'It is a bad thing to be always fighting.'
IT WAS NOW past two o'clock in the morning; but it was not long after dawn that an English lady's maid caught a glimpse of the Duke -- who had managed to get two hours' sleep in his hotel in the rue Montagne du Parc -- trotting down the street beneath a bedroom window as she was opening the shutters. 'O, my lady, get up quick. There he goes, God bless him, and he will not come back till he is King of France!' 1
At about ten o'clock the Duke reached Quatre Bras and three hours later he joined Field Marshal Blücher's staff on the heights of Brie above the village of Ligny.
He did not much like what he saw: the Prussians, 84,000 strong facing 80,500 French, were drawn up on an exposed slope and, if attacked there, so he said to Sir Henry Hardinge, the British military commissioner at Blücher's headquarters, they would be 'damnably mauled'. 'I told them so myself,' the Duke later informed Lord Mahon, 'but of course in different terms. I said to them, everybody knows their own army best; but if I were to fight with mine here, I should expect to be beat.'2
Irritated by this observation, General Count von Gneisenau, Blücher's Chief of Staff, testily replied that his men liked to be able to see the enemy. 3
Wellington's discussions with the Prussian staff lasted rather more than an hour; and, before returning to his own army, he promised Gneisenau that he would come to his assistance if he were not to be attacked himself at Quatre Bras. But when he returned to Quatre Bras, he found his troops in a dangerous position. They had come up to the front in the most appalling confusion: some had received orders; others had not. Many officers had not even had time to change out of the uniforms they had been wearing at the Duchess of Richmond's ball which some had left in their dancing pumps.
Marshal Ney, however, was slow to take advantage of his opponent's