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  WATERLOO : The Hougoumont Farm
 
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18 JUNE 1815
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Hougoumont, originally called Gomont or Goumont, was a Chateau and  farm lying  about 5 km south of the village of Waterloo and 18 km south of Brussels.  At the time of the Battle of Waterloo, the Chateau was owned by the Chevalier de Louville. He lived in Nivelles and et the Chateau to a tenant farmer called Antoine Dumonceau. The Chateau building itself, however, remained unnoccupied. The battle started at 11.30am with a thunderous volley from the Grand battery. Wellington had placed Lieutenant-Colonel Macdonell in charge at Hougoumont, with the words, "defend the post to the last extremity". This Macdonell certainly did, and Hougoumont was not taken in nearly nine hours of continuous fighting. The chateau inside was burnt to the ground, with only the adjoining chapel surviving. Today, this is a memorial to the Brigade of Guards. Hougoumont nearly fell when a determined attack by Sous-Lieutenant Legros (nicknamed 'L'enfonceur' or 'The Smasher'), wielding a huge axe, managed to break through the North gate. Macdonell and other Guards managed to shut the gate, trapping 30 Frenchmen (including 'L'enfonceur') inside. They were duly dispatched, although a young drummer boy was spared.

The defense of Hougoumont was done by the British Guards and waggon train troops  The main building, tower, coach shed, cow shed, east stable and east gate into the walled garden were destroyed during the battle, and the wooded area has been almost completely eliminated. Otherwise, the gardener's house and surrounding buildings such as the main barns are much the same as they were 182 years ago.

The garden wall in the front of the farm, flanking the main gate, is still standing. It is, however, at least two feet lower than it was in 1815. The British soldiers knocked loopholes in the wall to fire through and afterwards the upper portion was knocked down. There are several memorial stones in the wall and buildings. Inside the farm is the chapel, the only remaining portion of the original main building. It is still a consecrated church and has a memorial to the soldiers who fell here.


 


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