Hougoumont and D’Erlon’s attack – the DVD by Battlefield History TV

Much to my regret I’ve never managed to visit the battlefield at Waterloo – the closest I have got was a realisation at Brussels main station that we didn’t have enough time to get to Waterloo, have a good look, and get back again in time for the Eurostar. But in lieu of a visit in the past 10 years, this DVD, and the others in the Waterloo series, are easily the next best thing.

I’m somebody who has devoured everything about the battle of Waterloo that I could lay my hands on – down to playing with little cut out squares of paper, each representing a unit, when I was but a wee lad. Not to mention being ever so slightly obsessed with Sharpe.But even I learnt something from this programme – in particular, the amount of depth given to the attack on Hougoumont was fascinating. I also enjoyed the little ‘diversions’ from the battle, to explain aspects such as the British heavy cavalry sabre, or the French Artillery system.

What I really like about this programme, is that you actually feel that you are there. You are given a very good feel for the lie of the land – what Montgomery would have called ‘smelling the battlefield’. That’s one thing that is very hard to put across without actually being there, so to convey that sense by DVD is a great achievement. The height of Hougoumont’s walls, the steepness and proximity of the French and Allied ridges, and the feel of the cropfields. There are some great graphics in this as well, perfectly illustrating the conduct of the battle, and some pretty interesting scenes of living history enthusiasts on the battlefield itself.

Using experienced battlefield guides at experts makes complete sense – the experience in showing visitors round the battlefield shows. In fact, the programme feels very much like a virtual battlefield tour, from the comfort of your own armchair. I enjoyed it immensely.

Hougoumont and D’Erlon’s attack can be purchased from Pen and Sword

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6 Comments

Filed under Army, Book of the Week, Napoleonic War

6 responses to “Hougoumont and D’Erlon’s attack – the DVD by Battlefield History TV

  1. John Erickson

    Do they do my Coldstream Guard proud? You DO realise that, if this DVD does NOT properly honour my Guardsmen, I am honour bound to hunt down the perpetrating parties! ;)
    Have you seen any of the programs done by the two generations of Snow? We’ve gotten them over here on the History Channel, and they are absolutely wonderful for not only detailing the battle in conventional terms, but of actually getting onto the battlegrounds and showing some of the uniforms and equipment that played significant parts.

  2. James Daly

    I can’t recall off the top of my head John, but the Foot Guards who were at Hougoumont got very good coverage. I can’t recall if the Coldstreamers were at Hougoumont, or on the ridge above. It’s a long time since my mammoth week-long sessions of Battleground Waterloo on the PC, one turn represents 15 minutes of real time!

    I can’t say I’m a huge Snow fan. Well, the elder Snow is great, not sure if you know but he presents British election night coverage, with all the graphics and stats and stuff. Dan Snow is a bit of a sorepoint with us Historians trying to make a reputation the hard way!

    • John Erickson

      Ah-ha! So Snow The Younger is your Harlan Glenn. Harlan’s some US re-enactor that somehow schmoozed his way onto the History Channel. His knowledge is superficial, he likes to think of himself as a genius (I’ve met him – he ain’t), and sometimes he’s just plain flat wrong. He likes to forget the 1st Independent Polish Paras were at Arnhem – a doubly sore point for me, having been in a group representing them AND coming from the city with the second largest Polish population in the world.

      • James Daly

        Dan Snow IS a good historian, or at least has the potential to be. He got a very good degree in military history from one of the Oxbridge Unis. But everything he’s done in TV has either been with his dad, or had some other historian behind the scenes as a consultant. It’s really frustrating, especially when you’re flogging your guts out, writing books in your spare time, and someone takes a shortcut to the top.

        As for the Polish Paras, that’s a truly tragic tale. They way they were treated after the battle by British Generals was embarassing. History hasn’t been much kinder to them either.

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  4. Pingback: The Waterloo Collection DVD: Victory and Pursuit « Daly History Blog

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