Author Topic: The Dutch at Waterloo  (Read 31944 times)

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The Dutch at Waterloo

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The Dutch at Waterloo
« on: November 11, 2012, 08:20:14 pm »
So I found out that the Dutch actually fought at Waterloo.

The only thing I could read about them was that their commander was Willem van Oranje-Nassau. So anyone can tell me what
they did at Waterloo? Like what regiments they provided, how they did etc.

Offline imTaco

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 08:20:59 pm »
Whoops, not really paying attention and loggin in, thread started by me

Offline Diplex

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 08:30:34 pm »

Offline imTaco

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2012, 08:44:36 pm »

Offline Diplex

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 08:52:55 pm »
No probs man!

Offline Youp

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2012, 10:56:06 pm »
They where canon food, they where shoot by the canons of the french empire.
Gazeilles Youp
Ex- Regimental Sergeant Major of the 4e Grenadiers, Served the regiment for 2,5 years

Offline Mr T

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2012, 11:20:42 pm »
A common misconception about the Dutch-Belgian troops at Waterloo and the Hundred days Campaign, was that these troops were terrible, ran away all the time and were generally crap. Which is strictly not true, accounts written by British officers at the time as the spectated the Dutch-Belgians were very bias and unfair. The reality was that they were very good troops, a brigade was used to rout one of the Middle guard echelons in the last stages of the battle, they were vital. And of course the Dutch-Belgians performed well at Quatre Bras, holding off the French until reinforcments arrived to win the day.


Offline Duuring

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2012, 01:00:33 pm »
Ah, I love this thread.

The Dutch-Belgian army was a real late-Napoleonic one - Almost all of those who had experience, had been fighting for the French. The fact that their regiments had deserted the French en-masse in 13/14 didn't stop British suspicion towards them.

What can we say about the Regiments? Trough the research of army lists, it has been discovered that the amount of deserters was actually quite high, but many of those deserted just before a battle (Bit scary after all) or after the (first) abdication of Napoleon. Many has signed 3 or 6 years of service, and they did not particular wanted to serve another 5 years in fortress service.
One other fact is that this army was largely made up of volunteers with no experience - the Dutch army, which had been re-organized many times during the Nap. Wars, was always made of the same men  - But those men had mostly died in Russia. I estimate that about 1 in 5 of every Dutch-Belgian soldier of the regular army had been in the army before.

Now let's look at the battles. First, Quatre-Bras. Against Wellington's orders, The Prince of Orange decided to deploy his corps alongside the crossroads - Saxen-Weimar in the woods, with some companies of the 27ste Jagers, and the 5th Battalion of Militia in Gemincourt farm (Both battalions were part of Bylandts Brigade, which also included the 7th (Belgian) Infantry battalion.). They skirmishes for the entire morning and a part of the afternoon (Unlike Sharpe's Waterloo, where nothing happens, until the British heroically arrive. God, I hate that book.).
Eventually, Ney organised an entire French Brigade to attack Gemincourt farm. They threw out the 5th, which reorganized at the north. At that time, the 28th Foot (British) came marching down, but as they saw the farm being taken, they retreated. The 5th Militia, however, thought they were going to be re-enforced and charged the farm, clearing away the French soldiers from everything except a farmhouse. They then deployed SOUTH of the farm, and managed to kick back three cavalry charges, being lead by the Prince. There has also been an account of a dutch horse artillery battery which recaptured their cannons by a sword charge - Not bad for men who never received proper cavalry training.

Though, some stupid things happened too. The 27ste was caught in line by the Red Lancers and suffered heavy casualties, and a cavalry charge made by NL cavalry was, all trough successful at the start, pushed back and fired upon by mistake by the Gordon Highlanders. At a certain point in the afternoon, Wellington took command and with him, a large British continent took over the battle from their tired Dutch allies. We can just guess what happened if the Prince had followed Wellesley orders to keep retreating - It might have made sure the Prussians and British-Dutch army were split long enough for Napoleon to win Waterloo.

At Waterloo, Chassé's Division, of 2 Dutch brigades, was deployed to the east of the battle, to stop the flanking attack of Napoleon - Which never happened. The Bylandt Brigade (here they are again!) was deployed before the ridge, and thus in perfect range of French artillery. God knows why they were still out there. Some say Wellington placed them there just because he didn't care about them. Personally, I think it was just a mistake, made by multiple people. Anyhow, the Brigade took heavy casualties and was the first to be attacked by D'Erlon. They made a most gallant stand, according to some 92nd Highlander officers. According to 'historian' Siborne, who wasn't there, they ran without firing a shot. Choose who to believe.

Late in the afternoon, Wellington knew there was a final attack coming, and so he ordered Chassé to deploy his division to the west of the British line. He marched them quickly behind the British line, as the French Guard was attack. The middle Guard was leading this attack, which wasn't directed to go straight at the, but from east-to-west. Chassé deployed one Dutch brigade as general reserve, and another one, Detmars, marched into position just as the Middle guard was reaching the slope of the hill. They shot them to pieces, and cheering they made a bayonet charge (Chassé was also known as Generaal Bajonet - he favoured the charge) and they drove them back. But instead of holding their position, they went after them, 10 to 15 minutes PRIOR to the famous 'General advance'. Trapped between La haye Sainte and the Dutch brigade (which consisted of just two battalions of regulars and four of Militia), they put up a good fight, but ran eventually.

And here I end my story. Yes, I sound a bit biased for the Dutch, that might be, but I believe every word I said here, and I got direct evidence for most of it.

Oh, another fun fact - one of the corporals of the 6th 2nd (Dutch) Infantry battalion, part of Detmars brigade, was Czech, native of Prague.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 06:43:49 pm by Duuring »

Offline Menelaos

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2012, 02:38:00 pm »
Great read! I enjoyed it.

Offline Duuring

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2012, 02:53:59 pm »
You are welcome. I enjoyed writing it  :D

Offline Sanada

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2012, 04:15:57 pm »
I always knew the dutch were important to waterloo, bloody british propaganda -_-.
(I told my dutch teacher who said the british won at waterloo, I told him he should shut his cakehole and that thats a bloody lie. I told him it was an alliance of British,Dutch,Belgian,Prussian forces.(probably more) )


were there 6 regiments of dutch troops at waterloo? somehow I believe there were...

Offline Duuring

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2012, 06:37:30 pm »
Quote
I told my dutch teacher who said the british won at waterloo, I told him he should shut his cakehole and that thats a bloody lie

Tsss. A little bit of respect wouldn't go amiss, Yuki  :P

There were 18 battalions of regulars present during the Waterloo campaign, 15 of militia and 7 (Regiments) of cavalry. Though, not all saw action at Waterloo or Quatre-bras - Stedsmans Division was positioned in Bruxelles to keep the way of retreat open. They were used to fight the fortress war after Waterloo. It consisted of 15 battalions of infantry, with no cavalry, including the rather big Dutch-Indian division, which had about 3000 men and officers.

By the way, Dutch regiments all consisted of 1 battalion, with the sole exception of the 5th Colonial regiment.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2012, 06:40:15 pm by Duuring »

Offline Youp

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #12 on: November 13, 2012, 10:46:41 pm »
Dafuq, didn't know that :$
poor dutch guy's
Gazeilles Youp
Ex- Regimental Sergeant Major of the 4e Grenadiers, Served the regiment for 2,5 years

Offline KillerMongoose

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 05:56:22 am »
Duuring managed to get here before I did hahah. Essentially everything he said is true. The Dutch-Belgian troops at Waterloo have been given a bad reputation because of years of British propaganda. But in truth were it not for them, Wellington would have been sent running to the English channel for his life. There was the stand of Bijlandt's Brigade which Duuring mentioned and there are several fascinating stories that come from that. I read of a Lieutenant in the 7th (Belgian) line battalion who was struck in the shoulder by a pistol shot from a French officer (the two sides were barely 25 meters apart might I add) and promptly marched across the field, slashed the officer in the face with his saber, and returned to his company without taking a single hit. The officer's nose was described as "hanging down over his mouth." British sources will tell you that the men of Bijlandt's Brigade fled in disarray without even seeing the French however Lieutenant Hope of the 92nd Highlanders reports "The Belgians were assailed with a terrible fury and returned the fire of them enemy for some time with great spirit." And eyewitness accounts (something Siborne seems to lack terribly) say that the firefight was "protracted and effective." And let's not forget that Bijlandt's Brigade has already suffered from heavy fighting at Quatre Bras and the French artillery cannonade.

I would also like to mention the Dutch-Belgian cavalry who performed outstandingly. When the British Union Brigade cavalry had been overextended and mauled by the French lancers, Major-General Ghigny's Light cavalry brigade (8th Belgian hussars, 4th Dutch Light Dragoons) counter charged the lancers and routed and pursued them until they took cover near a large infantry battalion formed in square. Eyewitnesses say that the 8th (Belgian) Hussars fought with "insane gallantry." Ghigny's brigade had also been fending off numerous cuirassier attacks all afternoon, exceeding even Wellington's expectations.

And also, after the British household brigade had suffered heavy casualties at the hands of the French cavalry, Major-General Tripp's Brigade of heavy cavalry (1st Dutch Carabiniers, 2nd Belgian Carabiniers, 3rd Dutch Carabiniers) was the largest remaining force of allied heavy cavalry on the field. As the French cuirassiers ascended the slope in pursuit of the broken Household Brigade, Tripp's brigade counter-charged them and threw them off the slope. They counterattacked the French several times during the battle and later on they participated in the pursuit of the French cavalry, unlike Uxbridge, one who criticized the Dutch-Belgian cavalry, calling them "cowards with no stomach to fight" yet British sources fail to mention how the 7th Queen's Own hussars refused to charge the French lancers or how the British 11th light dragoons refused to charge to the aid of another regiment being pushed back by French lancers. At one point during the battle, the Prince of Orange personally rallied the 2nd Belgian Carabiniers by waving his saber above his head and shouting "Come my comrades! Let us put our sabers to these Frenchmen! The victory is ours!" Quite inspiring eh?

If you want my opinion as to why the Dutch-Belgians did so well at the battle it's because many of them fought in the French army before and Dutch and Belgian troops distinguished themselves time and time again in Napoleon's army. The 7th Belgian line battalion for example had several officers - including its Lieutenant-Colonel (who I'm actually writing a book about) - who were decorated war heroes, many of whom won the Legion d'Honneur. Many of the Dutch-Belgians were experienced fighting men and their officers knew what they were doing and their tactics and sheer determination to win helped carry the day.

Offline Duuring

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Re: The Dutch at Waterloo
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 11:34:59 am »
Quote
"Come my comrades! Let us put our sabers to these Frenchmen! The victory is ours!" Quite inspiring eh?

But he did shout that in French...which is rather amusing!  ;)