Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

History and Organisation of the Dutch 8th Militia Battalion: 1814 - Spring of 1815

By Marco Bijl


Editor's Note: This article is first appeared on the Dutch 8th Militia website and is used with the author's permission.

Author's Note: This article is based on research in primary sources only. All information is coming directly from archives, libraries and museums in the Netherlands and Belgium. Numbers between ( ) brackets are referring to numbers in the bibliography. The author has a copy of all documents mentioned in the text.

The 1814 Campaign

Soon it was April and time for campaigning. on 13 April 1814 the battalion left for a tour around the southern part of the Netherlands.

    They went from Den Haag (Number 1 in picture) to Gorkum -- a 69 kilometer walk (#2 on the map). They stayed in Gorkum on 15 April and marched 30 kilometers to Ter Heide (#3) and camped overnight. They left the next day and marched 50 kilometer to Rukveen (# 4). The next day they went to Putten (#5) -- a short march of 22 kilometers. They stayedd in Putten until 30 April. On 1 May they marched 32 kilometers to Barendrecht (# 6). They bivouacked in Barendrecht for two nights. Some troops stayed there and the rest went to Capelle en Staebroek (#7) - a 15 kilometer march on 3 May. The battalion stayed in these two villages until 12 June. They arrived in Bergen Op Zoom (Red #8)after a march of 70 kilometers on 13 June (18, 55).

They stayed for a while in Bergen Op Zoom, but began moving to Utrecht for their winter quarters on 24 September 1814 (1).


The 1814 Campaign. Map is from "The New Map of the Netherlands" Project of the Dutch Goverment.

Winter 1814-1815 in Utrecht

The 12th Militia spent the winter mainly encamped in a building called "the "Leeuwenburg" in the "Schalkensteeg". That building later became "Leeuwenberg gasthuis" and the street name was changed to "Schalkwijkstraat". The building and street are still there and are now a music and performance house (59).

The 12th Militia survived the terrible winter of 1814-1815 in their quarters in Utrecht and were made ready for the next campaigning season. After the winter the battalion had 31 officers, 680 man and 4 horses left for 1815 (55, 56, 59) They left their warm barracks on 22 March 1815 (59). The next day, the 23rd, the Netherlands declared war on France again. Two days later the battalion was renumbered as the "8th" (22). Their final destination was Tongeren, in the Southern Netherlands (what is now Belgium). A fair walk of 200 kilometer, which they managed to do in 7 days.

Leeuwenburg 2006
The Leeuwenberg nowadays.

Southern Netherlands, Spring 1815

The 8th Militia did not stay long in Tongeren. Tongeren was merely a collection point for the 2nd Division. Most of the units of this division were present by 30 March. The 8th Militia formed part of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division (18, 58). The division left Tongeren on 1 April. Its destination was the area around Charleroi and Nivelles, around 100 kilometers towards the southeast (58). Between 5 April and 15 June, the battalion was encamped in several small villages (8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 18, 55, 56)

5 to 12 April: Feluy, Arquennes & Petit-Roeulx-les-Nivelles
13 April to 1 May: 5 Frasnel (now Frasnes), Buzet en Obaij
1 to 7 May: Hautain (Houtain) le Val en Houtain le Mont and 1 company in Quatre Bras
8 May to 15 June: Bornival & Monstreux -- 3 companies in each location

Belgium Bornival Monstreux Nivelles; there is nothing left from 1815 Arquennes Feluy Petit R. Buzet Obaix Frasnes Quatre Bras Houtain le Mont Houtain le Val
Southern Netherlands/ Belgium villages. Map from Google Earth.

Luitenant-Kolonel De Jongh took over command of the battalion on the 21st of April; Colonel Van Bijlandt became the commander of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Division (8). In June 1815, the battalion consisted of 561 men, 22 officers and 1 medical officer.(8)
De Jongh
Original signature of De Jongh, taken from one of his original letters.

On the 15th of June 1815, 1600 hours Luitenant-Kolonel de Jongh received orders to march to the emergency positions near the 'De Soignie" gate in Nivelles (now Belgium). He arrived at 1700 hours (41). At midnight of the same day the battalion received orders to march to Quatre Bras immediately. The battalion got underway for this 22 kilometer march and arrived at 0400 Hours on the 16th of June (41).


Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2008

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