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The allied armies on the northern frontier were now very different in force and condition from what they were in April. They had then neither organisation nor numbers. An attack by Napoleon was expected from hour to hour. False rumours of his approach kept up a continued state of alarm. The arrival of Wellington and Blucher early in April did not wholly restore confidence. An apprehension prevailed among the friends of the duke, that his reputation might be compromised by the inadequacy of his resources. It did not appear, however, to be shared by himself. His first care was to inspect the frontier, and concert a plan of operation with the Prussians. He occupied cantonments so as to cover Brussels, his head-quarters; and Blucher concentrated his army on the Sambre and Meuse, with his head-quarters at Namur. The effective force of all arms, under the command of the duke of Wellington, has been variously stated from 80,000 to 100,000 men, of whom about half, — probably less, — were British, or of the German legion; the rest, Belgians, Dutch, Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Wirtembergers, and troops of Nassau. The infantry consisted of twenty-four brigades; of which nine British, five Hanoverian, and two German (legion), formed six divisions, denominated English. The remaining brigades, - five Dutch, and one of Nassau,
- formed three divisions, called Belgian. The Brunswickers formed a division of themselves. These ten divisions were again formed into two grand corps of infantry: the first, of five divisions, under the orders of the prince of Orange, having his headquarters at Brain le Compte, on the road from Mons
to Brussels; the second, consisting of the five remaining divisions, under the orders of lord Hill, with his head-quarters at Brussels. The cavalry, from 12,000 to 15,000 strong, was under the command of lord Anglesea, with his head-quarters at Grammont, on the British right, nearly in line with Waterloo. The whole artillery consisted of 250 pieces, of which the grand park was cantoned round Ghent. Quatre Bras, on the road from Charleroi to Brussels, was appointed the general rallying point by the duke of Wellington, with a view to communication with Blucher and the Prussians. Let the observer place himself at Charleroi, looking due north to Brussels, he will observe the positions to the left of the Charleroi road occupied by the British; and he will also observe that the great road of Charleroi is joined, as it approaches Mont St. Jean, Waterloo, and Brussels, by a road running at an angle on his left, and passing through the Bois de Bossu and Nivelles.
The positions on the observer's left, or west of the Charleroi road, were, as has been observed, occupied by the British. Those on the right, or east, were occupied by the Prussians. The Prussian army, under Blucher, has been stated variously at 90,000, 100,000, and 120,000 men of all arms *, with S00 pieces of artillery. It may be set
* The French bulletins are charged with bad faith, especially as to their own numbers, and those of the enemy; but the Prussian accounts are much more unscrupulously faithless. Blucher's despatches, written in the name of his chief of the staff, and referring to Blucher only as a third person, are remarkable for personal boastings and gross exaggerations.
down at 100,000, divided into four corps, commanded by generals Ziethen, Pirch, Thielman, and Bulow. Blucher had his head-quarters at Namur. Fleurus, in advance of Charleroi, to the right of the great road, was his general rallying point; and he occupied the Sambre and Meuse from Charleroi to Liege, which was held by the corps of Bulow. The Austrians, advancing upon France both by the Rhine and the Alps (having routed and dethroned Murat), were yet far from the line of cooperation ; and the Russians were at a still greater distance. In the course of July, the coalition would press with at least 600,000 disposable men on the French frontier ; but at this period, from the 10th to the 15th of June, there were but the two armies of Wellington and Blucher, which may be estimated at 200,000 disposable men, and were disposed as already described.
Marshal Soult, duke of Dalmatia, had assumed, early in June, the command of the grand army (so called by way of distinction from the armies or corps of observation of the Alps, the Rhine, and the West,) on the northern frontier, with the rank of major-general, in which Berthier had been employed through so many brilliant campaigns. Having, in an order of the day, appealed to the
and patriotism of the French troops, by the new cry of liberty, as well as the ancient one of glory, he reviewed the troops and inspected the fortresses. Napoleon, on the 14th, joined the imperial guard; took the command of the army, and issued, from his head-quarters at Beaumont, an address, which may be called a chef-d'æuvre of martial rhetoric, con
cluding with these words : “ for every Frenchman who has courage *, the moment is come to conquer or die.”
In order to follow even a mere sketch of this campaign, — the most momentous of modern times, and so brief that it should be designated not by days but by hours, — the eye should be kept constantly on the map of the seat of war.
Napoleon commenced hostilities with five corps of infantry commanded by generals d'Erlon, Reille, Vandamme, Gerard, and Lobau; the imperial guard without a commander, marshal Mortier having remained sick at Beaumont; four corps of cavalry under the orders of generals Pajol, Excelmans, Kellerman, and Milhaud, commanded in chief by marshal Grouchy;- in all, 122,000 men, with 350 pieces of artillery. Having masked his movements, and concentrated his forces with his usual skill and rapidity, he bivouacked within his frontier on the night of the 14th, unobserved by the Prussians; and at three o'clock on the 15th crossed the line in three columns, moving upon Marchiennes, Charleroi, and Chatelet. His main design consisted in dividing Wellington and Blucher, so as to fight them separately. It was obvious, from his unmasked movement on the 15th, that he had selected Blucher for his first object of attack; presuming, he says, that Blucher, from his hussar habits and reckless impetuosity, would sooner come to the aid of Wellington, than Wellington, with his more circumspect
The common French expression, " qui a du cœur,” in this address, has been usually mistranslated “ who has a heart.”
character, to the aid of Blucher. It may also be suspected that, regarding, as he professed, the Prussians as secondary, he designed to put them hors de combat, and then bring his whole force to bear undivided upon his chief adversary. This movement was hardly begun, when he was obliged to halt. General Bourmont, chief of the staff of the fourth corps, and two colonels, named Clouet and Villoutreys, were reported deserters to the enemy. * After making the necessary arrangements consequent on this desertion, he moved once more forward, drove in the Prussian outposts of Ziethen, and occupied Charleroi. From Charleroi to Brussels is fourteen leagues, by the great line of road through Gosselies, Frasnes, Quatre Bras, Genappe, and Waterloo. The corps of Reille pushed on to Gosselies, and occupied it with little resistance. Grouchy, with the cavalry, pushed Ziethen on Fleurus. Ney, at the head of the whole left wing, about 40,000 men, was ordered to make for Quatre Bras, overwhelm all resistance by the force at his disposal, take up
that important position, and push strong outposts on the
* Bourmont, after several refusals, repeated his solicitations for employment with a suspicious pertinacity, and succeeded through the influence of Ney and Labedoyère. Ney was with Napoleon when the news of Bourmont's desertion arrived. “ Well,” said he ; “ your protégé, Bourmont, for whom you answered so confidently, and whom I employed at your request, is gone over to the
enemy. “ I thought him so devoted,” said Ney, “ that I would have answered for him as for myself.” “ Come, marshal,” rejoined Napoleon, interrupting him, “ they who are blue continue blue, and they who are white continue white." Bourmont had been a Chouan in La Vendée.