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Struggle for Hougoumont by Chris Collingwood.

Two new paintings depicting the struggle of the French and British forces over Hougoumont Farm, a key point in the battle of Waterloo.  One painting depicts the attack of the French Grenadier Company belonging to the 1st Battalion of the 2nd Line Regiment from Prince Jeromes Divisions at the Battle of Waterloo, 18th June 1815.  The other depicts detachments of the British 2nd (Coldstream) and 3rd Foot Guards Regiments opening fire from Hougoumonts solid brick garden wall at the Battle of Waterloo, 18th June 1815.

On the 18th June 1815, at approximately 11.30am, Prince Jeromes 6,500 strong division of French infantry was ordered to attack the chateau of Hougoumont as a prelude to Napoleons main assault, which was targeted at Wellingtons centre. These buildings anchored the right wing of Wellingtons army at Waterloo. The loss of this strategic position would have rendered Wellingtons defensive line untenable. Wellington understood this and, later in the battle, ordered it to be defended to the last man. As the French initial assault drove back the German defenders through The Great Wood, they emerged to face not only the buildings, but the 300 yard long 7 foot high wall of the chateau gardens, defended by detachments from Cookes British Guards division.

The scenario at Hougoumont.

Charge after charge failed to dislodge the Guardsmen as they poured a continuous withering fire into their opponents from loopholes in the brickwork and hastily constructed platforms. Furious at having been repulsed and not content with the diversionary role allotted to him, Jerome immediately threw his entire division back to the assault and called on Foys division nearby for support, hoping to smash down Hougoumonts bricks and mortar by sheer weight of numbers. It is precisely this moment of the battle which is the subject of the two paintings.

The British Guards - numbered as shown on the painting layout.

French casualties mounted in the area in front of the wall now known as The Killing Grounds. Throughout the day, Napoleon committed more and more of his reserves, until finally upwards of 15,000 French troops were embroiled in and around the maelstrom of Hougoumont, which had become a battle within a battle. Indeed, when one of the final French assaults was beaten back, Wellington was heard to say, almost to himself; I believe we shall beat them after all! 

 

The moment of the battle captured in the paintings.

Hougoumont never fell to French assault, although at times the final outcome was in some doubt. It stands today in a very sorry state of disrepair, its walls having suffered from both the ravages of time and blatant neglect. However, by managing to capture the fury of the moment in his two masterpieces, Struggle for Hougoumont, Chris Collingwood has done justice to those who fought and died among its timeless ruins.

The French Infantry - numbered as shown on the painting layout.

The Completed Paintings..

Detailed sections from each of the paintings:

 

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