Thousands watch Battle of Waterloo re-enactment

50 cannons, 170 cavalry and more than 2,000 infantry used

Final Re-Enactment of Waterloo Showdown

Sixty thousand spectators descended upon the former site of the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium on Saturday to mark its 200th anniversary.

They watched French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte's dreams to rule Europe be shattered during a re-enactment as part of bicentenary commemorations.

The crowds witnessed more than 5,000 male and female re-enactors re-create the 10-hour battle that two centuries earlier had left more than 65,000 dead and wounded.

The real Battle of Waterloo saw some 93,000 French troops, led by Napoleon, fight 107,000 British, German and Belgian-Dutch forces under the Duke of Wellington.

The defeat of the French army ended Napoleon's ambitions for European dominance and saw him exiled to Saint Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean, where he died in 1821.

Four tonnes of gunpowder

The re-enactments have been some of the largest ever staged, with enthusiasts spending hundreds of pounds on making sure their costumes were as accurate and authentic in appearance as possible, reports The Telegraph.

Jim Paylor, a management consultant from Suffolk and quartermaster of the British Army – himself a veteran of 15 Waterloo re-enactments – said: "This has been the biggest one ever, incomparable to the others.

"64,000 tickets were sold out within weeks. We have 50 cannons, 170 cavalry and more than 2,000 infantry. We have shipped over four metric tonnes of gunpowder."

The 5,000 re-enactors taking part were, admittedly, a fraction of the numbers present in 1815, but it didn't feel like that on the battlefield. Soldiers, cannon and cavalry covered every inch.