Black Brunswickers - Waterloo Campaign - Battle of Quatre Bras

Battle of Quatre Bras

Quatre Bras was a hamlet at a strategic crossroads on the road to Brussels. French control of it would not only threaten the city, but divide Wellington's Allied army from Blucher's Prussians. At 14:00 on 16 June 1815, after some initial skirmishing, the main French force under Marshall Ney, approached Quatre Bras from the south. They came up against the 2nd Netherlands Division who had formed a line well in advance of the crossroads. Facing three French infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade, the Dutch and Nassau troops were forced back but did not break. Reinforcements arrived at at 15:00, being a Dutch cavalry brigade, Picton's 5th British Division, followed closely by the Brunswick Corps. The sharpshooters of the Brunswick Advance Guard regiment were sent to support Dutch skirmishers in Bossou Wood on the Allied left (western) flank; the rest of the corps took up a reserve position across the Brussels road. The Black Duke reassured his inexperienced troops by walking up and down in front of them, calmly puffing on his pipe.

A French infantry attack was halted by the allied front line, which was attacked in turn by French cavalry. Wellington moved the Brunswick infantry into the front line, where they were subjected to intense French artillery fire, forcing tham to fall back a short distance. As a mass of French infantry advanced up the main road, the Black Duke led a charge by his uhlans, but they were beaten back. Swept by canister shot at short range, the Brunswickers broke and rallied at the crossroads itself. At this point, the Duke, who was reforming his troops, was hit by a musket ball, which passed through his hand and into his liver. He was rescued by the men of the Lieb Regiment, who carried him back using their muskets as a stretcher. He died shortly afterwards. The Duke's final words, to his aide Major von Wachholtz, were:

Mein lieber Wachholtz, wo ist denn Olfermann? (My dear Wachholtz, where is Olfermann?)

Colonel Elias Olfermann was the Duke's Adjutant general, who assumed immediate command of the corps. Wellington then ordered the Brunswick hussars to make an unsupported counterattack on the French light cavalry brigade, but they were driven off by heavy fire. Later in the battle, French cuirassiers broke the Allied front line and were only prevented from taking the crossroads by the Brunswick infantry who had formed themselves into squares. By 21:00, Allied reinforcements, including the newly arrived Brunswick 1st and 3rd Light Regiments, had driven the French back to their starting positions. Brunswick losses that day amounted to 188 killed and 396 wounded.

Read more about this topic:  Black Brunswickers, Waterloo Campaign

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Battle Of Quatre Bras - Aftermath
... The battle cost Ney 4,000 men to Wellington's 4,800 ... the French successfully prevented the allied forces from coming to the aid of the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny ... debate of what would have happened if d'Erlon's I Corps had engaged at either Ligny or Quatre Bras ...
Black Brunswickers - Waterloo Campaign - Battle of Quatre Bras
... Quatre Bras was a hamlet at a strategic crossroads on the road to Brussels ... the main French force under Marshall Ney, approached Quatre Bras from the south ... Later in the battle, French cuirassiers broke the Allied front line and were only prevented from taking the crossroads by the Brunswick infantry who had formed themselves into squares ...

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