1815 – The Battle of New Orleans takes place

In the annals of military pointlessness, few battles are quite as ridiculous as the Battle of New Orleans. It was fought 16 days after the official end of the War of 1812, of which it was a part, due to the fact that the peace treaty was signed in Europe, and the news took two months to reach America.

The Battle of New Orleans was important to later American history, though. It ended the war with a decisive American victory (in a war where neither side had managed to seize the advantage over the other), and it brought to prominence a commander named Andrew Jackson, who would later become the seventh President of the USA.

Referenced in:
I Ain’t Marching Anymore — Phil Ochs
Lydia the Tattooed Lady — Groucho Marx
The Battle of New Orleans — Johnny Horton

1815 – Napoleon is defeated at Waterloo

So much in life depends on the slightest chances, and nowhere moreso than in war. The Duke of Wellington, who commanded the winning forces at Waterloo, later stated that the battle was “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life.

Napoleon commanded a French army 69,000 strong, while Wellington led a force consisting of 24,000 were British troops, with another 6,000 from the King’s German Legion, 17,000 Dutch troops, 11,000 from Hanover, 6,000 from Brunswick, and 3,000 from Nassau. Compared to Napoleon’s more disciplined and experienced force, Wellington’s was much less organised and coherent, especially the Prussian forces that were in the midst of a reorganisation.

But in the event, and despite the inevitable chaos and mischance of battle, the Anglo-Prussian Alliance was victorious. Defeat at Waterloo was the final reverse for Napoleon. From ruling most of Europe, he was reduced to a life lived in exile in St Helena, where he died six years later.

Referenced in:

Waterloo – ABBA
Waterloo – Iced Earth
Huogoumont – Judicator
Slattery’s Mounted Fut – Percy French
Lydia the Tattooed Lady – Groucho Marx