Soldier’s remains found at Waterloo
The remains of a soldier who died from wounds suffered during the famed Battle of Waterloo nearly 200 years ago have been uncovered, possibly at the spot where he died.
The skeleton of the soldier, who was probably British and whose initials may have been C.B., was found last week when a mechanical digger working a few hundred yards behind what had been the British and Allied front line uncovered the remains.
The skeleton, found under 15 inches of soil, was lying on its back with a spherical musket bullet still between its ribs, according to Agence France-Presse.
The find is unusual not only because of its age, but because the British were particular about recovering their war dead and bringing them home, according to Reuters.
“One possibility was that he crept away wounded from the front and settled down to die here. Another is that he was carried here by comrades,” said Dominique Bosquet of the archaeological department of Belgium’s Walloon region.
“Again, we can only speculate about why he was apparently left behind, he added. “Perhaps comrades buried him, perhaps an explosion nearby covered him with earth.”
Also found with the remains were 20 coins, a rifle flint and a piece of material, perhaps the pocket itself or from a purse.
The Battle of Waterloo is regarded as one of history’s great clashes. Fought on June 18, 1815, it marked the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, as the French emperor lost to a coalition of forces under Britain’s Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Bluecher’s Prussian army.
More than 30,000 soldiers died in the battle, which took place at a site which today is 10 miles south of central Brussels.
Napoleon, initially defeated in 1813, was exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba. He escaped from Elba in February 1815 and returned to power for a period now called the Hundred Days.
After Waterloo, Napoleon was confined on the Atlantic island of St. Helena until his death in 1821.
Two items found beside a leg could serve to identify the dead combatant – or at least to narrow down the possibilities, according to Reuters.
“Bosquet believes a small block of wood found with the soldier, and with the letters C.B. etched on it, could indicate his name,” the wire service reported. “An iron spoon, now covered in soil, could then prove key, if perhaps the handle is embossed with his regiment.”
Added Bosquet, “We may never find out who this soldier was. C.B. could be fairly common initials, but we may definitely be able to narrow it down.”