The 2nd Corps (Frossard) and 6th (Canrobert) began to retire about midday, the 3rd (Leboeuf), 4th (Ladmirault) and Imperial Guard (Bourbaki) were to follow.
This telegram might have exercised the most prejudicial influence on the course of the battle had not Ladmirault (4th Corps), nearer to the seat of the imaginary danger, taken upon himself to disregard the warning transmitted to him by headquarters.
Ladmirault, commanding the French 4th Corps had seen, during the afternoon of the 15th, the terrible crowd and confusion prevailing in the defiles leading to Gravelotte, and resolved to disobey his orders and to move direct from his bivouacs by the road from Woippy to St Privat, disregarding altogether the alleged danger from the Prussians supposed to be advancing from Thionville.
Seeing then that the troops before him could hold their own, Ladmirault continued his preparations for his counterstroke, and Cissey's division had begun to move into its prescribed alignment, facing towards Vionville, when the sudden apparition of a closed mass of Prussian troops detaching itself from the low dust-cloud of a slow-moving infantry column, and forming to the south of Mars-la-Tour, again arrested his attention.
The same idea had, however, occurred to Ladmirault, and he had called on the two nearest French cavalry divisions to put it into execution, and as the Prussians began to reach the plateau west of Mars-la-Tour and the Yron brook from the south, the French were deploying across it some two thousand yards to the north.