Waterloo



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    Edward Costello talks of the day they marched to Quatre Bras;

      On the 15th of June, as I retired to bed, at the hour of eleven o'clock at night, I heard bugles sounding and drums beating through different parts of the city. Equipping myself as quickly as possible, and entering the marketplace, I found the whole of our division assembling. I then belonged to the 5th division, under the command of General Sir Thomas Picton. Being orderly non-commissioned officer of the company at the time, I received orders to draw three days' rations for the men; the chief part of this was left behind, as none but old soldiers knew its value, or felt inclined to take part with them; some of the men, however, cursed their hard fate for not taking away a portion. All things arranged, we passed the gates of Brussels, and descended the wood of Soignies, that leads to the little village of Waterloo. It was the 16th-a beautiful summer morning - the sun slowly rising above the horizon and peeping through the trees, while our men were as merry as crickets, laughing and joking with each other, and at times pondered in their minds what all this fuss, as they called it, could be about; for even the old soldiers could not believe the enemy were so near. We halted at the verge of the wood, on the left of the road, behind the village of Waterloo, where we remained for some hours; the recruits lay down to sleep, while the old soldiers comrnenced cooking. I could not help noticing, while we remained here, the birds in full chorus straining their little throats as if to arouse the spirits of the men to flesh vigour for the bloody conflict they were about to engage in. Alas! how many of our brave companions, ere that sun set, were no more!

    Costello was injured in Quatre Bras on the 16th of June, two days before Waterloo, he was forced to retreat:

      Genappe, also, was literally crowded with the wounded, who were conveyed with every possible dispatch to Brussels. Feeling most anxious to know the fate of our regiment, I stood on a hedgerow on the skirts of tile village, when I descried the division retreating towards us, the rain at the time coming down in torrents. I remained until some of the regiments entered the village, together with many of our wounded, who gave me information that our regiment, with the cavalry, formed the rear-guard. I now retraced my steps the same road I had advanced, and once more arrived at the little village of Waterloo, which many of our men never saw again, as our battalion lost more on the 16th than on the 18th of June. Here I stopped for the night. The cries of the wounded on their way, in cart-loads, to Brussels, were most distressing, and many carts broke down through being overloaded, and through their haste to get forward.
      It is curious to observe the confusion and uproar that generally exists in the rear of an army in battle, while all in front is order and regularity. Many people imagine the reverse. This, however, is generally to be imputed to the soldiers' wives and camp followers of all descriptions, who crowd in great numbers, making inquiries after their husbands, friends, &c., for whom they generally are prepared with liquors and other refreshments,

    From Genappe he continued on to Brussel's on the 17th and 18th of June, on the 18th Waterloo was being fought:

      I could not help remarking, on my way through the woods, droves of Belgians, and even English, with fires lighted, busily cooking, having left their comrades in contest with the enemy, and apparently nothing the matter with them.
      On my arrival at Brussels, and going to my quarters, I found it so crowded with Belgian officers and men (some of them quite free from wounds), that I could get no reception. It was about six o'clock in the evening of the 18th. I was entering the large square, and gazing on some hundreds of wounded men who were there stretched out on straw, when an alarm was given that the French were entering the city; in a moment all was in an uproar; the inhabitants running in all directions, closing their doors, and some Belgian troops in the square, in great confusion; loading my rifle, I joined a party of the 81st regiment who remained on duty here during the action.

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