|To face the attack, Wellington brought forward 4,000 men of his British
infantry in three brigades - Adam,Maitland, and Halkett - deployed in
four ranks on a front of about 1,000 yards. The line would have been
along the road on the left extending to the intersection, a stretch of
road that was sunken at the time, extending along the lane on the right
of the panorama.
If the French had expected the attack to succeed by intimidation, they were mistaken. Halkett's brigade was the first to be attacked, and the Middle Guard halted to return fire. Halkett had gone forward in front of the sunken road, and when ordered to withdraw, confusion ensued, and the small brigade fled behind the sunken road. Halkett rallied his me, and the Prince of Orange was wounded (on the site of the mound), but it was the arrival of Chasse's division of Dutch-Belgians that saved the line here.
Elsewhere, toward the right of the panorama, the French squares were advancing against Maitland's brigade of guards. At a range of about 50 yards, Wellington himself gave the order to fire. Halting to return fire rather than press the attack, the French attack stalled. When the French tried to deploy into line, the British Guards attacked with the bayonet on Wellington's order. The French square fled to the rear. Maitland, however, now faced the French squares of their second line, so the British fell back to the sunken road in some confusion. To their right, however, Adam's brigade found itself without any French to their front after repulsing the enemy skirmishers. Col. Colborne of the 52nd Regiment ordered his men forward to fire into the flank of the 4th Chasseurs. A well timed bayonet attack put the French square to flight.
The Imperial Guard had failed, and panic set in amongst the French army.
|By now it was around 8pm. Sensing the panic in the French army, Wellington ordered his whole army to attack. Uxbridge was wounded, losing a leg to French artillery. Exhausted, most of the Allied army went no further than La Belle Alliance, one of the locations that Wellington and Blucher may have met. Although the vast majority of the French army was fleeing in panic, the four Imperial Guard battalions for the second line of the final attack remained solid, retreating in good order. Attacking Allied cavalry were repulsed attacking the squares. Only at nightfall did the guardsmen break ranks and join the confused retreat. General Cambronne of the 2nd Bn / 1st Chasseurs, when asked to surrender, is reported to have either replied "The Old Guard dies, but it does not surrender!" or the less noble, "Merde!". Despite the heroics, he too was eventually captured.|