Waterloo: Ney Defends Himself (2)
now under my command only three divisions, instead of the eight
upon which I calculated, I was obliged to renounce the hopes of
my victory; and, in spite of all my efforts, notwithstanding the
intrepidity and devotion of my troops, I could not do more than
maintain myself in my position till the close of the day.
nine o'clock, the first corps was returned to me by the emperor,
to whom it had been of no service. Thus twenty-five or thirty thousand
men were absolutely paralyzed, and were idly paraded, during the
whole of the battle, from the right to the left, and the left to
the right, without firing a shot.
cannot help suspending these details for a moment, to call your
attention to all the melancholy consequences of this false movement,
and, in general, of the bad disposition during the whole of the
what fatality, for example, did the emperor, instead of directing
all his forces against Lord Wellington, who would have been taken
unawares, and could not have resisted, consider this attack as secondary?
How could the emperor, after the passage of the Sambre, conceive
it possible to fight two battles on the same day?
was to oppose forces double ours, and to do what the military men
who were witnesses of it can scarcely yet comprehend.
of this, he had left a corps of observation to watch the Prussians,
and marched with his most powerful masses to support me, the English
army would undoubtedly have been destroyed between Les Quatre Bras
and Gemappe; and that position, which separated the two allied armies,
being once in our power, would have afforded the emperor an opportunity
of outflanking the right of the Prussians, and of crushing them
in their turn.
general opinion in France, and especially in the army, was, that
the emperor would have bent his whole efforts to annihilate first
the English army; and circumstances were favourable for the accomplishment
of such a project: but fate ordered it otherwise.
the 17th, the army marched in the direction of Mont St. Jean. On
the 18th, the battle commenced at one o'clock, and though the bulletin
which details it makes no mention of me, it is not necessary for
me to say that I was engaged in it.
Count Drouot has already spoken of that battle in the chamber of
peers. His narration is accurate, with the exception of some important
facts which he has passed over in silence, or of which he was ignorant,
and which it is now my duty to disclose.
seven o'clock in the evening, after the most dreadful carnage which
I have ever witnessed, General Labedoyere came to me with a message
from the emperor, that Marshal Grouchy had arrived on our right,
and attacked the left of the united English and Prussians.