« PreviousContinue »
BOOK XV. which was commanded by Major-general Sir W. Ter la Haye, which was likewise occupied. I
Ponsonby. The 7th, 10th, and 18th hussars, front of the right centre, and near the Nivelle Chap. VII. formed the first British brigade of light cavalry, road, his grace occupied the house and garden of
and was commanded by Major-general Sir Hus- Hougoumont, or Chateau Goumont, which covered 1815.
The 11th, 12h, and 10th light the return of that flank; and, in front of the left dragoons, formed the second British brigade, and centre, he occupied the farm of la Haye Sainte was commanded by Major-general Sir J. Vande. (the Holy Hedge). The centre occupied the vil leur. The 13th light dragoons, 15th hussars, Jage of Mount St. John. A road runs from Te and 23d light dragoons, formed another British la Haye to Ohain, and the woody passes of Si brigade of light cavalry, which was commanded Lambert, through which the Duke of Wellington by Major-general Sir C. Grant. The 1st and kept up a communication by his left with the 2d light dragoons and 2d hussars formed the first Prussian army at Wavre. The whole position was brigade of cavalry of the king's German legion, situated upon an eminence, and extended about which was commanded by Major-general Doro a mile and a balf. The army was disposed in two berg, and the 1st and 3d regiments of hussars, lines. The first line, which was composed of the formed the second brigade of cavalry of that choicest troops in the Duke of Wellington's arms, corps, and was commanded by Colonel Sir F. occupied the top of the hill, and were defended Arentzchild. The prince-regent's hussars and on the left partly by a large ditch and bedge, Verdun bussars formed the first brigade of Ha which ran in a straight line from Mount St. Johe. noverian cavalry, which was commanded by Co. The second line lay behind the brow of the bill; lonel Esteroff, of the Hanoverian service. and was, in some degree, sheltered from the
The first and third divisions of the infantry of enemy's fire. The reserve, under the command the Anglo-Hanoverian army, with their artillery, of Lord Hill, was placed in reserve on the right and the second and third divisions of infantry, of the position, in front of the village of Merkeand a division of cavalry of the army of the le-Braine, with its right resting on Braine-laNetherlands, with a battery of foot and another Leud. of horse-artillery, of the same army, composed The Prussian army, which began to move at the first grand corps, which, as we have already break of day, was placed as follows, viz. the fourth observed, was entrusted to general bis royal- and second corps marched from Wavre by St. highness the Prince of Orange.
Lambert, where they were to take a position The second and fourth divisions of the Anglo- covered by the forest of Soignies, near FrischerHanoverian infantry, and second brigade of ca mont, in order to take the enemy in the rear valry of the king's German legion, with the artil. when the moment should appear favorable
. The Jery attached to these divisions, together with the first corps was to operate by Ohajn, on the Indian brigade, and first division of infantry of right flank of the enemy. Their line, in the the army of the Netherlands, and a battery of evening, extended about a mile and a quarter. foot and another of horse-artillery, formed the The French army was posted on a range of second grand corps, commanded by Lieutenant- heights, in front of the army under the British general Lord Hill. The reserve of the army general. The first corps was placed with its left consisted of the fifth and sixth divisions of Bri on the road to Brussels, in front of the village of -tish infantry, with the corps of cavalry and infan- Mount St. John, and opposite the centre of the try of his serene highness the Duke of Brunswick allied army. This corps had not been engaged Oels.
on the 16th, and was consequently entire. The We shall now attend minutely to the positions second corps had its right on the road to Brussels, chosen by the contending armies on the 18th. No- and its left upon a small wood, within cannot thing that concerns Waterloo should be lost. Every shot of the English army. The cuirassiers were spot should be dear to Britain, because every clod in reserve behind, and the imperial guards in re of earth is wet with the blood of her bravest sons. serve on the heights. The sixth corps, with the Every footstep attests her prowess, every object cavalry of General Detourmont, under the chief recalls to the memory of the beholder her glory command
of Count Loban, was destined to opand their fame.
pose the Prussians in the rear of their right. The The army under the command of his grace the rest of the cavalry were with the guards, and the Duke of Wellington was, as we have already other two corps of the army. Over the whole noticed, posted about a mile in front of Waterloo, position of the French army there were sixty balat the point where the position crossed the high teries of cannon. The front, when extended to roads leading from Brussels to Charleroy and meet the Prussians, was about two miles and a Nivelles. Its right was thrown back to a ravine balf. rcar Merke Braine, which village was occupied. With regard to the natural strength of the res. Its left extended to a height above the hamlet pective positions, the reader, upon turning to the
map, will perceive, from the course of the rivers, den, with a detachment of guards from the se- BOOK XV. or rather rivulets, that the country occupied by cond brigade, and a regiment of the troops of the armies was the most elevated ground in those Nassau. It was a post of the utmost importance; Chap. VII. parts, and which rises from every quarter as you for while it was held the enemy could not ap. approach it. The whole forms numerous ridges, proach the right of the British army.
1815 without any very prominent eminences; and the The country around is generally open, groups vallies betwixt them are intersected with ravines. of trees only appearing behind Frischermont, For half a league in advance of Waterloo the Planchenoit, Mon Plaisir, and near the so much ground invariably rises to Mount St. John. It is talked of observatory. in terspersed, as it rises, with ridges, like the farm-houses rose arnidst those fields, which were waves of the sea, wave behind wave. The posi- cultivated in the highest manner, and covered tion occupied by the Prussians, at the close of the chiefly with rye, at this season of the year in the day, joined the British at Ter la Haye. From utmost luxuriance of vegetation. From the inthat place, the ridge which forms Mount St. John, cessant rain all the ground was very soft; and, in turns first in a south and then in a south-west some new-ploughed fields, the troops could not direction, by Frischermont, towards Planchenoit. move without sinking to the calf of the leg. In the Its front, opposite the French position, rose like rear of those memorable fields lies the vast forest an amphitheatre, in several swells or ridges, each of Soignies, consisting cbiefly of bushes, extremely higher than the other, but all inferior in height to tall and beautiful. Through this forest, for sevethe chief ridge, on which Mount St. John is situ ral miles, runs the great road froin Brussels to ated. At their foot is a valley, from whence the the frontiers. Iu passing the position which we ground again rose, in an elevated chain, towards have just described, the Duke of Wellington, on the position of the enemy. On the front opposite, the preceding year, remarked, that it was a spot and nearly on similar ground, with a valley be wbich he should choose were he ever called upon tween the allies and them, and also between their to defend Brussels. Little did he at that moment centre and their right wing, the French army was imagine, that he should so soon be called upon posted. All these eminences were covered with to defend Brussels; and still less could he think artillery.
that it would be against such an enemy. In the valley, which lay between the positions Such was the ground, and such were the posiof the French and British armies, about half-way tions of the contending armies, who were about between the two ridges, and to the right of the to contend for the fate of Europe. The shades centre of the British, is situated the farm-house of a short, but gloomy, rainy, and uncomfortable and chateau called Hougoumont, or Chateau night were past. The morning of the 18th, Goumont. This was a gentleman's house, of the (Sunday) dawned. Like the night, it was cheerold Flemish architecture, having a tower and bat- less and rainy: dark and sullen clouds obscured tlements. It was surrounded on one side by a the face of heaven, and blackened the approach large farm-yard, and on the other opened to a of this eventful and bloody day. No sun of garden, and fenced by a brick-wall, which was Austerlitz bere shed his morning beams on those loop-boled by the British on the night of the 17th. ranks which looked upon such omens as an infal. The whole was encircled by an open grove of talllible sign of victory. With the morping arose trees, covering a space of about three or four thousands who were destined never to see the acres, without any underwood. This chateau, dawn of another. Stiff, and almost motionless, with the advantages afforded by its wood and from having slept on the open fields, and under gardens, formed a strong point d'appui to the such deluges of rain, the officers and soldiers British right wing. The Duke of Wellington awoke, and began to prepare for battle. bad occupied this house, as also the wall and gar
Battle of Waterloo.-Bonaparte's Address to his Soldiers previous to the Engagement.-Attack on
Hougoumont.-Bravery of the Guards.-Furious Attack on the Left Wing of the British Army. -La Haye Sainte stormed.-The Enemy repulsed.- Death of General Picton.-The Attack re. newed. ---Dreadful Carnage.-Gallantry of the Inniskillen Dragoons.- Death of Sir William Ponsonby.- Attack of the Cuirassiers.-British light Cavalry forced to retire.-Gallantry of the 28th Regiment.-The Cuirassiers attacked and overthrown by the heavy Cavalry of the British.Gallant Conduct of Individuals in the British Arny.-Second Attack upon Hougoumont.-Critical Situation of the British Army.---The Prussians anxiously expected.-Dreadful Attack on the Centre.-Conduct of the Duke of Wellington.—The Attacks of the Enemy described.-Movements of the Prussian Army.--Arrival of Bulovo's Corps.-Bonaparte sends the sixth Corps and a part of his Guards against them.-The Prussians repulsed and separated from the British ArmyAttack on Wavre by Grouchy.—Desperate Attack on the Centre and Left of the British Army, by the Imperial-guards.---Dreadful Slaughter on both sides.-Victory doubtful.—The Enemy charged and overthrown by the British Guards.--Arrival of the first and second Corps of the Prussian Army, with Marshal Blucher.-Advance of the British Army, headed by the Duke of Wellington, to attack the Enemy.—Total Defeat of the French.—Pursued by the PrussiansDreadful Carnage.-Wreck of the French Army arrive at Charleroy, followed by the PrussiansFlight of Bonaparte to Paris. -Loss of both Armies.—Horrible Appearance of the Field-of
battle.-Names of Officers who distinguished themselves.-Anecdotes.- Remarks. BOOK XV. Іт appears Bonaparte did not expect that the The first was the impetuous attack upon the right
, British would await the issue of a battle in the at Hougoumont, which lasted from eleven a. m. till CHAP. VIII. position they had taken up; for when the dawn one p.m. The second was the dreadful attack from
ing of the 18th of June sbewed him his enemies, the centre to the left, which lasted from one p.. 1815.
still on the heights, and apparently determined to till three. The third was tbe tremendous aitack maintain them, it is said he could not suppress bis along the whole line, but severest towards the satisfaction; and while be stretched his arm to. centre, which lasted from three p. m. till past si. wards their position, as if to grasp bis prey, he The fourth was the terrible attack made by the imexclaimed, “ Ah! I have them, then, these Eng- perial-guards, which lasted from balf-past sista lish!” Afraid, however, that they would still steal eight. Included in these periods also is the mur. away, he sent the most pressing orders to basten derous combat maintained by the Prussians against up his columns from the rear, that he might com the French right wing. The fifth was the gena mence the attack. The weather still continued ral attack upon the offensive, on the part of te tempestuous; but, about nine o'clock, it cleared allies, and the attempt of Bonaparte to resist i a little, and soon afterwards the sun made his ap- which lasted from eight p. m. till near ten. The pearance from amidst the dark clouds which sixth was the general route and pursuit, wb. rolled aloug the atmosphere. Every thing now lasted from ten p. m. till near midnight, oa ile seemed to indicate that the awful contest was part of the British, and on the side of the Presabout to commence.
sians all night. In each attack arose a multipisThe British troops were in the act of prepar. city of sanguinary combats ; and each were eq ing their breakfast, when aid-du-camps passing in their consequences to combats which, in orbs: through their rauks proclaimed that the enemy wars, had decided the fate of empires. was moving. The troops immediately stood to The whole of the French line bow appeared to their arms, and the artillery moved to the front. be in motion; their columns formed rapidly; ad Before entering upon the terrible details of this a terrible cloud of cavalry and cuirassiers kurs day, it may not be unnecessary to state, for the opposite the British right. From a deep colunac beiter understanding the subject, that this battle of infantry, which was afterwards known to be may properly be divided into six great periods. composed of the imperial-guard, and also ascer
tained to be the head-quarters, where Bonaparte cover of which they bad but just emerged. This, BOOK XV. himself was stationed; numerous officers were wbich was the commencement of the action, was seen, from time to time, passing to and fro in all considered a very favorable amen by the British Cuar. VIM. directions. These were carrying the necessary soldiers who witnessed it; and, for a short time, and definitive orders.
1815. Immediately after this, they were much amused with the manquvres of Bonaparte passed before the line, and addressed Jerome's division, and the cautious manner in
the troops, in order to encourage them to greater which it seemed to emerge from its hidingEls exertions. He reminded them of their former place. -Joy victories. He pointed out to them the conse This state of things, however, did not last
quences of defeat in the present instance. He long, as the enemy were observed bringing up a
held out to them honors and rewards; and pressed powerful artillery to bear upon the guns which Gis
upon their minds the glory which they would had so annoyed bis first advance. Under the ja gain by vanquishing the English, their ancient protection of this artillery, the enemy attacked
and most inveterate enemies, and the great cause Hougoumont with the greatest fury, and a most of all the opposition against tbem. He asked them sanguinary combat took place. The enemy, bow. if they would suffer the newly-organized troops ever, fought with such vigor, that the troops of of Holland, Belgium, and the petty states of Ger- Nassau-Ussingen, who lived the grove of Houmany, once their servants, to vanquish them. He goumont as sharp-shooters, abandoned that part told 'tbem that the flower of the British army was
of the post, and the chateau itself must bave been all lost in America, and that it was only raw troops
carried but for the stubborn and desperate eou. which Welington had with him to oppose them. rage of the detachment of guards. The columns
Finally, he told them that a rich reward for all of the enemy surrounded the house, and, on three their toils lay before them, and was within their sides at once, attacked it most desperately; but grasp; and promised them their pleasure in, and they were bravely repelled. Lieutenant-colonel the plunder of, the capital of the Netherlands ; M.Donald was obliged to fight hand-to-hand for, " 10-night," said be, “ we shall be in Brus among the assailants, and was indebted to persels." With such barangues, and such promises, sonal strength, no less than courage, for his sucdid he stimulate his troops to fury.
cess in the perilous duty of shutting the gates of It was near eleven o'clock wben the battle the court-yard against the enemy. Don Miguel began, with the attack on Hougoumont. Bona Alava, the Spanish general, and his aid-de-camps parte, upon reconnoitring, had seen the import- exerted themselves to rally the scattered sharpe ance of that post, and the necessity there was for shooters of Nassau. By the route of these light bis getting possession of it. He, therefore, sent troops, and the consequent occupation of the wood orders for Marshal Ney, who commanded the by the French, Hougoumont was, for a considerleft wing of his army, to direct an attack upon it able time, an invested and besieged post, indebted with sueh a force as should at once take it for its security to the strong walls and deep That officer immediately ordered the division of ditches with wbich the garden and orchard were infantry, commanded by Jerome Bonaparte, to surrounded, but much more to the bravery of those advance against Hougoumont. This post was by whom they were maintained. The impetu occupied, as we observed before, by a detachment osity of the enemy's troops was incredible, and of guards, from General Byng's brigade, and two the fire of their artillery terrible. Every tree, brigades of artillery; these were commanded by every walk, every bedye, every avenue, were Lieutenant-colonel M Donald, and afterwards by contended for with an obstinacy altogether incon Colonel Home About eleven o'clock, the first ceivable. The garrison fired through the holes columns of Jerome's division made their appear. wbich they had knocked out in the garden-walls, ance from the ravine, or rather hollow ground, and the assailants made the most desperate atwbich leads down from the public-bouse of la 'tempts to carry the post, but in vain. This part Belle-Alliance to the chateau.' The British artil. of the British line was supported by thirty pieces lery had taken up a position on the ridge of the of cannon, which made dreadful havoc amongst hill in front of the line of infantry; and the mo
The French were killed all round ment the enemy made his appearance, who were to the very door of the house ; but they were neadvancing with rapidity, and loud shouts of vive ver able to penetrate beyond the threshold. l'Empereur, the nine-pounders opened a tremen As Hougoumont was in some degree insulated, dous fire upon his columns. The artillery-officers and its defenders no longer in communication bad got the range so accurately, that almost every with the rest of the British army, the French ca. shot and shell fell in the very centre of his valry were enabled to mareh round it in great masses. So great was the effect produced by this strength to the British right wing, whicli tbey atGre, that all Jerome's bravery could not make bis tacked with great vigor. The light troops, who soldiers advance; and in a moment they were were in advance of the British line, were driven in again hidden by the rising ground, from under by the fury of this general charges and the foreign
BOOK XV. cavalry, who ought to have supported them, gave comrades, and resist with the greatest steadiness
way on all sides. The black Brunswick infantry, every attack that was made against them. Caap. VIU, however, stood firm. They were drawn up in After the enemy bad made the most desperate 1815.
squares, as most of the British forces were, in this efforts to push back the right wing of the British memorable battle. The Duke of Wellington, with army, and to establish themselves on the road to bis usual quickness, had foreseen the nature of the Nivelles, the battle slackened in some degree in attack that would be made upon his live, and this quarter, to rage with greater fury towards the when the troops stood to their arms in the morning, left and centre of the British line. The enemy he gave orders that they should be formed into had been foiled in every attack which he had bi squares of balf battalions, and in that state to therto made, and be therefore turned his attacks await the enemy's attack. These squares were
to the left of the British, in order to gain the road not quite solid, but nearly so, the men being drawn to Brussels. up several files deep. The distance between This attack was made in columns of cavalry and these masses afforded space enough to draw up infantry, protected by the fire of upwards of 100 the battalions in line, when they should be or pieces of artillery, which did dreadful execution. dered to deploy, and they were posted with re The enemy advanced with intrepidity, and charged ference to each other much like the alternate with such resolution that it required the utmost squares upon a chess-board. It was, therefore, skill of the British general to post his troops, and impossible for a squadron of cavalry to push be valor of the soldiers to resist the overwhelming tween two of these squares without finding them- numbers that were brought against them. The selves at once assailed by a fire in front from that attempt against Hougoumont and the right was which was to the rear, and on botb flanks from those severe ; but“ on this point,” said Marshal Blubetwixt which it had moved forward. But although cher, the enemy “ attacked with fury,” intending this order of battle possessed every efficient power to throw the left wing of the allied army upon the of combination for defence against cavalry, its ex centre, and thus effect its separation from the terior appearance was far from imposing. The Prussian army. The combat was of the remen thus drawn up, occupied a very small space verest description: La Haye Sainte was the of ground. A distinguished officer, who was des- enemy's first object. This was a large farmtined to support the Brunswickers, says, that house, with offices, surrounded with a bigh when he saw the furious onset of the French ca. wall, and lay upon the right of the great road valry, with a noise and clamor that seemed to from Brussels to Charleroy, in front of Mount St. unsettle the firm earth over which they galloped, John, at the bottom of the ridge. The garden and beheld the small detached black masses, attached to this house, which had only a brushwhich, separated from each other, stood each indi- wood fence, extended about fifty yards into the vidually exposed to beoverwhelmed by the torrent, plain. Being a covering-point of much importbe almost trembled for the event. The Bruns ance, the duke had occupied it with a considerwickers, however, opened their fire with coolness, able force of the light troops of the king's readines, and rapidity, and repulsed the attacks German legion.
German legion. The enemy attacked this post of the enemy. The British artillery was never in with great fury; but it was resolutely defended
. bigher order, or more distinguished for excellent The enemy were repeatedly repulsed, but ibey practice. Their fire made dreadful gaps in the advanced again with fresh troops, and the action squadrons of cavalry, and strewed the ground was maintained with the most determined courage with men and horses, who were advancing to on both sides for a considerable time. The place
, the charge.
Still this was far from repressing however, was at last carried, after a sanguinary the courage of the French, who pressed on in de contest, and all its brave defenders were put fiance of every obstacle, and of the continued and the sword. immense slaughter which was made amongst While the combat raged with the utmost vio their ranks. These cavalry attacks were gene lence at La Haye Sainte, the columns of the rally supported by artillery, who, as soon as the enemy pressed forward against the whole body of cavalry were repulsed, opened a most destruc- the British left wing, directing their efforts along tive fire upon the British squares, being only 150 this part of the line, towards the village of Mount yards distant. "One fire," says a general-officer, St. John. It was about one o'clock that the al
struck down geven men of the square, with whom tack on the left became serious. Three columns I was for the moment; the next was less deadly, of between 3 and 4,000 men each, and forty it only killed three." Yet under such a fire, and pieces of cannon, advanced against the line 90 in full view of these clouds of cavalry, who were ihe left, where the Belgians were posted. The waiting like birds of prey, to dasb upon them fifth division, a brigade of heavy dragoons
, and when the slaughter should afford the slightest two brigades of artillery assisted them. The comopening, did these gallant troops close their files bat was severe, and the slaughter dreadful. For arer the dead bodies of their dead and dying about an hour, the Belgian infantry, assisted by