Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

security; the Duke himself with his hat in his hand leading the whole line, which was supported by the cavalry and artillery. This movement is represented as having been one of the finest military spectacles ever witnessed ; and could it have been viewed apart from the scene of carnage which the field exhibited in every quarter, must have excited an indescribable glow of triumph in the bosoms of the gallant troops, who for so many hours had maintained with unwavering constancy the unequal contest. The setting sun, which through the sanguinary day had been veiled in clouds, now burst forth for a moment from its obscurity, and darted a cheering ray on the British columns as they rushed down the slopes, and crossed the plain which separated them from the French position. To ascend the heights of Belle Alliance was the work of a moment, though in presence of the fire of one hundred and fifty pieces of cannon. Some resistance was still offered by the remnant of the Imperial Guard, which was rallied by Marshal Ney, but it was quickly overcome : the reserve of the Young Guard which was posted in a hollow between Belle Alliance and Monplaisir was totally routed by the 52d and 71st regiments, who after they had put the enemy to flight, separated, and running on two sides of an oval for a considerable way, met again, and thus cut off a great number of prison

The first line of the French was now thrown back upon and mingled with the second, in iuex

4 Q




tricable confusion; pressed by the British in front, and by the Prussians on the right tank and in the rear, corps of every varied description were blended in one confused tide of flight, which no person attempted to guide or to restrain. Baggage waggons, dismounted guns, ammunition carts, and arms of every description cumbered the open field as well as the causeway, and with them were intermingled in thick profusion the corpses of the slain, or the bodies of the wounded, who in vain shrieked and implored compassion as the fugitives and their pursuers drove headlong over them. All the artillery in the front line, amounting to one hundred and fifty pieces, fell into the immediate possession of the British. But this charge proved fatal to some of their bravest officers, amongst whom were Sir Francis D'Oyley, of the Foot Guards; Lieutenant-Colonel Fitzgerald, of the 2d Life Guards; Colonel H. W. Ellis and Major Hawtyn, of the 230 Fusileers. The gallant Earl of Uxbridge was wounded in the knee by almost the last shot that was fired; and the chair is still shewn at Belle Alliance in which he suffered the amputatiou of his leg, exclaiming, with heroic enthusiasm, in the midst of the operation, “Who would not lose a leg for such a victory!"

Marshal Blucher and his brave Prussians had greatly contributed to this decisive and triumphant termination of the battle. It was halfpast seven o'clock before the heads of his columns reached the scene of action, near that point where Bulow was vigorously pressed by Count Lobau. General Ziethen instantly charged the right flank of the French near the village of Smouhen, pierced it in three places, and drove it from all its positions. The ground was very favourable to the operations of the Prussians, so that the artillery could open its fire from the summit of a great many heights which rose gradually above eaoh other, and in the intervals of which, their brigades descended into the plain in the greatest order. The French retreated to Planchenoit, which was defended for some time by the Imperial Guard ; but after a series of bloody attacks, the Prussians at length carried it by storm. From this period the rout of the French right wing was as complete as that of the other corps of their army, and the Prussians pursued their career of success till they encountered and crossed the advance of the victorious British, when the Allies at that proud moment greeted each other with the most enthusiastic congratulations. The English gave their confederates three triumphant cheers, while the Prussians caused their military music to strike up the national anthem of . God save the King. The two illustrious chiefs met near La Belle Alliance, so lately the headquarters of their celebrated antagonist. They congratulated each other for a moment on the brilliant results of this memorable conflict, and the British cavalry being totally exhausted after the toils and perils of the hard-fought day : the Duke of Wellington relinquished to Marshal Blucher the charge of the pursuit, which was chearfully accepted by the Prussian veteran, who declared he would not give the enemy one moment's respite. He ordered every man and horse fit for service to press forward with the utmost alacrity; and the Brunswick cavalry, notwithstanding the full share which they had borne in the fatigues of the day, requested permission to join in the pursuit, and they eagerly headed the chase, anxious yet further to avenge the death of their beloved Duke. An unclouded moon lighted the pursuers on their way, and deprived the tlying enemy even of that refuge wbich the obscurity of night sometimes affords to the wretched fugitive. The causeway presented the appearance of an immense shipwreck,* being

[ocr errors]

* The following description of the final catastrophe of Napoleon's last army, is from the pen of the French Author of the Relation," &c. “The army spontaneously, and all at the same time, lest its posts, and spread like a torrent in all directions.The cannoneers left their guns. The waggon-train cut their traces ; infantry, cavalry, all arms mingled in utter confusion, fly along the roads and in the fields. Equipages of all sorts that had been arranged in part along the highway, and withdrawn in disorder, choak the road, and render it impassable. No order nor route had been given. The commanders, swept away by the flying torrents, were separated from their corps; not a single file of men to rally to, no arrangements dreamt of, for an orderly retreat. The Guards, heretofore Invincible, fled foremost of the multitude. Night came on and added to the confusion. The enemy detached a numerous cavalry in pursuit of the fugitives. A part of them

strewed with cannon, carriages and ammunition. Those of the enemy who had attempted to take a momentary repose, were driven from more than nine bivouacks : they resolved to maintain themselves in some of the villages, but a panic terror uniformly seized them whenever they heard the sound of the Prussian drums or trumpets, and they instantly fled, or threw themselves into the houses, where they were cut down or made prisoners. The state of total rout to which this army, only that morning so numerous and so splendid, was now reduced, may be estimated by the following short description of the situation of Marshal Ney, on whom the command had devolved : it is given in his own words—“ As for myself,” says the Marshal, “ constantly in the rear-guard, which followed on foot, having all my horses killed; worn out with fatigue, covered with contusions, and having no longer strength to march, I owe my life to a corporal who supported me on the road, and did not abandon me during the retreat. At eleven at night, I found Lieut. Gen, Lefebvre Desnouettes, and one of his officers had the generosity to give me the only horse that remained

took possesion of the whole hospital-train on the road, while formidable columns advanoed on each flank. All the household carriages fell first to the Prussians, with mountains of other baggage. All the cannons were taken in the batteries where they had served, along with the caissoons and train. In a word the whole materiel of our army disappeared in less than half an hour:

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »