16 June 1815
battle of Ligny was the last victory of Napoleon
Bonaparte's brilliant career.
was a bruising affair and began after he got the jump on
his British and Prussian foes and had his army almost on
them before they had time to react.
plan for the 100 Days Campaign
was to get in between the two armies and defeat each in
detail before they could join together and outnumber him.
was a toss of the coin to see who he would attack first,
but the advanced Prussian position at Ligny offered the
perfect chance to knock Marshal
Gebhard Blucher out of the war.
Prussians were in a strong position - sitting on ridges
behind the Ligny brook and with several of the nearby villages
heavily garrisoned - but Bonaparte had planned for a corps
under General D'Érlon to hit the enemy on the flank
and, together with a frontal assault, trap and destroy them.
initial stages went well and after very heavy fighting the
Prussians looked on the verge of collapse, but Marshal
Michel Ney's countermanding of D'Érlon's orders
delayed his arrival until it was too late to launch the
killing flank attack.
in the Imperial Guard finally broke the Prussians, who only
managed to escape through the blind courage of the elderly
Blucher who led a cavalry charge to save his army.
Prussians still lost 25,000 men to Bonaparte's 11,000, but
were able to retreat in reasonable order along a parallel
course to the British who had just beaten off Ney's assault
at Quatre Bras.
days later would come the deciding battle at nearby Waterloo.