June 18, 1815, at 11 h 20, a first gun French side starts operations. Napoleon tries to attract Wellington forces to Hougoumont to weaken its lines.
A Legros, nicknamed “The inserter” comes with forty men open the doors of Hougoumont. But the English are the prisoners and kill them one by one, with the exception of a very young drummer of 11 years. The episode, in some accounts of the battle, is located later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, in Paris, another cannonade shook the walls. White is pulled from the Invalides … to celebrate the victory of Ligny two days earlier.
Jerome Bonaparte launched a new attack by the west against the north portal and the east against the orchard. Useless maneuver: even if the French would resist the English response, they have no artillery to destroy the walls or ladders to climb … Yet they continue to charge: Jérôme Bonaparte eventually engage men in 7000 its division in the assault, before requesting reinforcements.
The French attack on Hougoumont was repulsed. Hanover and Nassau skirmishers are posted slightly uphill into the wood that protects the castle farm, and to causing numerous French losses.
Grouchy is stationed with his troops some 13 kilometers south of Wavre. He has just finished a late breakfast when he heard the cannon. General Gerard suggests him to immediately route to the site of the fighting. “_Monsieur Marshal, it is an axiom of war that we must walk on the barrel, when you hear the cannon. _General You to execute orders, not to interpret the “Grouchy replied sharply.
The division led by Jerome Bonaparte leading the first assault against Hougoumont. The general is 31 and her relationship with her illustrious brother have always been difficult. Napoleon did he not say, after the debacle of Russia, his younger was stupid, vile, cowardly? Jerome, that day is determined to prove that he is not the taking of the castle, when he was only to force the British to bring forces there. This excess of zeal will have disastrous consequences: Hougoumont become a battle in the battle, mobilizing 14,000 French in the day.
The Emperor decided to write to Grouchy, to remind him close. But the order is confused: it suggests both that Grouchy must turn Wavre and Napoleon wishes he stands between the battlefield and Blücher.
Napoleon no longer resembles the young general it was twenty years ago, wiry scare. He slurred and, that day, it seems in bad shape. He suffers from hemorrhoids are told, and struggles to hold on horseback. According to one of his colonels, Emperor fact shows a kind of “apathy”, not unlike the one he had testified during the Battle of Borodino, which, in 1812, ended in a bloody defeat.
The Emperor pass his troops in review. On the hill facing him looms the dark red line of Wellington’s troops. The Duke himself observes the scene to the telescope – he would have forbidden his artillery to fire on his enemy.
On the French side, it is 72,000 soldiers, including 50,000 infantry, 15,000 cavalry, and 7,000 artillery. Napoleon’s plan is to force Wellington to move to Hougoumont northwest to remove him from the Prussians and weaken its center line.
English side at the summit of Mont-Saint-Jean, are aligned 70,000 troops, including 50,000 infantry, 11,000 cavalry, and 18,000 artillery. For Wellington, it is to cling to the soil around the fortified farms pending the arrival of the Prussians. It provides, if the pressure of the French became unbearable, a retreat to Antwerp.
At the Caillou farm, Napoleon finally put developed its strategy with the men of his staff: Soult, Reille, Ney, Drouot, Maret and Jérôme Bonaparte. At Soult, recalling that the English infantry is “formidable” and that it would be good to recall strategy Grouchy, Emperor responds sharply: “Because you have been beaten by Wellington, you look like a great general. And I tell you this is a bad general, the English have bad troops and that this will be the case by lunch. “Napoleon was persuaded, however, to postpone two hours at least the first opening of hostilities under 9:00, because of the muddy pitch.
Wellington receives a message from Blücher, the body headed by General von Bülow has already left to join him.
Wellington inspects the farm-castle of Hougoumont, which he entrusted the command to McDonnell, and ordered it to make new drill loopholes. Four fortified places should be used to the French offensive side of the breakwater. To the right of the English line, Hougoumont (or “Houmont”), protected by a small wood; the center, the castle and farm Fichermont Holy Hague; . left the farm Papelotte
The Prussian army is actually only about twenty kilometers away. The defeat of Ligny left bruised Blücher, bruised but decided. The “general forward,” as he is known, can be treated at once schnapps and after a short discussion with his men decided to join Wellington at any cost. He writes that morning in his agenda: “I have to once again lead you to the enemy and we will fight because we must! “
Wellington, he stood up to 3 hours to write a few letters announcing the battle.
Around one in the morning, Napoleon reviewed the lines before returning satisfied in its headquarters Caillou farm. He received a message from Grouchy, sent his 30 000 men in pursuit of the Prussians defeated at Ligny. Blücher, said the marshal, would head Wavre. Napoleon did not care. He is convinced that the Prussians will not join Wellington in time. It is even very pleased that the Anglo-allied troops have not folded overnight. “I hold therefore, these English! “He says. “We can only welcome if they decide to stay, because the battle ahead will save France and mark the history of the world. “