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Defected French general at Quatre Bras

Every one interested in the 1815 campaign is probably well familiar with the defection of the French general Bourmont on 15 June and how he passed over and was interrogated at the Prussian headquarters in Namur. All histories then continue he rode almost directly across Brussels to join the French royalist forces of King Louis XVIII at Ghent. But did he really?


In fact he first reported to the Netherlands authorities in the evening of 15 June at the town of Leuven (Louvain) and remained here for the night (see Volume One). The next day for unknown reasons general Bourmont did not ride to Brussels, but instead headed south towards Quatre Bras. Here he talked with several officers of the 2nd Netherlands Division and later was found roaming around near Arquennes, where-upon he was brought to the commander of the Netherlands Cavalry Division, Lieutenant-General Collaert. He decided to escort the French general back to the crossroads, where he arrived in the midst of the battle. The Duke of Wellington ordered him to return to Brussels and one of Major-General van Bijlandt's aides-de-camp Count van Hogendorp escorted him on his way.

This information based on thorough research in the memoirs of Netherlands officers can be found in a special sidebar in Volume Two 'Quatre Bras, Perponcher's gamble'.

More sidebars on various topics will complete this volume with information that could not be immediately included in the main text, such as positive confirmation how the Prince of Orange during the battle handed one of his medals to the men of the 7th Line Battalion, the question if Jérôme Bonaparte spent the night at Frasnes, a detailed order from Général Reille handed out in 1815 to his troops on how to skirmish in the field, a presentation on what type of forest the Bois de Bossu was and finally when all Netherlands troops were already taken out of the battle and placed in reserve along the highroad to Nivelles, the 2nd Battalion of the 28th Orange-Nassau Regiment supported a counter-attack of Best's Hanoverians.

General Bourmont