Monday, 22 June 2015

Battlefield tourism: Quatre Bras and Ligny

We extended last week's visit to Waterloo to cover the battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny that preceded it. Driving from the Waterloo battlefield, we headed first to Quatre Bras and from thence made a loop along the route taken by the Prussians through Ligny, Wavre and via Papelotte back to the centre of the battlefield of Waterloo. This helped to give a sense for how close these places really were and how the campaign developed. Strolling around in these places helped give an impression of these battlefields.

Quatre Bras

View south from the Allied right towards where Bossu woods used to be

Centre of the battlefield as viewed from the Allied lines (the trees mark the road)
The crossroad - somewhat derelict nowadays

View south from the Allied left. The treeline in the distance marks the stream running across the battlefield.

We weren't lacking in the number of experts with maps:


I didn't get much of a chance to take pictures of Ligny or its surroundings. It was a pretty large area (larger than Waterloo) and, unlike Waterloo, you couldn't view the entire battlefield from a single place on the ground. A lot of the surrounding countryside was quite open and seemed like it would be easy to manoeuvre in. The stream held by the Prussians seemed more like a ditch, but I guess that's enough to provide a hindrance against attackers. It seems incredible that d'Erlon's corps could spend so much time manoeuvring between Quatre Bras and Ligny without being caught up in the fighting in either one. It was only a few minutes driving from Quatre Bras before we were in the place where the extreme right flank of the Prussian army was stationed. These two battlefields were very close to one another!

In the town of Ligny we found a nice little museum dedicated to the fighting there. It warmed my heart that the museum contained so many beautifully painted miniatures which had a strong role in illustrating the events and soldiers involved.


The Imperial Guard storming Ligny

Certificate according to which Mme Vallon, wife of the porte-aigle of the 15th infanterie léger is given a pension after her husband has died

I just might have to get a replica version of this guard officer's sword

The museum had a nice and meticulously made map of the position of each brigade on each side at 15.00 on June 16th 1815.

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