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BOOK XV. hy without seeing the veteran chief. The Prussian was pressed, and how uncertain the combat long
cavalry returned to the charge. The enemy was, appears from Ney's letter, wherein we an CAP. VI. were driven back, and again passed bim without informed that, without informing him, the emperor
perceiving his helpless situation ; and then, and took away the first corps of the army to his assist 1815.
not till then, the gallant Blucher was extricated ance, as also a division of Girard's corps, which from his perilous state. “ Heaven,” said the Ney depended upon for support. The emperor Prussian account, “ in this instance watched must, therefore, have been very doubtful of the over us.”. Blucher thus extricated, mounted a issue of the combat where he was, before he dragoon horse, and the first words he uttered would venture to withdraw balf of his force from were, "well, my brave fellows, let us charge them Ney; without consulting him. In fact, the bravery again.” In the mean time, the combat continued of the Prussians proved long equal to his fiercest at all points with unabated fury. “ Part of the attacks. At St. Amard, the destruction had been village of St. Amand was re-taken, by a battalion sogreat amongst the enemy's troops, that Bonaparte commanded by the field-marshal in person.”- was, in reality, forced to call forward, in the The recapture of part of this village, and, in greatest haste, the first corps to his assistance at consequence thereof, of a height adjoining there this point. But by the time this force arrived, to, seemed to throw a gleam of "hope on the the Prussians had been compelled to abandon Prussian arms. From the
that this place. It was then sent back to Ney; but it Blucher was here very near separating the arrived too late to render him any assistance
. At enemy's line, and turning the left of his main Sombref, on the Prussian left, General Thielman, body, which was attacking him. This bright with the third corps, remained immoveable against prospect was, however, but of short duration. all the efforts of the enemy. Bonaparte, therefore, At this moment, accounts were received that the resolved to complete his success by one of those English division, destined to support them, was skilful and daring mancuvres which characterised violently attacked by a French corps, and that it his tactics. In the village of Ligny, which frontcould barely maintain itself at Quatre Bras. The ed the centre of the Prussian line, he drew fourth corps, under Bulow, had not made its appear. the imperial-guard, which he bad hitherto kepti ance, as had been calculated upon; and no pros
reserve. Eight battalions of these troops forned pect remained of deriving any benefit from its into one solid column, supported by four squaassistance during the day. The Prussians “in drons of cavalry, two regiments of cuirassiers, and voked, but invoked in vain, the arrival of those the horse-grenadiers of the guard, traversed the succours which were so necessary." Ligny was village at the pas-de-charge, threw themselves still held-there the combat raged with the into the ravine which separates the village from same fury, and with an equality of success. the heights, and began to ascend them, notwith: The Westphalian and Berg regiments fought at standing a dreadful fire of grape and musketry this point.' A whole company of the former fell from the Prussians. Their advance
, in the court-yard of the church, and on the terrace was not stopped, nor even in the smallest degree before it lay fifty dead. Each side made a fortress shaken by this fire; but, boldly coming up the of the houses occupied by them. The enemy heights of Bussy, they made such an impression beld one end of the village, and the Prussians on the masses of the Prussian line as threatened the other. The French were driven out four to break through the centre of their army. The times, and as often resumed the ground which combat at this moment was truly dreadful, but the they had lost: at length the village was set on impetuosity of the French grenadiers surmounted fire by the enemy, and the combatants fought every obstacle, and cut their way through the amidst the burning houses. All the Prussian opposing ranks with a horrible carnage. The divisions either were or had by this time been division of Pecheaux, supported by the cuirassier
, engaged. No fresh corps remained at hand to having made a circuit round Ligny, came from support them. The enemy, on the other band, both sides at once, unobserved, upon the main continued to pour forth fresh troops to the combat. body of the Prussian force at this point
, which But even his strength, numerous as it was, bad was posted behind the houses. At the same mobeen nearly exhausted. “By seven o'clock,"
“ By seven o'clock,” ment also the Prussian cavalry, which were posted said he, “we remained masters of all the villages on a height behind the village, were repulsed is situated on the banks of the ravine, which cover repeated attacks upon the French cavalry
. I ed the Prussian position.' Part of these he had was now dark. “ The movement made by the obtained, but not yet all. On the heights of enemy,” said Blucher," was decisive.” NevertheBussy and Ligny the Prussian masses still less, though thus surrounded, and in the skada remained unshaken. A desperate effort became of night, which heightens the idea of danger i necessary, to decide the bloody day. “ Almost the human mind, the Prussian columns behind all the troops," said the enemy, " had already Ligny did not suffer themselves to be discouraged. been engaged in the villages." How hard he " Formed in masses, they coolly repulsed all tho
attacks made upon them; and this corps retreated corps, it was a most unfortunate circumstance for BOOK XV. in good order upon the heights, whence it conti- him that he deprived Ney of its services ; for the nued its retrograde movement upon Tilly." In failure of that officer in consequence, at Quatre Chap. VI. consequence, however, of this sudden eruption of Bras, was unquestionably the primary cause of
1815. the enemy's cavalry, the artillery belonging to all those terrible disasters wbich followed. the Prussian army, in their precipitate retreat, While the Prussian army was retreating, the got into defiles, in which they fell into disorder, the Duke of Wellington, and the army under his and Blucher acknowledged that fifteen pieces command, remained on the field-of-battle at were taken by the enemy.
Quatre Bras. The British general was here exThe Prussian army retreated during the night, posed to the same privations as the meanest soland the next morning was followed by General dier. The open field was his pillow. Fatigued Tbielman, with the third corps, who retired upon and cold towards the morning, he became anxious Gembloux, where the fourth corps, under Bulow, for a fire, which, after some difficulty, the soldiers had arrived during the night. The whole army of the 92d regiment kindled. Every one was then retreated upon the village of Wavre, where eager to render him istance or comfort, and he Blucher established his head-quarters. Tbe seemed in these trifling instances to feel greatly French did not attempt to pursue them. The the attention of the troops towards him. He bad loss of the Prussians, in the battle of Ligny, been joined by the cavalry and artillery and the amounted to at least 20,000 men ; that of the rest of the army. By the morning of the 17th, French was also severe. Although bostilities had he had placed the whole in the position of Quatre commenced only on the preceding day, yet, in this Bras, and was combining his measures to attack short space of time, upwards of 40,000 men bad Ney at Frasnes, when he received a dispatch fallen in tbe three armies. Great, however, as this from Blucher, informing bim of the unfortunate destruction was, it is triffling to what followed. result of affairs on bis side. The retreat of the
The repulse of the enemy at Quatre Bras was of Prussian army rendered a corresponding movethe most essential service; and, while it added the ment, on the part of the British general, abso greater praise to the British troops, which effected lutely necessary, in order to maintain bis comthe whole without the assistance of cavalry or munication with the Prussians. He accordingly artillery, against an enemy superbly provided with resolved on retreating towards Brussels, which both, it prevented Ney, with the force under his was done in the most perfect order. command, from turning the right wing of the Such were the results of the sanguinary comallied army as Bonaparte had calculated upon. bats of Ligny and Quatre Bras, wbere, according Had this taken place, at the same moment when to Marshal Soult, the overthrow was terrible, and the Prussian army was driven from their position, the effect theatrical. The emperor had, indeed, it might have been attended with the most disas at one point beaten, but not broken, the line, so trous consequences; and the two allied armies far as to compel the allies to choose other ground would probably have been separated from each to re-form it; but from that he was not able to deother. But in consequence of the first corps rive any material advantage, and certainly none baving been withdrawn from the assistance of such as he had anticipated. Although the allies Ney, that officer was prevented from gaining any bad found it necessary to retreat, yet be did not advantage ; and he was much chagrined when attempt to pursue them. Their bravery on the he found that it had been ordered away. When 16th, had taught him that he must move with Bonaparte had succeeded in his attack against caution; and it was now necessary for bim to rehe Prussians, be sent the first corps back again mould bis plans, to recruit and re-organize his
Ney; but it was so late when it arrived, he strength ; and to be certain that, in the next eno uld make no use of it, as the remainder of the gagement, no corps of bis army should march British
army had come up. Ney afterwards ac backwards and forwards, during a whole day, eused Bonaparte of causing this corps to march doing nothing. The bravery of the British troops backwards and forwards duriog the day without had, in a particular manner, baffled his views; being of any service to either party : but it is and till they were disposed of, he could neither easy to find faults after errors are committed. The turn a force against the Prussian army sufficient ruth is, that both Ney and his master, before the to “ crush” it, nor could be march to Brussels in attles of the 16th, had the most perfect confidence safety. at their force was quite sufficient to carry all In the battle of the 16th, both sides fougbt ei s objects into execution ; but the bravery of with the utmost resolution ; but the French solei radversaries confounded all their calculations; diers with the bitterest animosity. The first and aparte found the Prussians braver than be third corps of the French army had hoisted the pected; and, therefore, it was necessary to black flag, and resolved to give no quarter to ring up more troops to make them yield. As he their enemies. But the animosity of the French id succeed, however, without the help of that troops was particularly directed against the Prus
BOOK Xy, sians. “On the 15th, before Charleroy," said an of the shores of the ocean, to announce that the
ficial account to Davoust, "several squares of Prus einperor “ had completely beaten the united ar Char. Vi. sian infantry were broken by some squadrons. Of mies of Wellington and Blucher." Three of these 5 or 6,000 men, who composed those squares, dispatches were received at Boulogne
, on the 1815,
only 1,700 could be saved.” The Moniteur, morning of the 18th. Paris was illuminated. The however, comes closer and more boldly to the most extravagant joy was manifested by the point. On the 16th, said that paper, “ the firing friends of the emperor. The artillery was fired of our troops against the Prussians, whose govern. by bundreds. The waves of the channel beard ment has been the principal instigator of this un with amazement the terrible echo; and the chalky just war, was such, that the emperor was obliged cliffs of Albion remained in suspense and fear. to order the recal to be beaten three times, for The whole vanity and arrogance of the ambi the purpose of enjoining the making of prisoners, tious and thoughtless French people were again and the stopping the carnage,” The policy that brought forward to public notice. “ His majesty could dictate or tolerate such a system as this, said the Moniteur, *“ was to enter Brussels ibe must have been short-sighted indeed. It was an day after this glorious action, in which, it is said, evil which was certain to work its own cure; and the safety of the general-in-chief, Wellington
, is and through means which the beart recoils to compromised.” The official accounts published think on. The consequence of this conduct, on by the minister at war adopted even a loftier tune. the part of the enemy, was, that the anger of the « The noble lord (Wellington) must have been Prussians was kindled to fury and retribution, confounded. There were, upon the field-ofstern and unrelenting ; and their comrades' blood battle, eight enemies to one Frenchman!" Cou nerved their arms and steeled their hearts to fu- tinuing this strain of exultation and irony, the ture combats.
account proceeds:-“ Whole bands of prisoners The retreat of the allied armies gave the are taken. We do not know what is become of French an opportunity, at which they are adepts, their commanders. The route is complete on this and which, at this time, was peculiarly necessary, side, and I hope we shall not soon bear again of wamely, to claim great and brilliant victories; these Prussians, if they should ever be able to and also to anticipate the most happy and decisive rally at all. As for the English, we shall see what results in their favor. Bulletin after bulletin was will become of them. The emperor is there." transmitted by telegraph to the interior, and to
Remarks upon the Plans of the allied Generals.—Marshal Grouchy sent to observe the Prussicas
while Bonaparte proceeds against the British Army.—Skirmishes.—Repulse of the Enemy by the Life-yuards. Retreat of the British Army to Waterloo.– Dreadful State of the Weather -- Views of Bonaparte.-State of Brussels and its Vicinity during the Battles of Ligny and Quatre BrasStrength of the French and allied Armies on the Morning of the 18th.—Their Positions.
In consequence of the retreat of the British not concentrate this force without leaving a large and Prussian armies, it was generally supposed portion of the frontier of the King of the Nether that the allied commanders had been inattentive, lands open to the incursions of the French." For and not sufficiently upon their guard, in allow this purpose Brussels, and the surrounding coun ing Bonaparte thus to attack them unprepared, try, was certainly the best chosen. From there and, as it were, in detail with the force under his they could be removed, with the greatest celerity
, direction. There is, however, little ground for to any point on the frontiers of ihe Netherlands this supposition ; for Blucher, as we have already If Bonaparte had attacked that country from beseen, was not off his guard. It was absolutely tween Valenciennes and Lisle, as he might bare pecessary, in order to procure sustenance to the done, and as bis march upon Beaumont indicated troops, to have them in extensive cantonments. that he might attempt, then the allied troops could “ The combined armies," said Lord Castlereagh, reach the frontiers to oppose him, as soon as be " it has been found expedient to distribute where could move his army from Avesnes to that point. sustenance could most easily be procured. The It was by no means improbable that the enemy Duke of Wellington and Prince Blueher could would make an attempt first in that quarter; ba
cause, by doing so, he not only had the important it might become the height of prudence that they BOOK XV. fortresses already mentioned to cover both flanks should recede, had it even been to a point beyond of his army, but he would have reached Ghent, Brussels. The allies, however, though forced CHAP. VII. threatened Antwerp, and cut off the line of the to retreat, had no intention to abandon that city arvance of the British supplies from England to the enemy.
1815. by way of Ostend. That the Duke of Welling On the 17th, Bonaparte having sent the third tin homself thought this would most probably be and fourth corps of infantry, under Gii ard ard the first object of the enemy is very obvious, Vandamme, and the third corps of cavalry, under when he says, he directed the troops inimediately General Pagol, the wbole amounting to about 10 assemble, ypon hearing of the advance of the 35,000 men, and commanded by Marshal Grouchy, enny, " and afterwards to march to their left, to follow the movements of the Prussian army io as soon as I had intelligence from other quarters Wavre, proceeded with the remainder of his force tu prove that the enemy's movement upon Char to the position wbich the troops under Ney occuleroy was the real attack." The position of pied; but, before his arrangements were comBrussels, therefore, was equally good, if not better, pleted, and lis orders given for his army to adthan any other that could be chosen to guard vance, the British troops were in full retreat
, with against any attack from the enemy in this direc the exception of the rear-guard, which was still tion; because, from Brussels they could reach at Quatre Bras. Bonaparte, thinking the British the frontiers towards 'Tourvay and Valenciennes, army remained in their position at this place, adas soon as they could have done the same poiot vanced his troops in strong columns of attack if assembled between Namur and Charleroy, and against them; but when they reached the heights vice versâ to the latter place, had they been as above the village of Frasnes, Bonaparte was sursembled at the former. On the other hand, if it prised to fiod that the British had retreated ; and was necessary to assemble their forces on the that the troops against which his columns were defensive before a superior force, Brussels was the advancing were nothing more than a strong rearopiy place where it could be done. The official guard, which fell back as his troops advanced. account, published by Prince Schwartzenberg, is He immediately ordered his cavalry to advance very pointed upon this subject, and says, from in pursuit; and his columns of infantry continued the manner in which it was absolutely necessary their march in the direction of Brussels. Many to station the armies, “ their union was not prac. skirmishes took place with alternate success, until ticable in any point except in the neighbourhood the rear of the British army arrived at Genappe. of Brussels." It, at tbe same time, secured the The British had to defile through the narrow safety of the Upper Netherlands, should the streets of this village, and over the bridge which enemy have made a dash forward in that quarter. there crosses a small river, in the very face of the When the plans of the allies were matured, then pursuing enemy. The cuirassiers being in adtheir armies would have been collected on the vance, the Earl of Uxbridge ordered the 7th point chosen by them to assume offensive arti. hussars to charge them; but their horses were tudes; but this, as yet, they were not ready for, too small to produce any effect, and their swords nor was it the policy of Bonaparte to allow them shivered into atoms like glass, when they struck to be. His business was to attack before they the steel armour of these men ; and the regiment were prepared, unless he meant to stand upon the was forced to retire with some loss. The cuiras. defensive. Io attacking on the offensive, the party siers pursued them rapidly, and took the rearfirst ready to commence offensive operations, has squadron prisoners.
squadron prisoners. The life-guards were then the advantage of being able to choose the point ordered up to protect the hussars, and the rear be intends to attack, and consequently to come of the army. The guards immediately charged, against that part of the line of bis adversaries and, after a short but severe contest, the enemy which may be least guarded. Wbile the great retired in confusion. Several other charges took plans of all the allies remained incomplete, it was place with the same success, in which the Oxford well known no single army of their's would ad. blues greatly distinguished themselves. The revance into the enemy's country; and, therefore, treat was then continued without any further inthe advance of the French army at some point was terruption by the enemy, to the heights of M-unt only what might have been anticipated; but St. John, in advance of Waterloo, a village in where depended upon the will of Bonaparte. It front of the forest of Soignies, and on the great was easy to suppose troops should have been road to Brussels, within nine miles of that city. ready at all points—these, indeed, it was not diffi During the whole of the afternoon of the 17th cult to assemble in any numbers, but it was very the rain fell in torrents, accompanied by dreadful difficult with regard to supplies and provisions for
thunder and lightning, as if the elements also them. Before the force of the enemy, whose had collected to this point all their destruc-ive business it was to commence operations, it was engines to engage in the mighty conflict. This
BOOK XV. the allied army; and the roads being broken up had, during the previous year, spread ber wings
by their artillery, rendered it difficult for the over Europe. The natious thereof were begin Chap. VII. enemy to pursue. It was five o'clock when the ning to taste a blessing so long unknown to them.
allied troops arrived at the position destined for when the sweet enjoyment vanished. Blood and 1815.
them by their skilful commander. Bonaparte's destruction began again to cover those countries army balted in the neighbourhood of Genappe. from whose frontiers the fearful torrent had conIn the evening a sbort cannonade took place to menced its course, and whose divided stream, wards Hougoumont, but without any result. On while it beat against the rock of Gibraltar on the the left, the Belgian troops advanced in parties one hand, at the same moment, on the other band in front, brandishing their arms, shouting, and bared the banks of the Moskwa, and threatened firing some cannon, in token of defiance to the the confines of Asia. The torrent again let loose, enemy; but to this he paid no attention. All
All where might it stop? All inquired, because all the army of Wellington was now collected at
were interested. A decisive victory obtained by Waterloo. The duke accordingly wrote to Mar. Bonaparte over Wellington and Blucher would shal Blucher, that he was resolved to accept the have roused to fresh energies the ambition of battle in that place, providing that the marshal France, and would have proved of incalculable could spare two corps of his army to assist bim advantage to him; and what was still more to be This tbe gallant veteran not only agreed to do, dreaded, it would have awakened and brought but promised, if necessary, to come with all his forward fear and despondency to curb the exe army to the assistance of the British general. At tions, disunite the councils, and paralize the the same time he proposed, that if Napoleon did energies of the powers of Europe. As yet
. not attack the allies on the 18th, that they should, ever, Napoleon had only been partially successful. on the subsequent day, attack him with all their His great object remained yet to gain ; and forces. When the evening approached, the allied which, if he did not gain immediately, would soldiers, wet, weary, and hungry, took up their have compelled him to relinquish all the advanbivouack amidst the dripping corn, mud, and tages which he had previously obtained. No water, and in the open fields, with scarcely any inerous reinforcements, be was well aware, were covering. The ground afforded no shelter for at hand to augment the 'armies of his opponents the troops, so that generals, officers, and men, Three corps of the Prussian army were on their were equally exposed to the rain which was fall- march, and making every exertion to join their ing in torrents. The French army was in a si- comrades. He had, therefore, no alternative milar situation. The Duke of Wellington having but to persevere before these corps joined
, or made bis arrangements for the night, established to return into France before the forces of the his bead-quarters at a petty inn in the small enemy. From the bravery of the allies
, on the village of Waterloo, about a mile in the rear of 16th, he must have been aware that the ob the position. The French troops bad been gra- ject which he had in view was a most adudually coming up during the evening, and occu ous, and even a doubtful undertaking. Ne pied a ridge nearly opposite to the position of the vertheless, he was resolved to persevere ;
and English army. Bonaparte slept at the farm-house believed that, however difficult it might be, still of Cailou, near Planchenoit. Thus arranged, he could carry his point. His self-confidence bere both generals and their respective armies waited led him into one of those errors which bad the arrival of morning, and the events it was to oftener than once before proved fatal to him. He bring. During the greater part of the night, the calculated that he had gained much more from the thunder and lightning continued most tremendous, bloody operations of the 16th than he really had. accompanied by a high wind, and incessant and He believed that Blucher's army was incapable heavy rain ; but though this night was dreadful of any further resistance that could be serious, ar to the soldier, it must have been still more so to impede bim. “ He believed,” said the Prussia the wretched inhabitants of the country which general, “ that the Prussian army was retiring the armies occupied. Obliged to abandon their upon Maestricht.” In fact, he believed this humble dwellings, in despair they had fled to the « The Prussians," said the enemy " are retreatdeep recesses of the forest for security, and in the ing upon the Meuse in great disorder.” The hope of saving their lives. The rich crops of Duke of Wellington, therefore, alone remained, grain, which were fast hastening to maturity, were as Bonaparte conceived, to offer any serious te trodden under foot, or eaten up by the cavalry, sistance to his progress. He, therefore
, deterand the helpless farmer saw the labour of a whole mined to attack him before he could receive any year destroyed in a single day.
assistance from the army of Blucher
. The Thus ended the day of the 17th. The moment former disposed of, he calculated he should be was truly important; and upon a general view able to turn a sufficient force against the disor of the subject
, not a little alarming. After dered remnant of the Prussian army, which he twenty-five years of misery and carnage, peace made sure of destroying al together. Accordingly,