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Finally Facing our Waterloo

13 June 2017

On Monday 12th June, we had a very special visitor to take the last of this year’s Aspire Lectures. Mr Richard Dellar, none other than husband to Mrs Dellar, brought in some precious swords from the Battle of Waterloo to show us, and to talk to us about the plights of a particular soldier, Lt Col. Fiennes Miller of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons. The lecture was particularly timely since this coming Sunday marks the 202nd anniversary of the battle. Mr Dellar gave us a fascinating insight into the events leading up to the battle, starting with the execution of Louis XVI and The French Revolution, through to the rising of the Emperor, Napoleon Buonaparte, in 1804.

Especially interesting was the discussion of the intricacies of warfare at the time of the battle. Mr Dellar laid out the three factions of militia active at the time: the infantry, who fought with muskets, the cavalry, who used horses and swords and the artillery, who used shells and cannons. He explained how the military methods of each were feared by at least one faction, creating a kind of triangle: the cavalry feared the infantry; the infantry feared the artillery and the artillery feared the cavalry, because of their respective weapons. Tactics at the Battle of Waterloo were, therefore, all important!

Perhaps the most exciting part of the lecture was being able to see and hold the real swords that Lt Col. Fiennes Miller used in the Battle of Waterloo. One particular sword contained a hefty dent that was presumably sustained during artillery fire and probably saved Miller’s life. We were struck by the rudimentary way that battles were fought just 200 years ago, and how far technology has evolved in such a short time. A wonderful experience – thank you, Mr Dellar, for giving up your time to share your collection and knowledge with Aspire.

Mrs Cunningham

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