Page images
PDF
EPUB

position near Mont St. Jean, which, from a village in its neighborhood, has received the ever-memorable name of the field of Waterloo.

Wellington was now about twelve miles distant, on a line running from west to east, from Wavre, where the Prussian army had now been completely reorganized and collected, and where it had been strengthened by the junction of Bulow's troops, which had taken no part in the battle of Ligny. Blucher sent word from Wavre to the Duke, that he was coming to help the English at Mont St. Jean, in the morning, not with one corps, but with his whole army. The fiery old man only stipulated that the combined armies, if not attacked by Napoleon on the 18th, should themselves attack him on the 19th. So far were Blucher and his army from being in the state of annihilation described in the boastful bulletin by which Napoleon informed the Parisians of his victory at Ligny. Indeed, the French Emperor seems himself to have been misinformed as to the extent of loss which he had inflicted on the Prussians. Had he known in what good order and with what undiminished spirit they were retiring, he would scarcely have delayed sending a large force to press them in their retreat until noon on the 17th. Such, however, was the case. It was about that time that he confided to Marshal Grouchy the duty of pursuing the defeated Prussians, and preventing them from joining Wellington. He placed for this purpose 32,000 men and 96 guns under his orders. Violent complaints and recriminations passed afterwards between the Emperor and the marshal respecting the manner in which Grouchy attempted to perform this duty, and the reasons why he failed on the 18th to arrest the lateral movement of the Prussians from Wavre to Waterloo. It is sufficient to remark here, that the force which Napoleon gave to Grouchy (though the utmost that the Emperor's limited means would allow) was insufficient to make head against the entire Prussian army, especially after Bulow's junction with Blucher. We shall presently have occasion to consider what opportunities were given to Grouchy during the 18th, and what he might have effected if he had been a man of original military genius.

But the failure of Grouchy was in truth mainly owing to the indomitable heroism of Blucher himself; who, though he had received severe personal injuries in the battle of Ligny, was as energetic and ready as ever in bringing his men into action again, and who had the resolution to expose a part of his army, under Thielman, to be overwhelmed by Grouchy at Wavre on the 18th, while he urged the march of the mass of his troops upon Waterloo. “It is not at Wavre, but at Waterloo," said the old Field-Marshal, “ that the campaign is to be decided;" and he risked a detachment, and won the campaign accordingly. Wellington and Blucher trusted each other as cordially, and co-operated as zealously, as formally had been the case with Marlborough and Eugene. It was in full reliance on Blucher's promise to join him that the Duke stood his ground and fought at Waterloo; and those who have ventured to impugn the Duke's capacity as a general, ought to have had common-sense enough to perceive, that to charge the Duke with having won the battle of Waterloo by the help of the Prussians, is really to say that he won it by the very means on which he relied, and without the expectation of which the battle would not have been fought.

Napoleon himself has found fault with Wellington for not baving retreated further, so as to complete a junction of his

army with Blucher's before he risked a general engagement. But, as we have seen, the Duke justly considered it important to protect Brussels. He had reason to expect that his army could singly resist the French at Waterloo until the Prussians came up; and that, on the Prussians joining, there would be a sufficient force united under himself and Blucher for completely overwhelming the enemy. And while Napoleon thus censures his great adversary, he involuntarily bears the highest possible testimony to the military character of the English, and proves decisively of what paramount importance was the battle to which he challenged his fearless opponent. Napoleon asks, “ If the English army had been beaten at Waterloo, what would have been the use of those numerous bodies of troops, of Prussians, Austrians, Germans, and Spaniards, which were advancing by forced marches to the Rhine, the Alps, and the Pyrenees ? "

The strength of the army under the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo was 49,608 infantry, 12,402 cavalry, and 5,645 artillerymen with 156 guns. But of this total of 67,655 men, scarcely 24,000 were British, a circumstance of very serious importance, if Napoleon's own estimate of the relative value of troops of different nations is to be taken. In the Emperor's own words, speaking of this campaign, “A French soldier would not be equal to more than one English soldier, but he would not be afraid to meet two Dutchmen, Prussians, or soldiers of the Confederation." There were about 6,000 men of the old German Legion with the Duke; these were veteran troops, and of excellent quality. Of the rest of the army the Hanoverians and Brunswickers proved themselves deserving of confidence and praise. But the Nassauers, Dutch, and Belgians were almost worthless; and not a few of them were justly suspected of a strong wish to fight, if they fought at all, under the French eagles rather than against them.

Napoleon's army at Waterloo consisted of 48,950 infantry, 15,765 cavalry, 7,232 artillerymen, being a total of 71,947 men, and 246 guns. They were the flower of the national forces of France; and of all the numerous gallant armies which that martial land has poured forth, never was there one braver, or better disciplined, or better led, than the host that took up its position at Waterloo on the morning of the 18th of June, 1815.

Perhaps those who have not seen the field of battle at Waterloo may gain a generally accurate idea of the localities, by picturing to themselves a valley between two and three miles long, of various breadths at different points, but generally not exceeding half a mile. On each side of the valley there is a winding chain of low hills running somewhat parallel wilh each other. The declivity from each of these ranges of hills to the intervening valley is gentle but not uni. form, the undulations of the ground being frequent and considerable. The English army was posted on the northern, and the French army occupied the southern ridge. The artillery of each side thundered at the other from their respective heights throughout the day, and the charges of horse and foot were made across the valley that has been described, The village of Mont St. Jean is situate a little behind the centre of the northern chain of hills, and the village of La Belle Alliance is close behind the centre of the southern ridge. The high road from Charleroi to Brussels (a broad paved causeway) runs through both these villages, and bisects therefore both the English and the French positions. The line of this road was the line of Napoleon's intended advance on Brussels.

a

[ocr errors]

There are some other local particulars connected with the the Forest of Soignies, which the French (and some few Eng. situation of each army, which it is necessary to bear in mind. lish) critics have thought calculated to prove so fatal to a reThe strength of the British position did not consist merely in treating force, the Duke on the contrary believed it to be a the occupation of a ridge of high ground. A village and ra- post that might have proved of intinite value to his army in vine, called Merk Braine, on the Duke of Wellington's ex- the event of his having been obliged to give way. The Forest treme right, secured his flank from being turned on that side; of Soignies has no thicket or masses of close-growing trees. and on his extreme left, two little hamlets called La Haye It consists of tall beeches, and is everywhere passable for men and Papelotte, gave a similar, though a slighter, protection. and horses. The artillery could have been withdrawn by the Behind the whole British position is the extensive forest of broad road which traverses it towards Brussels; and in the Soignies. As no attempt was made by the French to turn meanwhile a few regiments of resolute infantry could have either of the English flanks, and the battle was a day of held the forest and kept the pursuers in check. One of the straightforward fighting, it is chiefly important to ascertain best writers on the Waterlco campaign, Captain Pringle, well what posts there were in front of the British line of hills, of observes that "every person, the least experienced in war, which advantage could be taken either to repel or facilitate knows the extreme difficulty of forcing infantry from a wood an attack; and it will be seen that there were two, and tha: which cannot be turned.” The defence of the Bois de Bossu each was of very great importance in the action. In front of near Quatre Bras on the 16th of June had given a good proof the British right, that is to say, on the northern slope of the of this; and the Duke of Wellington, when speaking in after valley towards its western end, there stood an old-fashioned years of the possible events that might have followed if he had Flemish farm-house called Goumont, or Hougoumont, with been beaten back from the open field of Waterloo, pointed to out-buildings and a garden, and with a copse of beech trees the wood of Soignies as his secure rallying place, saying, of about two acres in extent round it. This was strongly gar- “they never could have beaten us so, that we could not have risoned by the allied troops; and, while it was in their posses- held the wood against them.” He was always confident that sion, it was difficult for the enemy to press on and force the he could have made good that post until joined by the PrusBritish right wing. On the other hand, if the enemy could sians, upon whose co-operation be throughout depended. take it, it would be difficult for that wing to keep its ground As has been already mentioned, the Prussians, on the mornon the heights, with a strong post held adversely in its imme- ing of the 18th, were at Wavre, which is about twelve miles diate front, being one that would give much shelter to the to the east of the field of battle of Waterloo. The junction of enemy's marksmen, and great facilities for the sudden concen- Bulow's division had more than made up for the loss sustained tration of attacking columns. Almost immediately in front at Ligny; and leaving Thielman with about seventeen thouof the British centre, and not so far down the slope as Hou- sand men to hold his ground, as he best could, against the at. goumont, there was another farm-house, of a smaller size, tack which Grouchy was about to make on Wavre, Bulow and called La Haye Sainte, which was also held by the British Blucher moved with the rest of the Prussians through St. troops, and the occupation of which was found to be of very Lambert upon Waterloo. It was calculated that they would serious consequence.

be there by three o'clock; but the extremely difficult nature With respect to the French position, the principal feature of the ground which they had to traverse, rendered worse by to be noticed is the village of Planchenoit, which lay a little the torrents of rain that had just fallen, delayed them long on in the rear of their right (i.e. on the eastern side), and which their twelve miles' march. proved to be of great importance in aiding them to check the An army, indeed, less animated by bitter hate against the advance of the Prussians.

enemy than was the Prussians, and under a less energetic Napoleon, in his memoirs, and other French writers, bave chief than Blucher, would have failed altogether in effecting vehemently blamed the Duke for having given battle in such a passage through the swamps, into which the incessant rain a position as that of Waterloo. They particularly object that had transformed the greater part of the ground through which the Duke fought without having the means of a retreat, if the it was necessary to move not only with columns of foot, but attacks of his enemy had proved successful; and that the Eng- with cavalry and artillery. At one point of the march, on enlish army, if once broken, must have lost all its guns and ma- tering the defile of St. Lambert, the spirits of the Prussians teriel in its flight through the Forest of Svignies, that lay in its almost gave way. Exhausted in the attempts to extricate and

In answer to these censures, instead of merely referring drag forward the heavy guns, the men began to murmur. to the event of the battle as proof of the correctness of the Blucher came to the spot, and heard cries from the ranks of— Duke's judgment, it is to be observed that many military “We cannot get on." But you must get on," was the old critics of high authority, have considered the position of Wa- Field-Marshal's answer. “I have pledged my word to Wellterloo to bave been admirably adapted for the Duke's purpose ington, and you surely will not make me break it. Only exof protecting Brussels by a battle; and that certainly the ert yourselves for a few hours longer, and we are sure of vicDuke's opinion in favor of it was not lightly or hastily formed. tory.” This appeal from old “Marsbal Forwards," as the It is a remarkable fact (mentioned in the speech of Lord Bat- Prussian soldiers loved to call Blucher, had its wonted effect. hurst when moving the vote of thanks to the Duke in the The Prussians again moved forward, slowly, indeed, and with House of Lords), that when the Duke of Welling pain and toil; but still they moved forward. was passing through Belgium in the preceding summer of The French and British armies lay on the open field during 1814, he particularly noticed the strength of the position of the wet and stormy night of the 17th; and when the dawn of Waterloo, and made a minute of it at the time, stating to the memorable 18th of June broke, the rain was still descendthose who were with him, that if it ever should be bis fate to ing heavily upon Waterloo. The rival nations rose from their fight a battle in that quarter for the protection of Brussels, he dreary bivouacs, and began to form, each on the high ground should endeavor to do so in that position. And with respect to which it occupied. Towards nine the weather grew clearer.

rear.

[merged small][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed]

and each army was able to watch the position and arrangements of the other on the opposite side of the valley.

The Duke of Wellington drew up his army in two lines; the principal one being stationed near the crest of the ridge of hills already described, and the other being arranged along the slope in the rear of his position. Commencing from the eastward, on the extreme left of the first or main line, were Vivian's and Vandeleur's brigades of light cavalry, and the fifth Hanoverian brigade of infantry, under Von Vincke. Then came Best's fourth Hanoverian brigade. Detachments from these bodies of troops occupied the little villages of Papelotte and La Haye, down the hollow in advance of the left of the Duke's position. To the right of Best's Hanoverians, Bylandt's brigade of Dutch and Belgian infantry was drawn up on the outer slope of the heights. Behind them were the ninth brigade of British infantry under Pack; and to the right of these last, but more in advance, stood the eighth brigade of English infantry under Kempt. These were close to the Charleroi road, and to the centre of the entire position. These two English brigades, with the fifth Hanoverian, made up the fifth division, commanded by Sir Thomas Picton. Immediately to their right, and westward of the Charleroi road, stood the third division, commanded by General Alten, and consisting of Ompteda's brigade of the King's German Legion, and Kielmansegge's Hanoverian brigade. The important post of La Haye Sainte, which it will be remembered lay in front of the Duke's centre, close to the Charleroi road, was garrisoned with troops from this division. Westward, and on the right of Kielmansegge's Hanoverians, stood the fifth British brigade under Halkett; and behind, Kruse's Nassau brigade was posted. On the right of Halkett's men stood the English Guards. They were in two brigades, one commanded by Maitland, and the other by Byng. The entire division was under General Cooke. The buildings and gardens of Hougoumont, which lay immediately under the height, on which stood the British Guards, were principally manned by detachments from Byng's brigade, aided by some brave Hanoverian riflemen, and accompanied by a battalion of a Nassau regiment. On a plateau in the rear of Cooke's division of Guards, and inclining westward towards the village of Merk Braine, were Clinton's second infantry division, composed of Adams's third brigade of light infantry, Du Plat's first brigade of the King's German Legion, and third Hanoverian brigade under Colonel Halkett.

The Duke formed his second line of cavalry. This only extended behind the right and centre of his first line. The largest mass was drawn up behind the brigades of infantry in the centre, on either side of the Charleroi road. The brigade of household cavalry under Lord Somerset was on the immediate right of the road, and on the left of it was Ponsonby's brigade. Behind these were Trip's and Ghingy's brigades of Dutch and Belgian horse. The third Hussars of the King's German Legion were to the right of Somerset's brigade. To the right of these, and behind Maitland's infantry, stood the third brigade under Dornberg, consisting of the 23d English Light Dragoons, and the regiments of Light Dragoons of the King's German Legion. The last cavalry on the right was Grant's brigade, stationed in the rear of the Foot-Guards. The corps of Brunswickers, both horse and foot, and the 10th British brigade of foot, were in reserve behind the centre and right of the entire position. The artillery was distributed at convenient intervals along the front of the whole line. Be

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

WATERLOO AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ACTION.

The White are English, the Black are French. corps commanded by Count d'Erlon and Count Reille. D'Erlon's corps was on the right, that is, eastward of the Charleroi road, and consisted of four divisions of infantry under Generals Durette, Marcognet, Alix, and Donzelot, and of one division of light cavalry under General Jaquinot. Count Reille's corps

formed the left or western wing, and was formed of Bachelu's, Foy's, and Jerome Bonaparte's divisions of infantry, and of Pire's division of cavalry. The right wing of the second general French line was formed of Milhaud's corps, consisting of two divisions of heavy cavalry. The left wing of this line was formed by Kellerman's cavalry corps, also in two divisions. Thus each of the corps of infantry that composed the first line had a corps of cavalry behind it; but the second line consisted also of Lobau's corps of infantry, and Dumont and Subervie's divisions of light cavalry; these three bodies of troops being drawn up on either side of La Belle Alliance, and forming the centre of the second line. The third, or reserve line, had its centre composed of the infantry of the Imperial Guard. Two regiments of grenadiers and two of chasseurs, formed the foot of the Old Guard under General Friaut. The Middle Guard, under Count Morand, was similarly composed; while two regiments of voltigeurs, and two of tirailleurs, under Duhesme, constituted the Young Guard. The chasseurs and lancers of the Guard were on the right of the infantry, under Lefebvre Desnouettes; and the grenadiers and dragoons of the Guards, under Guyot, were on the left. All the French corps comprised, besides their cavalry and infantry regiments, strong batteries of horse artillery; and Napoleon's numerical superiority in guns was of deep importance throughout the action.

Besides the leading generals who have been mentioned as commanding particular corps, Ney and Soult were present, and acted as the Emperor's lieutenants in the battle.

Wellington bad caused, on the preceding night, every brigade and corps to take up its station on or near the part of the ground which it was intended to hold in the coming battle. He had slept a few hours at his head-quarters in the village of Waterloo; and rising on the 18th, while it was yet deep night, he wrote several letters to the Governor of Antwerp, to the English Minister at Brussels, and other official personages, in which he expressed his confidence that all would go well, but “as it was necessary to provide against serious losses should any accident occur," he gave a series of judicious orders for what should be done in the rear of the army, in the event of the battle going against the Allies. He also, before he left the village of Waterloo, saw to the distribution of the reserves of ammunition which had been parked there, so that supplies should be readily forwarded to every part of the line of battle, where they might be required. The Duke, also, personally inspected the arrangements that had been made for receiving the wounded, and providing temporary hospitals in the houses in the rear of the army. Then, mounting a favorite charger, a small thoroughbred chestnut horse, named “Copenhagen," Wellington rode forward to the range of bills where his men were posted. Accompanied by his staff and by the Prussian General Müffling, he rude along his lines, carefully inspecting all the details of his position. Hougoumont was the object of his special attention. He rode down to the south-eastern extremity of its enclosures, and after having examined the nearest French troops, he made some changes in the disposition of his own men, who were to defend that important post.

Having given his final orders about Hougoumont, the Duke galloped back to the high ground in the right centre of his position; and halting there, sat watching the enemy on the - opposite heights, and conversing with his staff with that cheerful serenity which was ever his characteristic in the hour of battle.

Not all brave men are thus gifted; and many a glance of anxious excitement must have been cast across the valley that separated the two hosts during the protracted panse which ensued between the completion of Napoleon's preparations for attack and the actual commencement of the contest. It was, indeed, an awful calm before the coming storin, when armed myriads stood gazing on their armed foes, scanning their number, their array, their probable powers of resistance and destruction, and listening with throbbing hearts for the momentarily expected note of death; while visions of victory and glory came thronging on each soldier's high-strung brain, not unmingled with recollections of the home which his fall might soon leave desolate, nor without shrinking nature sometimes prompting the cold thought, that in a few moments

he might be writhing in agony, or lie a trampled and mangled mass of clay on the grass now waving so freshly and purely before him.

Such thoughts will arise in human breasts, though the brave man soon silences “the child within us that trembles before death," and nerves himself for the coming struggle by the mental preparation which Xenophon has finely called “the soldier's arraying his own soul for battle." Well, too, may we hope and believe that many a spirit sought aid from a higher and holier source; and that many a fervent though silent prayer arose on that Sabbath morn (the battle of Waterloo was fought on a Sunday) to the Lord of Sabaoth, the God of Battles, from the uks, whence so many thousands were about to appear that day before his judgment-seat.

Not only to those who were thus present as spectators and actors in the dread drama, but to all Europe, the decisive contest then impending between the rival French and English nations, each under its chosen chief, was the object of exciting interest and deepest solicitude. · Never, indeed, had two such generals as the Duke of Wellington and the Emperor Napoleon encountered since the day when Scipio and Hannibal met at Zama." The two great champions, who now confronted each other, were equals in years, and each had entered the military profession at the same early age.

It was approaching noon before the action commenced. Napoleon, in his Memoirs, gives as the reason for this delay, the miry state of the ground through the heavy rain of the preceding night and day, which rendered it impossible for cavalry or artillery to maneuvre on it till a few hours of dry weather had given it its natural consistency. It has been supposed, also, that he trusted to the effect which the sight of the imposing array of his own forces was likely to produce on the part of the allied army. The Belgian regiments had been tampered with; and Napoleon had well-founded hopes of seeing them quit the Duke of Wellington in a body, and range themselves under his own eagles. The Duke, however, who knew and did not trust them, had guarded against the risk of this, by breaking up the corps of Belgians, and distributing them in separate regiments among troops on whom he could rely.

At last, at about half-past eleven o'clock, Napoleon began the battle by directing a powerful force from his left wing under his brother, Prince Jerome, to attack Hougoumont. Column after column of the French now descended from the west of the southern heights, and assailed that post with fiery valor, which was encountered with the most determined bravery. The French won the copse round the house, but a party of the British Guards held the house itself throughout the day. The whole of Byng's brigade was required to man this hotly-contested post. Amid shell and shot, and the blaz: ing fragments of part of the buildings, this obstinate contest was continued. But still the English were firm in Hougoumont; though the French occasionally moved forward in such numbers as enabled them to surround and mask it with part of their troops from their left wing, while others pressed onward up the slope, and assailed the British right.

The cannonade, which commenced at first between the British right and the French left, in consequence of the attack on Hougoumont, soon became general along both lines; and, abont one o'clock, Napoleon directed a grand attack to be made under Marshal Ney upon the centre and left wing of the allied army. For this purpose four columns of infantry, amounting to about eighteen thousand men, were collected, supported by a strong division of cavalry under the celebrated Kellerman; and seventy-four guns were brought forward ready to be posted on the ridge of a little undulation of the ground in the interval between the two principal chains of heights, so as to bring their fire to bear on the Duke's line at a range of about seven hundred yards. By the combined assault of these formidable forces, led on by Ney, “the bravest of the brave,” Napoleon hoped to force the left centre of the British position, to take La Haye Sainte, and then pressing forward, to occupy also the farm of Mont St. Jean. He then could cut the mass of Wellington's troops off from their line of retreat upon Brussels, and from their own left, and also completely sever them from any Prussian troops that might be approaching.

The columns destined for this great and decisive operation descended majestically from the French line of hills, and gained the ridge of the intervening eminence, on which the batteries that supported them were now ranged. As the columns descended again from this eminence, the seventy-four guns opened over their heads with terrible effect upon the troops of the Allies that were stationed on the lieights to the left of the Charleroi road. One of the French columns kept to the east, and attacked the extreme left of the Allies; the other three continued to move rapidly forwards upon the left centre of the allied position. The front line of the Allies here was composed of Bylandt's brigade of Dutch and Belgians. As the French columns moved up the southward slope of the height on which the Dutch and Belgians stood, and the skirmishers in advance began to open their fire, Bylandt's entire brigade turned and fed in disgraceful and disorderly panic; but there were men more worthy of the name behind.

In this part of the second line of the Allies were posted Pack and Kempt's brigades of English infantry, which had suffered severely at Quatre Bras. But Picton was here as general of division, and not even Ney biniself surpassed in resolute bravery that stern and fiery spirit. Picton brought his two brigades forward, side by side, in a thin, two-deep line. Thus joined together, they were not three thousand strong. With these Picton had to make head against the three victorious French columns, upwards of four times that strength, and who, encouraged by the easy rout of the Dutch and Belgians, now came confidently over the ridge of the hill. The British infantry stood firm; and as the French halted and began to deploy into line, Picton seized the critical moment. He shouted in his stentorian voice to Kempt's brigade: “A volley, and then charge !” At a distance of less than thirty yards that volley was poured upon the devoted first sections of the nearest column; and then, with a fierce hurrah, the British dashed in with the bayonet. Pieton was shot dead as he rushed forward, but his men pushed on with the cold steel. The French reeled back in confusion. Pack's infantry had checked the other two columns, and down came a whirlwind of British horse on the whole mass, sending them staggering from the crest of the hill, and entting them down by wbole battalions. Ponsonby's brigade of heavy cavalry (the Union Brigade as it was called, from its being made up of the British Royals, the Scots Greys, and the Irish Inniskil. lings), did this good service. On went the horsemen amid the wrecks of the French columns, capturing two eagles, and two thousand prisoners; onwards still they galloped, and sabred the artillerymen of Ney's seventy-four advanced guns; then

severing the traces, and cutting the throats of the artillery horses, they rendered these guns totally useless to the French throughout the remainder of the day. While thus far advanced beyond the British position and disordered by success, they were charged by a large body of French lancers, and driven back with severe loss, till Vandeleur's light horse came to their aid, and beat off the French lancers in their turn.

Equally unsuccessful with the advance of the French infantry in this grand attack, had been the efforts of the French cavalry who moved forward in support of it, along the east of the Charleroi road. Somerset's cavalry of the English Household Brigade had been launched, on the right of Picton's division, against the French horse, at the same time that the English Union Brigade of heavy horse charged the French infantry columns on the left.

Somerset's brigade was formed of the Life Guards, the Blues, and the Dragoon Guards. The hostile cavalry, which Kellerman led forward, consisted chiefly of Cuirassiers. This steel-clad mass of French borsemen rode down some companies of German infantry, near La Haye Sainte, and Aushed with success, they bounded onward to the ridge of the British position. The English Household Brigade, led on by the Earl of Uxbridge in person, spurred forward to the encounter, and in an instant, the two adverse lines of strong swordsmen, on their strong steeds, dashed furiously together. A desperate and sanguinary hand-to-hand fight ensued, in which the phys. ical superiority of the Anglo-Saxons, guided by equal skill, and animated with equal valor, was made decisively manifest. Back went the chosen cavalry of France; and after them, in hot pursuit, spurred the English Guards. They went forward as far and as fiercely as their comrades of the Union Brigade; and, like them, the Household cavalry suffered severely before they regained the British position, after their magnificent charge and adventurous pursuit.

Napoleon's grand effort to break the English left centre had thus completely failed; and his right wing was seriously weakened by the heavy loss which it had sustained. Hougoumont was still being assailed, and was still successfully resisting. Troops were now beginning to appear at the edge of the horizon on Napoleon's right, which be too well knew to be Prussian, though he endeavored to persuade his followers that they were Grouchy's men coming to their aid.

Grouchy was in fact now engaged at Wavre with his whole force, against Thielman's single Prussian corps, while the other three corps of the Prussian army were moving without opposition, save from the difficulties of the ground, upon Waterloo. Grouchy believed, on the 17th, and caused NapoJeon to believe, that the Prussian army was retreating by lines of march remote from Waterloo upon Namur and Maestricht. Napoleon learned only on the 18th, that there were Prussians in Wavre, and felt jealous about the security of his own right. He accordingly, before he attacked the English, sent Grouchy orders to engage the Prussians at Wavre, withont delay, and to approach the main French army, so as to unite his communwcation with the Emperor's. Grouchy entirely neg. lected this last part of his instructions; and in attacking the Prussians whom he found at Wavre, he spread his force more and more towards his right, that is to say, in the direction most remote from Napoleon. He thus knew nothing of Blucher's and Bulow's flank march upon Waterloo, till six in the evening of the 18th, when he received a note which Soult by Napoleon's orders had sent off from the field of battle at

« PreviousContinue »