French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte predicted his army would win the Battle of Waterloo in the time it took to have lunch.
He was fresh from his return to power in France in the spring of 1815 after his exile on the island of Elba off the Italian coast.
But the battle on June 18, 1815 outside Brussels, Belgium lasted a whole day and resulted in a defeat that appeared far from certain at first.
In the end, his reconstituted army of 93,000 men lost to 125,000 British, Prussian and Belgian-Dutch troops led by the Duke of Wellington and Marshal Bluecher.
Following is a timeline of events that marked the end of the Napoleonic era and two decades of war in Europe:
11:30 – The division led by Napoleon’s brother Prince Jerome launches a diversionary attack against British-fortified Hougoumont Farm. It results in a fierce, hours-long confrontation.
12:30 – Eighty French cannons open fire on the allied forces, but the cannonballs fail to inflict the hoped-for casualties on Wellington’s troops because the water-logged field prevents them from bouncing. Allied cannons return fire.
13:30 – Some 17,000 infantrymen from the French army’s first corps launch an attack between Haie-Sainte and Papelotte farms, but they are pushed back by a bayonet attack, volleys of gunfire and a British cavalry charge. French lancers then charge English cavalry, inflicting heavy losses.
16:00 – French cavalry led by Marshal Ney launch the first of several charges. For nearly two hours, some 10,000 horsemen break out in successive waves, but allied infantry resist, supported by what remains of the cavalry as well as artillery deployed on a ridge.
16:30 – To cut off any possibility of retreat by the French, the Prussians mount an attack in Plancenoit village, where there is hand-to-hand combat. Napoleon sends in the Young Guard and the village changes hands repeatedly.
18:00 – The Haie-Sainte farm falls to the French and Wellington’s position becomes critical. But Napoleon no longer has the infantry Ney has ordered to exploit this success and the British parry the threat.
19:30 – Napoleon launches a last sharp push to smash through British lines before the bulk of Prussian troops arrive. The Imperial Guard advances relentlessly under fire but buckles after Wellington calls in all his reserves, who manage to repel it.
20:00 – The Prussians pour onto the battlefield. Seeing the Imperial Guard retreat, the French troops fall back crying betrayal. They were told Marshal Grouchy was sending in reinforcements but got Bluecher’s forces instead. Wellington orders his men to advance.
21:00 – The French are routed except for holdouts from the Guard, which manage to protect the emperor’s flight to Paris. Wellington and Bluecher celebrate their victory near Belle-Alliance farm. The fighting leaves 10,000 troops dead and 35,000 wounded.