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Napoleon's Correspondence

June 15 through 16, 1815 (22054 - 22059)

Translation Note: Our English language translations of the Correspondence are machine translated. That is, most of the work is done by a computer. This method improves our ability to translate large documents such as these by reducing the enormous amount of time usually taken for such an endeavor. The machine translations however, are not as well tailored to English, and they lack the paraphrasing which makes human translated work more pleasant to read. Readers who notice slang or colloquial words and phrases which have been missed by our system are encouraged to let us know. As the system "learns" it (hopefully) makes fewer mistakes each time. Thanks for your support! Latest text correction for this page: 4-29-98



Beaumont, June 15, 1815, three o'clock in the morning.

My Brother, the enemy is making movements to attack us, I am marching to meet them. The hostilities thus will start today: thus I desire that you make the communications which were prepared. Inform the duke of Vicence.


According to the original, Files of the Foreign Affairs,


Charleroi, June 15, 1815, nine o'clock in the evening.

My lord, it is nine o'clock in the evening, the Emperor, who has been on horseback since three o'clock in the morning, returned overpowered with fatigue. He has lain down on his bed to rest there a few hours. He must go back on horseback at midnight. His Majesty not being able to write to Your Highness charges me with the following:

' The army has forced the Sambre close to Charleroi and pushed advanced guards half way to Charleroi at Namur and from Charleroi to Brussels. We took 1,500 prisoners and captured six pieces of artillery. Four Prussian regiments were crushed. The Emperor lost little. But he had a loss which is very-sensitive for him: it is his aide-de-camp, General Letort, who was killed on the Fleurus plateau leading a charge of cavalry. The enthusiasm of the inhabitants of Charleroi and all the countries which we cross cannot be described. This is the same feeling as in Burgundy.

The Emperor wishes, My Lord, that you share this news with the ministers, and that you see to the formalities for those who ask what to do.

It is possible that there will be a very-important affair tomorrow.
The first secretary of the cabinet,
Baron Fain

According to the original comm. by the cabinet of S. Mr. the Emperor.


Charleroi June 15, 1815, in the evening.

The 14th, the army was placed in the following way:

The Imperial district with Beaumont.

The 1st corps, commanded by General d'Erlon, was in Solre, on Sambre.

The 2nd corps, commanded by General Reille, was at Ham-sur-Heure.

The 3rd corps, commanded by General Vandamme, was on the line of Beaumont.

 The 4th corps, commanded by the General Gerard, arrived at Philippeville.

The 15th, at three o'clock in the morning, General Reille attacked the enemy and went on Marchienne-au-Pont, He had various engagements in which his cavalry charged a Prussian battalion and took 300 prisoners.

At one o'clock in the morning, the Emperor was at Jamioulx-sur-Heure.

General Domon's light cavalry division sabred two Prussian battalions and took 400 prisoners.

General Pajol entered Charleroi at midday. The sappers and the marines of the Guard were in the advance guard to repair the bridges; they penetrated as the first skirmishers into the city, General Reille, with 1st hussars, moved on Gosselies, the road to Brussels, and General Pajol on Gilly, on the road to Namur.

At three hours after midday, General Vandamme debouched with his corps on Gilly.

Marshal Grouchy arrived with General Exelman's cavalry.

The enemy occupied the left of the position of Fleurus. At five hours after midday, the Emperor ordered the attack. The position was turned and carried. The four duty squadrons of the Guard, commanded by General Letort, aide-de-camp of the Emperor, forced three squares: the 26th, 27th and 28th Prussian regiments were put to rout. Our squadrons sabred 4 or 500 men and took 1,500 prisoners.

During this time, general Reille passed Sambre at Marchienne-eau-Pont, to move on Gosselies with the divisions of Prince Jerome and of General Bachelu, the enemy attacked, he took 250 prisoners and continued on the road toBrussels.

We thus became masters of all the position of Fleurus.

At eight o'clock in the evening, the Emperor returned to his Charleroi headquarters .

This day costs the enemy five artillery pieces and 2,000 men, including 1,000 prisoners. Our loss is 10 men killed and 80 wounded, the majority of the duty squadrons, which made the charges, and of the three squadrons of the 20th of dragoons, which also charged a square with greatest intrepidity. Our loss, light as for the number, was sensitive to the Emperor, by the serious wound received by general Letort, his aide-de-camp, while charging at the head of the duty squadrons. This officer is of great distinction. He was struck badly in the stomach, and the surgeon fears whether his wound is mortal.

We found some stores in Charleroi. The joy of the Belgians could not be described. There are villages which, with the sight of their liberators, formed dances, and everywhere it is a elan which comes from the heart.

In the report of the General staff, one will insert the names of the officers and soldiers who were distinguished.

The Emperor gave command of the left to the prince of Moskova, which this evening has his headquarters at Quatre-Bras, on the road to Brussels.

The duke of Trevise, to which the Emperor had given command of the young Guard, remained in Beaumont, patient of a sciatica which forced his to be taken in bed.

The 4th corps, controlled by General Gerard, arrives this evening at Chatelet. General Gerard is aware [reports?] that general lieutenant Bourmont, colonel Clouet and the major Villoutreys passed to the enemy. A lieutenant of the 11th chasseurs also passed to the enemy. The major general ordered that these deserters be at once judged in accordance with their fates.

Nothing can stain the good spirit and the ardor of the army. It regards as a happy event the desertion of this small number of traitors, who uncover themselves thus.

Extract of the Monitor of June 18, 1815.


Charleroi, June 16, 1815.

My Brother, the bulletin will make known to you what occurred, I have my headquarters in Fleurus. We are in great movement, I regret much the loss of General Letort. The day's loss yesterday is not very considerable and carries almost all on the four duty squadrons.

The confiscation of the goods of the traitors who formented the meeting in Ghent is necessary,


Letort is better,

According to the original comm. by the cabinet of S. Mr. the Emperor.

22058. - To Marshal Ney, Prince Of Moskow, Controlling Left of The Army Of North.

Charleroi, June 16, 1815,

My cousin, I send to my aide-de-camp general Flahault to you, who carries to you the present letter, the major general had to give you orders but you will receive mine earlier, because my officers go more quickly than his. You will receive the order of movement of the day, but I want to write some to you in detail, because it is of the highest importance.

I am posting marshal Grouchy with 3rd and 4th corps of infantry on Sombreffe; I am posting my Guard to Fleurus, and I will arrive there in person before midday, I will attack the enemy there if I meet him, and I will reconnoitre the road to Gembloux. There, according to what will occur, I will take my party perhaps at 3 o'clock pm, perhaps this evening. My intention is that, immediately after I will have taken my park, you are ready to go on to Brussels, I will support you with the Guard, which will already be in Fleurus or Sombreffe, and I would wish to arrive at Brussels tomorrow morning, You should start yourself this evening, if I take my party a rather good hour so that you can be informed of it today and to go this evening three or four miles and be in Brussels tomorrow at seven o'clock in the morning.

You should dispose of your troops in the following manner:

The first division, two miles in front of Quatre-Chemins, if it is not disadvantageous; six divisions of infantry around Quatre-Chemins, and a division at Marbais, so that I can bring it to me at Sombreffe if I need it; it would not delay your march besides;

Corps of count of Valmy, which has 3,000 elite cuirassiers, at the intersection of the Roman Way and of that of Brussels, so that I can bring it with me if I need some, as soon as my decision is made, you will send the order to him to come join you.

I wish to have with me the division of the Guard commanded by general Lefebvre-Desnoëttes, and I send to you two divisions of the corps of the count de Valmy to replace it, But, in my current plan, I prefer to place the count de Valmy so as to recall it if I needed some, and not to make make false steps with General Lefebvre-Desnoëttes, since it is probable that I will decide this evening to march on Brussels with the Guard. However cover division Lefebvre by d'Erlon and Reille's divisions of cavalry, in order to spare the Guard: there was some scuffle with the English, it is preferable that it is on the line than on the Guard.

I adopted this general principle during this campaign, to divide my army into two wings and a reserve. Your wing will be made up of four divisions of the 1st corps, of four divisions of the 2nd corps, two divisions of light cavalry and two divisions of the corps of the count de Valmy. That should not be far from 45 to 50,000 men.

Marshal Grouchy will have about the same force and will control the right wing.

The Guard will form the reserve, and I will go on one or the other wing, according to circumstances. The major general gives the most precise orders so that there is no difficulty on obedience with your orders when you are detached, the commanders of corps having to take my orders directly when I am present.

According to circumstances, I will weaken one or the other wing, increasing my reserve.

You feel enough the importance attached to the capture of Brussels. That will be able to give place besides to incidents, for such a prompt and such an abrupt movement will isolate the English army from Mons, Ostend, etc, I wish that your dispositions are well done, so that on the first order your eight divisions can go quickly and without obstacle on Brussels.


According to the copy. War Depot.



Charleroi June 16, 1815,

My Cousin, I send to you Labédoyère, my aide-de-camp, to carry you the present letter. The major general has to make known to you my intentions; but, as his officers [have] bad mounts, my aide-de-camp will perhaps arrive first.

My intention is that, as commander of the right wing, you take the command of the 3rd corps which is commanded by general Vandamme, the 4th corps which is commanded by General Gerard, the cavalry corps of generals Pajol, Milhaud and Exelmans; that should not make far from 50,000 men. Rendezvous with this right wing at Sombreffe, Make leave consequently, and pursue the corps of Generals Pajol, Milhaud, Exelmans and Vandamme, and, without stopping, continue your movement on Sombreffe. The 4th corps, which is in Chatelet, receives the order directly to go to Sombreffe without passing by Fleurus. This observation is important, because I am posting my headquarters in Fleurus and the [traffic] congestion should be avoided. Send an officer to Gerard General at once to make known to him your movement, and that he executes his own at once.

My intention is that all the Generals take your orders directly; they will take mine only when I am present. I will be in Fleurus between ten and eleven o'clock; I will go to Sombreffe, leaving my Guard, infantry and cavalry in Fleurus; I will lead it to Sombreffe only in case it is necessary. If the enemy is in Sombreffe, I want to attack them; I even want to attack them in Gembloux and to also seize this position, my intention is after having seen these two positions, to leave to night, and to operate with my left wing, commanded by marshal Ney, towards the English. Do not lose a moment, because the more quickly I make my decision, the better that will apply to the continuation of my operations. I suppose that you are in Fleurus. Communicate constantly with General Gerard, so that he can help you to attack Sombreffe, if it is necessary.

Girard's division is in range of Fleurus; do not dispose of them unless absolutely necessary, because they must march all during the night, also leave my young Guard and all its artillery at Fleurus.

The count of Valmy, with his two divisions of cuirassiers, will go on the road to Brussels; he is to link up with Marshal Ney, to contribute to this evening's operation on the left wing.

As I said to you, I will be at Fleurus at ten to eleven o'clock, Send me reports on all that you learn. Take care that the road to Fleurus is free, All the data which I have found [says] that the Prussians cannot oppose us with more than 40,000 men.


According to the copy, War Depot
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