Us Seniors

Elder et Soeur Arn & Jody

Friday, January 2


Having discovered that we have an ancestor who was born at Waterloo, Belgium four days after the big battle of Waterloo where Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the allied forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and since we are living and working so close to that place, we decided we ought visit there. (Try reading that sentence in one breath.)Our ancestor, Catherine Clark, born 22 June 1815, was the daughter of Alexander Clark who was born in Auchterdarran, Fife, Scotland, and was one of the Scottish highlanders fighting under the Duke of Wellington as part of the British Army forces sent to repel the advances of the over-ambitious Napoleon Bonaparte. In those days many soldiers were allowed to have their wives with them to dress their wounds and care for the men. Alexander's wife, Catherine White, was pregnant at the time the big battle took place. The Scottish Highlanders can be seen in this re-enactment wearing the hats or "Bonnets" as they called them with the black feathers and red and white checkered head bands. The British army was known for its red coats.

Napoleon, having escaped from the Isle of Elba two years earlier, decided he should once again try to conquer all of Europe and bring it under his domain. Many years earlier he tried to do the same thing but failing, he claimed that what he really wanted was liberty and a democracy for the French people. He garnered support of many great people throughout Europe including many heads of state and even Beethoven became a fan of this ambitious young man with big ideas. However, when he declared himself Emperor of France many turned against him seeing him as nothing more than power hungry. He was forced to abdicate the throne that he had set up for himself and was placed in Exile on the island off the French coast in the Mediterranean. He managed to escape, form an Army of thousands of loyal soldiers, and begin anew his campaign to conquer all of Europe. Marching north from Paris he was met by allied forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington of England, Prussia (now part of Germany), Belgium, and Holland. Wellington defeated him on 18 June 1815. Catherine Clark was born four days later on 22 June 1815.  Her birth may have been precipitated by a drop in atmospheric pressure brought on by the storm that hit the area on the evening of  the 17th of June which delayed the start of the battle on the 18th until around 4:00pm. Some believe that this is what led to Napoleon's loss.  Ludvig Van Beethoven was so happy to have heard the news of Napoleon's defeat that he wrote a symphony to commemorate the event. His "Wellington's Victory" is a classic musical endeavor including the sounds of cannons and gunshots as part of the rhythm section. Almost as popular as the famous "1812 Overture." In the battle the Prince of Orange was wounded. In 1824 the Belgian people built this monument on the spot where he was wounded in gratitude for the brave men who died in the battle which lasted several days. Over 9,500 men died there. It took two years to carry the dirt in baskets to build the mound. The Lion Statue on top weighs 28 metric tons and is depicted with its right paw on top of a globe symbolizing peace throughout all Europe.The stairway leading to the summit has 226 steps and at the top one can survey the entire battlefield.
The day we were there it appeared as though it had snowed the day before. Actually that is nothing more than heavy frost on the grass.

Adjacent to the mount is a large circular building containing a wax museum and a huge panorama painting depicting the battleground complete with wax figures of soldiers and horses in the foreground.
It was a thrill to know that we stood on the ground where one of our ancestors fought to free Europe of one of the despots of the 19th century. Knowing that his wife was there, nine months pregnant, to support him and care for him was a moving experience. Her daughter, our great- great grandmother was born there shortly after the battle.
We then ate lunch in a quaint little restaurant called, "Le Bivouac de Napoleon" or "Napoleon's Bivouac" supposedly where Napoleon planned his battle strategy with his generals. Though the building housing the restaurant  was not there at the time
We had a delicious chicken soup/stew. At the next table there was a family who we thought were speaking English. They turned around and said they noticed we had no accents and wondered where we were from. When we told them Las Vegas, they gasped and said that was where they had just moved from. He is in the military and had been stationed at Nellis and was now stationed in London. Small world!


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