To this end he had, on the 14th, massed his left wing (Reille and D'Erlon) around Solre, and his right wing (Gerard) at Philippeville; whilst the central mass (Vandamme, Lobau, the Guard and the Cavalry Reserve) lay around Beaumont.
Ney's duty was merely to hold Wellington for certain at Quatre Bras and allow D'Erlon to carry out the movement which must ensure a decisive result at Ligny, in accordance with Napoleon's plan of campaign.
In any case D'Erlon could not come back in time to give him effectual help. But incapable of grasping the situation, and beside himself with rage, Ney sent imperative orders to D'Erlon to return at once, and immediately afterwards he ordered Kellermann to lead his one available cuirassier brigade and break through Wellington's line.
When this attempt to master the cross-roads had ended in failure, Ney received a verbal message from the emperor, enjoining him that, whatever happened at Quatre Bras, D'Erlon must be allowed to carry out the movement ordered by the emperor.
D'Erlon, had on his own initiative ordered the I.
The emperor concluded that this could not be D'Erlon, because he had arrived too soon and was marching in an evidently wrong direction.
Repeated orders sent to the commander of the division left by D'Erlon failed to induce him to engage his command decisively, and thus Napoleon obtained no direct co-operation from his left wing on this, the first decisive day of the campaign.
Thus relieved about his left, but realizing that D'Erlon had returned to Ney, the emperor had perforce to finish the battle singlehanded.
In the first line were the corps of Reille and D'Erlon, who were destined to attack the allied line and prepare it for the final assault.
A thoroughly French town, it dates from 1835, when General Drouet d'Erlon established there an entrenched camp on a hillock in the midst of a pestilential swamp. Soon afterwards Marshal Clausel began to build a regular city, which was at first called Medina Clausel in his honour.
The position of the first governor-general, Jean Baptiste Drouet d'Erlon (1765-1844), remained fully as precarious as that of his predecessor.
Drouet d'Erlon was recalled and replaced by Marshal Clausel.