In our new volume we will present you with the story of the Dutch-Belgians marching after the victory of Waterloo, to within the streets of Paris.
The day after the battle of Waterloo immediate orders were sent from Dutch headquarters to collect all stray soldiers and account for the missing, killed and wounded. Discipline had to be restored at once. In the absence of the wounded Prince of Orange, general Chassé was placed in command of the Dutch-Belgian forces on 21 June, including the newly created 4th Division under the command of general Von Kruse. Orders were given to the soldiers not to fire their muskets while in bivouac, but their enthusiasm to do so nonetheless while crossing the border with France resulted in some panic with other battalions marching behind them. In the first few days logistics also fell behind and so hunger spread amongst the troops. Against the wishes of Wellington to treat the French population as friends, the Dutch-Belgians resorted to what they knew... libe from the land and take what you need. Something that was not appreciated by the army command of the Netherlands forces.
Nonetheless, the so-called 1st Corps of the Dutch-Belgians pressed on into an undefended France, accompanying Wellington's other divisions. Cambrai was passed quite easily and next came Péronne. This town was also quickly taken, and was indeed a vital link with the hinterland. Taking control of Péronne was important, as it gave an immediate passage to Paris, now that a crossing over the Somme river was under control. Wellington left the town therefore under control of one Dutch-Belgian brigade.
Within a fortnight the Anglo-Allied forces were in Paris, where part of the Dutch-Belgian forces first took up encampments in the Bois de Boulogne, before being cantonned in numerous villages outside of Paris, being the northeastern regions around Montmorency.
All of these details will be explained and illustrated in detail in our final volume, due for the end of 2019.
Great news, as after a long pause, writing has at last started on the final volume in our series on the Dutch-Belgians in the Waterloo campaign. Their march from the battelfield to Paris and all that happened in those months of late June to December 1815, when the field army returned home to The Netherlands.
At this stage the thousands of collected documents from the field army for this period are processed to make a manuscript. The book will be published in 2019.
People in The Hague, celebrating the victory of Waterloo (oilpainting by Simon Krausz, 1816)
In four richly illustrated volumes we present the most complete history of the Dutch-Belgian field army in what popular became known as the Waterloo campaign of 1815.
Volume One will take you through the months this army was first mobilised halfway March 1815 and prepared itself for both offensive and defensive operations for the oncoming war right up to the first day of the outbreak of war on 15 June, where we present the most detailed description of the fighting south of Quatre Bras, in and around the hamlet of Frasnes between the Red Lancers and a Nassau battalion supported with a horse artillery battery. Volume Two is entirely dedicated to the Battle of Quatre Bras, where we look primarily to the role of the Dutch-Belgian and Nassau forces engaged on this day. Volume Three deals first with the retreat of the Dutch-Belgians on 17 June from both Quatre Bras and the other forces located around Nivelles, after which we deal with every division and their role during the Battle of Waterloo, as well as the troops under the command of Prince Frederik positioned at Halle. Volume Four (due for 2019) will deal with the invasion of France, the sieges and observation of several towns in northern France and the occupation period, before the field army finally marched home in December 1815 and was disbanded.
What makes these volumes so special, is that they are based on what was thought to be the lost official army papers, reports and private memoirs. Instead, after more than a decade of research in numerous archives, we were able to retrieve all army related papers, such as reports and daily records & orders from field headquarters down to the company level. Likewise we were able to retrieve more than 100 private accounts from Dutch-Belgian generals, officers and the lower ranks, from which we lavishly quote in each volume.
Allegory on the triumphant victory of the Prince of Orange, hero of Waterloo (by Cornelis van Cuylenburg, 1815; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)
With some research and digging in archives, we have now been able to collect more material on the role of the various volunteer jäger companies, especially a number of diaries written in 1815 itself!
One account is from a man from the town of Maastricht, who provides an all over insight in his adventures, two men from the Frisian foot company give us almost day by day look into what happened as the volunteers were attached to the 16th Jäger Battalion. For the light horse companies we have discovered several letters written to his parents from a volunteer from Rotterdam, and a diary from another volunteer who served in the company raised in Leiden. And finally there is the recently published diary from Major Jacobus Hojel, who gathered 45 volunteers at Deventer and attached these to the 5th National Militia Battalion.
The man on the right is Major Jacobus Hojel
We hope to add as much material as possible from their accounts in our next volume, and so once again make it a worthwhile read.
After the battle of Waterloo a number of volunteer jäger companies joined the Netherlands army when it was in France.
These volunteer companies were raised when news had arrived of the escape of Napoleon from Elba and as a consequence a general uproar of emotions raged through the higher classes of Dutch society. Civilians ('burgers') and students proclaimed their adherance to the Orange banner and demanded the right to form volunteer units. In the end King Willem I had to give in and grant the right to raise a number of volunteer companies, which were either on horse or foot. Several were raised in towns such as Rotterdam, Leiden, Utrecht, Arnhem and Leeuwarden.
These volunteer horse or foot companies marched to France and were added to the regular infantry battalions or cavalry regiments. Their story will be added into Volume Four that is due to be published in the Summer of 2017. And these stories include private accounts as well that date back to the actual year of 1815 itself.
Once again we will present you with another astounding addition to the 1815 fieldcampaign history.