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Introduction Prelude Aftermath Battle of Ligny Battle of Quatre Bras Battle of Wavre Battle of Waterloo

The Battle of Ligny - The lines are drawn

The battle was fought in and around the small hamlet of Ligny located to the northeast of Charleroi and southeast of Brussels on 16th June 1815. The forces involved were the French L?Arm?e du Nord commanded by the Emperor Napoleon and the Prussian Army commanded by Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Bl?cher, Prince of Wahlstatt.

In the heat of the morning sun, Lieutenant General Vandamme's French III Army Corps moved into position facing Saint-Amand. Lieutenant General G?rard's French IV Corps was still some way back from the battlefield and Lieutenant General Lobau's French VI Corps was still further back at Charleroi. Lieutenant General Pajol's French I Cavalry Corps and Lieutenant General Excelmann's French II Cavalry Corps were both deployed on the French right under the command of Marshal Grouchy but were not immediately available. Until Napoleon could muster more of his Corps it was evident that he was not strong enough to attack.

As time slipped by General Pirch I's Prussian II Army Corps and General Thielemann's Prussian III Army Corps arrived in the vicinity of Sombreffe and took up positions on the battlefield. Now certain that the battle was to be fought here and that it would be a decisive one Napoleon recognised that he had an early chance to knock Bl?cher's Prussians out of the war.

In his book The Decisive Battles of the Western World General J F C Fuller gives an overview of Napoleon's plan: ?... a truly brilliant one- was first to contain Bl?cher?s left (Thielemann?s corps) with Pajol?s and Excelmann?s cavalry, and secondly to annihilate his right and centre (Ziethen and Pirch). The latter operation he intended to carry out by engaging the Prussian centre and right frontally, so as to compel Bl?cher to exhaust his reserves, and meanwhile to call in Ney from Quatre Bras to fall upon the rear of Bl?cher?s right wing while the Guard smashed through his centre. By these means he expected to destroy two-thirds of Bl?cher?s army and compel the remaining third to fall back on Li?ge - that is, away from Wellington.?

Just after 13:00 hrs on 16th June 1815 the Duke of Wellington visited Field Marshal Bl?cher's headquarters at the Bussy Windmill near Brye. There he criticised Bl?cher?s deployment in full view of the French, but promised to move his Anglo-Dutch Army to support Bl?cher?s Prussians providing his own forces were not attacked. He left heading back towards Quatre Bras shortly before 14:00 hrs.

At approximately 14:00 hrs Marshal Soult, Napoleon's chief-of-staff, send a dispatch to Marshal Ney informing him that Marshal Grouchy?s force was about to engage the Prussians. Within the dispatch Soult informed Ney that; ?His Majesty?s intention is that you also will attack whatever force is in front of you, and after you have vigorously pushed it back, you will turn in our direction, so as to bring about the envelopment of that body of the enemy?s troops whom I have just mentioned. If the latter is overthrown first, then His Majesty will manoeuvre in your direction, so as to assist your operation in a similar way.?

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