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Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby 348 White » July 17th, 2017, 11:22 am

The charge failed to do enough damage to the Allied army and the flight back of at least some of the cuirassiers seems to have been a rout that added more problems to the French morale as the numerical odds were stacking up against them.
The initial charges that routed a good proportion of the British 5th Brigade probably cost the cuirassiers some loss of cohesion and energy as, following the initial impact, some of the ones engaged against the 33rd seem to have been happy enough to take and loot captives if the account attributed to Corporal Holdsworth is accurate.
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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby 348 White » October 1st, 2017, 9:49 am

Paul Dawson's recent book on Ney at Quatre Bras casts fresh light on this event and offers opinions on the purpose of the orders to Kellermann. It also reveals why the Carabineers were not present at the battle and mentions the presence and activity of some French cavalry units in the battle often cited in other works as arriving too late, or not committed.
Interestingly the two cuirassier units took very slight loss in this action, and their charge was especially impressive given the march they had had to reach the battlefield in time for the action. It also indicates how low casualties can be in units that are often assumed to be heavily mauled or broken before they reform.
I agree with Paul that the terrain (especially the high crops) tremendously assisted the ability of the cavalry to surprise the British battalions.
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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 3rd, 2017, 11:24 am

I must say that I've never heard of the Carabineer's showing up, but even if they had, if we recall Waterloo they'd have needed special orders to charge without an emergency. Did not Kellerman complain that his entire force was not yet up. The confusion deriving from the scattered state of Ney's command is I think understandable in sources and may be a matter of conjecture, but then again I've not had the chance to read his book yet. I'd heard that the curiassiers took light casualties, comparatively, but I gather it was their order being broken and being subjected to increasing sustained musketry without support that forced their retreat.
The charge itself, like the one earlier in the day that hit Picton's division and mauled the 28th and 42nd, was I agree aided by the nature of the ground, but probably hampered by it as well. It also helped that the Allied infantry had next to no cavalry support, and were jumpy as a result.

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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby Andrew » October 3rd, 2017, 6:42 pm

I know that both Paul Dawson and John Franklin are convinced that the 2nd and 7th Dragoons were at Quatre Bras. All general histories and more generally available accounts seem to point to them not being there; neither regimental history of the 2nd or 7th Dragoons mention them being there, which is unusual if they were, and Kellerman's quite detailed account of the charge and his own involvement does not mention them either; which is strange given they were in his corps (Picquet's brigade in l'Heritier's division); Martinien gives no officer casualties from either of the two regiments for the 16th. Some British accounts refer to French dragoons, but I suspect that the 11th Cuirassiers, who did not wear the cuirass at Quatre Bras, could easily be mistaken for dragoons. However, I do not what John's and Paul's sources are, so I am quite happy to be convinced.

There is no suggestion that the Carabiniers (d'Hurbal's division) were present at the battle.

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Last edited by Andrew on October 5th, 2017, 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby Senarmont198 » October 5th, 2017, 12:01 pm

Another 'candidate' for the mistaken identity of an French 'dragoons' present could be the French line lancers at Quatre Bras. I have never found, as long as I have researched the period, any evidence that French dragoons were present on the field and in action at Quatre Bras.
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Re: Kellerman's Charge at Quatre Bras

Postby Andrew » October 5th, 2017, 6:40 pm

Senarmont198 wrote:Another 'candidate' for the mistaken identity of an French 'dragoons' present could be the French line lancers at Quatre Bras. I have never found, as long as I have researched the period, any evidence that French dragoons were present on the field and in action at Quatre Bras.


You may be right Senarmont, not only were they in green with helmets, but after 1813, the second rank of lancers did not carry lances.

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