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Waterloo: the horrors for the wounded

The Battle of Waterloo saw many men and horses being horribly wounded and sometimes even waiting days for being attended to, or put out of their misery.

At the end of the battle there were the most horrific scenes as vengeful Prussian soldiers showed no mercy for the wounded French grognards left behind when the battle was lost. This is shown in two accounts from Netherlands soldiers, who were quite upset to what they witnessed. One of these is from Sergeant Wetering, serving in the 4th National Militia Battalion:

I don’t think it will be necessary to describe how the battlefield looked like, as all day long it had been fought with the utmost tenacity. There were thousands of dead and wounded on this battlefield. The rain that had fallen the day before also enlarged the misery. At some places one was forced to walk up to the ankles through puddles of blood mixed with rainwater. We pursued the French up to the stone road to Jemappe [sic]. Then the Prussian lancers came pushing through us. Then the duty for us was done on this glorious day. We marched to within ¼ of an hour reach of Jemappe. There our brigade commander Colonel Ditmers catched up with us and ordered our captain to halt and set up bivouac. He requested our captain to tell us he was satisfied of our behaviour and especially during the skirmishing and that he would notify the divisional general of this. Along the highroad stood a farm building. This was set up for an ambulance, which was full of wounded. Here a fire started during the night and soon the entire building was a prey of the flames. (Oh, those unfortunate wounded.)

Wounded on the battlefield of Waterloo

Another example is that from 2nd Lieutenant Roorda van Eysinga serving in the 19th National Militia Battalion:

But before I continue, I must tell of an example of the Prussian revenge. When in the morning they noticed that French wounded had crawled inside a farm, either to get bandaged or hide, they  lit the building. Horrifying were the cries of the unhappy ones to get saved. Captains De Haan, Menso and lieutenant-adjutant Van Dijk hurried there to save the unhappy ones; ladders were used to carry them from the burning building. I did what I could to be of any help; we managed to save many and when we thought there were no more, we heard that some were still on the attic, who were unable to get down. Ladders were placed at all openings, the flames grew bigger and bigger and we were in danger to suffocate by the smoke, or to be squashed under the crushing timber. At last we managed to save the last one. Shortly there after the roof of the building violently crushed. A French officer wept with gratitude. We spoke to him and he said: “Voila les Hollandais encore braves et généreux. J’ai toujours dit, que cette noble nation malgré tous les revers, qu’elle a essuyé de notre part, ne peut se changer. Il est vrai que les Hollandais sont constants dans les calamités, intrépides guerriers au champ de bataille, et généreux envers leurs prisonniers. Messieurs! je vous jure que ma reconnaissance sera inaltérable, et que vos nobles exploits me fourniront matière d’inspirer les Français avec un respect dû à vos mérites.” I answered: “Monsieur! nous sommes très sensibles à votre sincère reconnaissance, mais les sentiment d’avoir rempli notre devoir, nous recompense autant, que nous vous prions bien humblement de ne plus nous adresser des louanges à cet sujet.”

Let us always remember that even when we write about history, tell about a battle, there were men and animals who sacrificed their lives...

Waterloo: did Chassé charge against the French Guards???

Did General Chassé at the end of the Battle of Waterloo charge with his brigade commanded by Colonel Detmers charge against the French Garde Impériale?

Would you like to know the answer? Read more about how the men and officers from Detmers' brigade charged down the slope of Wellington's position at the end of the battle?! Do you want to know the perspective of the Netherlands troops during this final part of the battle! And also have the part played by the British troops in this critical episode of the battle acknowledged?

In that case wait for our next Volume Three, in which we positively describe how Chassé DID NOT charge against the French guards battalions. And at the same time read what happened exactly. It is an intrigueing history!!!

Attack of general Chassé at Waterloo 1815

Volume Three is almost there for you to order!!!

The Prince of Orange wounded at Waterloo

The Prince of Orange received much claim for his personal conduct during the Battle of Waterloo, in which he was wounded. This showed how he as oldest son of the new king had been willing to to put his own life in danger for the sake of the young state of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. The prince's endeavours at Waterloo and his wound personified the new bonds between the people of the Netherlands and the Orange family. Moreover... the final battle to destroy Bonapartist France was delivered on Netherlands soil! What a great honour this was... and still is.

King & Country.. a wounded prince..., a Hero of Waterloo... a new country was born and its people received their first victorious laurels!

Read here what Major-General van Reede witnessed when the Prince of Orange was wounded in the final stages of the Battle of Waterloo. More ofcourse in our next book "Standing firm at Waterloo"!

Prince of Orange wounded in Battle of Waterloo 1815

Here is what Van Reede later wrote in response to the Dutch historian Scheltema, who had just published his history on the campaign entitled De laatste veldtogt van Napoleon Buonaparte:

The Hague, 10 June 1816

Noble Sir!,

With gratitude and recognition I return your work about the last Campaign, I have read it with the utmost pleasure and am convinced of the general approval, it will receive concerning the exactness of the deeds * [note left of the letter: * I would not know what to add], I only need to edit pag. 189. That the Prince was carried from the Battlefield lying in a woollen blanket by, as I think, 8 or 10 Hanoverian soldiers, that first on the highway to Waterloo one tore a door from a house to place him on it and that it was moments before this that I took the opportunity when he opened his eyes on which occasion he recognised me, to ask him about how he felt of his wound, and I received the answer. The Prince was not covered with a cloak; while put on the door, he mostly sat straight up with various isolated [men] whom we met there and who had left the battlefield to return to their corps [= battalions], predicting them the good outcome and entrusting that the participation in the Battle of the Corps of General Hill, which then first took place since a short moment, would turn the affairs entirely into our favour.

General Alava may have followed the Prince in the first moments, but was no longer there when I arrived, he left the battlefield almost ½ hour later when one of his best friends Lord Fitzroy Somerset, adjutant of the Duke, was so dearly wounded that one had to amputate both his arms in the [house] where the Prince was and before he, as I remember well, was bandaged. Perhaps one has mistaken the Russian General and Minister Pozzo di Borgo, with whom I rode along the entire day, for mister Alava.

[...]

With the most perfect esteem I have the honour to call myself

Your Honourable Servant

W.F. van Reede 

 

 

 

Our bookcovers

We proudly present you the first design of the cover of our Volume Three!

Combined with the cover of our previous two volumes you will notice the theme of the red, white and blue of our national colours. Exactly as we earlier on already told!

And as we stated before.... all three covers portray the Prince of Orange, the commander-in-chief of the Netherlands field army in the campaign. How nice will this look on your bookshelve! Especially when the fourth volume shall be presented with an orange background, representing the royal pennant of the Orange-Nassau family.

We hope this fantastic collection of books will be part of your collection of books on the Napoleonic Wars and the battle of Waterloo! 

Cavalry duels at Waterloo

During the two hour long episode of the cavalry charges there was a brief pause halfway, during which several French horsemen taunted their adversaries. Some men to men duels were fought in front of the positions, among which three recorded incidents with cavalrymen from the Netherlands regiments.

Take a look here of how we present this in our soon to be published Volume Three.

(Scene from the Waterloo panorama where the 1st Nassau Regiment is being charged)

After almost an hour of continuous charges across the sodden and difficult terrain in which the horses were much fatigued, there was a brief pause. Both sides were forced to regroup and give their mounds some rest. During this period there were a few incidents between cavalrymen, as French riders came forward and provoked their adversaries to a personal duel. In front of Ghigny’s brigade, positioned behind Alten’s division close to La Haye Sainte, Sergeant-Major Fundter recalled the following:

An odd spectacle now took place as the regiment advanced and came opposite the 12ème Cuirassiers. This regiment, of which the bulk of the old 14e of that arm, the former Dutch cuirassiers of Colonel Trip had been attached to, counted many old comrades-in-arms among our ranks, who recognised eachother and called their names. This was especially the case with a certain dragoon Jansen, called the funny one, who was called from all sides. While standing in line, uninterruptedly these cuirassiers and chasseurs of the 6ème Régiment, standing close by, rode along the front and fired their pistol or carbine on the regiment and challenged ours to a duel. And although this was accepted by many of ours, many of our young men were nevertheless not experienced in it. On this occasion Captain Maschek was killed, while he was busy sending some of his men forward and the horse of Lieutenant Muijzer was wounded.

A little further to the right of the Allied cavalry there was apparently a French commanding officer of the cuirassiers who also left the rank and defied one of the Netherlands carabineer officers for a duel. It was 1st Lieutenant Jean Baptiste Simon Joseph de Lobel of the 2nd Carabiniers who spontaneously presented himself. Both men fought bravely and wounded eachother several times, before de Lobel finally had to yield after a sabre thrust on his forehead. For his courage he was awarded the medal 4th Class of the Militaire Willems Orde. Captain Krayenhoff described another incident, which involved one of the officers of the 4th Light Dragoons:

Lieutenant van Eupen commanding the 2nd platoon of the 3rd squadron was affronted by the taunts of the trompette-major of the 6e Régiment des Chasseurs à cheval, who came to the front in a defiant manner and expressed insulting remarks, and took his chance to charge the trompette-major and drove him back to his regiment with a few sabre cuts. As he returned his horse was shot dead and he collapsed and a voltiguer from the 2nd  [sic] Nassau Usingen Regiment rushed to the front and took our brave Lieutenant van Eupen into the square and he soon rejoined the regiment, took his position mounted on a troopers horse.

[Text to be edited prior to publication]

 

 

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