This article is based on research in primary sources only. All information comes directly from archives, libraries and
museums in the Netherlands and Belgium. The research for this article started in 2000 and is still continuing. The
author started to read hundreds of secondary literature publications in Dutch, English, German and French.
Realising that there were many contradictions and an enormous amount of copying in the last 190 years the
author decided that not ONE account did give the complete and correct picture, certainly not when the Dutch-Belgian
army is discussed. Besides this, ALL publications are based on only a very limited number of original reports and
letters. This while many more original sources have been discovered in recent years due to easier (online)
access to archives. The author decided to put ALL secondary books back on the shelves and start a complete
new research. Starting from zero: the original hand-written reports and letters from many different officers and
soldiers from many different armies. Here I have to thank Mr Erwin van Muilwijk. He is doing the same, and
we therefore work together. We share sources and discuss issues to the smallest details. We sometimes visit the battlefield
together, to measure distances, to see the terrain and buildings and to draw final conclusions.
The story below is a summary of all this research.
On Erwin van Muilwijk's website you will find the complete
story, into the smallest detail. This article is complete in relation to the main subjects and issues. This is how it really
happened. We only still expect some changes to be made in the timeframe and the casualties for each
unit. The article will form the basis for the official rewritten Dutch military history, which will be published
in several forms in the next years. Everything will be finished before 2015, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.
In that year we also would like to place a monument for the van Bijlandt brigade with the true story of what really
happened on the battlefield. This monument will also memorialize all the soldiers who were killed in action that day.
The intent of the story below is to give an easily readable account, comprehensible for everybody .
Numbers between brackets () are referring to numbers in the literature list. All documents are in copy with the author and some are published at the 8th militia web site.
During the battles the whole Van Bijlandt brigade is discussed, to give the complete picture. Before and after the battles only the 8th militia is discussed as they are the main focus on this website.
- Chapter 1: 12th militia battalion raised.
- Chapter 2: The 1814 Campaign.
- Chapter 3: Winter 1814-1815 in Utrecht.
- Chapter 4: Southern Netherlands, Spring 1815.
- Chapter 5: The battle of Quatre Bras 16th of June. With the Van Bijlandt brigade.
- Chapter 6: March to Waterloo 17th of June. With the Van Bijlandt brigade.
- Chapter 7: Battle of Waterloo 18th of June. With the Van Bijlandt brigade.
- Chapter 8: After Waterloo.
- Chapter 9: Battalion organization in 1815.
- Colophon. & literature.
Chapter 1: 12th militia battalion raised.
The 12th (later 8th) Dutch Militia was one of the 45 battalions of militia infantry raised in 1814.
The unit was formed from compulsorily enlisted men and volunteers of the Military district The Hague, the Netherlands (18).
Between March and May 1814 some 846 men and 39 officers joined the battalion. Many of these didn't stay with the unit all the way to
Waterloo. Many of these "first joiners" were pensioned off (mostly officers), others went to overseas units or simply left the
battalion for various other reasons (14,15). For everything about the soldiers check this page.
As the unit was raised in The Hague, they were stationed at the "Zoutman Kazerne (barracks)". These were buildings erected in
1807 in a place called "Warmoesland" behind "Westeinde". The buildings didn't survive and not even pictures or drawings
Lieutenant-Colonel Willem Frederik, Graaf (Count) van Bijlandt was appointed the
first commander. It was under his leadership that the unit was fully fitted out (14).
Portrait of Luitenant-Kolonel Van Bijlandt.
Courtesy of the "Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie (RKD)” in the Hague.
Original signature of Van Bijlandt, taken from one of his manuscript letters.
Chapter 2: The 1814 Campaign.
At 13 April 1814 (after Winter ended and the campaign season started) the battalion left for a tour around the southern part
of the Netherlands.
They stayed for a while in Bergen Op Zoom, but left for the winter season to Utrecht on the 24th of September 1814 (1).
- They went first from The Hague (Number 1 in the picture) to Gorkum (69 km march, number 2 in the picture).
- In Gorkum they camped on 15 April 1814.
- Then to Ter Heide (30km, nr. 3). They camped at Ter Heide on 16th April.
- To Rukveen (50km, 4). They overnighted in Rukveen at 17th April.
- Putten (22 km, 5). They stayed in Putten between
18th and the end of that April.
- Barendrecht (32 km, 6).They camped in Barendrecht on May 1st.
- Capelle en Staebroek (15km, 7). They were billeted between May 3rd and June 12th in these two villages.
- Bergen Op Zoom (70 km, in red 8). They arrived at Bergen Op Zoom at the 13th of June 1814 (18, 55).
The 1814 Campaign. Map is shared knowledge from
"The new map of the Netherlands" project (Dutch Government).
Chapter 3: Winter 1814-1815 in Utrecht.
There they were mainly encamped in a building called "the "Leeuwenburg" in the "Schalkensteeg." That building later
became "Leeuwenberg gasthuis" and the streetname was changed to "Schalkwijkstraat."
Building and street are still there!
It's now a music and performance theatre (59).
The 12th militia survived the terrible 1814-1815 winter in their quarters in Utrecht and were made ready for the next
campaign season. After the winter the battalion had 31 officers, 680 men and 4 horses left for 1815 (55,56,59).
They left their warm barracks on the 22nd of March 1815 (59). The next day, the 23rd, the Netherlands again declared war on
France. Two days later (the 24th) the battalion was renumbered "8th" (22). Their final destination was Tongeren,
in the Southern Netherlands (what is now Belgium), a fair march of 200 km, which they managed to do in 7 days.
The Leeuwenberg nowadays.
Chapter 4: Southern Netherlands, Spring 1815.
They didn't stay long in Tongeren. Tongeren was merely a staging area for the 2nd Netherlands division.
Most of the units of this division were present on the 30th of March. The 8th militia formed part of the 1st
Brigade of this 2nd Division (18, 58). See for the ultimate OOB this document.
The whole division left Tongeren at the 1st of April. Its destination was the area around Charleroi and Nivelles,
around 100 km further to the South-East of Tongeren (58).
Between the 5th of April and the 15th of June the battalion was encamped in several small villages (8,9,10,11, 13,18, 55,56)
Click on the picture locations to open a separate page with graphic impressions of the villages.
- Between April 5 and April 12: Feluy, Arquennes & Petit-Roeulx-les-Nivelles. (one week).
- Between 13-4 and 1-5 Frasnel (now Frasnes), Buzet en Obaij (two weeks)
- Between 1-5 and 7-5 Hautain (Houtain) le-Val-en-Houtain-le-Mont with one company in Quatre Bras. (one week)
- Between 8-5 tot 15-6 Bornival and Monstreux (five weeks) In both locations three companies.
Southern Netherlands/Belgium villages. Map from Google Earth.
Lieutenant-Colonel De Jongh took over command of the battalion on the 21st of April;
colonel Van Bijlandt became the commander of the 1st brigade/ 2nd division (8).
In June 1815 the battalion consists of 561 men, 22 officers and 1 medical officer.
Click on this link for a complete Order of Battle for the Netherlands army (8).
Original signature of De Jongh, taken from one of his letters.
At the 15th of June 1815, 16.00 hours Lieutenant-Colonel de Jongh received orders to march to the special rallying positions
near the "De Soignie" gate in Nivelles (now Belgium). He arrived at 17.00 hours (41).
At midnight of the same day the battalion got orders to march to Quatre Bras immediately. The battalion got
underway for this 22 km march and arrived at 04.00 hours on the 16th of June (41).
Portrait of Luitenant-Kolonel de Jongh with the "Militaire Willems Orde" 3rd class (medal.)
Painted around 1816. Courtesy of the Munniks de Jongh Luchsinger family.
Chapter 5: The battle of Quatre Bras 16th of June.
The account below concerns the 8th militia in detail and the remainder of the Van Bijlandt brigade and the 2nd divsion in more general terms. For more details about the other units visit the website
of Erwin van Muilwijk. We like to start to present the
readers with the raw numbers for all units of the Van Bijlandt brigade. These figures are derived from the report of the
Chief of staff, Baron colonel Pieter Hendrik Van Zuylen van Nyevelt (17). See also note 1.
The full details for the whole division can be found here (in Dutch)
below is a simple summary. These figures are the only correct ones around,
as they are reported by each unit commander to the chief of staff, every several days.
The tables below give the figures for the morning of the 15th of June. These figures therefore also state
the details from the start of the campaign, just before the battles.
The optimum strength of a field battalion (figures exclusive of depot company and parts of the battalion staff placed in the depot)
in 1815 was 23 officers and 756 other ranks, 779 man in total.
||Location on 15th
||Lt Col Grunebosch
||Lt Col Vander Sanden
|5th National Militia
||Lt Col Westenberg
|7th National Militia
||Lt Col Singendonck
|8th National Militia
||Lt Col De Jongh
|Total Van Bijlandt brigade
The table above shows the 'effective' men. There were many more, 'non-effectives':
The battle of Quatre Bras
|5th National Militia
|7th National Militia
|8th National Militia
|Total Van Bijlandt brigade
What happened on the 16th of June describes itself best in pictures. But as there are no good, scaled, maps of the
entire battlefield available, at least not ones showing the old "Bois the Bossu (Forest of Bossu)," I drew a few myself.
1: I started with the best-known topographical map of the area, which is also
downloadable from the Napoleon-series web site. I then took a Google-Earth screen shot of the same area and merged both maps into one. I ended up with a perfect map, which included the Bois de Bossu.
The two maps in one.
2: To understand the situation and battle of the day better I worked together with Eric van Muilwijk
(see his web site),.
I used his details for the more general parts of the battle, like timing and placing of units.
His research is the best there is at the moment and is wholly based on primary sources as well.
I've seen, or am familiar with, most of these sources, so I am not hesitant to use his detailed
information in the story below.
3: I also used many eye-witness accounts, both from soldiers from other units and the one from De Jongh
himself to make the narrative more specific for the 8th Militia (see elsewhere on the 8th Militia web site) (41, 74-82).
4: I also did an in-depth study of the type of forest this Bois de Bossu was. The species of trees and the
density of this forest were crucial aspects not to be overlooked. Strangely, these aspects were never
researched before. The forest consisted of beech trees and a few oaks here and there. These were
of various ages as this was a very old (not planted) forest. Occasionally, the local farmers cut
firewood, but because of the few people and farms around this did not amount to much. Altogether
that means we had a mix of old and young trees, open areas where trees had fallen down, dense
areas where young vegetation is emerging, and park-like areas where old trees are standing.
Old beech trees cast a lot of shade and there is hardly any undergrowth in areas where old
trees are growing. The forest's edges were of course very dense with young trees, shrubs and
weeds. These must have been difficult to traverse (Lit: discussion with University of Leuven
and other experts).
5: To finalize the research I visited the site in the field and took one whole day to walk the old borders of the Bois de Bossu and to take pictures of the field from the different locations where the 8th (and other units) once stood. I also located the locations of the different eye-witnesses and the positions of De Jongh during the battle to check their story.
The field is still in place; hardly anything has changed, except for the Bois de Bossu,
which is now mostly a golf-course.
All this information is now brought together in the following simple maps and pictures:
Map 1 shows the situation between 04.00 and 13.30 hours on the 16th. Not much was happening. The 8th Militia was
resting and eating just behind the hamlet of Quatre Bras (only a few houses at that time). But at 13.30 hours the
French were approaching more determinedly. They had been present for the whole day already, but had been hesitating
because they couldn't see much. Although the terrain looks flat, there are actually small rises and shallow
dips where entire battalions could be hidden. That is what the Dutch army actually did, so it was only 13.30
hours when the French decided to attack. The 8th Militia received orders to march to the South, together with other units.
shows the positions at 14.00 hours. The 8th, together with three other battalions, took up
positions on a small farm road, hidden from the French by a small hill around 1 km further South. A few Dutch guns were in support.
On the other side of the battlefield the 27th Jager was lined up in skirmish formation. T
shows a first attack by French Lancers (Piré's Cavalry Division) at 14.15 hours. The allied
battalions retreated towards the woods, also because they came under fire from French artillery, positioned on
the hill mentioned earlier. It was during this barrage that the first casualties were taken. The Flag platoon
8th received a direct hit, and Sergeant-Major Finson (holding the Flag) and corporals Lansing and Martijn were
seriously wounded (The sergeant-major received a knight's-4th-class-MWO medal afterwards). Soon afterwards others
were killed and wounded, in the 8th as well as in the other battalions. A few minutes later Brigade orders were
received to detach two companies (the 5th and 6th) to hold the Wood's point in the east while the remaining
companies could move slightly backwards.
In the mean time the 27th Jager was under fire from the first French Voltigeurs. The 5th militia and the 7th line were send as reinforcements. The 5th militia deployed one company in front and 2 in the orchard of the Gemioncourt farm. One company of the 27th supported the artillery batteries more to the rear. Battalion.
shows the situation half an hour later at 14.45. The battalions are pushed back by cavalry
and skirmishers into the woods. The situation is also becoming dangerous as French troops now appear to
the west side of the woods. The 1st battalion of the 28th Nassau regiment, sent there to hold the French, is retreating. Nevertheless
the other battalions now hold their line in a small valley inside the woods. There they regroup under the
command of Colonel Saxe-Weimar, the brigade commander of the 2nd brigade. The 8th is now split up. The 5th and
6th company are forming part of the line of Saxe-Weimar inside the woods; the remaining four companies are
almost on the east side of the woods.
On the east side of the woods the line is retreating as well, under the pressure of the strong French columns. The French are attacking with 2 infantry and 1 cavalry division. The Dutch-Belgians only have one infantry division, and no cavalry yet.
shows Saxe-Weimar's counter-attack at 15.00 hours, including the two detached companies
of the 8th. The French were now coming on in a thick skirmish line (the troops from the division of Jêrome Bonaparte)
through the woods and therefore Saxe-Weimar decided to attack. This attack didn't really either fail or succeed, but at
least it showed the French that there was still resistance in the woods. Meanwhile, on the east side of the woods,
Lieutenant-Colonel De Jongh was holding back the approaching French from that side with his remaining 4 companies.
But the French were bringing in artillery and soon afterwards the first casualties were taken, including De
Jongh himself who was hit by a piece of a howitzer shell in his leg. He let himself be roped to his saddle and
remained in command. Now there was a pause in the fighting where both sides were not doing much.
On the other part of the field the 7th militia is send into the woods as well, to protect the wood-edges. Van Merlens' cavalry brigade has just arrived and is feeding the horses after the quick mars. The 5th militia and 27th Jagers are regrouping behind the artillery.
shows the troops at 15.15 hours. The situation was critical. In a desperate move the Prince of Orange leads the 5th militia in a counter attack. Van Merlens' brigade was not ready yet, and the French were approaching the artillery batteries. So, the Prince decided the attack with the 5th militia. Some companies of the 27th joined the attack. The 5th was moving forward along the road in column formation. It was attacked by strong French cavalry forces while being under fire from both Voltigeurs and artillery. They failed to form square in time and the column was first separated in a few smaller detachment and then totally destroyed. The remaining men were trying to save their lives. In a couple of minutes 177 were killed or wounded and 109 became prisoner or missing. In total about half of the battalion was lost in an instance
The Prince of Orange at the head of the 5th Militia during Quatre Bras.
shows the troops at 15.30 hours.
After the retreat of the 5th militia and the 27th Jager there was only one formed unit nearby to hold of the French; Van Merlens' cavalry brigade. They were ordered to the attack which they instantly started. Their attack is not part of this study, but it resulted in a chaotic fight with the French cavalry in which the brigade attacked 3 times without gaining much. Both sides lost many good men. But the Allied army bought precious time. Time in which the UK & Hannover troops were able to form a new frontline
shows the troops at 16.15. A renewed French attack drove the Allied troops further back
through the woods. As the French Cavalry is now everywhere on both sides of the wood, most troops take refuge
inside the woods and, while fighting, move northwards to avoid encirclement.
The UK & Hanover troops are coming south and start to defend the frontline. Merlens' cavalry brigade is regrouping. The only remaining battalions that are still unproved in battle (1/28 Oranje Nassau Regiment and 2nd/ 2nd Nassau regiment) are ordered into the woods for a renewed counter attack.
shows the counter-attack at 17.00 hours by the last two reserve battalions. These battalions were not engaged in battle earlier and were thrown in as a last resort. The attack is not succesfull and the troops are called back. The 8th Militia is now back at Quatre-Bras,
together with most other battalions. They are probably exhausted, hungry, and without ammunition, after 5 hours of
fighting. Furthermore, the formation of the units was in chaos after the fighting in the woods. The UK & Hanover troops are starting to form a new frontline. Van Merlens' cavalry brigade is regrouping.
shows the situation at 18.00 hours when the 3rd & 5th British/Hanover divisions have fully arrived.
They launch a strong counter-attack, on the whole line from east to west on the battlefield. That counter-attack
resulted in the French being thrown back to their original morning positions (not part of this study). The 2nd divsision is still regrouping at that time.
In the evening the 2nd division made up camp along the road west from Quatre Bras, just north of the Bois de Bossu. The artillery was parked just north of the troops and was working hard to repair all damage. The 5th militia, almost totally destroyed camped with the artillery, just as the 8th militia. The 27th Jagers, having almost no equipment left (after many man were taken prisoner and escaped a little bit later) was send back to Nivelles for re-equipment. They were ordered to return the following morning. Their 3rd company was still more or less unharmed and camped with the 5th militia. Furthermore Van Zuylen van Nijevelt reported: “The division bivouacked on the height behind the wood of Bossu, the 1st battalion Regiment No. 28 and the regiment Nassau to the right of the wood in column; the remaining troops in battle on two lines, having to the right an English division and left Brunswick
The 8th Militia battalion had the following casualties during the Battle of Quatre Bras (14,15)
Total casualties on the 16th: 41, or 7.3 % (killed, wounded, missing and captured.) Some will later return to
their unit because they had minor wounds and the battlefield was left for the French
(to remain behind as a wounded soldier was not an option!).
- Killed: NCOs & Enlisted: 4. (Corporals Stroebel & Huibers, privates Holtzwilders and Stankowitz.
- Wounded: Officers: 2 (de Jongh and Wilson, the Medical officer).
- Wounded NCOs and Enlisted: 32.
- Captured or missing:
NCOs and Enlisted: 3.
- Lost material: 28 Muskets, 16 Bullet bags, 7 sabres.
- Used bullets: 9,650. When divided by 561 men, that means that every soldier fired 17 rounds on average,
so they were certainly in the thick of the fight!
16th of June: The battle of Quatre Bras; pictures of the battlefield today.
I also shot a few pictures for a better understanding of the terrain. Click on the map below to see a picture.
- Picture 1 is taken to the South-West, along the rough farm track where the 8th Militia marched to their starting positions.
- Picture 2 shows the field were the 8th Militia possibly camped (without tents) on the night before the battle.
- Picture 3 is a panorama picture showing the fields in the South and East, in the direction where once the Forest was.
- Picture 4 is taken in a North-Easterly direction along the farm road. This was the first position of the 27th Jagers
(not covered in this article, maybe in the future).
- Picture 5 shows the location of 5 & 6th company of the 8th, defending that small part of the forests.
- Picture 6 is an important one. This was the exact location where the battalion stood (see map 2) when they came under attack for the first time.
One can see the view they had on the low hill in front of them where the French were positioning artillery.
- Picture 7 is taken in a Southerly direction and is showing the view the 8th had at 14.15 hours (see map 3)
when they were threatened by cavalry and hit by artillery rounds.
- Picture 8 is also taken in a Southerly direction, in the middle of the woods, which is now the golf course.
The 8th was slowly retreating through these positions between 14.15 and 14.45 hours.
- Picture 9 is the location where Saxe-Weimar gathered his units, plus the 5 & 6th company of the 8th, for the counter-attack at 15.00 hours. They attacked up-hill !
- Picture 10 is a Panorama picture; North-North-East. In the middle of the picture, in the far distance, the Gemiencourt farm.
There were 3 Van Zuylen's active in the waterloo campaign, and that makes it sometimes difficult and confusing.
There was the Baron colonel Pieter Hendrik van Zuylen van Nyevelt, chief of staff, 2nd division.
There was Captain P. J. van Zuylen van Nijevelt, brigade Major of the 1ste brigade/ 2nd division.
And there was a soldier J. van Zuylen van Nijevelt, a volunteer.
Chapter 6: March to Waterloo 17th of June.
The text of this chapter comes from Erwin van Muilwijk.
There is very little information available on the 2nd Netherlands Division during the morning after Quatre-Bras.
The most complete overview is given by its chief of staff, Van Zuylen van Nyevelt (17): “The night was quiet. When
dawn breaks the 27th Batt. Jagers returns from Nivelles and all the corps are united again, except for the artillery
which had suffered a lot on its material and which remained behind our left wing under the protection of the 5th
Batt. National Militia."
"One was busy with ditributing cartridges and placing new flints, and as the night had been quiet, the
soldiers received orders to clean the weapons. In the line there is no other movement than that of several English
Battalions and Artillery Batteries who rejoin their Divisions. Some Regiments of English Cavalry are sent to our
right wing, to observe the plain of Hautain le Val. So far everything was quiet. From what one could observe, it
seemed if we would attack, or at least on the terrain itself would await the enemy…"
Lieutenant-Colonel Grunenbosch corroborates the arrival of the 27th Jagers: “… on this day […] it was already
re-united at six o’clock near Quatrebras…”
The two companies that had been detached of the 8th Militia early
during the battle the previous day, also returned as its commander De Jongh explains: “In the morning at four
o’clock, the detached 5th and 6th company returned again with the battalion.”
Captain Van Bronkhorst of the 7th Militia tells how everything was indeed quiet in the morning: “The armies
were almost everywhere in the same positions. The main force of the French army was only partially in position
against ours. We were still masters of our position.”
At 10 o'clock the whole division concentrated near Genappe (near Quatre Bras) for the retreat to Waterloo, a 23 km march.
Major-general Bijlandt gives a similar time of departure:
“The retreat of the 17th commenced between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning, it was executed by marching
across the fields in order to keep the roads [free?] for the cavalry and artillery.”
One of his battalioncommanders,
De Jongh, also corroborates the time of 10 a.m.: “At ten o’clock the division retreated through Genappe and took
position on the other side. At two o’clock in the afternoon we broke up again and marched in front of the forest
The chief of staff Van Zuylen van Nyevelt gives his version as the division left Quatre-Bras.
“Some time after that, about nine o’clock, the Prince of Orange himself came to bring the order for the retreat;
H.R.H. formed the Division himself with platoons in closed columns, directing it on the road to Brussels. At the
height of La Baraque the detached corps were drawn in with the Division and one followed the road to Genappe,
preceded by the 3rd English Division.”
There are also a few men in the lower ranks who give their versions of the start of the retreat. First is Sergeant
Döring of the 1st Btn. Orange-Nassau, who elaborately tells the following. “We all believed, that the coming day
would be prolonged on the current terrain, but already after midnight the news spread around in the bivouac, that
Blücher had been beaten 5 hours away near Liège by Napoleon and because of that, so as not to be outflanked,
our army had to break up immediately and make a retreat across Genappe to Waterloo. When we broke up,
which we did with considerable haste and fell in, we had the sad view that the French had taken off the shirts and
plundered many dead and overrun [men; EM], among which also was an officer with the name Engel from the
Soldier Rem, serving in the 7th Militia gives his brief version: “The 17th in the morning a courier
brought a message that the enemy changed positions, more to the side of Waterloo; we did so too…”
As the entire division of General Perponcher had assembled, it marched off north on the Brussels highway.
When the men arrived at Genappe, the division had to leave the road and by-pass the village. As there was only
one small bridge here across the Dyle river, the road had become congested by the many troops passing it.
Zuylen van Nyevelt reported on this matter: “Meanwhile all the material of the army took the same direction and
when these met at Genappe on the narrow highway and the bridge with the waggons of the artillery and the
transport waggons with provisions, that were rejoining the army, this caused a congestion, and the General of the
Division wanted to by-pass this by reconnoitring a passage left of Genappe, and after having found a fordable
place, had the Division pass with doubled files to the right through the arm of the Dyle, which streams through
Genappe, after which it was formed again into the column on the other side of Genappe on the great route.”
Soldier Leonhard in Saxe-Weimar’s brigade also comments. “Having marched about four hours a heavy
thunderstorm passed over us, the rain fell so heavily, that within minutes the road and the fields on both sides of
the road were flooded by water an inch deep. We arrived at a stream, called the Genappe. Because of the heavy
rain this stream had swollen very high. The road was much too small or not broad enough, for the entire army to
have space, and to continue the retreat. Because of that we had to cross the fields left and right of the road and
swim through the swollen stream. Many found their death in this water.”
Sergeant Döring comments also on
passing the Dyle river, when he continues his account: “We now retreated the entire 17th through a continuous
pouring rain, [and] an unceasing pursuit and steady cannon fire from the French advance guard, to Waterloo. The
entire road from Quatre-bras up to Waterloo was crowded and many times blocked with mostly toppled munition
carts that had held cartridges, wounded, broken and tangled guns, ambulances,
run-over men, and an endless long train with the women of the Scots, that the cavalry and infantry could no
longer pause and simply had to march across the neighbouring fields and meadows, through an awful mud, and
had to get through. It once occurred, when we had to pass a considerable stream, across which there was only a
narrow road, that only one file could pass over it, while the second had to march through the stream up to its
calves. Under these circumstances and with the opinion, 'it’s all the same', we reached under a continuous rain
and the French on our heels, during the evening the village of Waterloo, made up of a few houses.”
Arrival at the plateau of Mont St. Jean
When the entire division of General Perponcher arrived, it had received orders to position itself in an area different from where
it would deliver battle the next day.
Chief of staff Van Zuylen van Nyevelt gives his version: “The division
had received the order to establish itself parallel with the road from Waterloo to Nivelles, its left wing linking up
to the village Mont-Saint-Jean, the right wing extending itself in the direction of Braine-la-Leud. According to
that order the 3rd [Netherlands; EM] division would link up with it.”
Major-general Bijlandt confirms the
position: “The 1st position of the 2nd Division was to the right of the road and behind the road from Nivelles and
the 2nd position is indicated, having the right leaning to the road of Waterloo.”
This does perhaps indicate that
when the troops left Quatre-Bras, Wellington had not yet definitely decided where to place the division and had
Colonel De Lancey make a temporary order. From the information given by Saxe-Weimar, in his 1841 letter,
it seems the division marched all the way up to the hamlet of Mont St. Jean, before taking its position: “… and
arrived at the height of the first houses of Mont St Jean, where we had the head of the column make a left, and we
placed ourselves in order of battle in the fields between the roads of Nivelles and Genappe, not far from Braine-la-
The men took the opportunity to make a bivouac, which to me at least gives the impression that Wellington and
De Lancey may indeed have had no final idea of their position in the battle line. Why else make such an effort?
One soldier called Allebrandi in the 7th National Militia explains what happened when they left Quatre-Bras.
“We now received the order to march and did this for the next five hours, when we halted besides Braine
l’Alleud and Lembeek and again made ourselves a bivouac on trampled cornfields, already occupied by our
troops and English cavalry. We hurried ourselves to construct tents of straw and branches to shelter ourselves
from the heavy rain, which had caught us on the road and soaked us, while we had at least to go for an hour up to
our ankles in it. The huts we made were not as tight and comfortable as we had wished, but gave us a pleasant
and important service with the unceasing pouring rain.”
The men now started to prepare whatever food they could get, as is told by the Prince of Saxe-Weimar. “The
entire 2nd Division was united there, we established our bivouacs and the soldiers put their kettles on the fire.”
The battalions didn't get any supplies of food because the waggons were lost in the chaos of a regrouping army.
They did, however, receive spare bullets (8, 41, 74-82).
Towards six o’clock the order came to break camp again.
A lot of the men were not happy at all, as they had to leave their uncooked meals. Allebrandi in the 7th National Militia
also wasn’t happy, along with his comrades, as he tells: “When we had gathered the necessary ingredients for a
good field meal, the kettles were hung above the smoking fires, and the cooking and frying started.
Suddenly though, a clear drumbeat, which sounded like thunder in our ears,
called all cooks and guests under arms, and we had to leave our entire meal. One comrade of my company didn’t
want to suffer his fate; in the utmost haste and without caring about burning his fingers, he filled his tin canteen
with boiled potatoes; caught up with his mates in a hurry with his precious booty; had his canteen tied up on his
ransack, and now marched, quite content, with us.”
Van Zuylen van Nyevelt describes this movement in detail, but we will summarize it here.
The Bijlandt brigade went to their final position (see maps below) to make a new camp for the night.
As the battalions were arranged in order of battle “… a chain of 400 skirmishers was posted forward at 150 to
200 paces…”, according to Colonel Van Zuylen van Nyevelt.
De Jongh of the 8th Militia differs a little:
During the night a company of flankers at 300 paces in the line of forward posts in front of the division.
These must be the strong pickets that Lieutenant Forbes speaks of. It is not clear whether these 400
skirmishers of which Van Zuylen van Nyevelt speaks, are only from Bijlandt’s brigade or from the entire
division. Because soldier Allebrandi says his battalion delivered half of its men, I believe it is possible that it
only concerns Bijlandt’s brigade; the 7th National Militia had about 700 men available, so it is possible, together
with men from an unmentioned other battalion in the brigade. From the afternoon of the 17th until the
morning of the 18th at 10 o’clock there was a continuously pouring rain.
“Our battalion received the order also to occupy the forward posts," as Allebrandi in the 7th National Militia tells,
"of which half of it had to stay under arms the entire night, despite the weather, and restlessly keep an eye, so as
not to be overtaken by the enemy.”
And this is how the night made place for morning of the 18th of June.
Chapter 7: Battle of Waterloo 18th of June.
Research about Waterloo and the 8th Militia is still going on, and more info will follow in this chapter later.
The account below tells the story of the entire Van Bijlandt brigade.
For the moment we have mainly followed the original eyewitness accounts of:
- Baron colonel Pieter Hendrik van Zuylen van Nyevelt, chief of staff, 2nd division (lit 17).
- Graaf W.F. Van Bijlandt, commander 2nd brigade (lit 82).
- Luit-Kol De Jongh, commander 8th militia (lit 41).
- Grunebosch, commander 27th Jagers (lit 80).
- Scheltens, Captain in the 7th line (lit 77).
- Unknown officer, 5th militia (lit 74)
- Mollinger, Captain in the 5th militia (lit 75)
- Tol, Captain in the 5th militia (lit 76)
- Brinkhorst, Captain in the 7th militia (lit 78)
- Allebrandi, soldier in the 7th militia.(lit 104)
- Van de Bruggen van Croy, Captain in the 7th militia (lit 79)
- Hylckama, Lieutenant in the 27th Jagers (81)
- Rem, soldier in the 7th militia (lit 107).
- Munter, soldier in the 4th militia (lit 112).
- And offcourse we followed the British accounts of General Kempt, Calvert of the 32nd infantry, Cruikshank of the 79th , Winchester & Hope of the 92nd, Evans (Ponsonby Cavalry brigade) and Clark Kennedy of the Royal Dragoons. These can all be found in literature 108 and 137 and are the only British officers that say something detailed about the Van Bijlandt brigade (either good or bad!).
Besides these we've taken many other sources and reports into account; see literature list.
But, although also valuable, their contents are more general and never specific.
The ones mentioned above are eye-witness reports in the true sense of the word: full of details.
The report of Van Zuylen is certainly the most important one. It's very detailed as it should be (being the chief of staff of the 2nd division). But it is also very accurate when compared to other sources. During the battle Van Zuylen was placed right behind the Van Bijlandt brigade from 09.00 till 18.00 hours. After that he went to left, to the 2nd brigade in his division, but came back soon after that.
The document itself is 40 pages hand written, plus another 42 pages of annexes. It's all in Dutch. We have the plan to digitalize it (annexes are partly done) and, perhaps translate it into English later on.
Grunebosch was not present at Waterloo, because he was wounded during the Battle of Quatre Bras. But his account of
Waterloo is still accurate and was probably discussed with his replacement, Captain De Crassier.
Strength of the brigade just before Waterloo
We will never be sure about the precise strength of the brigade at the morning of Waterloo.
There are no reports from the battalion or brigade commanders to division headquarters for the 17th or 18th of June in
the morning. I guess they had better things to do than paperwork. So, the only thing we can do is to reconstruct the numbers with the aid of the known
losses from the battle of Quatre Bras. These we know precisely from the muster rolls. We can also take the report from
the 2nd division's chief of staff, Van Zuylen van Nyevelt (17). This report gives the 'temporarily missing men'. These
missing men were mostly taken prisoner.
When we count both together we get reasonably detailed figures. But the problem is the "double counting". Many lightly
wounded stayed with the battalion and fought again at Waterloo. Some of the missing men had probably returned before
Waterloo. So we have no choice but to estimate the strength for the morning of the 18th. Of the wounded I took 30%, and added them again to the strength. This seems to be a reasonable figure to me. The table is not yet complete because research in the muster rolls
for some units is still going on.
*These were prisoners. They have found their way back to the battalion, but most of them only after some days.
|Effective after 16th
strength at 18th
at 18th in %
|5th National Militia
|7th National Militia
|8th National Militia
|Total Van Bijlandt brigade
**These were real missing soldiers, never seen again. Either they were killed, deserted or ending up in hospitals. They did never return to their units.
The story begins...the first attack.
The Bijlandt brigade camped that night on the forward slope, just south of the road that runs from east to west across
the battlefield (the Ohain road).
The line-up of the battalions from left to right is still under research, so we cannot state it completely here.
However, we have the following evidence of this first position:
Bronkhorst (Lit 78) states that his unit was on the far left. Rem of the 7th Militia (Lit 107) states that his
unit was on the right, besides the battery. The remaining units were in between.
At 09.00 hours the brigade was ordered to place themselves IN & BEHIND the hollow road. De Jongh states: " In the morning at nine o'clock, I received orders to take position behind the hollow road, in the first line of battle." The British troops were behind the Dutch-Belgians in the second line (Van Bijlandt's letters (82)). The brigade movement was also watched by Corporal Dickson of the Scotts Greys who says in his account: "I was sent forward to picket near the road, to observe the enemy. Then a strong brigade of Dutch and Belgians marched up with swinging, quick step, and turned off at a cross-road between high banks on to the plateau on the most exposed slope of our position. They numbered at least three thousand men, and looked well in their blue coats with orange-and-red facings."
The story of Corporal Dickson can be found in 'Scots Greys at Waterloo' (p. 23-34).
This means that Bijlandt's battalions first marched west and entered the Charleroi road, then marched North towards the intersection with the Ohainroad and then turned right on this road to take their new positions.
See the map below. It is assumed that only the reserve platoons of the Flank companies actually stayed in the road, the centre companies were right behind it. Skirmishers were sent out to the front as stated below.
The brigade line-up is an interesting story. Up till now it has always been assumed that the brigade was lined up
according to the official army regulations and training
manuals (6). That is: the highest battalion number on the right flank, then down to the lowest number to the left.
But that is wrong because these regulations were issued in October 1815, and therefore after the battle of Waterloo. At the time of
Waterloo there were no regulations in place.
It was up to the brigade commander. Following all eye witnesses the situation was indeed different. The final line-up
can therefore be seen in the picture.
De Jongh himself states that he had no Dutch neighbouring unit on his right, while the 7th line was on his left. The 8th
Militia was therefore the battalion on the
brigade's right flank. Then came the 7th line and the 7th Militia.
The 5th Militia was ordered behind the battle lines
to the rear as reserve (behind the hollow road to the North, between British troops).
The 5th militia lost 177 men at Quatre Bras, it was literally cut to pieces at the 16th of June. Some sources (17)
say that they also had around 109 "missing or prisoners." When counting with the strength on the 15th of June, 490 men,
only around 200 men could be left at the evening of Quatre Bras. Some of the mentioned eye witnesses say
that the battalion counted "more than 80". But we can also assume that some of the 'missing' men returned to their unit
before Waterloo. So, the truth will be somewhere in the middle. I guess we can count
with around 250 men for the 5th, on the morning of Waterloo (my own estimate).
The 27th Jagers was placed as a reserve for the 8th Militia,
twenty paces right-behind of the 8th. The 8th' left flank company (the 6th)
was placed before the battalion, half way down the forward slope. The right flank company (the 1st) was "detached"
to the right where they were placed before
the Dutch battery of Bijleveld and perhaps even further to the west.
Other battalions were also sending out their flank companies. This is also reported by Captain Van Bronkhorst,
commander of a flank company of
the 7th militia (78). He mentioned that his company was already in skirmish line around 7-8.00 hours in the morning,
following French skirmishers'
movements on the other side of the valley.
Captain Scheltens of the 7th Line also mentioned that his battalion was in the hollow road, in two lines, and that he
had his skirmishers out down the forward slope (77).
It is very well possible that the forward Dutch-Belgian skirmishers were not following the rest of the battalions at 09.00 to go to their second locations. These skirmishers probably stayed in their forward positions. But this is my own conclusion.
The hollow road was lined with small shrubs and De Jongh ordered his men to cut the shrubs down to have a better view.
As they were within range and view of the
French artillery the men were ordered to lie down, in two files, on the road.
Up till now, many accounts are stating that the Bijlandt brigade was placed on the forward slope, directly in sight of the
French artillery. According to De Jongh (41) and Grunebosch (80) this was simply not true. They had camped there only
till 09.00 hours. The Bijlandt brigade was thereafter placed IN & BEHIND the hollow road. De Jongh's account is
most of the time very accurate (he only makes mistakes in names and type of Enemy troops),
so there is no reason to doubt his story and that of other eye witnesses. Certainly not when he is stating that his men were
cutting the shrubs down, along the road! So that means two things:
1: The Van Bijlandt brigade was NOT deployed on the forward slope, but in the hollow road after 09.00 hours.
2: The brigade was deployed in the first line of battle. The British brigades of Pack and Kempt were behind them in the
second line. These had no skirmisher companies out (except for the 95th Rifles, see map).
Click here for the Napoleon series map,
with gives a good picture of the overall situation before the battle (situation at 11.15 Hours). The Van Bijlandt positions,
however, are given incorrectly because they are
from before 09.00 hours!
Below is a Google earth map, with the positions of the Van Bijlandt brigade more detailedly given.
Waterloo Map 1, 2nd position (after camping, which is the 1st position) between 09.00 and circa 13.00 Hours..
The French opened fire at 11.30 Hours (De Jongh and Scheltens say at 12.00 hours), the light companies of the brigade were
still lying down in the road.
The picture shows the exact location of the 8th Militia at the Waterloo battlefield.
The road itself had steeper banks in 1815 (it was a hollow road),
but earth was removed in 1816 in order to erect the big lion mound (the memorial pyramid).
At 14.00 hours the French made preparations to attack in 4 columns (80).
The French advanced unharmed through the valley as the guns were not able to reach them because of the elevation (17).
At 14.30 the French skirmishers came into contact with the Dutch "flankers" (skirmishers) on the forward slope (77). The Dutch and Belgian flank units were pushed back to their parent companies in the road and these started to withdraw to their mother battalions and took their places on the flanks.
The 'detached" 1st flankers company of the 8th militia withdrew as well. This has caused an confusing eyewitness account of Mr A. Cruikshank of the 79th infantry 'We from the light company were extended and moved forward towards the road, we pushed through the retiring Belgian infantery. And down the slope where we met de French skirmishers. Then the columns arrived". So, they met the retiring 8th militia 1st flank company, which was on it's way to their mother battalion.
It is not clear from the sources, but the same could have happened on the left flank of the Van Bijlandt brigade as well. The flank companies of the 7th militia were certainly placed before Packs' brigade. When they were retreating to their mother battalion the Light companies of Pack probably passed them. I did not place this on the map, because I have no evidence for this.
Because of the continues fire from the 95th rifles and the two artillery batteries on the French left flank, the 2nd division column (Donzelot, 5300 man) was moved a little bit to the right and was now coming straight towards the Van Bijlandt brigade (Lit 132, which is a French eye witness report).
Waterloo map 2: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 14.30 hours.
The Van Bijlandt brigade was ordered on its feet.
They were in line of battle, two lines deep (17). The French were now not more then 50 passes away and more or less still unharmed (17). The Van Bijlandt soldiers couldn't hold their nerves any longer and started to fire (17). This means that there was probably no massive volley. Following Van Zuylen (17) the fire was "little and badly maintained". The French were simply neglecting the fire and marching onwards.
The French were now on the road and started to return fire. First only with light units, a few moments later with formed units. The French were now coming on in such force that their volleys were causing serious casualties in the ranks of the Van Bijlandt brigade (all sources).
The distance between the two lines was so close that, when Captain l'Olivier of the 7th Line battalion was hit by a bullet in his arm, parts of the cartridge paper was still burning and smoking in his coat (77). The distance between the lines can't be more then 20 metres at this moment.
On the left of the line the 7th militia started to withdraw (79) because of an opening inflected by French fire. Following Van Zuylen (17) "some files were down and an opening occurred". It was also not strange that the 7th militia was thus the first unit to waver, as it was the only battalion that had not been in action at Quatre Bras. This was their first battle. All other battalions had seen action at Quatre Bras and their weak elements were already out.
Waterloo map 3: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 14.40 hours.
The French were pushing through the opening and making it wider. This causes the whole brigade to fall back.
Following Lieutenant James Hope of the 95th rifles (he was on the right of the Van Bijlandt brigade and had a good view, lit 108) " The Belgians (it seems that most British troops seems to think that there were only Belgians!) returned the fire for some time with great spirit. But on the approach of the French they shifted their grounds and retired behind the hedge (these were only the flanking companies, the mother battalions were already behind the hedges), then they were concealed from the French view and they showed a little bit more courage and, although exposed to a heavy fire they maintained their grounds with considerable fierceness, until the enemy…increased the numbers of the assailants. …now the enemy having almost gained the summit of the ridge our allies retired from the hedge. At the entreaty of their officers, the greater part of them again returned to their posts, but it was merely to satisfy their curiosity, for they almost immediately again retired without firing a shot. The officers exerted themselves to the utmost to keep the men at their duty, but their efforts were fruitless and at a length the whole corps took fairly to their heels".
This account is correct. But there was no panic (all sources). Neither the Bijlandt brigade nor the French were routed (after a bayonet attack) my guess is that they were only shooting at each other from a short distance for a couple of minutes. There was no close combat. This can also be concluded from the original 8th Militia muster rolls (14,15), where the wounds of most soldiers are described. There is no mention of "bayonet wounds"; only of bullet and artillery-projectile wounds. The Van Bijlandt brigade was simply pushed backwards. This is by itself not strange as the odds were almost 2 to 1 in favour of the French.
Following Van Brinkhorst, of the 7th militia the Van Bijlandt brigade was ordered to reform behind the British (2nd) line in a new second line (78). That was indeed the best thing to do, because in 10 minutes (from the moment the French reached the road and the moment of the order to go in the second line, the Brigade lost around 15% of their strength and many officers (see figures further on). The field before the lines was covered with dead and wounded, both Dutch-Belgian and British (78).
After around 10 minutes slowly going backwards (around 100 metres distance maximum; the author has measured it in the field), in full fight, they must have arrived at the second line of battle. This second line consists of the British troops (to the left and right, see map) and the 5th militia in square in reserve in between (all literature).
After arriving at the 5th militia square the officers started to reorganize the battalions.
This period of 'chaos' lasted around 5-10 minutes, but 190-years worth of dubious stories about the behaviour of the Dutch-Belgium army resulted from it.
After a few moments the Prince of Orange ordered a counter-attack with the bayonet.
There was not much time and Van Zuylen himself said that he "rallied around 400 men and went forward" (17).
De Jongh stated that he 'collected the biggest part of his battalion and advanced" (lit 41).
Lieutenant-Colonel Westenberg must have taken his whole battalion (or what was left of it after Quatre Bras) as well, as he became wounded a few moments later as well, down the forward slope.
Lieutenant-Colonel Singendonck (of the 7th Militia) did the same, and became wounded as well.
Soldiers of the 7th line took a French fanion a few moments later. So we must conclude that the biggest part of the brigade joined the counter attack.
General Van Bijlandt states in his letters that, at the moment he was ordered by the Prince Of Orange to attack with the bayonet, he walked forwards, received a bayonet wound himself and was evacuated to the rear (82). The French were still advancing slowly, but were now mainly firing only; there was no bayonet attack.
In the mean time the brave British troops had a problem. Kempts' brigade was on the right of Van Bijlandt, Packs' brigade on the left. Both brigades were just brought forward and now they started to fire on the French. Kempt was fighting hard, mainly to protect his front against the French 1st division. Pack did the same against the French 3rd division. Both brigades were wheeling to their left and right (see map) to start to fire into the flanks of the 2nd French division. But Pack lost a great part of his man at Quatre Bras as well. The 3rd battalion of the Royal Scots regiment and the 2nd battalion of the 44 Regiment were wavering and started to fall back under the pressure of the French. General Picton (of the 5th division under which both Kempt and Pack brigade resorted) was killed at the moment he ordered a general attack (108 and 137). General Picton did made his compliments several times to the Jongh of the 8th militia earlier on (the 8th was neighbouring Kemps' brigade, where Picton was also stationed) and promised to mention him in dispatches to the Prince of Orange (41). Unfortunately Picton was killed and thus couldn't keep his promise.
The situation was now critical and became more chaotic now that many high-ranking British and Dutch-Belgian officers were killed or wounded.
And therefore the British Guard and Union Cavalry brigades were ordered to attack. The British cavalry immediately came forward through the chaotic lines and successfully attacked the French columns. The Guard brigade took the 2nd French division in their left flank. The Union brigade charged straight at the head of the 3rd division. The British 92nd and 42nd regiment (from Packs' brigade) joined the cavalry attack.
Waterloo map 4: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 14.45 hours.
Kempts' brigade started to attack the French 1st division, which was still in front of them.
The Bijlandt brigade was reorganised and joined the counter-attack immediately (all eye witness reports).
This cavalry attack was probably not more then a slow walking approach. The distances between the lines were still very small. And the attack was partly across the hedge-lined road. Normally the French should have formed a square. But this didn't happen. First of all they were all firing and second of all the lines were probably disturbed by the road and the many killed and wounded on the field. Besides this, my guess is that they didn't even had time to form a square as the cavalry attack happened quite suddenly because of the short distances.
The counter attack was a success for the Allied troops. The French divisions were thrown back into chaos. It was only because of their "close column" formation that total destruction was prevented. The columns were retreating in the same formation and thus only the sides of the densely packed columns were attacked and destroyed.
De Jongh was on his horse behind the 8th battalion, together with captain Sijbers, when they were attacked by a French "Dragoon Guard" on horseback. De Jongh killed the man and captain Sijbers took the horse. (This trooper was probably not a "Dragoon Guard;" De Jongh often made mistakes in identifying troop types!
)(41). Grunebosch also states that some of his men were attacked by French cavalry when they were saving the life of General-Staff Captain Gagern (80).
A few moments later De Jongh's horse was killed somewhere down the forward slope. As he was still roped to the saddle, because of his Quatre-Bras wound, he was now pinned under it and couldn't move under his dead horse. Two sappers of the battalion, Korpel and Sondervang, cut De Jongh's ropes. Van Corpel was killed on the spot while helping De Jongh. His head was blown off by grapeshot (41). Lieutenant-Colonel Singendonck (of the 7th Militia) was also wounded during this counter-attack (on his hand). He transferred command of his battalion, for the moment, to captain Brinkhorst (78). He returned a little bit later. The counter-attack went all the way down to the bottom of the valley (around 300-400 meters from the hollow road) (17).
The 7th Line (77) took the guidons (pennants) of the 105th French regiment (2nd Brigade, 1st Division, I corps), while the British cavalry took their flag. The 27th Jagers took a fanion of the 125th French regiment (Note 2), which was confiscated by a British cavalry officer immediately afterwards (80).
Waterloo map 5: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 15.00 hours
The Dutch-Belgian troops went much further down the slope then the British infantry troops. And therefore they came under fire of the French artillery at the other side. Then they started to withdraw to their lines as well (17). The British cavalry however, couldn't resist the target of the massive French gun batteries at the other side of the valley and charged all the way up to the guns. There they were met by the French cavalry. They were attacked by overwhelming, and fresh, odds and destroyed. Both British cavalry brigades thus ceased to exist as strong fighting units for the rest of the day. Nevertheless they did get into action many more times.
According to Van Bijlandt (82) around 1,500 French soldiers were made prisoner. Many other sources say that around 2000 prisoners were made. Offcourse both British and Dutch-Belgian troops made these prisoners (and indeed both armies claimed this)(108, 137).
After that, the division's order was received to pull back behind the road and retake the first positions, with skirmishers out in front again (17, 78). A substantial part of the 8th Militia, and probably also from other Bijlandt-brigade battalions, was detailed or volunteered (this is not clear from the accounts) to escort the many French prisoners to the rear. As there were more prisoners than men in the Van Bijlandt brigade at that moment, this was indeed quite a task. Thus, at that moment many Dutch-Belgian soldiers were escorting prisoners to the rear. And again it seems that this was reason enough for many historians to explain that the "Van Bijlandt" brigade was fleeing to the rear "en masse", all the way to Brussels!!" It has to be said that there were also many British troops occupied by escorting prisoners to the rear (108, 137).
The interval between the British cavalry attack and the order to pull back behind the road was one hour (78). In this hour major-general the Graaf (count)Van Bijlandt (brigade commander), baron colonel Pieter Hendrik Van Zuylen van Nyevelt (chief-of-staff, 2nd Netherlands division) and three out of five battalion commanders (Westenberg of the 5th Militia, Singendonck of the 27th Jagers and Vandesande of the 7th Line) of the brigade were wounded. General Perponcher (2nd Division) had two horses shot under him, but survived.
Many of the 8th Militia officers became casualties as well (Captain Sijbers, First Lieutenant Werner, Second Lieutenants La Ros and Kanselaar).
After the prisoners were escorted to the rear the brigade started to re-organize.
Waterloo map 6: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 16.00 hours.
The wounded general van Bijlandt transfers command to Lieutenant-Colonel De Jongh to lead the remnants of the brigade (8, 41). The 27th Jagers was no longer a coherent unit, as was the 5th Militia. Their remnants were now included in the 8th Militia (only 27 Jagers reported to De Jongh, the remainder of the battalion became casualty or had gone with the prisoners)(41). The 8th lost around 20% of their effective strength up till that moment (including losses at Quatre Bras) and many soldiers were sent away to the rear as prisoner escorts. My guess is that the battalion counted around 250 effectives at that moment. When we take similar figures for the other battalions, and take into account the state of the 27th Jagers and the 5th Militia, the brigade had probably only 1000 soldiers left. But that is my own estimate.
The three remaining units, the 8th and 7th Militia and the 7th Line were now under the command of De Jongh and were still forming part of the first line of battle (according to all accounts!).
Between 15.00 and 19.00 hours (the second attack).
In the next hours the brigade stood and fought between their British comrades of the Pack and Kempt brigades (according to all eye-witness reports!). And although the heaviest cavalry attacks of the French were in the centre of the battlefield, the brigade had to form squares several times when the enemy cavalry came too close. It happened also several times that the flank companies of the battalions were sent down the forward slope to protect them from enemy-skirmisher fire (78 & 80). Captain Bronkhorst says that they were sent out three times. Grunebosch says that this skirmish line was there until the evening under the command of the wounded Singendonck. During these skirmisher fights there was probably no immediate danger from cavalry. Captain Bronkhorst (7th Militia), in his skirmish line down the forward slope, did see the Prussians attack at 19.00 hours (78).
Most sources declare these skirmisher fights (and the cavalry attacks in the Allied centre) as the 'second attack" (17, 41 and others).
The attack of the French Guards at 19.00-19.30 hours (the third attack).
Between 19.00-19.30 hours the French guard attacks. And although this is a different story (as it is happening in the centre of the Allied line) it had some consequences for the Van Bijlandt brigade.
Waterloo map 7: The picture shows the location in the afternoon, 19.00 hours.
When the Guard advances the Brigade of Kempt and Van Bijlandt were ordered forward as well. Kempt was ordered to advance to the right flank of the advancing guard column (see map). Van Bijlandt was ordered forward to protect Kempts' left flank. And thus once again the brigade came forward, skirmishers out. They went all the way down into the valley. There was little resistance at first. But it seems that this changed soon afterwards. French voltigeurs started to exchange fire. Soon afterwards the brigade ran out of ammunition and was ordered to retreat behind the lines (17).
We are not sure how late this order came, but it was probably just before or around the same time that the French Guard attack faltered and their army started to retreat.
Waterloo map 8: The picture shows the location in the evening, around 20.00 hours (estimate).
At the end of the day the Van Bijlandt brigade did not join the combined allied counter-attack and general
pursuit. At 21.00 hours, after the battle, "the soldiers were simply falling on the ground where they stood"
(De Jongh's account). Most of the brigade slept that night on that spot, right in the middle of the battlefield (41).
Captain Brinkhorst of the 7th Militia moved his battalion behind Waterloo where they made camp in the forest of Soignes (78). This forest was around 750 meters to the North of the Ohain road. Probably De Jongh and Brinkhorst are refering to the same position.
Summary of the time frame regarding the Van Bijlandt brigade:
Losses and strengths after the battles
- Night: bivouac on the forward slope, south of the hollow road.
- 09.00. The brigade was ordered to take positions in the hollow road (map 1).
- 12.30. The French opened up with artillery fire.
- 14.00. The French prepared to attack.
- 14.30. The French skirmish line came into contact with the Dutch-Belgian ones.
- 14.45. The French columns and the Dutch-Belgian lines were in close combat.
- 15.00. The British cavalry attacked the French column (estimated time).
- 15.15. The Van Bijlandt brigade counter-attacked and took many prisoners.
- 16.00-19.00. The brigade was sending out their skirmish line several times.
- 19.00 The Prussians were seen to attack the French. The Van Bijlandt brigade was once again send forward to exchange fire with voligeurs. The Prince of Orange become wounded. After this the brigade was ordered to the rear due to lack of ammunition.
- 21.00 The battle was over; the Van Bijlandt brigade did not join the general pursuit.
There are several accounts of losses in publications. They are mostly copied from each other and they are all
incorrect. And even the official army reports of that time are not fully correct. That is because they are
all written a couple of days after the battle. But many 'missing' soldiers were returning to their units
within a couple of days, were lying dead on the field or were laying wounded, somewhere in a hospital.
Some of the wounded died from their wounds, others recovered and returned to their units only after months.
The author of this article did carry out a full research in the Soldier and officers books (muster rolls) in
the Dutch National Archives. All pages of these books were copied and placed in an Excel sheet. As there is information
about wounds, desertion and deaths in these books we can now give an appropriate number, once and for all!
This research is not finished yet for all units; more to follow soon on this page. Details are in the Excel
sheets elsewhere on this site; here is the summary (14,15):
At Waterloo the 8th Militia battalion lost the following (14,15):
Total casualties on the 18th: 80 (killed, wounded, missing and captured) (some will later return to their unit).
- Killed: Officers: 1 (1st Lieutenant Werner)
- Killed: NCOss & Enlisted : 5 (Sergeant-Major van der Hoeft, Broeder, van Korpel, Horren and Knaust).
- Wounded: Officers: 4 (Captains Sijbers and Tompson, 2nd Lieutenants Kanselaar (Badly) &
- Wounded: NCOs and Enlisted: 70 wounded.
- Captured or missing: NCOs and Enlisted: 0 officially (but many went to the
rear to escort prisoners).
- Lost material: 66 Muskets, 82 Bayonets, 82 Bullet bags, 13 sabres
- Used bullets: 7,800. When divided by 518 men (losses of Quatre Bras deducted), that means that every
soldier fired 15 rounds.
8th militia: Total losses for both battles
The total losses for the campaign according to the original muster rolls were:
10 killed, 108 wounded, 3 captured or missing (some will later return to their unit).
That means that the strength must be 583 (take the field) - 123 (losses)= 460 men. This means a loss of almost 21%.
Of the 22 officers + one medical officer, one was killed, one badly wounded, and five lightly wounded (seven in total).
Total losses for the Van Bijlandt brigade (from the muster rolls)
Some officers are wounded both at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. In that case only one wound in one battle is counted.
||Total in %
|27 Jagers at 16th
|27 Jagers at 18th
||27 Jagers total
|7th Line at 16th
|7th Line at 18th
||7th Line total
|5th Militia at 16th
|5th Militia at 18th
||5th Militia total
|7th Militia at 16th
|7th Militia at 18th
||7th Militia total
|8th Militia at 16th
|8th Militia at 18th
||8th Militia total
|Total Van Bijlandt brigade
The "125th" was not at Waterloo, so this should be another regiment (probably the same 105th).
Chapter 8: After Waterloo.
After a few days rest the brigade joined the rest of the army for the occupation of France. All brigade troops were reorganized into
2 battalions under de command of De Jongh. One battalion was formed out of the 8th Militia, the 5th Militia and the 7th
Militia. The other was formed from the remaining two battalions. In this form they reached France (8, 18, 41).
A few weeks after the battle, on the 26th of June, the strength was back to normal, 23 officers and 536 enlisted men. That
makes a total of 559 (14,15).
Back in the depot, around 294 men were waiting to join the battalion. I am not sure when they arrive at battalion
headquarters, but I guess in July, 1815 (14,15).
From June till December 1815
And now it was off to Paris. But that was a long march (all places below are based on lit. 10,11,41,56)!
- On the 25th of June they were in Cateau Cambresis and surroundings. On the 26th in the evening they
arrived at Peronne.
The next day they took the city without a fight. On the 15th of July they arrive at the Camp de Boulogne, the big
Allied army camp near Paris. Disaster strikes the battalion as diseases are going through the units.
Between the 15th of July and the 23rd of December 41 men are hospitalised, 40 dismissed because of illness and
other reason, and one dead because of disease. But they are relatively lucky. From the 1st and 2nd Nassau regiment
1521 men ended up in hospital, of which 123 died. (29).
- In September, 1815 the battalion, 637 strong, is divided over several villages: Chauvry, Berthemont,
Villiers Adam, Meriel .
8 October 1815. The 8th Militia becomes the 1st battalion of the 9th "Afdeling" (an "Afdeling" was a regiment of militia).
The 9th & 15th Militia and the 12th Line formed the other three battalions of the "Afdeling." Their new depot is located at
In December, 1815 the battalion returned to the Netherlands, from Paris. They arrived in their barracks in Dordrecht
later that month (10,11,56).
In 1816 almost all veterans of the campaign were dismissed from further service and new recruits were drafted into the unit (15).
From 1816 till 2008 in the Netherlands
Based on lit. 25, 43, 44, 47, 61 & websites of modern Dutch army units!
On 15-10-1843 the battalion becomes the 3rd battalion of the 2nd regiment of Infantry in Maastricht. The name
"Afdeling" is now replaced by "Regiment".
On 30-3-1905 the battalion becomes the 3rd bat. of the 11th regt.
On 1-4-1913 it becomes the 1st battalion in the same regiment (now stationed in Nijmegen). During WO I the
battalion was garrisoned in Ede.
On 26-5-1922 all battalions of the 11th regiment were made inactive; only 3 school units and 1 training company are remaining.
In March, 1927 this is further reduced to a staff and 2 school companies.
On 1-10-1930 there were 3 companies added: 2 "tirailleurs" (rifles) and 1 machine-gun.
On 1-10-1933 one "tirailleurs" and the machine-gun company were disbanded. But a new "specialist" company was added.
Now there are only two companies in the regiment.
On 28-8-1939 the 1st battalion is re-activated. Later that year, during the mobilisation of the Dutch army for WWII, the 22nd, 35th, and 46th regiments of infantry are
formed with officers and men of the 11th as backbone. The 11th itself remained as it was.
On 14-5-1940 the Dutch army capitulates to Nazi Germany; soon after all Dutch army units are disbanded by the Germans.
On 1-9-1946 the original 1st battalion of the 11th regiment is re-activated as the 3rd battalion of the same regiment.
On 17-12-1949 the 11th regiment is de-activated.
On 1-7-1950 all traditions and honours of the old 11th regiment are taken over by the 993rd battalion "Limburgse Jagers" (LBJ). In this 'Limburgse Jagers" is the regiment.
On 1-11-1957 this unit is renamed the 42nd battalion LBJ, garrisoned in Seedorf, Germany from 1964-2008.
The 42nd LBJ battalion is nowadays called 42nd (NL)
Pantserinfanterie bataljon Limburgse Jagers (and still part of regiment "Limburgse Jagers", which has only 1 bataljon at this moment). Or, for short, 42nd Painfbat LBJ.
The unit is now based in Oirshot, the Netherlands. The battalion consists of three "Pantser" (mechanized) infantry
companies and 1 staff and service company. At the moment there are 820 soldiers in the battalion. The battalion commander is Lieutenant-Colonel Klein Schaarsberg. The regiment LBJ has "Quatre Bras" and "Waterloo" on its ceremonial flag.
A part of the regiment is currently in Afghanistan.
Chapter 9: Battalion organization in 1815.
See the other paragraphs at the 8th Militia web site for the names of officers and men.
Information below was obtained from the original Dutch "Requil Militair 1813,1814 & 1815," a bundle of the original
Dutch army battle orders lined up
one-by-one, issued every year (22,70).
The Militia battalions numbers 1-20 were Dutch, 21-45 Belgian. Beside these 45 battalions there were the 16 regular-infantry
battalions (numbered 1-16), 3 Dutch jager (17,18 and 27), 2 Belgian jager (35 and 36), 7 Colonial and one colonial-depot
battalion (numbered 19-26 and 33), one garrison (34) and 4 Swiss (mercenary) battalions (in two regiments, battalion numbers 29-32).
Click on this link for a complete Order of Battle for the Dutch army.
The 8th Militia was composed exactly the same as all other Dutch and Belgian infantry units and consisted of 6 companies and
1 depot company. The 1st and the 6th Companies were designated as Flank Companies. The official nomenclature for the companies
was: Left and Right Flank Company and 1st-4th Centre Companies; but a simple numbering 1-6 was also used. The Flank Companies
formed the elite units of the battalion, comprising the best men.
In theory the field battalion of 8th militia had 6 companies of 128 men and 12 active battalion staff members (an additional
3 staff members were placed with the depot; 780 in total (of which 23 officers). Included in this 23 are 3 surgeons.
The battalion on the 15th of June 1815 in Belgium had a strength of 22 officers and 536 other ranks, and was therefore not at full strength.
The Battalion Staff
The Battalion Staff was composed as enumerated below (14 in total of whom 3 are mostly with the depot company). Where possible
the original names of the 8th are given:
Officers of the Staff
Troops of the Staff
- 1 Lieutenant-colonel (first Van Bijlandt, later de Jongh),
- 1 Major* (Stavenisse de Braauw ) ( later captain Sijbers),
- 1 "Kapitein van kleeding"* [quarter-master],
- 1 1st Lieutenant-quarter-master*,
- 1 1st Lieutenant-adjutant,
- 1 "Aide-chirurgijn" (surgeon) (Wilson),
- 2 "Chirurgijns 3de klasse" (assistant-surgeons)
* Normally placed with the Depot Company
- 1 "Adjudant onderofficier" [adjutant-N.C.O.] ( Adj. De Vriese),
- 1 Tamboer-majoor (major-drummer); (Tamb-Maj Ceppel),
- 1 "Korporaal-tamboer" [corporal-drummer],
- 1 "Korperaal-Pijper" [corporal fifer],
- 1 "Meester kleer- en slobkousenmaker" (Sergeant) [master tailor and gaiter-maker] (Corp Fistel),
- 1 "Meester schoenmaker" (Corporal) [master shoemaker] (Corp Vosse),
- 1 "Meester geweermaker" (Corporaal) [master gun-smith]
Organisation of a Company
By way of example are given the names of Evert Roelof's company (the 6th flank).
A company was composed as follows (128 men in total):
- 1 Captain (Thomson),
- 1 1st Lieutenant (Werner),
- 1 2nd Lieutenant (Cantzlaar)
- 1 Sergeant-major (Woesthof),
- 4 Sergeants (Bijl, Eringaard, Nijhauser and Ten Hengel),
- 1 "Fourier" (paid as a Sergeant) [quartermaster-sergeant] (Sonne),
- 8 Corporals (Jongh, de, Overgaauw, Verschuur, Pollock, Beij, de, Hogewoning, Borzie and Hoogwerf),
- 2 "Tamboers (drummers) (Opbroek & Henriette),
- 1 Fifer (Van Helden)
- 1 Sapper (in the Right Flank Company with the rank of Corporal) (Sondervang)and
- 107 Enlisted.
The Depot Company
The depot consisted of 1 company, which was to have a strength of 4 officers and 156 men
(N.C.O.s and soldiers); 160 in total.
It remained at the battalion's garrison place, The Hague. The depot company had the following cadre:
* Part of the Battalion Staff
- 1 Major* (charged with the administration of the Company and the instruction of the new recruits),
- 1 "Luitenant-kwartiermeester" * [quartermaster],
- 1 "Kapitein van kleeding"*,
- 1 Captain,
- 1 1st Lieutenant,
- 2 2nd Lieutenants
- 1 Sergeant-major,
- 6 Sergeants,
- 1 "Fourier",
- 12 Corporals,
- 4 "Tamboers",
- 2 Fifers,
- 1 Sapper and
- 129 Enlisted.
For the literature list, click here.
All pictures were taken by the author. All maps were made by the author, except for the ones which can be found on
the Napoleon-Series web site.
Some maps are based on Google-Earth maps.
The roadmap of the 1814 campaign can be found here
It's shared knowledge from the Dutch Government.
Original-hand signatures of Van Bijlandt and De Jongh came from letters, found in the general army
archives in The Hague.