The first edition of this book was published within weeks of the battle itself, and it went through seven increasingly sizable editions during that year. This is the seventh edition, so every document published here was written in the same year as the battle itself. The book is split into three parts. The first is made up of a mix of a general account of the battle with letters and documents produced by eyewitnesses from both sides. It looks like just about anything that the editors could get their hands on was included, so we get some fascinating snippets, such as a triumphal French report of the victory at Ligny , clearly written before news had reached the author of the defeat at Waterloo, as well as letters from combatants, reports from commanders etc.
Second comes a series of official reports, including Wellington’s famous despatch about the battle, as well as Napoleon’s abdication. This section includes Russian, Austrian and Spanish reports as well as official documents from the campaign itself. The third part is made up of lists and statistics, including lists of casualties, promotions, honours etc. This edition also includes three foldout sheets, two showing maps of the battle and one impressively sizable one with a panoramic sketch of the battlefield.
The nature of this book means that it is a somewhat chaotic read. You will find better collections of eyewitness accounts of the battle, supported by a proper academic framework and comments on the accuracy of the sources, but you won’t find one with quite the same immediacy as this volume, which gives us a convincing feel for what people knew about Waterloo in its immediate aftermath, when it was the biggest news story of the year.
Too many to list
Part One: Letters
Part Two: Authenticated or Official Papers
Part Three: Lists of losses etc
Author: A Near Observer
Year: 2015 edition of 1815 original