Napoleon ordered Marshal Ney to take the left wing of the French army and seize the crossroads at Quatre-Bras whilst Napoleon attacked the Prussians at Ligny with the centre and right wing of his army. Ney would defeat Wellington and prevent him from helping his Prussian allies. Despite his orders, Ney hesitated and it was not until late morning that his attack got underway, by which time a substantial number of allied units had arrived from the Brussels area and Ney’s attacks were all beaten off. In addition, confused orders, for which Ney was responsible, meant that D’Erlon’s corps of 20,000 men spent the day marching between battles, in the end helping neither Ney or Napoleon. With the Prussians beginning to retreat, Wellington retired northward towards Brussels, taking up defensive positions south of the village of Waterloo. Ney failed to pursue immediately and it was not until the next day, with Napoleon’s urging, that the French advance began again, slowed by torrential rainstorms. Both allied armies had confronted Napoleon and survived to fight again at Waterloo.
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