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He audaciously took the last, and triumphed by the application of interior strategic lines, which Napoleon here, perhaps for the first time in his life, neglected. It will readily be seen that the line followed from Gembloux by Wavre to Mont St. Jean was neither a line of operations of the Prussian army nor a line of battle, but a strategic line of maneuver, and was interior.

If the enemy is at Sombref, I mean to attack him: I mean to attack him even at Gembloux, and to gain this position also, my aim being, after having known about these two positions, to set out to-night, and to operate with my left wing, under the command of Marshal Ney, against the English."

Meanwhile Bülow's powerful corps was marching unmolested from the Roman road near Hannut to a position two miles east of Wavre, where it arrived at nightfall. Equally fortunate was the reserve ammunition train, which, unnoticed by the French cavalry, wound northwards by cross-roads through Gembloux, and reached the army by 5 p.m. In his "Commentaries," written at St.

But notwithstanding the disquieting vagueness and ineptitude of Grouchy's letter of 10 P.M. of the 17th from Gembloux, and that up to the morning of the battle he had sent no suggestions or instructions to that officer, he yet trusted implicitly to him to fend off the Prussians; and it did not seem to occur to him that Wellington's calm expectant attitude indicated his assurance of Bluecher's cooperation.

An officer was posted at the junction of roads to prevent regiments straying towards Namur; but some had already gone too far on this side to be recalled a fact which was to confuse the French pursuers on the morrow. The greater part of Thielmann's corps had fallen back on Gembloux; but, with these exceptions, the mass of the Prussians made for Tilly, near which place they bivouacked.

Soon after the Emperor had given Grouchy this verbal order, tidings came in from a scouting party that a body of Prussian troops had been seen about 9 A.M. at Gembloux, considerably northward of the Namur road. The abstract probability no doubt was that the Prussians would retire towards their base.

The King, after stopping eight or ten days with the ladies at Quesnoy, sent them to Namur, and put himself at the head of the army of M. de Boufflers, and camped at Gembloux, so that his left was only half a league distant from the right of M. de Luxembourg.

"They have not; on the contrary, shortly before I escaped, an aide-de-camp was despatched to Gembloux, to hasten his coming. And the troops, for they must be troops, were debouching from the wood yonder. They seem to form a junction with the corps to the right; they are the Prussians. They arrived there before noon from St. Lambert, and are part of Bulow's Corps.

The aim was to find out the direction of the Prussians' retreat, and to prevent them joining Wellington, whether for the defence of Brussels or of Liège. The means were an advance to Gembloux and scouting along the Namur and Maestricht roads.

The Marshal reported from Gembloux, at 10 p.m. of the 17th, that part of the Prussians had retired towards Wavre, seemingly with a view to joining Wellington; that their centre, led by Blücher, had fallen back on Perwez in the direction of Liège; while a column with artillery had made for Namur; if he found the enemy's chief force to be on the Liège chaussée, he would pursue them along that road; if towards Wavre, he would follow them thither "in order that they may not gain Brussels, and so as to separate them from Wellington."