200-Year-Old Skeleton Found Intact At Waterloo Battle Site, Remains Identified

The discovery of a skeleton, some 200-years-old, was found fully intact in 2012. And three years later, an archaeologist and his team have identified the victim as Friedrich Brandt, a German soldier who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. According to Newser, the skeletal remains — nearly fully intact — are the rarest find from the skirmish over the last 200 years.

Thanks to the watchful eye of Dominique Bosquet in June of 2012, a piece of history from the bloody Waterloo battle was preserved. Furthermore, thanks to his colleague, Gareth Glover, the victim is no longer an unknown soldier.

Bosquet, an archaeologist with Belgium’s Walloon region, recognized the corpse three years ago during a dig for a new car park that was being built ahead of the battle’s 200 year anniversary. His quick thinking prevented the operator of a bulldozer from destroying the skeleton. It was found missing both hands, and the loader partially damaged the skull; otherwise, it was in remarkable condition. But how did the place of discovery come to be his final resting place? Bosquet explains.

“One possibility was that he crept away wounded from the front and settled down to die here. Another is that he was carried here by comrades.

“Again, we can only speculate about why he was apparently left behind. Perhaps comrades buried him, perhaps an explosion nearby covered him with earth.”

Using a combination of scientific dating techniques and other information, Bosquet estimated the skeleton found dated 200 years ago and was likely a young man between the age of 22 and 29. Beyond that, he couldn’t arrive at the identity. He noted a deformed spinal cord in the mortal remains.

Based on modern military standards, he would not be fit for duty in the military today. But that didn’t deter him from fighting two centuries ago. Bosquet and his team believe Brandt fought with scores of others loyal to the Duke of Wellington so that his country could be freed from occupation by the French.

Glover, a historian, former Naval officer, and Waterloo author, joined the study of the 200-year-old skeleton. With a bit of trial and error — and timing — he was able to assist with the identification of Brandt. Glover looked at the artifacts found with the fallen soldier: a flint, coins (British and French) that amounted to a month worth of salary, his uniform, and other items to close assist with a positive ID. DNA was useless; the soldier had no known living relatives. However, the turning point occurred in the investigation of the soldier’s bones and artifacts.

The historian used a piece of wood found with Brandt that had the initials “C.B.” inscribed on it. Glover then turned his attention to records of soldiers who fought at Waterloo on that fateful day. There were only three, but only one went into battle near the site where the remains were found. Of the other two, one fought in another battle away from Lion’s Mound, and the other soldier’s pay was collected at the end of the war by a fellow comrade because he perished in the line of duty.

Then, it made sense to the military historian, who realized that a “barely legible “F” rounded out the man’s name. It’s not clear what his middle name is with the “C.”

With the 200-year-old skeleton found, there are plans to put it on display to the public. The details are forthcoming. Some believe, like King Richard III, whose remains were found also in 2012, Brandt should get a proper burial.

[Photo by: Reuters]