Research Subjects: Biographies

Horse Artillery Officers of the Netherlands Serving from 1813 to 1815: Krahmer de Bichin, Carel Frederik

By Geert van Uythoven

Krahmer de Bichin, Carel Frederik

Waldecker from birth, Krahmer was born in Corbach (Germany) on 28 June 1787. He entered the Batavian army in January 1804 as an élève-cadet with the 2nd Artillery battalion. Promoted 2nd lieutenant on 29 September 1806, Krahmer was appointed to the Horse artillery battery no.1. During that same month the company, now commanded by Captain Christiaan Everhard Johan Hogerwaard, became part of the (Dutch) Army of the North, which in his turn was attached to Marshal Adolphe-Edouard-Casimir-Joseph Mortier’s VIII Corps d’Armée. He took part in the campaign in Swedish Pommern 1807 (Stralsund, Sprengfelde, Altcosenow, siege of Kolberg). He was present at the siege of Danzig (20-26 May). Assigned to the 1st Division (Géneral de Division Claude-Ignace-François Michaud, later Géneral de Division Charles-Louis-Dieudonné Grandjean) of Mortier’s Army Corps, he took part in the battle of Friedland 14 June 1807, where Mortier’s Corps formed the left wing of the French army. The Dutch horse artillery was in position in front of Heinrichsdorff village. Firing all day long until 6.00 p.m.; having shot all available ammo, the battery was taken out of the line except for a single 6-pdr cannon commanded by Krahmer, who did another 160 shots with ammunition supplied by a nearby French battery, until his cannon became unusable. Somewhat late, after the Kingdom of Holland had been incorporated in the French Empire, Krahmer became a knight of the Légion d’Honneur for his action during the battle of Friedland. On 8 August 1808 he was promoted 1st lieutenant. He took part in the campaign in Northern Germany 1809 against Von Schill. On 31 May Stralsund, the fortress-city in which Von Schill had sought refuge, was attacked by Dutch troops and a Danish auxiliary corps. The horse artillery fought a two hours long duel with the 24-pdrs on the city walls, covering the assault on the city. In August of that year, the Horse artillery company no.1 returned to Holland. On 13 November 1809 Krahmer transferred to the foot artillery. After the Kingdom of Holland had become part of the French Empire, on 4 November 1811 Krahmer was promoted Adjutant-Major in the 1er regiment d’artillerie à pied. On 31 August 1813 he was promoted captain with the artillery. He took part in the campaign in Germany 1813; part of the garrison of Dresden. Taken prisoner and transported to Hungaria.

In 1814 he joined the ‘southern’ army in the Netherlands, receiving command of a battery served by the combined 7th and 8th company of the Horse artillery corps. The battery was notorious for the high rate of desertion, even after Waterloo, deserters even taking their horses and weapons with them! This battery was armed with six short 6-pdr bronze cannon, and two 24-pdr (iron) bronze howitzers. On 7 April 1815 the battery was at Brussels. A few days later, it joined the Division in its cantonments. The Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ was assigned to the 1st Brigade (Colonel Hendrik Detmers) of the 3de Nederlandsche Divisie (Lieutenant-General David Hendrik Baron Chassé), not taking part in the battle of Quatre-Bras. However, during the battle of Waterloo, the 2nd Brigade (Major-General Alexander Carel Joseph Gislain d’Aubremé) of the 3rd Division stood near Braine l’Alleud village on the far right flank. Therefore, the more mobile Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ was attached to it, while the battery ‘Lux’ came on the inner left wing of the Division, attached to the 1st Brigade which occupied the village itself. At 3.00 p.m., the 2nd Brigade was ordered to link up with the British Division ‘Clinton, placed in second line on the right wing of the Anglo-Allied army. The Division was placed in low ground along the chaussee from Nivelles to Mont St. Jean, about 500 metres behind the Guard brigades ‘Byng’ and ‘Maitland’. With the Foot artillery battery ‘Lux’ still at Braine l’Alleud, Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ was divided into two half batteries, placed on the wings of both infantry brigades. When later the Foot artillery battery ‘Lux’ arrived, both batteries were united and positioned some distance behind the infantry under the command of Major Van der Smissen. When around 7.30 p.m. Lieutenant General Chassé noticed that the fire of the British artillery in front of him slackened, because of sustained casualties of the heavy French artillery fire and lack of ammunition; in addition observing the advance of the French Guard, he took the initiative to order Major Van der Smissen to sent the forward the first half battery of ‘Krahmer’ into the firing line, to the former position of Captain Cleeve’s battery. Upon receiving the order, the half battery galloped along chaussee to Nivelles, following Krahmer who rode far ahead, pointing with his sabre to the space where he wanted the guns to be deployed. Turning round the left wing of the British Guards, the four guns deployed in line between the Brigade of Sir Colin Halkett and the Brunswick battalions in the first line, behind the hollow road, to the left and backwards of Lloyd’s artillery battery, behind the position where Cleeve’s battery had stood. They immediately opened fire against the French guard artillery batteries west of La Haye Sainte, which were enfilading the British artillery. Enfilading these on their turn, the French artillery was forced out of its position. A few moments later, the other half of Krahmer’s artillery battery deployed to the right of forward half battery, starting to fire at the advancing French Guard infantry, “and literally cut lanes through the column in our front”. When around 8.00 p.m. the 1st Brigade (Detmers) charged the French guards, led by Lieutenant-General Chassé again on his own initiative, Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ also advanced and supported the infantry under the direction of Major Van der Smissen. When the French retreated, night already falling, the battery limbered and took part in the pursuit of the French army, firing grapeshot into their wavering ranks twice and contributing to its final rout. The battery bivouacked near Rossomme that night. During the battle, the battery ‘Krahmer’ lost 27 men dead, and 21 men wounded. After Waterloo, the 3rd Division became part of the 1st Netherlands Army Corps (Prince William of Orange), which took part in the advance on Paris. When Paris had been occupied by the Allies all Netherlands artillery bivouacked in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Passy. On 17 July the 3rd Division moved to the valley of Montmorency, with the battery ‘Krahmer’ at Domont. On 30 November the battery marched back to the Netherlands with the 1st Brigade, being garrisoned in Breda.

For his efforts during the Waterloo campaign, Krahmer was appointed a knight 4th class of the Militaire Willemsorde (‘Military order of William’) on 18 July 1815. He was promoted major with the horse artillery on 1 August 1826. During the Belgian Rising in 1830 Krahmer was ordered to move to Antwerp as soon as possible with the Horse artillery battery no.2 served by the 5th Horse artillery company (Captain Jan Philip Baron van Coehoorn), leaving Breda on 31 August 1830. During the fighting in Brussels on 23 September 1830 Krahmer died by the hand of what by now had become his own countrymen.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2014

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