Research Subjects: Biographies

Horse Artillery Officers of the Netherlands Serving from 1813 to 1815: Petter, Abraham

By Geert van Uythoven

Petter, Abraham

 

Petter was born in ‘s Hertogenbosch (present day Netherlands) on 7 July 1776. On 1 August 1792, he joined the 1st Swiss Infantry Regiment ‘De Gumoëns’ in Dutch service, as a volunteer. In 1793 and 1794 he took part in the campaigns in Flanders and France. Transferred to the horse artillery on 20 August 1795 as a gunner. In 1796 he was a brigadier with the horse artillery, present with the Batavian army in Germany. On 5 July 1797 Petter embarked in Den Helder on a fleet destined to invade Ireland, being a fourier. Nothing came of it, and the troops were disembarked on 26 September again. In 1799 Petter participated in the campaign in North-Holland as a sergeant with the horse artillery. He was promoted to sergeant-major. He took part in the 1800 – 1801 campaign at the Main, and was promoted to 2nd lieutenant-adjutant (27 March 1801), later 1st lieutenant-adjutant (29 October 1804). He embarked in 1805 at Den Helder for the expedition to England, but again nothing came of it. He took part in the 1805 campaign in Germany. As a 2nd captain, Petter was appointed to Horse artillery battery no.2 (28 November 1806). Already in October 1806 this company, commanded by Captain Johan Simon Pistor, was assigned to the 3rd (Dutch) Division (Lieutenant-General Jean Baptiste Dumonceau), taking part in the capture of the fortresses Hameln and Nienburg. After that, the company was assigned to the 2nd Division (Général de Division Pierre-Louis Dupas) of Marshal Adolphe-Edouard-Casimir-Joseph Mortier’s VIII Army Corps. He was present at the Siege of Kolberg. On 8 August 1808 he was promoted to 2nd captain and appointed with the horse artillery by King Louis Bonaparte. 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. Petter received command of all four howitzers of the Horse artillery batteries no.1 and no.2, and was one of the first to open fire, later reinforced by the remaining cannon of the horse artillery. 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.2 returned to Holland, and after the British landings in Zeeland (Walcheren) the company was assigned to Marshal Jean Baptiste Dumonceau’s corps around Bergen op Zoom. On 13 November 1809, Petter transferred to the foot artillery, and when the Kingdom of Holland became a part of the French Empire, he became a captain-commander in the 9th Artillery regiment on 20 December 1810.

In 1814 he joined the Netherlands army. Receiving command of the (depleted) 3rd company of the Horse artillery corps, He was ordered to make mobile a ‘northern’ half battery. On 6 August 1814 Captain Petter marched with the 1st and 3rd company of the Horse artillery corps from Utrecht to Maastricht to continue to make mobile a horse battery there. Officially, he was part of the occupation corps of Prince Frederick of Orange, to replace two foot batteries initially assigned to this corps but which had difficulties to be raised. On 21 January 1815, two half batteries were formed under the Captains Petter (3rd company) and Gey (1st company), while the surplus of personnel marched to the depot of the Horse artillery corps in Breda. Leaving Maastricht on 1 April, the Half Horse artillery battery ‘Petter’, armed with three short 6-pdr bronze cannon, and a 24-pdr (iron) bronze howitzer, was attached to the Heavy Cavalry Brigade (Trip) of the Netherlands Cavalry Division. Not present at Quatre-Bras, at Waterloo the half Horse artillery battery ‘Petter’, united with Captain Gey’s half Horse artillery battery, was deployed just northeast of Hougoumont. As the senior officer Petter commanded both half batteries. When battle commenced both half batteries were ordered forward about 200 to 300 paces, to support the defenders of Hougoumont. Fighting the whole day, also against the cavalry attacks later that day, and targeted by the French guard artillery, the half Horse artillery battery ‘Petter’ lost twelve men, 28 horses, and three ammunition caissons this day. After Waterloo, the half horse artillery battery took part in the advance into France, and was on 26 June present at the attack on Peronne. Deploying at a distance of 300 paces from the city fire was opened, after which British troops captured the suburbs and then the city itself. In his report Wellington made a honourable mentioning of the actions of Petter’s half battery. On 30 June the half battery arrived before Paris. On 27 November the battery marched back to the Netherlands, being garrisoned in Bergen-op-Zoom.

For his service during the Waterloo campaign, Petter was appointed a knight 4th class of the Militaire Willemsorde (‘Military order of William’) on 18 July 1815. During the last days of November Petter marched his battery back to the Netherlands, being garrisoned in Bergen-op-Zoom. Next month on 8 December 1815 he was promoted major. Promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 20 September 1820. On 11 October 1820 he transferred to the 1ste Bataillon Artillerie Nationale Militie, appointed commander of the battalion. He died in Kampen on 1 June 1865.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2014

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