Date added: 8 Jun 2015
Harris Academy Purley:
The Diary Of Captain Robert William Clayton
Monday 19th June, 1815
I am in Belgium, at the vast battlefield layered with dead bodies. This is the aftermath of the battle to change history, the aftermath of the battle that we won; the struggle for Hougoumont, for Belgium, for freedom. Even now I look around me, and a dozen carriages full of tourists are rolling in, throwing garbage at the field – disrespecting the dead. There are even outlaws, looting the dead bodies like vultures. I want to rise up against them, enforce justice for the deceased, but I am tired, wounded and sick of all conflict.
Yesterday morning, Napoleon struck our defensive posts in Hougoumont. We were greatly outnumbered. However, his plan failed; we slaughtered every last one of the French except for an 11 year old drummer boy – we let him free, to notify Napoleon of the massacre. At Hougoumont, I came face to face with Napoleon’s brother, who was commanding the French attackers - he was just as vile and repugnant as his brother! Wellington was the strategic mind behind the positioning of our men, and, luckily, he favoured me, allowing me command the troops while we were defending Hougoumont: Wellington was on the front line,waiting for a push that never arrived.
Once we had returned from succeeding in defending Hougoumont, Wellington was apprehensive. We were relying on the Prussian army to deliver a push to the French, and to aid us to escape the dilemma faced at that moment – we were surrounded. The French artillery, becoming complacent with their position in the battle, stopped marching towards us and instead shouted ‘Vive L’Empereur’, their battlecry. They continued to march until they encroached on about 10m within ourgeneral’s vicinity, which made us very worried. For hours, we were fighting the close French and shooting at point-blank range, desperately trying to fight back against Napoleon’s superior army. Eventually, we were able to relieve some of the stress by attacking fearlessly. However, we were soon informed that the Prussians, led by Blucher, had crippled the French and were causing them to leave us alone. We hastily ran to the Prussians side, to aid them in their last fight for victory. At this moment, the battlefield was already covered with bodies, so it reeked of rotting corpses – the smell still haunts my nostrils now.
At last, the French were retreating, but Wellington ordered us to cease fire. Confused, we all groaned. However, we did eventually go after Napoleon, striking him down and ending hardship for millions of people in Europe. We had done it.
As the bittersweet sun set blissfully over the hills of Waterloo, the two leaders of the allied armies shook hands, thus ending the conflict. It was a spectacular sight: two men speaking different languages hugging and praising one another for their military prowess. I was lucky enough to witness it first hand - it brought a tear to my face, causing my noble wounds to be soaked in the salty tears of salvation. It was a truly momentous day. As I mentioned before, I am well and truly sick of war, and I will return to London with my head held high, with recollection of my heroic deeds. Hopefully I will be (or have already been) recognised for my contribution towards the liberty of Europe. Hopefully…
Date added: 8 Jun 2015
Trumpet or bugle calls were a vital command system in battles at this time. With shouting men and horses echoing across the battlefield, the explosions of guns pounding the ears of the soldiers, verbal communication was impossible. The smoke from black powder meant visibility was down to that of a thick fog. The incredible danger from musket balls, sabres, cannon balls and kicking horses made full attention vital. Only the sound of the trumpet was able to communicate between cavalry squadrons, each of which had a trumpeter.There were over forty different bugle calls used in the field all horse drills. Formations were controlled by calls known to the cavalrymen and this made it easier for them to remember the positions they were supposed to be in.
Captain William Robert Clayton would have used this artefact as he was a Calvary officer and would have had to listen and respond to the trumpet. In the battle of Waterloo, this trumpet, if responded to efficiently, would have given the cavalry a huge tactical advantage as they would have been organised and ready to form positions to either attack or defend.