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The human cost: commemorating Waterloo

A damned serious business

Never yet, all agree, has there been so bloody a battle fought! We have had as yet no consistent details—but the continued sight of the maimed, wounded, mutilated & tortured victims to this exterminating warfare is shocking & afflicting beyond description. (Frances D’Arblay in Brussels to Alexandre D’Arblay, 19 June 1815)

The human cost of the Waterloo campaign is impossible to quantify accurately, but the combined casualties of the battles of Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo and Wavre have been tentatively estimated at over 100,000 men killed, wounded and missing (including deserters). Some of the wounded at Waterloo, such as the Earl of Uxbridge, received prompt medical attention and survived the amputation of limbs, but large numbers on both sides remained untreated until the days following the battle, and many died after protracted suffering. The vast majority of those killed in the battle were buried or burned on the field; a few have memorials there or in the church at Waterloo.