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Bijlandt's brigade behind the hollow road

Sometimes it is by sheer luck, fortune and having the right contacts among those vast numbers of friends that are interested in the Battle of Waterloo, that you are provided with additional information that supports your own account on the battle, and its primary sources you have used to write that history.

Such is the case with the position of Major-General Van Bijlandt's brigade at the start of the battle. Popular history has it placed on the forward slope of the Ohain road where it was subsequently shot to pieces during the opening barrage of the French grand battery. Which resulted in the rout of the entire brigade and its disgraceful behaviour. Of course in our own publication Standing firm at Waterloo, we have discussed this at length and proven beyond any doubt the infantry brigade had already re-deployed behind the hollow Ohain road just after 9 a.m. in the morning. Well in time before the actual battle started.

Ofcourse the position of the brigade was already depicted in 1816 on Craan's famous map, but somehow the historiography of the battle later on relied more on the information provided by William Siborne and the maps he produced.

Bijlandt brigade Waterloo 1815

Above: part of Craan's map showing Bijland't brigad behind the hollow Ohain road

New evidence

Now there is surprsing new evidence from a completely unexpected resource, being the accounts and memoirs from the Hannoverian army that fought alongside and was part of the Duke of Wellington's army in 1815. 


When Captain William Siborne sent out letters to acquire more detailed information to construct his Waterloo Model, he also got in touch with Hannoverian officers. These provided him with an enormous wealth of information. However, later on in the historiography of the Battle of Waterloo, Siborne decided to only publish his famous accompanying maps with the account, based upon the British accounts. 

These showed among others that Bijlandt's brigade was positioned in front of the hollow road and down the forward slope. Incorrect information as we now know.

Therefore it is all the more suprising that the similar topographical maps provided by Siborne to the Hannoverians did actually produce quite a different version, when all positions were drawn in based upon these Hannoverian accounts! Based upon their mid-1820's and 1830's account, they already conclude this Netherlands infantry brigade to have taken positions behind the hollow Ohain road well before the start of the battle.

This thus forms more prove of our own statements in Standing firm at Waterloo, especially as it comes from neighbouring eye-witness accounts from the Hannoverian briagdes of Best and Von Vincke! It is a case of multi-international support through primary accounts to fill in the gaps about the Battle of Waterloo. We seriously need to thank the people of the Arbeitskreis Hannoversche Militärgeschichte.

So let me now present you with a small piece of the map that shows ou case: Bijlandt's brigade behind the jollow road prior to the start of the battle.

Position Bijlandt brigade Battle of Waterloo