Andrew Field joins me to talk about the research behind his book Quatre Bras: Prelude to Waterloo. We walk through the battle looking at the perspective of both sides to better understand why it unfolded in the way that it did.
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In this podcasts a lot of different aspects about this battle is discussed and exceeds far from the French perspective, amongst else leadership issues on the French, Dutch/Belgian and even the British side. I found it interesting that some key leaders of the Dutch / Belgian Army never fought on the French side during the Napoleonic Wars.
At the end of the podcast both Zack and Andrew discussed whether Quatra Bras was a tactical victory/loss - or strategic victory / loss for any of those paritcipating.
In my view - the battle of Quatre Bras as well as Ligny are to be seen as one, there both had a very strong influence on each other - and for the whole campaign.
It would be interesting to know the honest aim of Napoleon at the 15th of June - and why he created such a powerfull army under Ney's command? In case he liked to crush one of the two Allied armies, and seemingly he achieved separting them - his main aim should have been to win one decisive victory over any of those two armies, and by that concentrating the bulk of the Armée du Nord under Boney himself and a sort of observation detachment (one infantry and one cavalry corps) for the other sub leader.
Only by achieving a decisive victory over one of those two Allied Armies would enable him to concentrate his army again the crush the reminder.
This operational art of war - did fail due to Boney creating two seperate armies which were too weak to cause a decisive victory over the Allies.
The consequences can be seen at the 16th. Due to the dual battles / one battle - also the French forces were committed or pinned - with the exception of Drouet (and due to communication brake down - this corps did not play the decisisve part it could have) Though Andrew Fields has good arguments blaming Ney, I see also a big blame of Boney himself. Why didn't he also sent an ADC directly to Ney telling him that Drouet's corps was taken away from him and that it had to be engaged at Ligny?
In case Drouet would have been with Boney, this hickup wouldn't have happened.
Nabulieone further had the illusion that he knocked out the Prussian Army for several days and won a decisive victory and that he could beat Wellington's army in detail then.
The catastrophic results for him are shown on the 18th of June and consequences of again of how he allocated the units, Gouchy maybe too strong to observe the crushed Prussian Army?
So my view is that the results of the dual battles are clearly a strategic Allied victory - preventing a split of of their two armies and being able to concentrate them on the 18th - while Nabulieone completly misjudged his tactical victory at Ligny.
Nabulieone was misreading Wellington as well, there he did not reckon that he would make a stand on the 18th, Bernard Coppens is discussing this subject quite well in his mensonges - and maybe for that reason the casual way how he dealt with Grouchy and how he made Grouchy's force.