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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 381 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MAP III. Ney was therefore ordered to attack Wellington's centre with D'Erlon's corps. Owing to a misconception the columns used second for advance were over-heavy and unwieldy, and the passe. corps failed to achieve anything of importance. As D'Erlon's troops advanced the Dutch-Belgian brigade in front of the ridge, which had been subjected to an overwhelming fire from the 8o French guns at close range, turned about and retired in disorder through the main position. This, however, was the solitary success secured by the I. corps; for the left division failed to storm La Haye Sainte, which was most gallantly defended, and Picton's division met the remainder of D'Erlon's corps face to face, engaging them in a murderous infantry duel in which Picton fell. It was during this struggle that Lord Uxbridge launched two of his cavalry brigades on the enemy; and the " Union brigade " catching the French infantry unawares rode over them, broke them up, and drove them to the bottom of the slope with the loss of two eagles. The charge, however, over-reached itself, and the British cavalry, crushed by fresh French horsemen hurled on them by the emperor, were driven back with great loss. So far no success against Wellington had been achieved, and Billow was still an onlooker. Ney was now ordered to attack La Haye Sainte again, but the attack failed. A furious cannonade raged, and the Anglo-Dutch line withdrew slightly to gain more cover from the ridge. Ney misinterpreted this manoeuvre and led out, about 4 P.M., Milhaud's and Lefebvre-Desnouettes' horsemen (43 squadrons) to charge the allied centre between the two farms. For several reasons, the cavalry could only advance at a trot. As the horsemen closed they were. received with I was the first decided advantage that Napoleon had gained during Third phase. volleys of case from the guns, and the infantry formed into squares. Against the squares the horsemen were powerless, and failing to break a single square, they were finally swept off the plateau by fresh allied horsemen. Kellermann's en rassiers and the heavy horse of the Guard (37 fresh squadrons) now advanced to support the baffled cavalry, the latter falling in as supports. The whole 8o squadrons resumed the attack, but with no better result. The cavalry gradually became hopelessly entangled among the squares they were unable to break, and at last they were driven down the face of the ridge and the most dramatic part of the battle came to an end. Had these great cavalry attacks been closely supported by infantry, there can be little doubt that they must have achieved their object. But they were not. In his handling of the three arms together, Napoleon on this day failed to do justice to his reputation. About 4.30 P.M. Billow at last engaged. Lobau's men were gradually overpowered and forced back into Plancenoit, the village was stormed, and the Prussian round shot reached the main road. To set his right flank free the emperor called further on his reserve, and sent Duhesme with the Young Guard to Lobau's support. Together, these troops drove Billow out of Plancenoit, and forced him back towards the Paris wood. But the Prussians had riot yet changed the fate of the day. Napoleon now ordered Ney to carry La Haye Sainte at what-ever cost, and this the marshal accomplished with the wrecks of D'Erlon's corps soon after 6 P.M. The' garrison (King's German Legion) had run out of rifle ammuni- p Fourth hase. tion and the French bursting in seized the post. This the day. The key of the duke's position was now in Napoleon's hands, Wellington's centre was dangerously shaken, the troops were exhausted, and the reserves inadequate. But the Iron Duke faced the situation unmoved. Calmly he readjusted his line and strengthened the torn centre. Happily for him, Pirch I.'s and Zieten's corps were now at hand. Pirch I. moved to support Below; together they regained possession of Plancenoit, and once more the Charleroi road was swept by Prussian round shot. Napoleon, therefore, had to free his right flank before he could make use of Ney's capture. To this end he sent two battalions of the Old Guard to•storm Plancenoit. The veterans did the work magnificently with the bayonet, ousted the Prussians from the place, and drove them back 600 yards beyond it. But Napoleon could not turn now on Wellington. Zieten was fast coming up on the duke's left, and the crisis was past. Zieten's advent permitted the two fresh cavalry brigades of Vivian and Vandeleur on the duke's extreme left to be moved and posted behind the depleted centre. The value of this reinforcement at this particular moment can hardly be overestimated. The French army now fiercely attacked Wellington all along the line; and the culminating point of this phase was reached when Napoleon sent forward the Guard, less 5 battalions, Fifth phase. to attack Wellington's centre. Delivered in three echelons, these final attacks were repulsed, the first echelon by Colin Halkett's British Brigade, a Dutch-Belgian battery, and a brigade of Chasse's Dutch-Belgian division; the second and third echelons by the Guards, the 52nd, and the Royal Artillery. Thus ended the fifth phase. As the Guard recoiled (about 8 P.M.) Zicten pierced the north- east corner of the French front, and their whole line gave way as the allies rushed forward on their now defenceless Rout of the French. . prey. Three battalions of the Guard indeed stood their Fren ground for some time, but they were finally overwhelmed. Afterwards, amidst the ruins of their army, two battalions of the 1st Grenadiers of the Guard defied all efforts to break them But, with the exception of these two battalions, the French army was quickly transformed into a flying rabble. Below and Pirch I. now finally overpowered Lobau, once more recaptured Plancenoit, and sealed the doom of the French army. But Lobau's heroic efforts had not been in vain; they had given his master time to make his last effort against Wellington; and when the Guard was beaten back the French troops holding Plancenoit kept free the Charleroi road, and prevented the Prussians from seizing Napoleon's line of retreat. When Wellington and Blucher met about 9.15 P.M. at " La Belle Alliance, " the victorious chiefs arranged that the Prussians should take up the pursuit, and they faithfully carried out the agreement. Pushing on through the night, they drove the French out of seven successive bivouacs and at length drove them over the Sambre. The campaign was virtually at an end, and the price paid was great. The French had lost over 40,000 men and almost all their artillery on June 18; the Prussians lost 7000, and Wellington over 15,000 men. So desperate was the fighting that some 45,000 killed and wounded lay on an area of roughly 3 sq. m. At one point on the plateau " the 27th (Inniskillings) were lying literally dead in square "; and the position that the British infantry held was plainly marked by the red line of dead and wounded they left behind them. A few words may now be bestowed on Marshal Grouchy, commanding the right wing. The marshal wrongly determined 6rouchy's on the 18th to continue his march to Wavre in a single operations column, and he determined, still more wrongly, to June move by the right bank of the Dyle. Breaking up 18-19. from bivouac long after dawn, he marched forward, via Walhain. Here he stopped to report to the emperor some intelligence which turned out to be false, and he remained for breakfast. Hardly had he finished when the opening roar of the cannonade at Waterloo was heard. Grouchy was now urged by his generals, especially by Gerard, to march to the sound of the firing, but he refused to take their advice, and pushed on to Havre, where he found the Prussians (Thielemann's corps of 16,000 men) holding the passages across the Dyle. A fierce fight(called the Action of Wavre) began about 4 P.M., in which the Prussians were for long victorious. Instead of concentrating his force upon one bridge over the swampy and unfordable Dyle, Grouchy scattered it in attacks upon several; and when the emperor's despatch arrived, saying Below was in sight, the marshal was powerless to move westward. Towards the end of the day Colonel Vallin's Hussars stormed the Limale bridge, and a large part of Grouchy's force then promptly gained the left bank. The action continued till about 11 P.M., when it died out, to recommence shortly after dawn. Thielemann was at length overborne by sheer weight of numbers, and towards 11 A.M. he was forced to retire towards Louvain. The losses were considerable, about 2400 men on each side. Grouchy's victory was barren. In the far higher duty of co-operation he had failed miserably. His tactical achievement could avail the emperor nothing, and it exposed his own force to considerable danger. Whilst pondering on the course he should follow, the marshal received the news of the awful disaster that had overtaken the emperor at Waterloo. In a flash he realized his danger and made prompt arrangements to begin his retreat on Namur, the only line to France that was then available. This retreat he carried out resolutely, skilfully and rapidly, slipping past Blucher and finally bringing his force to Paris. But the rapid advance of the allies gave France no time to rally. Napoleon was forced to abdicate, and finding escape was impossible, he surrendered (on July 14) to the British—" the most powerful, the most unwavering and the most generous of his foes." The causes of Napoleon's failure in the Waterloo campaign were as follows:—The French army was numerically too weak for the gigantic task it undertook. Napoleon himself was no longer the Napoleon of Marengo or Austerlitz, and though he was not broken down, his physical strength was certainly impaired. Ney failed to grasp and hold Wellington on the critical 17th June; and on the 17th and 18th Grouchy's feeble and false manoeuvres enabled Blucher to march and join Wellington at Waterloo. Napoleon's chance of success was dangerously diminished, if not utterly destroyed, by the incompetence of the two marshals whom in an evil hour he selected for high commands. Another dominant influence in shaping the course of events was the loyalty of Blucher to his ally, and the consequent appearance of the Prussian army at Waterloo. Nor must we overlook Wellington's unswerving determination to co-operate with Blucher at all costs, and his firmness on June 18; or the invincible steadiness shown by the British troops and those of the King's German Legion. BISL1oGRAPHY.—Some of the principal books on the campaign are: Colonel Grouard, Critique de 1815; H. Houssaye, Waterloo; General Pollio, Waterloo (1815); Shaw-Kennedy, Battle of Waterloo; Captain W. Siborne, 9th Foot, History of the Waterloo Campaign; Clausewitz, Campagne de 1815; Colonel Charras, Histoire de la Campagne de 1815, Waterloo; L. Navez, Les Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo et Wavre; General H. T. Siborne, R.E., Waterloo Letters; Colonel Chesney, Waterloo Lectures; Wellington, Despatches and Memorandum on the Battle of Waterloo; Correspondance and Commentaires of Napoleon. In this article the writer has been greatly assisted by the advice and suggestions of Lieut.-Col. H. W. L. Hime, R.A. (A.'F. B.*) WATERLOO-WITH-SEAFORTH, an urban district in the Bootle and Ormskirk parliamentary divisions of Lancashire, England, at the mouth of the Mersey, 4 M. N. by W. of Liverpool. Pop. (1891) 17,225; (1901) 23,102. On account of its facilities for bathing, firm sands, pleasant scenery and nearness to Liver-pool, of which it is a suburb, it is much frequented both by visitors and by residents.
End of Article: MAP III

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