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BATTLE OF WATERLOO The Battle of Waterloo was the final and decisive action of the Napoleonic Wars thewars that effectively ended French domination of the European continent and brought aboutdrastic changes in the political boundaries and the power balance of Europe Fought on June18 1815 near Waterloo in modern Belgium the battle ranks as a great turning point inAfter raising France to a position of preeminence in Europe Napoleon met defeat in1814 by a coalition of major powers notably Prussia Russia Britain and Austria Napoleonwas then deposed and exiled to the island of Elba1 and Louis XVIII was made ruler ofFrance In September 1814 the Congress of Vienna convened to discuss problems arisingfrom the defeat of France On February 26 1815 while the congress was in sessionNapoleon escaped from Elba and returned to France Many veterans of his formercampaigns flocked to his side and on March 20 1815 he again took the throne TheCongress of Vienna alarmed by Napoleons return to power had reacted quickly to thecrisis On March 17 Austria Great Britain Prussia and Russia each agreed to contribute150000 troops to an invasion force to be assembled in Belgium near the French border2 Amajority of other nations present at the congress also pledged troops for the invasion ofFrance which was to be launched on July 1 1815Napoleon learning of the invasion plan was determined to attack the allies on theirown ground before their army could form He mobilized an army of 360000 trainedsoldiers within two months He deployed half of these troops within France as a securityforce and sent the remainder into attack units On June 14 1815 Napoleon moving withspeed and secrecy reached the Franco-Belgian border with 124000 of his troops Another56000 men were left behind in supporting positionsOn June 15 1815 Napoleon moved across the border of Belgium and his suddenarrival caught the allied command unprepared Napoleon ordered his left wing underMarshal Michel Ney to attack a brigade of Wellingtons cavalry
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