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Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith

Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith


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Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith

Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith

During the Waterloo campaign the Duke of Wellington commanded an Allied army, one third of which was provided by the newly formed Kingdom of the Netherlands, a forced union Belgium and the old United Provinces, ruled by King William I of Orange-Nassau. The army, which was largely made up of troops and officers who had recently been fighting for the French, was led by his son, Prince William of Orange, who has sometimes received a rather bad press in English language histories (and fiction).

This newly formed army played an important role in the Waterloo campaign. It was especially key at Quatre Bras, where Netherlands troops were the first on the scene, and the willingness of the Prince's officers to ignore their orders played a crucial part in the successful defence of the crossroads. The army also fought well at Waterloo, although many contemporary British accounts were fairly hostile to it. Wellington didn’t entirely trust this part of his army (hardly surprisingly given that many of its officers were also members of Napoleon's aristocracy). Many 19th century British accounts were very scathing about the Netherlands contribution, as were many British eyewitnesses. Wellington wasn't amongst them - he had a high opinion of the Prince of Orange, but his decision to stay out of all the arguments about Waterloo in the years after the battle means that his original battlefield report, which largely ignored the Dutch and Belgian role, was his main public account of the battle.

This book covers the formation of the new army, the reasons for Wellington and his officer's lack of trust in it, and the actual performance of the army in its two main battles, making good use of Dutch and Belgian sources. The result is an excellent account of the contribution of the newly formed (and short-lived) United Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Allied victory in the Waterloo campaign, and one that brings an often neglected part of Wellington's army into focus.

One flaw in the book is the author's tendency to exaggerate the bias against the Dutch and Belgian troops in English language history. Most recent histories are fairly balanced, while Fortesce, writing in the 1920s, described the Prince of Orange as a 'gallant young prince', and acknowledged the crucial role of the Netherlands troops at the battle of Quatre Bras. The author also claims at one point that you won't find British accounts critical of the performance of the British heavy cavalry at Waterloo (when discussing criticism of the performance of the Dutch cavalry at one point). In contrast I'd say you'd struggle to find an account of the battle that isn't rather critical of the British cavalry, which famously got out of control and turned a successful charge into a near total disaster.

Chapters
1 - The Netherlands
2 - The Creation of the Netherlands Army
3 - The Armée du Nord
4 - Coalition
5 - Language
6 - Brussels
7 - The Netherlands Commanders
8 - The Prince of Orange
9 - Strategies
10 - The French Advance
11 - The Battle of Quartre Bras
12 - Preparation
13 - Waterloo Acts I and II
14 - Waterloo Acts III and IV
15 - Waterloo Act V
16 - The Pursuit
17 - The Myth of Waterloo
18 - Concealment
19 - Aftermath - the Netherlands

Author: Veronica Baker-Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 208
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2015



The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as 'the most desperate business I ever was in. I was never so near being beat'. The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III, but of the King of the Netherlands, has been almost completely ignored. This book seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources - both primary and secondary - the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians.

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras.
He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometres of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces, and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle 'hung upon the cusp' their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander - the Prince of Orange - is viciously described as an arrogant fool, 'a disaster waiting to happen' and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of the Duke himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

The Dutch material in this book reveals a new dimension for familiar events in the Campaign, and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as King of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping and training thirty thousand men from scratch in eighteen months. This is a timely reassessment in the two hundredth anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo. The veneration which the Duke of Wellington justifiably enjoyed after the Waterloo Campaign should not be allowed to forgive his lifelong lack of acknowledgment of the debt he owed the Netherlanders. As he once said himself, 'there should be glory enough for all', and it is high time that they are allowed to claim their share.
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Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo

This book tries to cover a number of issues: details about the contribution made by the Dutch and Belgians to events around the 15-18 June 1815, how Wellington dealt with them at the time and in later dealings, how they were treated by the general staff, how they were treated by the English historians. Unfortunately, in my opinion it did none of these things very well.

Now this is not a very thick book, Hofschröer covered the contribution of the Prussians- Germans to the campaign very thoroughly and to a certain extent: the Dutch-Belgians, and it would have a significant contribution to my knowledge if she had done something similar for the Dutch-Belgians.

To suggest that the Duke was suffering from “obsessive fear” that caused him to spread his army across southern Belgium. Surely, he was just being cautious. Having fought the French and being up against the greatest battlefield commander, maybe his concerns about Napoleon’s route were well founded.

Wellington was from minor aristocracy but had made it to the top table. He was also an out and out snob. He might have ignored Chasse because he knew of him from Spain or more likely did not consider him of sufficient rank and social status: who knows!

Wellington took the Prince of Orange under his wing in 1812, trusting and encouraging him. He kept in contact with both him and his father. After Waterloo, there was no resentment by the Prince of the Duke’s failure to give recognition to all elements of each and every nations’ armies.

It is a common thread in histories that as time goes by, the narrative becomes simpler also, as more memoirs were being published by soldiers of the british army then this is the bias that would be formed in the minds of contemporary readers. To suggest it was some sort of nationalism or jingoism is too simplistic and should have had further investigation.

Obviously, to venture on hallowed turf and try to write a revisionist history concerning Britain’s greatest military commander takes a brave historian however it is important to be sure of one’s facts and to have good support. Poor editing/fact checking. He was not “appointed Wellington’s aide de camp in 2012”! Napier’s history was not finished in the “last years of the nineteenth century”. De Lancey had been Murray’s assistant Quartermaster-general in the peninsular and according to Harding-Edgar in his biography of Sir George Murray “was well thought of and trusted by both Murray and Wellington”. The writer states that “the Duke once described him as the ‘idlest man I ever met’. This was as part of a criticism of Willoughby-Gordon and the author neglects to mention that the Duke said this adding that he (de Lancey) “did the business much better”.

Even Richard Sharpe called the prince Silly Billy!

The book is 216 pages long, there are a number of monochrome prints throughout the book with eight colour plates located interestingly at the end of the book. There is a useful map. The page notes are usefully numbered continuously which I liked and wished that other authors would imitate. There are three and half pages of primary and secondary sources and a good index.


Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo

“The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as ‘the most desperate business I ever was in. I was never so near being beat’. The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III, but of the King of the Netherlands, has been almost completely ignored. This book seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources – both primary and secondary – the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians.

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras.
He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometres of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces, and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle ‘hung upon the cusp’ their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander – the Prince of Orange – is viciously described as an arrogant fool, ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of the Duke himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.The Dutch material in this book reveals a new dimension for familiar events in the Campaign, and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as King of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping and training thirty thousand men from scratch in eighteen months. This is a timely reassessment in the two hundredth anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo. The veneration which the Duke of Wellington justifiably enjoyed after the Waterloo Campaign should not be allowed to forgive his lifelong lack of acknowledgment of the debt he owed the Netherlanders. As he once said himself, ‘there should be glory enough for all’, and it is high time that they are allowed to claim their share.

• A highly original approach to the Battle of Waterloo, with unpublished sources and images
• Controversial assessment of Wellington and the role of the British
• “New and rarely used sources lead to a radically revised version of a familiar story”, David Starkey”


An excellent account of the contribution of the newly formed (and short-lived) United Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Allied victory” (HistoryOfWar.org).**

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent, and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras. He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometers of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle “hung upon the cusp,” their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander—the Prince of Orange—has been viciously described as an arrogant fool, “a disaster waiting to happen,” and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of Wellington himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

This book reveals a new dimension of the famous campaign and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as king of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping, and training 30,000 men from scratch in eighteen months.

“An extraordinary and impressively researched, written, organized and presented history that sheds considerable new light on one of the most influential battles of 19th century Europe.” —Midwest Book Review


Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith - History

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The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as &lsquothe most desperate business I ever was in. I was never so near being beat&rsquo. The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III, but of the King of the Netherlands, has been almost completely ignored. This book seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources &ndash both primary and secondary &ndash the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians.

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras.

He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometres of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces, and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle &lsquohung upon the cusp&rsquo their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander &ndash the Prince of Orange &ndash is viciously described as an arrogant fool, &lsquoa disaster waiting to happen&rsquo and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of the Duke himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

The Dutch material in this book reveals a new dimension for familiar events in the Campaign, and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as King of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping and training thirty thousand men from scratch in eighteen months. This is a timely reassessment in the two hundredth anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo. The veneration which the Duke of Wellington justifiably enjoyed after the Waterloo Campaign should not be allowed to forgive his lifelong lack of acknowledgment of the debt he owed the Netherlanders. As he once said himself, &lsquothere should be glory enough for all&rsquo, and it is high time that they are allowed to claim their share.

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About Veronica Baker-Smith

Veronica Baker-Smith lived in the Netherlands for seventeen years, and her work in the Dutch archives resulted in An Alien Patriot: the Life of Anna van Hannover, for the Thomas Browne Institute of the University of Leiden. She is also the author of Royal Discord – a study of the family of George II.


Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith - History

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About the Author

Veronica Baker-Smith lived in the Netherlands for seventeen years, and her work in the Dutch archives resulted in An Alien Patriot: the Life of Anna van Hannover, for the Thomas Browne Institute of the University of Leiden. She is also the author of Royal Discord - a study of the family of George II

Reviews

'This is essential reading for anyone wishing to get an accurate take on what actually happened, and who was actually involved at the infamous battle of Waterloo. Veronica Baker-Smith writes on the premise that we don't realise or don't remember that not all of Wellington's troops were British subjects, and in that she is absolutely right - I would never have given it a thought had this wonderful book not turned up. Surely the time is right for a documentary to set the record straight, based on Veronica's excellent research?' * Books Monthly 17/02/2016 *
. an excellent account of the contribution of the newly formed (and short-lived) United Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Allied victory in the Waterloo campaign, and one that brings an often neglected part of Wellington's army into focus. * History of War *
By perusing Belgian and Dutch archives, memoirs, and histories, she has put together an impressive study of the role of the largely overlooked - not to say dismissed and even denigrated - Dutch-Belgian troops who made up about a third of Wellington's army during the campaign. She makes an excellent case that these troops, and the often belittled Prince of Orange who commanded them, made a solid contribution to the Allied victory, on several occasions playing a critical role. a valuable addition to the literature on Waterloo * NYMAS *
the book is engagingly written and provides a strong 'human interest' picture of the political background, the challenges faced by a multi-national and multi-lingual army, and the difficulties of recording events on a smoke-filled and reputation-making battlefield. A welcome supplement to a Napoleonic library. * Miniature Wargames - Chris Jarvis *


An excellent account of the contribution of the newly formed (and short-lived) United Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Allied victory” (HistoryOfWar.org).**

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent, and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras. He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometers of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle “hung upon the cusp,” their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander—the Prince of Orange—has been viciously described as an arrogant fool, “a disaster waiting to happen,” and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of Wellington himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

This book reveals a new dimension of the famous campaign and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as king of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping, and training 30,000 men from scratch in eighteen months.

“An extraordinary and impressively researched, written, organized and presented history that sheds considerable new light on one of the most influential battles of 19th century Europe.” —Midwest Book Review


Wellington's Hidden Heroes - The Dutch and Belgians at Waterloo, Veronica Baker-Smith - History

The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as &lsquothe most desperate business I ever was in. I was never so near being beat&rsquo. The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III, but of the King of the Netherlands, has been almost completely ignored. This book seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources &ndash both primary and secondary &ndash the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians.

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras.

He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometres of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces, and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle &lsquohung upon the cusp&rsquo their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander &ndash the Prince of Orange &ndash is viciously described as an arrogant fool, &lsquoa disaster waiting to happen&rsquo and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of the Duke himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

The Dutch material in this book reveals a new dimension for familiar events in the Campaign, and includes many unseen illustrations. For the first time, a full assessment is made of the challenge which Willem I faced as King of a country hastily cobbled together by the Congress of Vienna, and of his achievement in assembling, equipping and training thirty thousand men from scratch in eighteen months. This is a timely reassessment in the two hundredth anniversary year of the battle of Waterloo. The veneration which the Duke of Wellington justifiably enjoyed after the Waterloo Campaign should not be allowed to forgive his lifelong lack of acknowledgment of the debt he owed the Netherlanders. As he once said himself, &lsquothere should be glory enough for all&rsquo, and it is high time that they are allowed to claim their share.

About The Author

Veronica Baker-Smith lived in the Netherlands for seventeen years, and her work in the Dutch archives resulted in An Alien Patriot: the Life of Anna van Hannover, for the Thomas Browne Institute of the University of Leiden. She is also the author of Royal Discord – a study of the family of George II.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1 The Netherlands
2 The Creation of the Netherlands Army
3 The Armée du Nord
4 Coalition
5 Language
6 Brussels
7 The Netherlands Commanders
8 The Prince of Orange
9 Strategies
10 The French Advance
11 The Battle of Quatre Bras
12 Preparation
13 Waterloo Acts I and II
14 Waterloo Acts III and IV
15 Waterloo Act V
16 The Pursuit
17 The Myth of Waterloo
18 Concealment
19 Aftermath &ndash the Netherlands

Conclusion
Postscript
Notes
Bibliography
Index

REVIEWS

&lsquoThis is essential reading for anyone wishing to get an accurate take on what actually happened, and who was actually involved at the infamous battle of Waterloo. Veronica Baker-Smith writes on the premise that we don't realize or don't remember that not all of Wellington's troops were British subjects, and in that she is absolutely right - I would never have given it a thought had this wonderful book not turned up. Surely the time is right for a documentary to set the record straight, based on Veronica's excellent research?&rsquo

- Books Monthly

"Sixteen pages reproducing paintings in full color illustrate this fresh assessment that adds another dimension to the Waterloo campaign of 200 years ago. A reader is left thinking that Wellington failed to adequately acknowledge the debt he owned to the Netherlanders. But the field marshal also once said &ldquothere should be glory enough for all,&rdquo something his Dutch-Belgian allies are accorded in this book."

- Toy Solder & Model Figure

An extraordinary and impressively researched, written, organized and presented history that sheds considerable new light on one of the most influential battles of 19th Century Europe, "Wellington's Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo" is very highly recommended for the personal reading lists of members of academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Wellington, Napoleon, and their consequential conflict at Waterloo, as well as a core addition to community and academic library 19th Century European History collections in general, and 'The Battle of Waterloo' supplemental studies reading lists in particular.

- Midwest Book Review

"Waterloo is widely seen as a victory for Great Britain over France, and without doubt English courage abounded on that harrowing day. Proper credit is also due to the Dutch and Belgium troops who made up a full third of the Allied army at the battle. These troops are often given only passing mention at best, described as second rate soldiers who contributed little if anything to the outcome however they are increasingly receiving the acknowledgment they more properly deserve, as argued in this new book. The author maintains that these troops commanded by the Prince of Orange, averted disaster for the Allied army at Quatre Bras and at Waterloo thus allowing the British time to recover from setbacks. The author combines extensive research from the Dutch archives with a clear writing style to make this work a fascinating read."

- Military Heritage

"By perusing Belgian and Dutch archives, memoirs, and histories, she has put together an impressive study of the role of the largely overlooked &ndash not to say dismissed and even denigrated &ndash Dutch-Belgian troops who made up about a third of Wellington&rsquos army during the campaign. She makes an excellent case that these troops, and the often belittled Prince of Orange who commanded them, made a solid contribution to the Allied victory, on several occasions playing a critical role. a valuable addition to the literature on Waterloo"

- The NYMAS Review

"The author is careful to give credit where it is due. She praises Wellington's skillful command of coalition armies, his appreciation of the Prince of Orange's value as a subordinate and ally, and his humane concern to protect his soldiers from the nitpicking accountants in London. She succeeds in capturing the perspective of both the Allied forces (British, Dutch, and Prussian) and the French. That is, she has not simply produced a hatchet job on the Duke of Wellington, something too common in revisionist histories in general. Not only general readers but specialists in the subject will find much to appreciate in Wellington's Hidden Heroes, with its salutary stress on the unsung courage of Dutch and Belgian soldiers who disobeyed Wellington's orders at both Quatre Bras and Waterloo in order to save his position against heavy French assault."

- Michigan War Studies Review

&ldquo. an excellent account of the contribution of the newly formed (and short-lived) United Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Allied victory in the Waterloo campaign, and one that brings an often neglected part of Wellington's army into focus.&rdquo

- Historyofwar.org

". a quick read and gives the reader a good overview of the Dutch-Belgian contributions during the Waterloo Campaign."

- The Napoleon Series



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