146 Route 23. LOUVAIN. Ligny.
1240—1272, with subsequent additions. The latter contains tomb¬
stones of Dukes of Brabant of the 14th cent. The old brewery in
the transition style is also worthy of notice. An eminence outside
the Porte de Bruxelles, to the W., commands a good survey of the
27y2 M. Stat. Tilly is believed to have been the birthplace of
the general of that name. Stations Marbais; (30l/2 M.) Ligny,
famous for the battle of 16th June, 1815, see below; (33 M.)
Fleurus(ip. 147); Ransart; (38M.) Lodelinsart, a busy place with
coal-mines and glass-works.
Battle Fields. This district is famous in military annals as the scene
of a number of important battles, the last and greatest of which was that
Sombreffe, near Marbais, nnd6M. from Quatrebras (p. 129), was occu¬
pied on 15th June, 1815, by the 2nd and 3rd Prussian corps d'armee under
Marshal Bliicher, who late in the evening received intelligence that Gen.
Biilow with the 14th corps could not come to his assistance as originally
concerted. The brave marshal accordingly resolved to fight alone, if ne¬
cessary. Wellington had agreed to co-operate with Bliicher, but the
British troops were too far distant to render assistance, whilst those
whose position was nearest to the Prussians were fully occupied at the
Battle of Quatrebras. It is well authenticated that the Duke expressed
his disapprobation of Bliicher's position, observing to the Marshal that
'with British troops he would have occupied the ground differently'.
The chief disadvantages of the ground occupied by Bliicher near St.
Amand and Ligny, which he regarded as the keys of his position, were,
that there was too little security in the direction in which the commu¬
nication with the British was to be maintained, and that the villages in
advance of the line were too distant to be reinforced without enormous
loss. It is also on record, that the Duke , after his interview with the
Marshal on the morning of the simultaneous battles, remarked to one
of his staff, 'The Prussians will make a gallant fight; they are capital
troops, and well commanded; but they will be beaten.' And the Prus¬
sians did fight most gallantly, well sustaining the military reputation
of their country; their officers too, including the high-spirited old Mar¬
shal himself, acted their part most nobly. But their utmost efforts were
fruitless; they sustained immense loss, were overmatched, and finally re¬
pulsed, but not conquered.
According to the official statistics of both sides the total force of
the French at Ligny amounted to 71,220 men, with 242 guns, that of the
Prussians to 83,410 men, with 224 guns, but a large proportion of the
French army was composed of veteran soldiers, while most of the Prussian
troops were comparatively young and inexperienced. The French artillery
was also numerically superior, and far more advantageously placed.
The retreat of the Prussian army on the night after the Battle of
Ligny, by Tilly and Mont St. Guibert to Wavre (p. 145), is perhaps without
parallel in the annals of military warfare. So perfect was the order and
so great the skill with which it was effected, that next day the French
were entirely at a loss to discover in which direction their enemy had
disappeared, and at length came to the conclusion that they must have
taken the direction of Namur. It was not till late on the afternoon of
the 17th that the real route of the Prussians was discovered, and Marshal
Grouchy was dispatched in pursuit of Bliicher. The parts acted by the
different armies were now interchanged. Napoleon and Ney , united , now
proceeded to attack Wellington, while Bliicher formed the 3rd corps
d'armee under Thielmann at Wavre, in order to keep Grouchy in check,
and himself hastened onwards with his three other corps towards Belle-
Alliance, where he arrived on the evening of the 18th, in time to act a
most prominent and glorious part in a victory of incalculable importance
to the fate of the whole of Europe (p. 93).