge a mile and a half in length in front of the village, and the French an opposite ridge, the two being separated by a valley from 500 to 800 yards in width. About 400 yards in front of the British right centre stood the stone chateau of Hougoumont, occupied by a strong force; and fronting the left centre, near the hamlet of Mont SaintJean, was the farm of La Haie Sainte, also strongly occupied. Napoleon's army was drawn up in three lines on both sides of the road from Charleroi to Brussels. In his first line were the infantry corps of Reille and Drouet, with Piré's cavalry; the second line consisted of cavalry in the rear of the wings, and the third line of the sixth corps under Lobau. Behind the whole was the imperial guard, constituting the reserve.

Napoleon's headquarters were at the farm of La Belle Alliance on the Charleroi road, near his centre. The armies were nearly equal; the French numbered about 72,000 men, mostly veterans, of whom 15,000 were cavalry, and 240 guns; and the allies about 70,000 men, including 13,500 cavalry, and 159 guns. The English contingent was a little over 25,000 men, mainly new recruits, the Netherlanders about 17,500, and the rest were Brunswickers, Hanoverians, and other Germans. Rain from noon on the 17th until the next morning impeded movements, and Napoleon, confident that Grouchy would prevent the arrival of the Prussians, deferred the attack on the 18th until the ground should be dry enough for manoeuvres of artillery. His intention was to turn the allied left, force it back upon the centre, and gain possession of the highway leading through the forest, Wellington's only line of retreat. To draw off the duke's attention to his right, the divisions of Jerome Bonaparte, Foy, and Bachelu moved at half-past 11 o'clock upon the chàteau of Hougoumont. The surrounding wood was taken and retaken several times, remaining at last in the hands of the French; but the building defied every effort of capture, and at 2 P. M. was still in possession of its defenders.

Shortly before this time the advance of the Prussian corps under Billow, which had not participated in the battle of Ligny, was seen at a distance on the French right, approaching from Liége. Napoleon detached 10,000 men under Lobau to watch the Prussians, and sent new orders to Grouchy to march upon St. Lambert and take the enemy in the rear. The weakening of his centre by the loss of Lobau's troops necessitated a change in his plan of battle, and about half past 1 o'clock Ney was ordered to break through the allied centre, and push their right back toward Brussels. Ney accordingly moved against La Haie Sainte, and after a fierce assault carried it; but his progress was checked by the English division of Picton and Ponsonby's brigade of heavy cavalry, and the French were forced back into the ravine, where Milhaud's cuirassiers came to their assistance and compelled the English to retire. Picton and Ponsonby were killed. Ney reformed his troops and again advanced to the attack, preceded by Milhaud's cavalry and a brigade of the light cavalry of the guard. After a gallant defence the German troops who held La Haie Sainte were overpowered by the French infantry, and at half past 3 the farm again fell into the hands of the assailants.

The stubborn resistance of the English guards at Hougoumont induced the French to direct a battery of howitzers against the building; but this, though set on fire by shells, was held to the last. But Wellington, seeing the attack on this point was relaxing in vigor, strengthened his centre with troops from his right and rear. After the capture of La Haie Sainte there was a pause in the French operations against the allied centre, as Napoleon was watching the movements of Billow's corps, which was beginning to debouch on the French right; and at 4 o'clock Wellington directed two bodies of troops upon the enemy at Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte. The attack upon the latter position was repelled by Ney, who sent for reinforcements to make a decisive onslaught upon the allied centre. Napoleon, unable to spare infantry and obliged to go to the right in person to look after the Prussians, gave him the cuirassiers of Milhaud, not for the proposed attack, but to hold his position. An error of Lefebvre-Desnouettes, who commanded the light cavalry of the guard, caused him to follow Milhaud, and Ney, finding these two powerful bodies of horse under his command, hurled them in succession upon the squares of the enemy.

Napoleon, learning what Ney was doing, exclaimed: " It is too soon by an hour;" but to sustain the movement thus begun, he ordered part of Kellermann's cuirassiers to Ney's assistance. Behind these were standing 2,000 heavy cavalry of the guard, and some of their officers going forward to witness Ney's charges, the men understood them to give the signal to advance, and were soon mingled in the melee. Napoleon sent Bertrand to hold them back, but Ney had already launched them against the allied line, which had begun to waver, and, could Ney have had the infantry he desired, would have been utterly defeated. A French division under Durutte had meanwhile carried La Haye and Papelotte on the allied left, and Lobau had driven Billow's forces out of the village of Planchenois on the French right. But rumors of the approach of Blücher's army inspired renewed courage in the allies, and dampened the ardor of the French; and soon after 7 o'clock Napoleon, despairing of the cooperation of Grouchy, collected four battalions of the middle guard and six of the old guard for a final effort against the allied centre. The middle guard, led by Ney, advanced upon the enemy, but had scarcely commenced the attack when Ziethen's Prussian corps appeared on the French right.

La Haye and Papelotte were speedily retaken, and the six battalions of the old guard separated from the middle guard, and formed in squares across the field to cover the retreat of Durutte's fugitives. The middle guard, assailed in front and flank by the allies, held their ground under a fire which rapidly thinned their ranks. Ney, covered with dust and blood, with his clothes torn and his head bare, but still unwounded, though five horses had been shot under him, headed them on foot sword in hand. But the growing confusion in the French right demoralized the veterans, and they retreated. The other six battalions held their ground against overwhelming numbers. The dispersion of the French right by the cavalry brigades of Vandeleur and Vivian isolated them from the rest of the army, but still they stood firm. Finally, when five squares were broken and the rest began to show signs of exhaustion and depletion, the emperor gave the order for their withdrawal, and the cry, "The guard is repulsed," converted retreat into flight. At this moment Wellington advanced his whole line of infantry, and, the Prussians moving simultaneously, the rout of the French became complete. Napoleon, with one regiment of the guard thrown into square, endeavored to form a rallying point for the fugitives.

Failing in this, he expressed his determination to die within the square, but was hurried away by Soult, the guard covering his escape. The heroic band was soon surrounded and called upon to surrender. "The guard dies, it does not surrender," is the reply popularly attributed to Gen. Cambronne; and with the cry of Vive l'empereur, the remnant of the guard charged upon the enemy and perished almost to a man. At half-past 9 P. M. Blücher and Wellington met at Maison du Roi in the rear of the late French centre, and Blücher continued the pursuit of the enemy. The total loss of the allies, including the Prussians, was about 23,000, and that of the French upward of 30,000, besides 227 pieces of cannon. - Of the repeated orders sent to Grouchy at 10 the previous evening, at 3 A. M., and again immediately before the battle, none reached him till 4 P. M. Long before that hour Gérard and Vandamme besought him to break off his pursuit of the Prussians, and march to Waterloo, but he refused. Instead of obeying the emperor's explicit orders when they finally reached him, he made a useless attack upon a corps which Blücher had left at Wavre; and thus the last great battle of Napoleon was lost.