Waterloo: Ney Defends Himself
most false and defamatory reports have been publicly circulated
for some days, respecting the conduct which I have pursued during
this short and unfortunate campaign.
having fought during twenty-five years for my country, and having
shed my blood for its glory and independence, an attempt is made
to accuse me of treason; and maliciously to mark me out to the people,
and the army itself, as the author of the disaster it has just experienced.
to break silence, while it is always painful to speak of oneself,
and particularly to repel calumnies, I address myself to you, sir,
as the president of the provisional government, in order to lay
before you a brief and faithful relation of the events I have witnessed.
the 11th of June, I received an order from the minister of war to
repair to the imperial head-quarters. I had no command, and had
no information upon the force and composition of the army.
Neither the emperor, nor his minister, had given me any previous
hint, from which I could anticipate that I should be employed in
the present campaign; I was consequently taken unprepared, without
horses, without equipage, and without money; and I was obliged to
borrow the necessary expenses of my journey.
arrived on the 12th at Laon, on the 13th at Avesnes, and, on the
14th, at Beaumont. I purchased, in this last city, two horses from
the Duke of Treviso, with which I proceeded on the 15th, to Charleroi,
accompanied by my first aide-de-camp, the only officer I had with
arrived at the moment when the enemy, attacked by our light troops,
was retreating upon Fleurus to Gosselies.
emperor immediately ordered me to put myself at the head of the
first and second corps of infantry, commanded by Lieutenant-Generals
d'Erlon and Reille, of the divisions of light cavalry of Lieutenant-General
Pire, of the division of light cavalry of the guard under the command
of Lieutenants-General Lefebvre Desnouettes and Colbert, and of
two divisions of cavalry of Count Valmy, forming altogether eight
divisions of infantry and four of cavalry.
these troops, a part of which only I had as yet under my immediate
command, I pursued the enemy, and forced him to evacuate Gosselies,
Frasne, Millet, and Heppiegnies.
I took up a position for the night, with the exception of the first
corps, which was still at Marchiennes, and which did not join me
until the following day.
the 16th, I was ordered to attack the English in their position
at Les Quatre Bras. We advanced towards the enemy with an enthusiasm
difficult to be described. Nothing could resist our impetuosity.
battle became general, and victory was no longer doubtful; when,
at the moment that I intended to bring up the first corps of infantry,
which had been left by me in reserve at Frasne, I learned that the
emperor had disposed of it, without acquainting me of the circumstance,
as well as of the division of Girard of the second corps, that he
might direct them upon St. Amand, and to strengthen his left wing,
which was warmly engaged with the Prussians. The shock which this
intelligence gave me confounded me.