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La Haye Sainte

La Haye Sainte is a farmhouse at the foot of an escarpment on the Charleroi-Brussels road. It has changed very little since it played a very important part in the battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815. The road leads from the La Belle Alliance, Napoleon's headquarters on the morning of the battle, through the centre of the French front line, to a cross roads on the ridge which is at the top of the escarpment and then on to Brussels. The Duke of Wellington placed the majority of his forces on either side of the Brussels road behind the ridge on the Brussels side. This kept most of his forces out of sight of the French artillery.

Before the battle started La Haye Sainte was hastily fortified and garrisoned by the 2nd Light Battalion King's German Legion commanded by Major Baring. The unit was supported by the 1st Light Battalion KGL and the light company of the 5th Line Battalion KGL.

Both Napoleon and Wellington realised its strategic position and it was fought over and around during most of the day.

At 13:00 - The Grand Battery of heavy artillery opened fire before d'Erlon's Corps marched forward in columns, they managed to surround La Haye Sainte and despite taking heavy casualties from the garrison they attack the centre left of Wellington's line. As the centre began to give way and La Haye Sainte became vulnerable, Picton's division is sent to plug the gap. As the French were beaten back from La Haye Sainte, the heavy cavalry brigades under Somerset and Ponsonby attacked. This action relived the pressure on the fortress farm.

At 15:00 - Napoleon ordered Marshal Ney to capture La Haye Sainte. While Ney was engaged in the glorious but futile 8,000 man cavalry attack, unsupported by infantry or cannon, on Allied squares on the Brussels side of the ridge, he faild to take La Haye Sainte.

At 17:30 Napoleon re-issued orderes for Marshal Ney to take La Haye Sainte. The French had worked up close to the buildings by now.

At 18:00 Marshal Ney, heavily supported by artillery and some cavalry, took personal command of an infantry regiment and a company of engineers and captured La Haye Sainte with a furious assault. "the detachment of the light battalion of the German Legion, which occupied it, had expended all its ammunition" and had to retreat. Allied forces were unable to counter-attack immediately as they were in squares over the ridge. The French brought up guns to fire from its cover, but Riflemen of the 1/95 in the "sand pit" to the East of the farm, picked off all the gunners, so the guns were ineffective.

At 19:00 - thanks to the French garrison in La Haye Sainte the Imperial Guard are able to climb the escarpment and attack the Allies on the Brussels side of the ridge. This final attack was beaten back and became a rout around 20:10 as the French forces realised that with the arrival of the Prussians from the East, they were beaten. During the French retreat, La Haye Sainte was recaptured by the Allies, some time before 21:00 when Blücher met Wellington at La Belle Alliance.