To believe that Albion triumphed over Napoleon with purely British forces would be very wrong: Belgians, Dutchmen and Germans, in various guises, all greatly contributed – and so it will be on Black Powder battlefields, as Dutch and Belgian troops in miniature will be marching onto tabletops soon.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands
In March 1815, the prince sovereign was crowned King William I of the Netherlands, while his eldest son became the Prince of Orange. The unification of the Netherlands followed 200 years of separation and the two parts, Holland and Belgium, did not now mix well. Holland was predominantly Protestant while Belgium was Catholic, but revolutionary France had, for a time, held both in check.
Both halves of the new kingdom had fought for Napoleon, the Belgians as recently as 1814, with the commanders of the Netherlands formations having tasted ‘la gloire’ and learnt their trade in French service. The Netherlands provided a considerable force to the Allied cause in 1815: twenty-two battalions of Dutch infantry, six battalions of Belgian infantry and four battalions of west/east indies infantry in three infantry Divisions; a cavalry Division consisting of a Heavy and two light brigades; and six artillery batteries.
Belgian and Dutch infantry battalions consisted of three types: line, Jäger and the all-Dutch Militia. The Netherlands infantry force was not of the best quality, the majority hampered by limited training and battle experience, combined with pro-French sympathies. the two divisions of infantry at Waterloo, the 2nd and 3rd, each had two brigades. the 2nd Division consisted of a brigade of Netherlanders and a brigade of Nassau infantry, while the 3rd Division’s two brigades consisted solely of Netherlanders.
A brigade typically had five battalions with all three infantry types represented. the infantry battalions of all three reflected French influence, having six companies (four centre and two flank), with each company having a nominal strength of 120 men, but battalion strengths did vary. the Netherlands infantry regulations mirrored those of the French of 1791; however, just prior to the Hundred Days campaign the Prince of Orange ordered that when in line the troops would form up in two-deep ranks.
The heavy brigade of cavalry consisted of two Dutch Carabineer regiments and one Belgian Carabineerregiment, each regiment having three squadrons of approximately 150 men. This brigade acquitted itself well during the battle, though it is said that around the time that la Haye Sainte fell, Lord Uxbridge himself tried to order this brigade forward, but their commander Major General Trip refused to obey; an oddity as Trip himself had led the brigade during several charges earlier in the battle against the redoubtable French Cuirassiers and was mentioned in despatches by the Duke of Wellington as to his efforts on the field of Waterloo.
The two light Brigades consisted of both hussars and light dragoons. Both brigades were heavily engaged during the Battle of Waterloo, where they carried out their duties with great bravery. Each regiment had either three or four squadrons and, like the infantry, the average company strength was 150.
Watch This Space
Today we’ve just given you a small taster with the artwork for the forthcoming box sets. Keep your eyes peeled in the near future for a look at the miniatures themselves. If you were fortunate enough to attend our recent Open Day in September, you may have already spied them…