With these two simple and adequate words the Prince of Orange began his short letter he penned somewhere in the late night of 18 June or the early morning of 19 June, to his father and mother. Yes, Napoleon was beaten he wrote and his army corps had played a vital role in the battle. Sure, he was wounded, but not that bad.
Read this original letter (in French) yourselves as it is now on display from the Dutch Royal House archives: Letter from prince Willem.
How exactly he had been wounded at Waterloo is described in minute detail by various officers who witnessed the event, such as General van Reede and a brigade-captain of the cavalry Constant-Rebecque de Villars, in our third volume.
Next in Volume Four we will follow the prince how he recuperated from his wound and returned to the army.
Last Friday on 17 June I was invited to be present at the annual military ceremonies to honour the wounded and fallen comrades of 1815 in the Dutch-Belgian cavalry regiments. An honourary guard with colours was present and after a speech commemorating the feats of the cavalry both at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, a wreath was laid down at the Dutch cavalry monument.
This monument is at the crossroads of Quatre Bras, along the road that leads to Nivelles.
Long before many (British) historians started to doubt if the infantry brigade of Major-General van Bijlandt was positioned behind the hollow road and thus was secured by the ridge from any destructive fire from the French Grand Battery, numerous sketched maps were made by the involved officers. One of these was made shortly after by the chief of staff of the 2nd Netherlands Division, Colonel van Zuijlen van Nyevelt, which we show here. Another one was made by van Bijlandt himself shortly afterwards, also showing the brigade to be positioned in full protection of the ridge from the start of the battle.
For similar evidence look at an older post we made here a year ago, regarding the Hanoverians that collected mapping material for Wlliam Siborne, which he ignored at the time. And had been ignored ever after: Bijlandt's brigade behind the hollow road.
With Craan's map of the battle dated 1816, we now thus have a total of four (4!) further documents in the form of (sketched) maps that reveal Bijlandt's brigade was behind of the hollow road from the start of the battle. All of this is ofcourse further corroborated by the many accounts of veterans from 1815 who fought that day in this brigade at Waterloo, which we have published.
Sketch of the battlefield of Waterloo, by Colonel (chief of staff) Van Zuijlen van Nyevelt.
If you had any doubt that this subject was still a controversy on the battle of Waterloo: No, it no longer is!
You can all read about it in our book Standing firm at Waterloo, directly available here for ordering online.
It was only because of the Dutch-Belgians who held their ground between Nivelles and the crossroads of Quatre Bras, that at the latter place on 16 June 1815 a battle took place to halt the French armies marching further to Brussels. For more than an hour the Dutch-Belgians held their positions against an overwhelming number of French troops.
When the Duke of Wellington arrived at the scene, after his talk with the Prussian fieldmarshall Blücher at Ligny, he could only agree with the dispositions of the troops made by the Prince of Orange. And above all the duke acknowledged the fact that in his absence the young prince had meanwhile ordered further reinforcements and deployed Picton's 5th British Division.
Read all about the Dutch-Belgian perpsective on the battle in our book "Quatre Bras, Perponcher's gamble".
Find out all there is to know from the Dutch-Belgian perspective on the battle of Waterloo, or everything else there is to know through our series of books "The Netherlands fieldarmy during the Waterloo campaign".
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