Waterloo: Ney Defends Himself (3)
general officer, in riding along the lines, spread this intelligence
among the soldiers, whose courage and devotion remained unshaken,
and who gave new proofs of them at that moment, notwithstanding
the fatigue with which they were exhausted.
was my astonishment, (I should rather say indignation,) when I learned,
immediately afterwards, that, so far from Marshal Grouchy having
arrived to our support, as the whole army had been assured, between
forty and fifty thousand Prussians were attacking our extreme right,
and forcing it to retire!
the emperor was deceived with regard to the time when the marshal
could support him, or whether the advance of the marshal was retarded
by the efforts of the enemy longer than was calculated upon, the
fact is, that at the moment when his arrival was announced to us,
he was still only at Wavre upon the Dyle, which to us was the same
as if he had been a hundred leagues from the field of battle.
short time afterwards, I saw four regiments of the middle guard
advancing, led on by the emperor. With these troops he wished to
renew the attack, and to penetrate the centre of the enemy. He ordered
me to lead them on.
officers, and soldiers, all displayed the greatest intrepidity;
but this body of troops was too weak long to resist the forces opposed
to it by the enemy, and we were soon compelled to renounce the hope
which this attack had for a few moments inspired.
Friant was struck by a ball at my side, and I myself had my horse
killed, and fell under it.
brave men who have survived this terrible battle, will, I trust,
do me the justice to state, that they saw me on foot, with sword
in hand, during the whole of the evening, and that I was one of
the last who quitted the scene of carnage at the moment when retreat
could no longer be prevented.
the same time, the Prussians continued their offensive movements,
and our right sensibly gave way. The English also advanced in their
turn. There yet remained to us four squares of the old guard, to
protect our retreat.
brave grenadiers, the flower of the army, forced successively to
retire, yielded ground foot by foot, until finally overpowered by
numbers, they were almost completely destroyed.
that moment the retrograde movement was decided, and the army formed
nothing but a confused mass. There was not, however, a total rout,
nor the cry of "Save Who Can", as has been calumniously
stated in the bulletin. As for myself, being constantly in the rear-guard,
which I followed on foot, having had all my horses killed, worn
out with fatigue, covered with contusions, and having no longer
strength to walk, I owe my life to a corporal, who supported me
in the march, and did not abandon me during the retreat.