Napoleon’s last military victory came when he overcame Blücher’s Prussian army in and around Ligny, en route to his final defeat at Waterloo.
The Prussian force was weakened by heavy loss of life and a large number of desertions, but the 72-year-old Blücher, who was injured in the battle and had to be carried from the field, managed to supervise an orderly retreat and regrouped his force to fight another day. This was fierce fighting indeed: both sides suffered around 12,000 casualties, with the Prussians losing a further 8,000 men in desertions.
Today, the museum in Ligny commemorates the battle in a restored 18th century farmhouse, which served as a field hospital after the fighting. The museum brings to life the village as it would have looked 200 years ago, and displays realistic models of uniformed troops from the competing armies. There is also an unrivalled collection of photographs, maps, diagrams and weapons explaining how Napoleon’s last victory was accomplished. Out in the open air there are well-signed walks through the actual battlefield.