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Fought on 16 June 1815, two days before the Battle of Waterloo, the Battle of Quatre Bras has been described as a tactical Anglo-allied victory, but a French strategic victory. The French Marshal Ney was given command of the left wing of Napoleon’s army and ordered to seize the vital crossroads at Quatre Bras, as the prelude to an advance on Brussels. The crossroads was of strategic importance because the side which controlled it could move south-eastward along the Nivelles-Namur road.
Yet the normally bold and dynamic Ney was uncharacteristically cautious. As a result, by the time he mounted a full-scale attack upon the Allied troops holding Quatre Bras, the Duke of Wellington had been able to concentrate enough strength to hold the crossroads.
Ney’s failure at Quatre Bras had disastrous consequences for Napoleon, whose divided army was not able to reunite in time to face Wellington at Waterloo. This revelatory study of the Waterloo campaign draws primarily on French archival sources, and previously unpublished French accounts, to present a balanced view of a battle normally seen only from the British or Anglo-Allied perspective.
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