N & E
Napoleon & Empire

Battle of Wavre

Date and place

  • June 18th and 19th, 1815 in Wavre and its surroundings, 27 kilometers southeast of Brussels and 17 kilometers east of the Waterloo battlefield (province of Walloon Brabant, Belgium).

Involved forces

  • Detached corps of the French Army of the North (25,513 infantry, 5,617 cavalry, 2,635 artillery) under the command of Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy. 
  • Prussian army (15,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry) led by General Johann Adolf von Thielmann. 

Casualties and losses

  • French army: 2,500 killed, injured or missing. 
  • Prussian army: 2,500 killed, injured or missing. 

Aerial panorama of the Wavre battlefield

The Wavre battlefield, seen from the banks of the Dyle river near the Bierges mill.

The field

The bulk of the fighting took place in the town of Wavre The Town Hall of Wavre The Rue du Commerce in Wavre and on both banks of the river Dyle The river Dyle in Bierges, heading southwest to Bierges and Limal. The river, swollen by the rains, was not fordable, and the paths were extremely muddy.

The fights

On June 18, while the terrible battle of Waterloo was taking place 17 kilometers to the west, Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy, who was pursuing the Prussians to Wavre as ordered, was confronted with the Prussian III Corps of General Johann von Thielmann Johann Adolf von Thielmann.

Intense fighting took place on the heights, then in the town itself for control of the Christ bridge The Christ Bridge in Wavre [50.71474, 4.61054] over the river Dyle, and finally a little further south around the wooden bridge near the Bierges mill [50.70762, 4.60142].

The Dyle River and the Bierges mill
The Dyle River and the Bierges mill

In the middle of the night, the Prussians launched a cavalry attack on the French lines, which resisted.

On the morning of the 19th, the troops of François Antoine Teste François Antoine Teste took Bierges, those of Dominique Vandamme, Count of Unsebourg, entered Wavre and the Prussians must resolve to evacuate the city and retreat towards Louvain, to the north.

While Marshal Grouchy settled at the castle farm of Bawette [50.72906, 4.59909], two kilometers north-northwest of Wavre, news of the defeat of Waterloo arrived.

The Bawette farm, north-northwest of Wavre
The Bawette castle farm, north-northwest of Wavre

Subsequently, the French began the evacuation between 11 a.m. and noon, with Vandamme's corps remaining behind until the afternoon to cover the retreat. This will be carried out in good order to France, via Namur.


The Battle of Wavre, an indisputable French tactical victory, was nonetheless a strategic defeat to the extent that the ground was left to the enemy due to the retreat made necessary by Napoleon's rout at Waterloo.

Picture - "The Christ Bridge in Wavre around 1830". Vintage engraving.

Napoleonic Battles - Picture  -


We express our gratitude to Mr. Dominique Timmermans, who introduced us to this battlefield, the day before the bicentenary.

Photos Credits

 Photo of Lionel A. Bouchon Photos by Lionel A. Bouchon.
 Photo of Marie-Albe Grau Photos by Marie-Albe Grau.
 Photo of Floriane Grau Photos by Floriane Grau.
 Photo of Michèle Grau-Ghelardi Photos by Michèle Grau-Ghelardi.
 Photo of Didier Grau Photos by Didier Grau.
 Photo of various authors Photos made by people outside the Napoleon & Empire association.

Video credits

The shots are by Didier Grau, the editing by Lionel A. Bouchon. The soundtrack was produced by Lionel A. Bouchon using sound effects obtained from https://universal-soundbank.com/