Waterloo: Netherlands Correspondence

Volume 1 – Letters and Reports from Manuscript Sources

Waterloo: Netherlands Correspondence, John Franklin.

This highly detailed new book is the first of two concerned with the role of the Netherlands troops during the Waterloo campaign, and forms part of an exciting new series on the events of Juni 1815. Drawn exclusively from contemporary manuscript sources, the book contains a wealth of previously unpublished material written by officers and men who served with the Netherlands contingent within the Allied army commanded by the Duke of Wellington, all of which has been professionally translated into English. The details contained within the letters and reports provide significant new information on many of the most critical moments in the campaign, including communications with the Duke of Wellington and his staff on the 15th June, following confirmation of the French advance; the role of the Netherlands troops during the early stages of the fighting at Les Quatre Bras, and the part played by the 3rd Netherlands Division during the attack by the Garde Impériale at the climax of the Battle of Waterloo. The extraordinary text is supplemented by colour maps and ten pages of full colour illustrations by Gerry Embleton, making the book an essential addition to every Napoleonic collection.


  • Title: Waterloo: Netherlands Correspondence
    Volume 1 – Letters and Reports from Manuscript Sources
  • Period: 1815 Waterloo Campaign
  • Type: Military History
  • Author: John Franklin
  • Illustrator: Gerry Embleton
  • Format: 176-page Book with 4 Maps and 10 Colour Illustrations
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: 1815 Limited, Dorchester, Dorset
  • ISBN: 978-0-9563393-2-4
  • Published: 2010


  • General Staff
    • Major-General Jean Victor de Constant Rebecque (Quartermaster-General)
    • Major Otto van Limburg Stirum (adjoint to H.R.H., the Prince of Orange)
    • Major-General Godert van der Capellen (Secretary of State for the Southern Provinces)
    • Major-General Willem van Reede (Netherlands Military Commissioner at the British HQ)
    • Major-General Willem van Panhuys (Netherlands Military Commissioner at the Prussian HQ)
    • Major Johannes Basslé (Military Police at Charleroi)
    • Captain Alexander de Ceva (Adjutant)
    • Captain Adolphe de Pestre (Adjutant)
    • Major Cornelis Bausch (Adjutant to Lt.-General Tindal)
    • Captain Jean-Baptiste Osten (Adjoint on the artillery staff)
    • Lieutenant Sent Klijnsma (Engineer Battalion)
  • 2nd Netherlands Infantry Division
    • Colonel Baron Pieter Hendrik van Zuijlen van Nyevelt (Chief of Staff)
    • Major Friedrich von Gagern (Adjoint on the staff)
    • Major-General Willem van Bijlandt (Commander, 1st Brigade)
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Willem Gronebosch (Commander, 27th Dutch Jäger Battalion)
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Jan Westenberg (Commander, 5th Dutch Militia Battalion)
    • Captain Franz Mollinger (5th Dutch Militia Battalion)
    • Lieutenant Josias Barre (5th Dutch Militia Battalion)
    • Colonel Karl Bernhard von Sachsen-Weimar (Commander, 2nd Brigade)
    • Major Cornelis van Opstall (chief of artillery, 2nd Division)
    • Captain Adriaan Bijleveld (Commander, Dutch Horse Artillery)
    • 2nd Lieutenant Wijnand Koopman (Dutch Horse Artillery)
    • Lieutenant Carel van der Wall (Belgian Foot Artillery)
  • 3rd Netherlands Infantry Division
    • Lieutenant-General David Chassé (Commander, 3rd Division)
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Carl van Delen (Chief of Staff, 3rd Division)
    • Captain Frederik van Omphal (6th Dutch Hussars)
    • Colonel Hendrik Detmers (Commander, 1st Brigade)
    • 2nd Lieutenant Hendrik Holle (6th Dutch Militia Battalion)
    • Private Adriaan Munter (4th Militia Battalion)
    • Captain Gerard Rochell (Flank Company, 19th Militia Battalion)
    • Corporal Arie Ruysch (2nd Dutch Line Infantry Battalion)
    • Lieutenant Willem van Bentinck (Belgian Foot Artillery)
    • Lieutenant Isaac Kikkert (Commander of the Foot Artillery Train)
  • Netherlands Cavalry Division
    • Lieutenant-Colonel Willem van Heerdt (Staff, 1st Netherl. Light Cav. Brig.)
    • Lieutenant Caspar Morbotter (1st Netherlands Light Cavalry Brigade)
    • Brevet Sergeant Cornelis Storm de Grave (8th Belgian Hussars)
    • Brevet Major Elias van Balveren (6th Dutch Hussars)
    • Captain Abraham Petter (commanding a half battery of Dutch Horse Artillery)
    • Captain Adrianus Gey (commanding a half battery of Dutch Horse Artillery)
    • 2nd Lieutenant Willem van Wassenaar (Horse Artillery half battery Gey)
  • Index

The Netherlands troops fought bravely and suffered heavy casualties during the 1815 Waterloo campaign against Napoleon, yet their role during the battles of Les Quatre Bras and Waterloo has often been misunderstood and received too little recognition. For example, it was long thought General Bylandt’s 1st Brigade of the 2nd Netherlands Infantry Division had remained in its mistaken and needlessly exposed position in front of the centre of the Allied line of battle, and that it was decimated by artillery fire from the French Grand-Batterie, as a result. However, in a report dated 25 October 1851, Colonel Baron Pieter Hendrik van Zuijlen van Nyevelt, chief of staff of the 2nd Infantry Division, informed Quarter-Master General Jean Victor de Constant Rebecque that Bijlandt’s brigade was re-deployed behind the sunken road around noon, in order to clear the field of fire of British artillery in that sector of the line, and afford the brigade protection from enemy artillery fire. Napoleon had ordered his Grand-Battery of 80 artillerie pieces to commence firing upon the centre of Wellington’s position at 13:00 hours, and there are conflicting reports from various sources which confirm that the bombardment began at some time between 12:00 and 13:3O HOURS. In his compilation of the Netherlands Correspondence during the Waterloo Campaign, John Franklin attempts to answer this and many other questions.

The correspondence indicates that, contrary to belief, the Netherlands artillery had not been re-equipped with British guns, but that the existing French pieces remained in service. In addition, the correspondence documents the uneasy relationship between Wellington and his Netherlands commanders. The Netherlands milita and some of the regular units were considered unreliable, because they had filled their ranks primarily with inexperienced recruits since the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Others, like the 2nd Nassau Infantry Regiment, or Colonel Karl Bernhard von Sachsen-Weimar, had served in the French army until the end of 1813, Lieutenant-General Chassé even as late as October of 1814; they would now have to prove themselves in the fight against Napoleon.

Gerry Embleton has illustrated several interesting scenes mentioned in the Netherlands Correspondence. Diorama builders, figure painters and wargamers are sure to be inspired by these illustrations, even if the book was not designed as a uniformology of the Netherlands contingent of the Allied army. The ten colour plates are grouped in the center of the book, presumably to minimize production cost. This has the advantage that the illustrations are easy to locate. On the down-side, the connection between an illustration and its relating text passages is missing. To fix this, readers may be tempted to mark the illustrations with relevant page numbers.

The map of the battlefield, extending from Braine l’Alleud on the right flank to the hamlet of Smohain on the left flank of the Allied line, shows that the Chateau Hougoumont was actually situated in the center of the Allied position, not on the right flank as is often said. Napoleon might have isolated the Hougoumont strongpoint with minimal forces and turned the Allied right flank by way of Braine L’Alleud, instead of the overly self-confident approach of concentrating on the tactically disadvantageous and well defended centre of the Allied line. That he failed to do so, allowed Wellington to re-deploy Lieutenant-General Chassé’s 3rd Netherlands Division just in time, from Braine l’Alleud toward the center of the line, where it repulsed the attack of the Old Guard at 19:30 hours. Chassé, popularly known as «General Bayonet», had the flank of the enemy attack column taken unter cannister fire and, when this failed to stop the grenadiers, he then ordered Detmer’s 1st Brigade to attack with the bayonet. Facing overwhelming odds, the French Old Guard was compelled to retreat, and the cry of "la garde recule!" caused other elements of the army to join the ensuing flight.

John Franklin’s book contains detailed and authentic eye-witness accounts, which offer beginners and experts of the Waterloo campaign an excellent impression of the critical events at Quatre-Bras and Waterloo. The points of view of the Netherlands officers and men provide a refreshingly different image of the campaign, compared to the British and Prussian perspective with which the reader may already be familiar.

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