Zieten's Prussians have two brigades (16 battalions of infantry) along the Ligny brook with Tippelskirch's infantry (8 battalions) and Roder's cavalry(3 regiments of light cavalry) available as reinforcements if the two villages are occupied by the French.
"A substantial part of Blucher's forces consisted of raw levies capable of two basic manoeuvres; going forward in a state of disorder and backwards in a state of chaos."
Each of the Prussian brigades therefore has 6 2nd rate battalions and 2 1st class battalions (shako ratings) and the cavalry has 2 militia and 1 line regiments
The dice determined that Steve would command the French and Lefol and Berthezene's divisions advanced on the villages. All the Prussian artillery was deployed north of the Ligny brook and therefore took little part in the early stages of the battle, waiting for the French formations to come into range. With only 3 battalions deployed to hold St Amand, Jagow's men were outnumbered 2 to 1 and soon had to fall back from the hedges and fences into the village. Two of the attacks were repulsed, but the central sector of the village fell as the 2nd Pomeranian Militia was totally overwhelmed by the 1st battalion of the 46th Line. Lefol attacked a second time and secured one more sector of St Amand, ejecting the 1st Battalion of the 1st Silesian Infantry Regiment after a fierce melee. The 2nd Silesian Infantry Regiment tried to recover the central sector from the 46th Line but was thrown back in disorder. The 2nd Pomeranian Militia charged forward to cover the retreat of their comrades, but their bravery cost them dear. A deadly volley from the French was followed by a bayonet charge which inflicted such heavy casualties that the battalion took no further part in the action.
|Steinmetz at La Haye|
After 5 moves all the village sectors were in French hands and this triggered the release of Tippelskirch's brigade. In view of the heavy losses Jagow had suffered, Zieten directed this brigade towards St Amand. Vandamme also received reinforcements and Habert moved to the right of St Amand to outflank the line Jagow was forming along the Ligny brook. Girard went towards La Haye where Berthezene was struggling to make headway. Zieten had already moved the reserve artillery forward to support Jagow, and these guns came under increased pressure as Habert and Lefol's artillery, plus the French reserve artillery attempted to suppress them.
|The action along the Ligny brook|
As Tippelskirch hastened to deploy, Zieten commited Roder's cavalry in a last attempt to shore up his left flank. Roder's men arrived just as Habert's infantry crossed the Ligny. Luckily for the French they managed to form square in the nick of time. Carried away by the thrill of the charge, the inexperienced Landwehr cavalry did not rein in, but continued towards the squares. The experienced French infantry stood their ground and drove back the impetuous cavalry in bloody ruin.
|23rd Ligne cross the Ligny brook|
We called a halt at this point. The French objective had been achieved, more Prussians would be drawn into the fight near St Amand and this would reduce the number available to challenge the main French attack near Ligny village. French losses had been heavy, particularly in the divisions of Lefol and Berthezene, but those of the Prussians had been even heavier. In retrospect I could perhaps have cut my losses and pulled Jagow's men back behind the Ligny brook sooner. This may have produced a more resilient defence against Lefol and Habert.