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French was now complete. All was in con vouacked on the ground which had been ocfusion. The baggage, the camp-followers, cupied by the French during the battle, with and the wounded, who had been sent into the strongest hopes that the conflict would the rear, imagined that the fate of the day be renewed in the morning with decisive was decided, and crowded the road to Char success. This, however, depended on the leroi.
news they should receive from Fleurus, in The division of cuirassiers of general Rous- which direction a furious cannonade had sel then presented itself, and held the British been heard during the whole day, announcadvanced troops in check. The infantry had ing a general action between the emperor time to rally. It formed itself into squares, and marshal Blucher. Even the duke of and retired as far as Frasné, where it again Wellington only tardily received the intellihalted. The British promptly pursued, and gence of the battle of Ligny, though his own attempted by numerous determined charges manœuvres depended on its result. The to carry the heights, but the French fought Prussian officer to whom the dispatches had with desperation, and maintained their posi- been confided was made prisoner by the tion. The engagement continued with vari- French light troops, and when the news arous success until the close of the day, when rived it bore so unpropitious an aspect as to the first corps of the French army, of which cloud the animating hopes which the sucNapoleon had made no use, returned to cess at Quatre Bras had induced the troops Frasné, and the British cavalry arrived from to entertain. Niouve. It was too late for either party to The only expectation which Napoleon avail themselves of these reinforcements, and could reasonably indulge of ultimate success, they bivouacked on the positions which they depended on his engaging and defeating the respectively occupied.
Prussian and English forces separatelyThis battle was attended with no result, When he passed the Sambre, a corps of obbut it was most honourable to the British servation might have been left to keep one arms. During the greater part of the day in check, while he directed against the other the duke of Wellington contended against his concentrated force. But by nearly dividinfinitely superior numbers. His artillery ing his army, and ordering Ney to attack the had not arrived, and at no time had he more British while he pursued the Prussians, he than a few squadrons to oppose to the crowd exposed himself to far superior forces, and of cuirassiers and lancers who galloped round nothing but the devotion and gallantry of the British squares, and availed themselves his troops could have procured him the sucof the slightest disorder to break in
and cess which attended his operations on the overwhelm the infantry. The divisions were 16th. He certainly conceived that he left likewise separately engaged, and they ad to Ney a more easy duty than his own, and yanced to the combat fatigued by a long and that the marshal would find no difficulty in hasty march, and without having tasted re- pushing his way to Brussels, or near it, before freshment since the preceding day.
the British army could be assembled to opThe loss on both sides was enormous, and pose him. To himself he reserved the task nearly equal. The allies acknowledged a of contending with Blucher, and by his overloss of nearly four thousand men in killed, throw cutting off all communication between wounded, and prisoners, and the French a the British and the Prussian armies : comloss of four thousand two hundred. The pelling each to seek for safety in isolated number of prisoners was inconsiderable on and unconnected movements. When it was either side.
too late, he seems to have been aware of his The only immediate and decisive advan error, and on the 16th, when the engagetage resulting from this engagement was the ment he had commenced with the Prussians delay which it occasioned to Napoleon's plan was doubtful, he sent in great haste for the of marching on Brussels. It did not fail
, first corps, which constituted more than half however, to inspire the troops engaged with of Ney's army, and was posted in reserve, confidence and ardour. The British army bi- while he committed the mistake of conceal
ing from that general the use which he had hostility, the ordinary rules of war were remade of the reinforcement to which Ney was nounced on both sides. The Prussians delooking for support. Had a courier been clared their purpose to give and receive no dispatched, commanding him merely to ob- quarter. Two of the French divisions hoisted serve the British, and to act entirely on the the black flag, as an intimation of the same defensive, while Napoleon directed all his intention, and afterwards gave a more sanpowerful masses on Blucher, who was yet guinary proof of their mortal hatred, by muunsupported by Bulow, the danger to which tilating and cutting off the ears of the priNey was exposed might have been prevented, soners who fell into their hands at the crossthe Prussian general must have been over- ing of the Sambre. With such feelings towhelmed and nearly annihilated, and the left wards each other the two armies joined in flank of the British being exposed, he might battle. have thrown himself on their rear with ter The division of general Le Fol attacked rible effect,
the village of St, Amand, and, after an obstiThe Prussian veteran was strongly posted nate resistance, carried it at the point of the to receiye the enemy. His army occupied a bayonet. General Giraud then proceeded to line where three villages, built upon broken the attack of Ligny, and here a murderous and unequal ground, served as separate re scene commenced, which had never been doubts, defended by infantry, and well fur- equalled in any of the former contests benished with artillery. The village of St. tween the Prussians and the French. The Amand was occupied by his right wing, his troops of Napoleon succeeded in establishing centre was posted at Ligny, and his left at themselves in part of the village, and while Sombref. All these hamlets are strongly all their efforts could not drive the Prussians built, and contain several houses with large from the remaining part, the most desperate court-yards and orchards, each of which is attacks of the latter were unavailing to dis-, capable of being converted into a station of lodge their opponents. Every house was defence. The ground behind these villages fortified. Every hedge became a military forms a semicircle of some elevation, in front position. The combatants were in contact of which was a deep ravine, edged by strag- with each other. They had scarcely room gling thickets of trees. The villages were to manæuvre, and as the ranks were thinned in front of the ravine, and masses of infantry on either side, the void was filled with fresh were stationed behind each, destined to rein- troops. force the defenders, as occasion required. This scene continued during four or five
In this strong position Blucher had as hours. The village could never be said to be sembled three corps of his army, amounting taken by the French, nor could the Prussians to 80,000 men. But the fourth corps, com boast that for an instant they had driven the manded by Bulow, having been stationed in enemy from it. The soldiers on both sides distant cantonments, between Liege and fought with an animosity which disgraced Hannut, had not yet arrived at the point of the present civilized age of the world. It concentration. The force of the assailants is appeared as if they were animated by the stated, in the Prussian dispatches, at 130,000 deadliest personal hatred. For a long time,
But as Ney had at least 30,000 sol- quarter was neither given nor taken, and diers under him at Quatre Bras, it may be during the whole of the afternoon nearly two concluded that the troops under Buonaparte's hundred pieces of cannon were playing immediate command, at the battle of Ligny, the village, and scattering destruction amid even including a strong reserve, which con the troops, who in close columns filled every sisted of the first entire division, could not avenue to the place. At length the ground exceed 100,000 men, The forces, therefore, for which they contested was piled with dead, actually engaged on both sides were nearly which forined a kind of breastwork and deequal." They were equal, also, in courage fence for the combatants. and in mutual animosity. Exasperated by While the battle raged hottest round this the most inveterate sentiments of national village, the whole line was engaged with vas
rious success. At one time victory inclined now took place, Blucher was exposed to to the Prussians. Blucher led on a battalion most imminent danger He had led on one of infantry in person, and dispossessed the of the regiments in person. The charge had French of the village of St. Amand. Fol- failed, and the enemy was vigorously pursuilowing up his advantages, he seized on a ing. The marshal's horse was struck by a height whence the Prussians had been driven musket ball and dropped. Blucher was in an early part of the day, and having once stunned by the violence of the fall. Ere he more established his batteries there, played recovered the French cavalry advanced.with most destructive effect on the squares The last Prussian horseman had passed by, of the French. It was at this moment that and an adjutant alone remained with him, Buonaparte dispatched that order for the ad- determined to share his fate. The French vance of the first corps, which paralysed the cuirassiers charged by him at full speed, but efforts of Ney, and had nearly exposed his perceived him not in the ardour of their purtroops to destruction. Napoleon saw the suit, and fortunately he was uninjured by importance of regaining this position, and their horses. Before the recollection of the column after column was dispatched against marshal had returned the French were reit. The Prussians were again compelled to pulsed, and again dashed by him without retire, and the French possessed themselves seeing him. He was now extricated from of the church-yard of St. Amand, whence his horse, and with difficulty mounted anothey could not afterwards be dislodged. ther; when, disregarding the acute pain of
The fortune of the day was now evidently his bruises, he again placed himself at the in favour of Napoleon. All the reserves of head of his troops and directed their manBlucher were in action, while the imperial guard of the French, and an immense body The whole of the Prussian army was now of cavalry, had not yet been engaged. It was in full retreat, and at ten o'clock the firing nearly dusk. Favoured by this circumstance, had completely ceased. The French did not a strong division of French infantry had made deem it prudent to continue the pursuit, but a circuit round the village, and, while a co bivouacked on the ground which they had lumn of chasseurs made a desperate charge hardly and bravely won. in front, took the main body of the Prussians The Prussians lost more than twenty thou
At the same time the cavalry sand men in this sanguinary engagement.of the French repulsed that of the Prussians Forty pieces of cannon were taken, and seon the heights before the village. These veral colours. The French bulletins confess manæuvres were decisive. The Prussians a loss of three thousand men, but the actual evacuated Ligny in good order, and forming number was at least four times as great. themselves into squares, presented an un The most exaggerated statements of the broken front to the fierce pursuit of the affair were transmitted to Paris. Marshal French. Had the first corps of the French Soult, in a dispatch to Davoust, says,
“ The army been retained, and now directed on the emperor has succeeded in separating the line battalions of the Prussians, fatigued, dishear of the allies. Wellington and Blucher saved tened, and retiring, the victory would have themselves with difficulty. The effect was been complete.
theatrical. In an instant the firing ceased, The Prussians slowly retreated, and often and the enemy was routed in all directurned upon their foes, and repulsed their tions." repeated and impetuous charges. On the Another dispatch, speaking of the two heights near the mill of Bussy they halted, battles, says, " The noble lord must have and attempted to repair the fortune of the been confounded. IVhole bands of prisoners day. Napoleon directed upon them his for
They do not know what is bemidable guards, who had not yet been in come of their commanders. The route is action. They advanced with bayonets fixed, complete on this side, and I hope we shall and carried all before them.
.not hear again of the Prussians for some time, In one of the charges of cavalry which even if they should ever be able to rally.
in the rear.