If the Prussians now retired northwards, parallel to the direction which Wellington would follow perforce on the morrow, the chance of co-operating in a decisive battle would still remain to the allies; and Gneisenau's order issued by moonlight, directing the retreat on Tilly and Wavre, went far to ensuring the possibility of such combined action.
Gneisenau apparently selected Wavre, not with the intention of assisting his ally, but rather to re-establish his own line of communication, and the presence of the Prussians on the field of battle of Waterloo must be put down to the immortal credit of Blucher and Grolmann, his quartermaster-general.
This staff officer discovered and reported that the Prussians were drawing off northwards to rally at Wavre; and about 9 A.M.
The right of Milhaud's cuirassier corps, whilst marching from Marbais to Quatre Bras, saw a column of Prussian infantry retiring towards Wavre, and Milhaud reported this fact about 9 P.M.
This unnecessary delay was aggravated further by a fire that broke out in Wavre and delayed the march.
It was therefore put off first of all until 9 A.M., and later until 11.30, to permit the sodden ground to dry sufficiently for the mounted arms to manoeuvre freely and give time to the French army to close up. During the night the emperor had received a report from Marshal Grouchy, dated Gembloux, 10 P.M., 17th, which stated that the Prussians were retiring in two columns towards Wavre and Perwez.
Grouchy added that if he found that the bulk of the Prussians were moving on Wavre he would follow them and separate them from Wellington.
When the emperor answered this letter, and he directed the marshal to march for Wavre, thus approaching the French army and entering the zone of the main operations.
The marshal wrongly determined Groachy' on the 18th to continue his march to Wavre in a single column, and he determined, still more wrongly, to move by the right bank of the Dyle.
Grouchy was now urged by his generals, especially by Gerard, to march to the sound of the firing, but he refused to take their advice, and pushed on to Wavre, where he found the Prussians (Thielemann's corps of 16,00o men) holding the passages across the Dyle.
A fierce fight (called the Action of Wavre) began about 4 P.M., in which the Prussians were for long victorious.
Navez, Les Quatre Bras, Ligny, Waterloo et Wavre; General H.
At Wavre (Feb.
WAVRE, a town of Belgium, in the province of Brabant, 14 m.
His (I) corps of cavalry played a prominent part in the campaign of 1815, both at Ligny and in the advance on the Wavre under Grouchy.