A 200-year-old skeleton found with french coins under a car park belonged to a soldier. Archaeologists and historians took the painstaking process to identify the skeleton belonging to Friedrich Brandt, 23, a Hanoverian hunchback who trained in the East Sussex resort of Bexhill-on-Sea, according to The Inquisitr.
The 200-year-old soldier was a member of George III’s German Legion. Brandt was killed by Napoleon’s forces and was found with a musket ball between his ribs.
An archaeologist working for the Belgian government, Dominique Bosquet, called the skeleton find “unique,” explaining that no complete 200-year-old skeleton had ever been retrieved from the battle of Waterloo.
The mystery surrounding skeleton’s origins and identity was cracked by Gareth Glover, 54, a former Royal Navy officer and historian, who said Brandt would never have been allowed to serve, because of his deformity, under modern military standards.
However his Hanoverian unit, loyal to the king, would have fought alongside British and Dutch troops against Napoleon.
The 200-year-old skeleton was found in June 2012 when a digger excavated a car park near the Lion’s Mound area at Waterloo battlefield just south of Brussels.
It took three years of intense research and a little luck to pin-point The skeleton’s identity, according to Examiner.
A piece of wood found on the skeleton carrying the initials CB, and the date 1792 as well as 20 German and French coins amounting to a month’s wages and an iron spoon proved crucial.
The team at Waterloo had to use the process of elimination to identify their unknown soldier and could not rely on DNA tests like those used by the group that discovered Richard III under a car park in Leicester in 2012.
Because, unlike King Richard, none of Brandt’s relatives were known, historians had to use what little records remain from the 1815 battle at Waterloo to piece together the story.
Bosque recognized the 200-year-old skeleton carried deformities indicating severe spinal issues. Further tests put the skeleton’s age at death between 20 and 29.
The team was ready to give up on the case until Glover, treasurer of the Waterloo Association and author of Waterloo: Myth and Reality, matched troop formations to where the body was found and was able to identify the fallen soldier as a member of the German Legion.
The 200-year-old skeleton found was a soldier who probably died between 1pm and 4pm when his unit marched on a ridge at Hougomont, according to information the team used to calculate.
Then in February an important clue was brought to light when a piece of wood originally believed to be inscribed with the initials CB actually showed FCB. The letter F had faded over time.
Using this vital piece of information Glover found that only two soldiers with the initials had been killed at the battle.
He was able to rule one of the pair out after consulting payment records dating back to August 1815.
Eventually the historian was left with the 200-year-old skeleton that was found, a private in the Legion’s second line battalion.
It appears that Brandt was single as no one came forward to make a widow’s pension claim following his death.
While the German soldier would originally have trained in Bexhill Sussex, based there until 1814, it is likely that at the outbreak of war he was located in Holland.
The 200-year-old skeleton found is at a place where an estimated 50,000 died with a proportion of the dead burnt and then buried in mass graves, notes News Max. Other bodies were sold commercially as fertilizer or their teeth were sold as dentures. Brandt’s skeleton will feature in an exhibition to be unveiled at Waterloo in May.