Book Review: Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras, The French Perspective


by Andrew W. Field

Croydon, Eng: Pen and Sword, 2014. Pp. x, 256. Illus., maps, diagr., appends., notes, biblio., index. $44.95. ISBN: 1783463848

How Quatre Bras Helped Shape the Outcome at Waterloo

While there has been a relative deluge of books on the Waterloo campaign and battle from the British perspective and a significant number in recent years covering the Prussian operations, until now one had to know French to understand Napoleon’s army and the hows and why of its actions in the campaign. Andrew Field has filled that hole with two excellent studies of the Battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo, that explain in compelling detail, the operations and tactics of the French during those two key battles of the 1815 campaign.

This volume, of course, is focused on Quatre Bras, a more or less drawn fight that was conducted by Marshal Ney on June 16th, while Napoleon was busy defeating the Prussians at Ligny. Field makes extensive use of French soldiers’ accounts .  He dissects the important decisions of Napoleon, Marshal Ney, and other high-level French officers that shaped the campaign , most notably discussing why d’Erlon’s I Corps wander ed about aimlessly on the 16th, arriving neither at Ligny or Quatre Bras?

Together with its companion volume, Waterloo: the French Perspective , this work throws much new light on the Waterloo Campaign.


Our Reviewer:    Dr. Alexander Stavropoulos received his Ph.D. in History from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013.  He is currently Adjunct Professor at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY .   


Reviewer: Alexander Stavropoulos   

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