(Kansas City, Missouri) - One of history's most celebrated defeats came exactly 200 years ago on a sodden battlefield in what is now central Belgium.
Napoleon Bonaparte met his Waterloo.
Richard Barbuto of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth discusses the stunning fall of one of the world's greatest and most fascinating military figures on Thursday, June 18, 2015—the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo—at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St. The presentation, At Waterloo Napoleon Did Surrender, begins at 6:30 p.m.
By dint of relentless focus and ambition, abetted by unmatched talent, Napoleon once had crowned himself emperor of France. His military and political genius was manifest throughout Europe and, indeed, the world.
The end came, however, with a puzzling series of unimaginative, even mistaken moves at Waterloo. Napoleon had split his forces a day earlier, disastrously delayed his attack, and failed to detect the arrival of 30,000 Prussian troops who joined and bolstered a British army of 68,000.
British and Prussian casualties were high - about 24,000 killed or wounded - but Napoleon lost more than a third of his 72,000 men and saw another 9,000 captured. He abdicated his rule four days after the defeat, was exiled four months later to the remote, British-held island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, and died there on May 5, 1821. He was 51.
Barbuto examines the leaders and followers, the myths and the legends, and the swirling maelstrom of that fateful day at Waterloo.
Barbuto, a professor of history, has been deputy director of the Department of Military History at the Army Command and General Staff College since 2004. A 1971 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served for 23 years as an armor officer with tours of duty in Germany, Korea, and Canada.
He last spoke at the Library in September 2014, discussing the battle of Fort McHenry and Francis Scott Key's composition of the poem that became The Star Spangled Banner.
Admission to event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.