This Day in History: 1815-04-08

Napoleon, having escaped from Elba, is making his triumphant progress through France, gathering his adoring army to him as he goes. The 30th Foot (later 1st East Lancashires), having been on garrison duties in Antwerp for months, is ordered to join the Allied army assembling to oppose him under the Duke of Wellington, for the campaign which will culminate at Waterloo. Ensign Edward Macready, aged 16, records their departure: ‘Under other circumstances we should have left Antwerp with regret. Many had formed attachments and were sincerely loved by the Anversoises. Poor creatures, it was pitiable to see several of them, far advanced in their pregnancies, following our rascals and weeping over the reprobates, who either laughed at their nonsense (as they called it) or replied to their tears by a joking compliment [to] their beauty. The girls cried, their relatives swore, and our comrades of the 81st (later 2nd Loyals) gave us three cheers as we defiled over the drawbridge.’