The Diary of Albertus Perk and the Siege of Naarden: 1813-1814
Translated and edited by Bas de Groot
Biography: Albertus Perk was born in Hilversum, a town roughly 35 kilometres south-east of Amsterdam, in 1795, just three months after the French had invaded the northern Netherlands. He died there in 1880. He was born in a wealthy family, the son of a notary, and went on to become a very influential man himself in later life. In 1816, just 21 years old, he was already Town Clerk and Receiver of the Revenue for the Town of Hilversum. In 1820 he became a notary himself, like his father before him. In 1840 he became a Member of the Provincial States of the province of North-Holland, and in 1854 he was elected alderman in his home Town of Hilversum, which post he retained until his death. And next to father of 14 children to his two subsequent wives, and a keen and productive local and regional historian, he was also the Secretary of the “Erfgooiers”, a powerful agrarian collective which managed large tracts of agricultural lands in the region.
In 1813, however, Albertus Perk was just 18 years old. He had lived through turbulent times, but in a protected environment, free from the direct horrors of war. This resonates in his diary, which every now and then shows him to be an inquisitive, care-free, even gossipy youth. A youth who did not shirk from his duty to protect his home and hearth when faced with French raids from Naarden-based Imperial troops, however.
Naarden was one of the last fortresses in the Netherlands which remained in French hands throughout 1813 and early 1814, until well after Napoleon’s abdication. Only on 12 May 1814 did the town’s commander, General de Brigade Jacques Quetard de la Porte, whose second-in-command Colonel Jean Falba was the infamous commander of the troops responsible for the Woerden Massacre on 24 November 1813, finally surrender the fortress. He had held out with a garrison of over 2,000 men, but had had to deal with a number of desertions, as part of his troops consisted of Dutchmen and Germans in French service. Especially the Dutch of his Garde National units, and the Germans of the 4ème Régiment Etrangers were prone to leaving their Eagles at every opportunity. Nevertheless, after Quetard de la Porte, who had been the fortress’ commander since December 1811, had given over the more direct command of the defense of Naarden to Colonel Falba, Falba remained an assertive defender, keeping his German and Dutch troops in check with his French and sending his troops on no less than 26 sorties between 8 December 1813 and 15 March 1814, the main goal of which was to bring fresh supplies of food and fuel into the fortress. This remained fairly easy to do, as most of the troops surrounding the fortress were hardly experienced fighting material. The first troops to arrive at Naarden were, like in many other places, patrols of Cossacks. At a number of places in the Netherlands, like Gorinchem and Delfzijl, these were then replaced by Prussian and Russian army units, who participated in sieges of those places, providing a backbone for the hastily created Dutch Landstorm (local militia) units. But in the case of Naarden, few Allied troops were committed, leaving it up to newly raised Dutch regular army units and the Landstorm to blockade the fortress. The Landstorm was called up in December 1813, and consisted of the male population of the country between the ages of 18 and 45, who were to be armed in any way possible, notably with pikes and fowling pieces. Overall, their fighting capabilities were very limited, and when not stiffened with professional troops they were prone to routing in combat, and desertion. Nevertheless, on a number of occasions they were able to make the life of the French commander difficult, and their very existence did much to encourage their compatriots within Naarden to desert to the Allies, leaving Quetard de la Porte and Falba with an ever dwindling garrison.
After a summary of recent events in the Netherlands and Europe in general, Perk starts his diary on 10 November 1813.
Wednesday evening 10th of November, we were informed by channels from Utrecht and Amsterdam that seemed trustworthy, that the country had gone over to the Allies, that there was to be no fighting, and that the French would have leave the country before 15 November. This rumour made us rejoice extremely, as we would be in dire straits if the French did resist. The proximity of Naarden fortress, which had been fortified with casemates not long before and was one of the strongest in the country, made us worry about a siege that would affect us all.
Thursday 11th of November we received intelligence that in Amersfoort the signposts of the customs officials had been torn down, that French officials had left that city, and that orange cockades were being worn. Rumour had it that the Russians were at Arnhem. Nobody knew of any French troops between here and there, and so all expected the Allies to be here soon, and the French to be overthrown.
Friday the 12th, people at Eemnes were sure that they would see Russian troops enter their village, and the rumours of a French Capitulation were confirmed by everyone we spoke to.
Saturday the 13th I was at Loenen, and heard there that the Emperor had been stabbed to death at Mainz. This rumour was repeated in Hilversum, but with slight variations. The Receiver of Revenues, Degottal, mocked the Cossacks, however, and told us that the French would be returning here shortly.
Sunday the 14th it was widely mentioned that Napoleon had been captured, along with 8 Senators, and that Holland had been given over to the Allies. The Sub-Prefect made a proclamation at Eemnes, however, that there was no Capitulation, that 10,000 French troops would shortly be arriving in the cities along the IJssel river, and that Napoleon was in Paris.
Monday the 15th we were told by persons coming from Amsterdam that the French had left that city, and that the Prince (they mean Charles-François Lebrun, duc de Plaisance, BdG) would be leaving that day. The Prefect (de Celles, BdG) was sick, the Emperor was said to be declared insane, and the Russians were supposed to be at Harderwijk.
Tuesday November 16th. The old rumours were repeated until the afternoon. The paper stated that the enemy (the Allies, Bdg) had tried to attack Deventer on the 12th, but had been beaten back by General Schinner (?). In the evening, Mr De Vries came from Amsterdam, and brought us the news that all the French were gone from there, that the guard houses of the Douane were being burned, that everyone was wearing orange cockades, but that most of the population was carrying on in an orderly fashion. He also brought a rumour that the English had landed at Zandvoort with the Prince of Orange at their head. Another person who arrived today mentioned that he had seen the Russians passing through Deventer on Sunday the 14th, and that they were now at Niekerk.
Wednesday 17 November. Nothing special happened until late in the evening, when the trekschuit (a flat-bottomed horse-drawn boat that was used for public transport and postal services, BdG) arrived. It carried a letter from Amsterdam, reporting the death of 4 people, and the plundering of houses and property by the common people. We also got our hands on the first, new, Amsterdamsche Courant, which was very sought after, and read to one and all. It contained the names of the Provisional Government, as well as a number of proclamations, mostly asking for the people to remain calm and peaceful. Several circumstances were mentioned that seemed to imply that indeed a treaty had been signed to safeguard Holland from further violence, but everything remained murky, and we were left wondering, insecure about our future fate and future developments, but we remained hopeful, and the first ray of freedom arising flickers in our eyes. Oh, our bards, Loots and Helmers may yet have spoken the truth in their lofty verses. Heaven provide that it is so.
Thursday 18 November. This morning I rode to Loenen, to conclude our business with the Receiver of Revenues. Instead of finding him mocking the Allies, I found him packing his belongings and getting ready to move within the next two or three days. In Loosdrecht I encountered the first people who were openly wearing orange cockades and ribbons, but it was far from common to do so yet. Nothing else in this place spoke of rebellion or an uprising. The Maire together with the most respectable citizens had drawn up a number of measures to keep the peace, and we sincerely hope they will be effective. Amsterdam is reported to have quietened down.
Friday 19 November. I went to Naarden this morning, accompanied by my friend Hendrik van Veerssen, and it seemed like they were in earnest in preparing the defences. From all sides Douanes and other French employees are arriving here, where they are armed and put to work. Yesterday, the city was declared to be formally under siege, and under martial law. Just as we were leaving, the commanding general, a grey-haired Frenchman, was making his rounds. It is now difficult to enter Naarden. Nevertheless, it was said that the Prince of Orange had ordered a proclamation to be read in his name that very day.
Saturday 20 November. The proclamation I mentioned yesterday has been published in Amsterdam, and has found its way here as well. In Leiden, Haarlem and another city the city councils have been replaced. It is rumoured that the East India Company will be restored. But the Emperor has sent out a decree about certain matters in Holland as recent as 11 November, and has made a speech in the Senate on the 15th that gave not a single hint about any treaty. The Duc de Plaisance has stated to the French officials that 10.000 French troops are approaching the river Lek, and the defences of Naarden are being strengthened daily. This continual state of rumours and counter-rumours stating this or that, relieving or increasing fears, is exhausting. We hear of no fights, we don’t hear anything about approaching troops or negotiations, and have no clue as to how everything is proceeding.
Sunday 21 November. No news.
Monday 22 November. Around 10 o’clock in the morning I arrived in Amsterdam, and found all the rumours that I had heard to be true. It was a strange sensation for me, to be walking in a city that had cast off its yoke and was truly free from French rule. I was told here that 4.000 French troops had arrived at Utrecht, and there was an increasing fear that the French would return. As we were leaving the city, we saw thirty soldiers arrive with all their accoutrements, led by three Amsterdam gentlemen on horseback. In the evening, we met some more near Ankeveen. Like the first ones we’d seen, they were going over from the French side to the Dutch in Amsterdam. They were mostly Germans in French service. Yet our prospects have not improved very much. At night in Hilversum I heard of an official communiqué, stating that the Russians were at Apeldoorn.
Tuesday 23 November. In the afternoon around 500 men, Douanes and men from the Regiment Etrangers passed through Hilversum towards Utrecht. This raised our spirits, as we hoped this foreboded the evacuation of Naarden by the French. Mr J.R. Das, who had been at Utrecht, reported that there were no more than 800 Frenchmen in that city. My brother-in-law, Lourens Vlaanderen, returned from Amersfoort, telling us that eleven Cossacks had been seen resting no more than an hour’s distance from that city, but that they had been overpowered at Niekerk by the Amersfoort garrison. Lourens had seen the garrison return: 200 men, triumphantly bringing with them 5 Cossacks, horses, and 2 pikes. All day there has been gunfire. It is said to emanate from Gorinchem. The Decree of the mass conscription of 300.000 men has been declared, nobody believes that Holland will be surrendred without a fight anymore. But there is more hope of liberation than there was yesterday. The Russians are at Elburg and Apeldoorn. The garde champetre (regional/country policeman, BdG) of ‘s Graveland, who had cried Oranje Boven in the presence of the Council and the Maire, has been taken to Utrecht by 3 gens d’armes this morning.
Wednesday 24 November. Early in the morning, while we were at breakfast, Mr J.R. Das arrived, and told us that he had met a Cossack during the night, who had lost his way. Mr Das had sent him with a guide to Baarn, to take him across the bridge over the river Eem to Niekerk. Although we accepted the fact that the Cossack had lost his way, we were nevertheless perplexed, as we had thought them to be at Elburg that night. But very soon we discovered to our amazement that during the night some hundreds of Cossacks had followed the Hessian Road through our village towards Amsterdam. We simply could not believe it, but the flattened and trodden state of the road, and numerous reliable witnesses confirmed the story. Also, the Cossack who had spent the night here, when leaving the village, had taken the road towards Amsterdam, which he knew to take from the marks his countrymen had left behind. As we were discussing all this amongst ourselves, lo! We were surprised by a full dozen Cossacks. They asked us for directions to Amsterdam and Utrecht, and how many French were there, after which they went on their way. How unexpected was this arrival of the Russians as much as it was hoped for! We had not expected them for another four days at least. Now one and all became more cheerful, expecting the advance guard soon to be followed by larger numbers of troops. In the afternoon we headed for Baarn, but found no Russians there. Between nine and ten in the evening the church bells rang from the direction of Utrecht and Loosdrecht, but we couldn’t discover what caused it.
Thursday 25 November. Early in the morning, I rode over to Loosdrecht to find out what had been happening the previous night that had caused the bells to toll, and found that it was nothing more than a few bad and disorderly revellers, who had been feasting to their heart’s content. In the afternoon Mr J. van R. and I visited the widow Dulman, where we witnessed the ill-judged actions of the people of Loosdrecht, which were fired up and pushed on by a rum customer calling himself their Captain. Hearing that the French were still occupying Loenen, they had raised the drawbridge on that side of the village, and posted a guard consisting of four men. We wore orange cockades and ribbons openly for the first time, but a group of women thought the ribbons weren’t ostentatious enough, and badgered us about it. We made our way through them, and after having carefully avoided the zealous captain and his cronies, we left this raucous village without any further hindrance. After arriving at home, we were alarmed once more, hearing French and Cossack musket fire close by as they clashed at Eemnes. And the same evening we received word that the French still occupied Amersfoort, and that they had retaken Woerden, and had ransacked and pillaged that place in a barbarous manner. All this made us very uneasy.
Friday 26 November. At nine o’clock this morning, J. van R., my brothers and I left for Eemnes in order to obtain intelligence about yesterday’s affair. In this effort we succeeded splendidly, and we were able to note down the following details. We noted 13 trees that were hit by musket balls, some in as much as three places. A fence had been pierced by a bullet, and the great wooden door of a shed next to the post office as well, after which that particular ball had also pierced the opposite door, which was 14 feet away, and had shattered the rear leg of one of the Cossack’s horses. We heard here that Baarn had been abandoned by the Cossacks, and that the French still held Amersfoort. When we were back in Hilversum in the forenoon, a proclamation by the Maire and Council was read, requesting everyone to gather at the church square whenever the small church bell tolled and carry out any further commands of the Council, in order to be able to deport any mischief makers when they came to disturb the peace. Our town differed in that respect from many in the neighbourhood: in Loosdrecht, Tienhoven, Kortenhoef and ‘s Graveland the national colours were hung from the church towers, the church bells tolled continuously, everyone was ordered to wear orange decorations, and one was mistreated if he or she did not. With Naarden still occupied by French troops, and no Allied troops at hand, this was a most unwise course of action. Our town remained peaceful, however, and its citizens both generous and determined, which was to be praised. How much it was to be praised became clear later that afternoon, when all of Loosdrecht, only so recently so passionate and courageous, shook and shuddered with fear when a French army of seven men entered it. This army made flag bearers into flag removers, stopped the bells from tolling, made orange ribbons and decorations disappear, made the noble citizens cower in their homes and the surrounding villages stop their revelries with a haste that showed their embarrassment. And all the while Hilversum did not have to explain anything, nor retract any hasty declarations, and was as peaceful in the presence of the Cossacks as it was in the presence of the French.
Saturday 27 November. In the morning I left through Loosdrecht for Loenen on horseback, but as the drawbridge on the Bloklaan hadn’t been lowered yet, I had to make a detour over Vreeland, even though peace had returned to Loosdrecht. The Receivers of Revenue Degottal and Dupont had left on Wednesday. The French that had occupied Loenen had withdrawn to the Fort at Nieuwersluis, where there were around 150 troops present. During their time in Loenen, they had terrified the inhabitants, threatening to plunder the community and mistreat its members, which they accused of rebellion. It came as no surprise, therefore, that the inhabitants still lived in frightful apprehension. The bridge across the river Vecht was raised, and near the Fort at Nieuwersluis the road had been dug up. At Loenen, I first read the original Proclamation of the Provisional Administration, but as proclamations in themselves rarely have any lasting effects, this could not encourage us. Our situation is really unenviable, the Russians are taking their time in advancing through the country. They have withdrawn from Baarn, and we hear nothing of any Allied army coming our way. Deventer is still in French hands, in Zwolle there are preciously few friendly troops. The French are hanging on, and everywhere they are, they conduct themselves brutally and unpredictably. Naarden is still occupied, and is being strengthened daily. A week has passed and we have not seen any improvement in our hopes of liberation or conditions. Napoleon will not have rested this last week. He will have improved his dispositions, and if he were to return with his army, even for a short period of time, we will all suffer like the poor wretches of Woerden did. Just a week ago, we said to ourselves: in eight days we’ll know more, no uncertainty can last that long. But nothing has progressed, and what will have changed in another eight days? Our prospects are bleak.
Sunday 28 November. After Church we received a number of newspapers that cheered us up. Hamburg had capitulated. But our joy was short-lived. Whilst eating our lunch, we heard a constant tramp of feet. I went out to see what was happening, and saw that more than a hundred Frenchmen from Naarden were now posted near our village. They took up posts at all the exits of the village, so that nobody could either enter or leave, sent out patrols through the village and the Garde Soldee was riding around in a fury. All of this disconcerted us greatly, and some people started to gather their belongings, as if to leave. It did not end in violence, however. An officer and thirty men entered the village and demanded that 100 blankets, three wagons filled with straw and some stoves be handed to them immediately. The people in the village started getting together these goods while the soldiers went to the Maire’s house and took all of his wine, jenever and bread, and from the Maire’s brother they took all his tobacco. The officer enquired after the town’s money-box, but didn’t wait for it to be delivered to him. When the required goods were ready and waiting for them, the wagons and soldiers left for Naarden around half three in the afternoon, as well as the guards at the exits of the town, which had only served to secure the French from a sudden Cossack raid. In the afternoon, J. van R. and I went to ‘s Graveland, and there we heard the news that Utrecht had been left by its French occupants around half four that morning, and that at one in the afternoon forty Cossacks had entered that city. Nieuwersluis and its fort had also been left by the French. Our hearts were greatly lifted by this news, and even though we had been scared that morning, we were now more hopeful than ever that we wouldn’t be seeing the French return again. The only thing we have left to fear is the garrison of Naarden, which is left on its own, and can still make sorties, maltreat us, and draw us into fights when the fortress is laid under siege. Fortunately, there are few troops in it at present, but enough to make our town’s citizens’ life living hell. We were assured that this night a single Cossack has arrived to claim the fortress for the Allies. Would that he succeeded! But the garrison of Amersfoort is marching for Naarden, and has plundered the post house at Eemnes whilst marching through there. Amersfoort is now occupied by Russian soldiers.
Monday 29 November. Around ten o’clock in the morning I rode to Loosdrecht and returned with (illegible). Cossacks have marched through Loenen to Amsterdam. All day long we feared another ‘visit’ from Naarden, but nothing happened. Around four in the afternoon a Cossack passed through, on his way to Utrecht from Laren, where around 20 of them are camped.
Tuesday 30 November. Very early in the morning Lourens Vlaanderen came in to tell us that a party of Cossacks had arrived from the direction of Utrecht last night around midnight, and had now made camp in front of the Maire’s house. We immediately went out to have a look, and found around 25 Cossacks lying down around a large fire. Their horses were tied to the trees that surrounded them. Their commander was tall, handsome fellow, 29 years old, born on the borders of Asia. At the request of some people from ‘s Graveland, seven Cossacks had been detached to that place, where the villagers had kept watch all through last night, armed with pitchforks. The villagers of Kortenhoef had done the same. We now heard the rumour that the French from Naarden were plundering Weesp. Although this rumour turned out to be false, they did requisition a frightful amount of food and goods, after which they retired to Naarden. Around 2 o’ clock in the afternoon, a half-dressed man from Bussum stumbled into the village, telling how the French were plundering Bussum, and that he had just barely managed to escape. Our Cossacks immediately took to their horses, followed by a large number of onlookers from our side. As soon as the Cossacks, who had united with the band from Laren, approached Bussum, the French began to retire towards Naarden, even though they outnumbered the Cossacks by at least 100 men. Shots were fired in Bussum, wounding one of our Cossacks in the knee, and one of their horses in the belly. Two Dutchmen deserted the French and came over to our side. When the French had retired to Naarden, the Cossacks withdrew to Hilversum. In Bussum, the French had plundered the Roman Church, the vicar’s house, 2 or 3 large farmhouses, had threatened to pillage even more, had stolen 2 horses and 70 cows, and had put everyone in a state of great fear and anxiety. We in Hilversum likewise fear for another attack by the French from Naarden, as the garrison in our town is but small, and so the order has been given that in case of the alarm bell ringing, every villager is to turn out at once, armed with whatever he can find. There has been much firing of cannon and small arms this afternoon, rumour has it from the direction of Arnhem (Perk is correct, Arnhem was stormed and taken by General Bulow on this day, BdG). Now, around 10 o’clock at night, the Cossacks are lying by their horses. They have set up three small posts, each of three men, just outside the village. This afternoon the Cannon of Naarden have fired their first shot.
Wednesday 1 December. All day long the situation was the same as yesterday. Around 8 o’clock at night some 80 Cossacks passed through here from Eemnes to Nieuwersluis. They told us they would be followed by infantry. Around 11.30 the guns of Naarden fired intensely.
Thursday 2 December. Today the Cossacks who had passed through here yesterday, returned again to Eemnes. In the afternoon we received reliable information that Muiden had been freed. Its garrison of 400 men has been taken prisoner, and the Russians and soldiers from Amsterdam are now approaching Naarden from that side. This sets our minds a little more at ease, and we have less fear for further attacks from Naarden. The Prince of Orange has arrived in The Hague.
Friday 3 December. During breakfast we noted that people were busy hanging out a large flag on the church tower. It took them until noon, but then it was flying creditably. In the meantime the church bell was tolling and every supporter of the Prince donned the orange and assembled on the Church square (Kerkbrink), and cheered the goings-on. At one o’clock the Maire, wearing the orange cockade, made a proclamation in the name of the provisional town council, encouraging everyone to wear orange decorations, but to remain calm. Deep into the night the citizens sang and danced by the roadside, but no property was damaged, nor people maltreated. In the evening we heard that the Prince had arrived in Amsterdam, and that he had been declared our Sovereign ruler. There is a steady correspondence with the commandant of Naarden, which increases our hopes of a peaceful capitulation. During the night a large body of Prussian cavalry moved through ‘s Graveland. A note by my uncle Krijn from Eemnes told us that nearly 1000 Cossacks had made camp there, and in the surrounding area even more.
Saturday 4 December. During this last week a lot more has happened than we had dared to hope eight days ago. All of it extra encouragement for us not to give up hope. The arrival of the Prince of Orange, the well-founded hope of help from England, the approach of Russian and Prussian troops, the retreat of the French from Utrecht, Loenen, Dordrecht, etc, are all circumstances which have changed the state of our fatherland for the better ever since Saturday last. Yet, although we are comforted by all of this, in reality the circumstances for our village, so close to Naarden, filled to the brim with plunder-minded French soldiers, haven’t improved very much. In fact, the tale of today will show that it has been one of the, if not the, most troubled day that we have been through during this time of revolution. Very early in the morning we noticed that all of our Cossacks had left. We grew a little concerned over this, but our steady hope of the arrival of other troops soothed our fears. Then, a little after noon, and well before any troops had arrived, a rumour reached us that Bussum was being plundered by the French again, and that this time they had a mind to come to Hilversum. Indeed, like the first time Bussum was plundered, some heads of cattle could be seen being driven away from that place. The Maire, myself and some others climbed the church tower, but could not discern the cattle. Two persons remained on the tower as watchmen, to ring the bell if necessary, and we descended again. When we arrived at the local courtroom, we found a large multitude gathered there, which confirmed the rumours, and also mentioned with great certainty in their voices that Eemnes was being plundered as well, and that there were no Cossacks in Laren. Immediately, the bell was rung and all citizens were called upon to arm themselves as best as they could and gather on the church square (Kerkbrink). Within minutes almost all of the Hilversum men returned to the Kerkbrink and the Groest, bringing rifles, pistols, swords, sabres, pikes, knifes attached to long poles, pitchforks, spades, axes, even clubs and cudgels. Around forty of the armed farmers were mounted on horses. A messenger was immediately despatched to Uitermeer, and two to Utrecht, all mounted, to ask for military aid. The rest of the riders were detached towards Bussum and the moors in order to be able to warn us of any events, whilst the men on foot remained gathered in the town to await further information and act accordingly. While this was going on, many of the women and children fled to surrounding villages, carrying baggage with them. More than 300 pieces of cattle were driven from the village as fast as they could walk. At the local courtroom people were busy making up and filling cartridges and checking the muskets, and everyone was ready to resist any French attempt on the village, but as we didn’t have enough weapons and were not very well-organised, one could easily imagine the outcome of any serious contest: we would lose the fight, and murder, plundering and devastation would become our share. And even if we were to succeed, it would still cost many civilian lives. No wonder, then, that we were indeed very anxious and scared, especially when the messenger who had been sent to Uitermeer returned with the news that the French advance guard was already at the farm of C. Van Ek, no more than a quarter of an hour’s walk (In Dutch, an hour’s walk equalled a distance of roughly 3 miles or 5 kilometres, BdG) from the town. Just now, when alarm and fear were spreading rapidly, the reassuring tiding came that it was just a false alarm. It turned out that the people in Bussum had seen some deserters from Naarden approaching, and, fearful of a French plundering expedition, had started driving away their cattle, which had started the rumour. The same deserters were then seen near the farm of Mr Van Ek. Upon confirmation of the true turn of events, all armed civilians on foot were temporarily dismissed, whilst the mounted men continued their patrols across the moors and towards the surrounding villages. Everyone regained their composure, and many of those who had fled now returned. A great number of people from Loosdrecht, armed and with their vicar at their head, had been marching to our aid, as rumours had spread, even as far as Utrecht, that Hilversum was being plundered, and its population murdered. They were thanked for their efforts and returned to their village. In the afternoon there was another rumour, this time that Eemnes was being plundered, but it turned out to be false, and was started because of the same deserters that had been wandering around our town that morning. Later that afternoon the deserters were arrested and brought in by our riders, six or seven of them. They were treated like spies. Amongst them was a deserted Spaniard from Naarden. Our riders continued their patrols throughout the day. Two pickets of Cossacks arrived to patrol as well, one of which was very unruly, but to our regret they left again. The messengers that we had sent to Utrecht returned with the promise that 100 Hussars would follow them shortly, but they never did, and as night fell we remained troubled and anxious, even though guard posts had been set up, and horses and riders were kept in readiness in Bussum to come and warn us should anything happen. Early in the morning, two of our Council members will go to Utrecht to ask for military troops to be stationed in our town. A few memorable moments of today were the following: when we thought danger was at its nearest this morning, Mr M. De L., who been called upon to arm himself, fell into a swoon from fear. The Roman Catholic Priest fled to Hoornbroek, but the new Receiver of Revenue armed himself with a pitchfork.
Sunday 5 December. This morning at nine o’clock 4 Prussian Uhlans arrived here, to our great joy and relief. Surrounding villages also had cavalry quartered in them, so that we are now much more at our ease. In the afternoon the Church service was held. According to the Almanac and the French law, the coronation of the Emperor and the anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz were to be celebrated today, but the vicar prayed that his power were to be crushed utterly. Everyone was wearing as many orange decorations as he or she could, and in the evening a number of songs, ridiculing and mocking the Emperor were sung along the streets. What a complete, never expected, speedy and joyous turn of events! How little should we trust the earthly powers that be, when one sees what events can take place in such a short amount of time, and that were held to be impossible!
Monday 6 December. Our Prussians, who conduct themselves admirably, much better than the Cossacks, are to remain with us. Today nothing much happened, apart from 80 Cossacks passing through here, coming from Baarn and going to Amsterdam. We heard that Gorinchem had been evacuated by the French, and their impotence is growing more and more visible. Many of our Dutchmen are acting in a noble manner, worthy of their heritage. It is only to be hoped that the martial spirit will continue to grow, so that everyone will show himself able and willing to defend and liberate the fatherland, even at the cost of his blood and his property.
Tuesday 7 December. At 10 o’clock in the morning I left Hilversum for Amsterdam. Just after I had left the alarm was sounded, and our Prussians marched towards Naarden, as tidings had reached them that the French were making a sortie. By the time our troops arrived, the French had already set a number of houses on fire (in order to clear their line of fire from Naarden, BdG), including the inn of Jan Tabak, and had retired towards the fortress. A few more Prussian cavalrymen arrived again today.
Wednesday 8 December. Around 8 o’clock at night I returned home with the trekschuit, without having seen or heard anything or particular interest. At Diemerbrug, Weesp, Uitermeer and Ankeveen, Cossacks were now stationed. Just before we arrived home, 1400 Prussian troops with 3 cannon had entered Hilversum. Major Pfuhl, who commanded them, was an excellent and friendly man, and he was lodged at our house.
Thursday 9 December. At eight o’clock in the morning all the Prussians here, cavalry, artillery and infantry, were ready to move out, and left in the direction of Naarden. Near Bussum the column halted, and fired their artillery a few times, but the envoy that was sent out to the town wasn’t allowed in. The troops then faced about and returned from whence they had come, and around noon they marched through our village, and straight on to Utrecht, only the cavalry remaining. Our Major told us that General Bulow at Utrecht had only sent this corps to see if the Commandant of Naarden, who was said to have once been a prisoner of the Russians, and hadn’t been exchanged properly, would have preferred to surrender to Prussian troops. It was also hoped that when a large number of troops were to be seen approaching Naarden, the Dutch and Germans of the garrison would start to desert, or even mutiny. But as this plan had failed, the Prussians had orders to rejoin their Corps, in order to penetrate deeper into Belgium and France proper. We were told that the Allies had crossed the Rhine at Mannheim, and that Bayonne had been taken by the British, which renewed our courage greatly.
Friday 10 December. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, nearly 1000 Cossacks entered the village, completely unexpected. They rested a while on the Groest (village square, BdG), but soon thereafter continued in the direction of Weesp. A little later 400 more arrived, and it looks like they are staying, although some people told us they were to continue northwards tomorrow. Right now they are lying down, sleeping around twenty large fires. All their horses are near them, tied to the trees around the square. We are constantly expecting infantry and artillery to lay siege to Naarden. It is not clear to us why there are so many Cossacks passing through here towards Weesp, as they can be of little use in a siege. It appears to us that they were at Gorinchem, but could do no more there, and so are being ordered around.
Saturday 11 December. Instead of leaving, the Cossacks are making every impression of staying longer. They requisitioned hay, oats, bread etc at ‘s Graveland and Loosdrecht, so that all of our carts and wagons had to ride to those places to receive the requisitioned goods. At nine o’clock in the morning we received the message that the French were coming out of Naarden. The Uhlans and around 100 Cossacks rode to Bussum. From our church tower we saw fires being started in two places, and heard musket fire throughout the afternoon. Around two o’clock in the afternoon the French withdrew, nine German and two Dutch Douanes who had deserted were brought in. They told us they thought the garrison to be 1200 men strong. By the evening, all our wagons and carts returned, heavily laden, and delivered all goods to the Cossack gentlemen. One of the cows that had come in was instantly slaughtered and divided. How many more Saturdays will pass like this before Naarden has surrendered, and we will be relieved from fear, and the care for so many? Then again: we have seen these last few days that in a week’s time a lot can happen, and so we remain hopeful and courageous.
Sunday 12 December. The Cossacks have remained , and all day it has stayed quiet. In the evening we got word that 600 Dutch troops had arrived at ‘s Graveland.
Monday 13 December. The Cossacks are still camping on the Groest, only a few have left. The people who live around the square are being constantly harassed and discomfited. Some have withdrawn into the smallest room in their house, leaving the rest of the house at the mercy of the Russians. Others are having to feed 20 to 30 Cossacks daily, and provide them with drink. They appear to be good and friendly people, they do not insult people, and do not hinder anyone within their own homes, but nevertheless their stay is becoming expensive and bothersome. It appears more Dutchmen will be arriving at ‘s Graveland to completely surround and cut off Naarden, and some have already marched for Crailoo (Crow’s Forest, an area of moors between Hilversum and Bussum, BdG) and Bussum. This evening a captured French Douanier from Naarden was brought in and taken to Weesp.
Tuesday 14 December. Early in the morning we heard cannon and musket fire from the direction of Naarden. At 11 o’clock I went with some others to the low hills that are situated towards Bussum. We approached Naarden to a distance of a quarter of an hour’s walk (In Dutch, an hour’s walk equalled a distance of roughly 3 miles or 5 kilometres, so Perk was around a kilometre away from Naarden, BdG), and could see the soldiers on the walls, busily firing in the direction of Muiden, Ankeveen and Crailoo. All the Dutch troops that were at ‘s Graveland have taken up positions towards Naarden, and are marching to and fro. Most of our Cossacks and Uhlans are at Bussum. Early in the morning, the Dutch troops have taken the redoubt at Karnemelksloot (Buttermilk Ditch, BdG). People are telling us that batteries and gun platforms are being erected, so that we are in high hopes of Naarden being assaulted soon.
Wednesday 15 December. There have been a few discharges of cannon and muskets, but otherwise nothing noteworthy happened today.
Thursday 16 December. At the break of dawn the Prussian Uhlans left for Utrecht. The Cossacks are still camped out here, but their numbers have diminished somewhat. Again there has been some fire of cannon and muskets, but otherwise nothing much happened today. It is said that Naarden will be laid under artillery fire tonight, but people do talk so much, and so much of it is mere rumour, that we can believe nothing, and must doubt everything we hear , no matter how certain the speaker is of what he says. If my memory serves me right, I will write down here a sample of all the rumours that I have heard today alone. Time alone will tell which of these rumours were actually true. It was stated and ascertained that: the battery at the Karnemelksloot was taken by Dutch troops, and that they had taken all 12 pieces of artillery that were in it; Ditto, only 6 pieces of artillery; Ditto and 3 pieces of artillery; Ditto and not a single piece of artillery taken; that the battery was left by the Dutch again yesterday, and was retaken by the French; that there is great lack of everything within Naarden; that the French in Naarden are well-provisioned; that everyone is free to leave Naarden if they wish, provided they don’t take anything outside of the fortress; that absolutely nobody is allowed to leave Naarden; that the Commandant and the garrison would be more than happy to surrender if their lives were to be spared; that they are not contemplating surrender at all; that this afternoon a skirmish had taken place at Bussum, and that 40 Dutch troops had been killed or wounded; that none had been killed and only two wounded; that 3 Dutch soldiers were taken captive by the French, and had been murdered; that the French had taken a Cossack captive two days ago; that two Cossacks were captured; that the captured Cossack was being treated very badly; that the captive Cossack had been set upon by the French like a pack of lions, and that they had torn him apart; that they had skinned him alive; that the Dutch had been disarmed and been put in the church as captives; that the General had resigned his command; that today horses had been pressed into service at Loosdrecht to transport cannon to Naarden; that howitzers and mortars had been placed at Crailoo near Naarden, according to some even as close as the long bridge of the outer fortifications; that Gorinchem was taken by assault last Monday at 3 o’clock; that Antwerp had switched sides; etcetera etcetera. So many old wives’ tales, the first even more officious than the next, all contradicting each other, make us wonder what to believe as truth. Everything that is happening around Naarden, even as much as an hour’s distance, we can only verify through the official newspapers, coming from Amsterdam, taking a detour of at least nine hours.
Friday 17 December. Nothing happened today. Apart from the fact that the Cossacks are still camping here and are costing us a lot of money, nothing is being done about Naarden. When that dreadful place will finally be taken care of, only Heaven knows, but at the moment nothing seems to be happening. The Amsterdam and Haarlem Courants (newspapers) may well state that 2000 Prussians with artillery have arrived, but as we haven’t seen a single one of them yet, they can’t be much help. The battery at Karnemelksloot was taken by the Dutch troops last Tuesday, but without any guns in it. In the evening they left it, but today they have again taken possession of it. At ‘s Graveland there are 20 Cossacks, 40 men of the Amsterdam Mounted Paid Guard (Bezoldigde Garde te Paard, this was a kind of mounted police that had been raised a few years earlier. It wore similar uniforms to the French Garde National and was paid for by the Amsterdam Municipal Council, BdG) and 100 newly enlisted troops. At the gun batteries in Bussum and at Crailoo there are 6 to 700 Dutch troops with 2 cannon, and at Laren and Huizen there are a few Cossacks. Yesterday 12 Dutchmen were injured.
Saturday 18 December. Again nothing much happened today. The Cossacks had a big party and have been very merry and jolly all day. This last week, the number of troops surrounding Naarden has grown, and last Tuesday a true siege appeared to be starting, but since then so little has happened that it cannot be said that Naarden’s surrender seems anymore likely now than it did 8 days ago. How we wish things will be altered in another week’s time! The Commandant of Naarden is Quetard de la Porte. Towards Flanders, the Allies are advancing rapidly, and large parts of our country have been liberated, but to our regrets nothing has been heard so far about the advance of the main Allied army across the Rhine, or the arrival of Blucher and Bernadotte with their armies.
Sunday 19 December. It has been as quiet as the last few days today, with only four or five shots from the artillery. We have some hopes that the Cossacks will leave soon. A number of our men have been pressed to work on siege works close to Naarden.
Monday 20 December. Nothing to report. Again. The pressed men have thrown up three small fieldworks between the gate at Naarden and the inn of Jan Tabak. They weren’t allowed to speak or even cough, on pain of severe punishment. It is said that the Cossacks will leave tomorrow.
Tuesday 21 December. Before non some shots had already been fired. At ‘s Graveland two barracks are being erected. At 9.30 in the morning, all citizens under 60 were requested to be present at the local court, armed. A large number of them did in fact appear, carrying weapons of all sorts. The officer of the Amsterdam Mounted Paid Guard, who were stationed at ‘s Graveland, had arrived in our town, and in a somewhat stunted speech tried to make clear to us that all our people able to bear arms were to be called upon to fight, together with all the other people of the Gooi region, and all the military troops stationed there, when the French were to make a sortie from Naarden. To this end, the Landstorm was to be organised. After this speech, everyone returned home. The old saying in these regions goes: If you cry often enough that Easter is near, it will eventually be. And this has now come to pass. To our great joy, it was an often repeated tale that the Cossacks would soon be leaving, especially when a number of them arrived from Weesp. As these men departed for Bussum i as soon as they’d arrived here, our hopes were dashed, but at one o’clock my brother-in-law Vlaanderen got an order that he was to deliver a man and a horse to the Groest square immediately. I received permission to be the man, and rode the horse to the Groest square as fast as I could, where I met Mr Sikkema, who was to be my travel companion, along with three farmers and their carts, and we received orders from the commander that we were to leave for Amersfoort. We assumed that we were to leave immediately, but no, instead of 1.30 in the afternoon it became 4.30 before we finally left, as a number of patrols still had to come in. After some dreadful boredom, we now had the pleasure of leaving the town at the head of 400 Cossacks, being waved goodbye by almost all inhabitants of the village. I hoped that Sikkema and I, the two guides, were to remain together, but just after we had left our town, I was ordered forward with some ten Cossacks to be the advance guard of the column, whilst my companion remained with the main part of the Regiment. This made me more than a little nervous. As soon as we had reached the Lage Vuursche, it began to become dark. I wasn’t sure about which road to follow, but I was sure that I was surrounded by a bunch of Cossacks who would more than likely maltreat me if I got lost, and who were very merry but also very unpredictable and slightly dangerous pranksters. One of them already seemed very interested in obtaining my horse, and was pointing at it and speaking to his friends about it. But as I could do little to change the state of things, I tried not to worry, and my worries were further lessened when the sergeant in command gave the most unruly trooper of the bunch a damn good thrashing, which I enjoyed immensely. When we rode into Soestdijk, the whole troop, including myself, was singing. Having arrived at Soestdijk, I tried my best to procure a new guide to take my place, but my efforts were in vain, and we had to move on. When next we arrived at Soest, I was very near to becoming lost in the darkness. We pressed to farmers to accompany us, and by their help and good fortune we stayed on the right road, and arrived at Amersfoort around seven o’clock in the evening. Here I waited for my companion to arrive with the rest of the Regiment. But still our wanderings weren’t over: we had to accompany the Cossacks to their camp outside the gates. Then, finally, we were given permission to leave, and we returned to Amersfoort. At the City Hall, I tried my best to get a ration ticket in order to eat and drink something, but to no avail. After having fed our horses, we got into the saddle again at 8.30 and arrived home around 11 at night, amidst our joyful family, who had no idea where I was at that time. There had been a new moon that night, but the weather had been favourable.
Wednesday 22 December. Early in the morning we heard gunfire. Around 10 o’clock J. van R., G. Van R., G.D. and I left to see what was going on. Near Trompenberg we heard gunfire so fast and vivid as we hadn’t heard before. At Bussum and Crailoo we saw herds of cattle being driven from the area. We moved on and arrived at the entrance of Bussum, where we found some infirm people and women hiding behind some stacks of wood. We wanted to enter the village, but as the villagers were being pressed to carry the wounded and injured to safety, we thought the better of it and skirted the village to the side of the hill where we had been last week. We listened to the gunfire for half an hour until it started to slacken, then decided it was safe to enter the village, and went to meet Mr Hoogbruin there. He told us the French had been out in force and had marched on Bussum, but the Dutch troops and the Cossacks had made a stand at the Swan inn (‘t Zwaantje, BdG), and the French had been forced to retreat. Across from the baker’s shop three Dutchmen had been killed by grapeshot fired from the cannon on the walls of Naarden, just moments before we’d arrived. We saw them lying there, they had been hit in a nasty and ugly way. They were lying in pools of their own blood, and I picked up one of the grapeshot bullets that had hit them. Two Cossacks have been killed, as well as one of their horses, and a horse of the Amsterdam Mounted Paid Guard. There is talk of a number of injured and wounded. Three persons in Dutch service have defected to the French and have returned with them to Naarden. One dead Frenchman was found, but all of their wounded they have taken with them back to Naarden. At two o’clock in the afternoon we arrived back home and found around twenty Russian wagons, with accompanying Russian guards, who are to spend the night here.
Thursday 23 December. The Russian wagons have left for Amsterdam. In the afternoon some 20 Cossacks arrived here. The attack of the French on Breda, and their forces in Antwerp make us a little uneasy, and we are anxiously awaiting further news.
Friday 24 December. The annoying Cossacks have left again. A man from Hilversum named Dirk de Boer made his escape from Naarden yesterday. We visited him this morning to see if he had any further information. He was a labourer, and was forced to chop wood outside the fortress daily, accompanied by a guard. Yesterday he and a man from Laren escaped through the dense undergrowth. He estimated the garrison to be about 1000 men. The general had given over the command to somebody else. The French really did not like going out on sorties at all. Last Wednesday nine of them had been wounded, of which one had already died. Much was taken from the civilians, and only the soldiers had any alcoholic drink left. The meal and flour he estimated to run out in about five weeks. All of the meat that had been put in barrels for preservation was spoiled and rotten, but there were still 100 cows alive. There was almost no tobacco left, nor lamp oil, although salt was still in pretty good supply. Soap was being sold at (illegible) the pound, and many inhabitants and soldiers were crawling with vermin. Sides of bacon were being sold at 16 florins, and there was no vinegar to be had. Some horses in the city had been pressed into service to form a provisional cavalry unit. There were very few Dutchmen left in the ranks, but many Germans. In Hilversum, the decrees on the formation of the Landstorm and Landmilitie have been made known, and every Dutchman acknowledges the need and inevitability to serve his country.
Saturday 25 December. Christmas Day. Today 400 Cossacks passed through here, coming from Weesp, towards Amersfoort and on to Emmerik. Yesterday some cavalry and infantry reinforcements arrived at ‘s Graveland. A bridge has been laid across the Luie Gat ditch. It appears certain that a number of letters from the Commandant of Naarden have been received. Some officers have placed bets that Naarden will surrender before 2 March, others to the contrary. Only time will tell us. Some - and more than a few - pro-French persons in the area are gaining in courage. This goes to the extent that one of them thought, and said, that the Russian wagons that had passed through here couldn’t pass through the north of the country anymore. The reasons for their damned hope are the fact that the main Allied Armies are not advancing on Holland, the very few reports we are receiving on the progress of the great Allied army on the Rhine, the fact that the Cossacks are withdrawing to Amersfoort rather than march south, the attack of the French on Breda and their great force there, and the recent decree to call out the Landstorm, a desperate measure. This makes them long for those ‘sweet’ Frenchmen, who have always, but especially at their departure, shown that they really have our best interests at heart. Time, we pray, will shame them and their hopes. So many wonders, so many events in which nobody can deny the intervention of the Almighty, cannot have happened in vain. The Allies, who have fought with such determination and perseverance, will not crumble or weaken so easily, now that their continued attempts have met with such success. And the many peoples who have now been released from the French yoke will show that they will give everything to maintain and make complete their liberty. The watchword therefore is Courage, even if we cannot make everything into the way we would like, even when not all goes according to our wishes.
Sunday 26 December. Nothing important happened today. French stockmarket papers are back at 100 percent. Some Roman Catholic misfits have had the audacity to go into a public house, tear some orange cockades from some hats and throw them into the fire. A Jansenite who was with them swallowed his cockade. Also, the orange flag has been taken from the Jansenite Church, and it was taken down from the Roman Catholic Church some days ago. And now we hear rumours That Austria has dropped out of the Coalition, and that 30.000 French troops have re-crossed the Rhine. Oh, the French weather is looking up!
Monday 27 December. In the afternoon we had a moment of joy. From here, we could see the Church tower of Naarden, and from what we could discern, we thought that the Dutch flag was flying from the tower, and so that the fortress had surrendered. The whole village was in an uproar, all coming out to see what was happening. I immediately rode to Bussum, but everything there was the same as last week, and we could now make out that it was the French flag that was flying over Naarden. Most likely they’re having a celebration of some kind. At Bussum I found my old school friend Blijenberg, who is a Lieutenant with the volunteers.
Tuesday 28 December. Nothing happened.
Wednesday 29 December. Ditto (nothing happened). In the evening we heard a strong gunfire in the distance. The news that Denmark has joined the Allies gives us much courage.
Thursday 30 December. At seven o’clock in the morning I rode to Amsterdam. After some difficulty with the guards at the city gate I entered the city, and heard that the Hereditary Prince (of Orange, BdG) was expected there that day. I waited and saw His Majesty enter through the Kalverstraat. Shortly after, it became too dark to see anything properly. His Highness just returned from an inspection of the troops at ‘s Graveland and Bussum.
Friday 31 December. At half seven in the morning I saw the Hereditary Prince from up close, on the parade. At 2 o’clock in the afternoon I rode back home, arriving there around six in the afternoon, as the weather was very foggy and the road very slippery. On my way home I was asked for my pass by suspicious guards no less than six times! At Weesp there were 400 Amsterdam citizen militia, at Uitermeer and by the mill there 300 more, at Ankeveen there was a detachment of the Landstorm, and at ‘s Graveland and the other villages surrounding Naarden such as Huizen, Bussum etc around 1000 Dutch troops, now armed with 6 to 8 cannon and howitzers. Around 11 o’clock at night we heard a very loud crash and bang, as the Dutch troops blew up the Galgebrug (Gallow Bridge, BdG) near Naarden, along with its trestles. Over the last two days nothing much has happened at Hilversum itself, although an hour after the Prince had left Bussum after his inspection on Thursday, a shot from a Naarden howitzer damaged a house there.
Saturday 1 January 1814. This year opens with many happy prospects, but we have much left to wish for. May it please the Heaven to provide peace and quiet to our tortured country and the rest of Europe, so that we may be completely happy. How we feel our existence to be puny on occasions like these! We know that much will happen this coming year, events of the utmost importance to us. We know that all will come to pass is already known to, and decided by, the All-knowing. How much we would love to be able to glimpse into the future, even if just for a moment, but we are completely blind, and must await what comes, as slow as it proceeds, and with interminable patience. At Naarden, not much is happening. We have no troops billeted in our village, but a division between our people is becoming more and more apparent. Tomorrow it is said a provisional Landstorm will be called up, and then tensions will undoubtedly rise to the boiling point. In the evening some dragoons arrived from ‘s Graveland, who made the Jansenites replace the orange flag on their church. Tomorrow the Roman Catholic church will also replace it. The dragoons made a lot of noise, then left again. The value of French stock has gone down since the defection of the Danes. The approach of the Russians and their crossing of the Rhine is undoubtedly the cause of this. We have also received word that the earlier rumour that 30.000 Frenchmen had crossed the Rhine had been a dreadful mistake: the real news was that 30.000 Prussians had crossed it, in the opposite direction!
Sunday 2 January. A deputation has been to ‘s Graveland to complain about the behaviour of the Dutch dragoon sergeant who had been to the village yesterday to replace the orange flags. At eleven o’clock the Maire reiterated the necessity for everyone to wear orange cockades or decorations. The Landstorm hasn’t been called up yet. The day set for that purpose is Tuesday, some people now claim. In the afternoon some wagons arrived from the direction of Weesp, carrying wounded Cossacks. The peasants who drove the carts told us they would be followed by as much as 4000 more. They, and the Cossacks they transported, told us that Gorinchem and Den Helder have been left by the French, and have been garrisoned by Dutch troops, but we didn’t believe these fairytales.
Monday 3 January. We hear nothing from the side of Naarden, and it is as if that city doesn’t exist. Only the forces that blockade it remain real, and the same. As joyful as people in most other places in the fatherland are about the revolution, we simply cannot yet be. We are still in a state of unpleasant confusion, not only because of Naarden, but even more so because of internal divisions. 500 Men were to be organised, at the request of the commander at ‘s Graveland, into a provisional Landstorm, but the people who are to be appointed as officers have been chosen so randomly, and in a biased manner, by the Maire, that three of our prospective sergeants have already refused to appear if they are called up tomorrow. Disunity, chaos, cowardice in the higher ranks and stubbornness in the lower ranks, all sorts of malcontent are present here at the moment, and without the intervention of a higher power not much good can come from it.
Tuesday 4 January. Before the afternoon there was some heavy firing from the cannon. It is said the French have made another sortie. At noon a company of Landstorm to which I am appointed was called up to gather and form. After we had been under arms for some time we were dismissed again. In the afternoon another company was assembled. The Landstorm of Kortenhoef (In which the painter P.G. van Os served, BdG) and ‘s Graveland were assembled at ‘s Graveland, ready to march should the need arise. A dozen armed men from Loosdrecht passed through here in the evening. The officers that the Maire has appointed in the 5 companies of Landstorm are: 1st company, E. van Veerssen, J.G. de Wit, 2nd company, C. Swaving, H. Andriessen, 3rd company, F. Os, J. Amesz, 4th company, J. Reijn, R. Sühren, 5th company, Valkenhof, J.C. Reijn. The discontent has been lessened a little by some promises from the Maire.
Wednesday 5 January. This day has passed without anything remarkable happening. At 7 o’clock in the evening our vicar held a speech based on 2 Chron. 32 verse 8, the first prayer. (The text reads: ‘With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ BdG)
Thursday 6 January. The 4th Company of the Landstorm was assembled today. The news of the day is that Nijmegen has gone over to the Allies (The French had indeed left the day before, on January 5, BdG).
Friday 7 January. Only just after I’d written yesterday’s entry, half an hour after midnight when I had just gone to bed, the doorbell was rung, and I heard that there were several people at the door. I ignored it for a while, but then the bell was rung again. I asked who was at the door, and to my great surprise I heard the voice of my sergeant Schoets, coming to tell me that I was to appear that morning at four o’clock, armed, at the house of Mr Swaving. I asked him what was afoot, but he didn’t know anything more than that a large number of men was to assemble, including, to his knowledge, the Prince of Orange. After this, he left to warn the rest of his squad, including G. Bosdam at the Vaart. This assembly surprised us a lot, as it was so unexpected, so untimely, so odd, that we could not make out what it could mean at all. After having slept for about an hour and a half I got up, dressed, made some food to take along and joined my company. And what a chaos it was...everyone was walking to and fro, all of the sergeants were continuously shouting to get their subordinates together, which was being answered by all and sundry, and the once so peaceful night became as busy and unruly as the busiest market day. At five o’clock in the morning our company finally departed. We marched, not very quietly, towards Naarden. On the first height in that direction we overtook the 1st company. Near the second height, on the road between the Luie Gat and Huizen, we saw the company from Laren take a turn to the right, and we were ordered to halt. Our 5th company, commanded by Renke Knoet, had been left behind, apart from some 30 men, while their lord overseer had thought it best to remain in his bed. So in all, there were about 400 men from Hilversum present. Presently, we were to continue on again, and so the shouting, hustle and bustle resumed, because as usual the officers had lost their sergeants, the sergeants their men, and the men their front- or rear-rank men. It took us quite a while before everything was settled and we were lined up on the road again. But by now all were getting used to confusion, and we were hardening our hearts to patiently await the orders that would decide our fates. But as unexpected as our departure from Hilversum had been, so sudden was to be our return. We had hardly waited more than a quarter of an hour by the road when we got word that a counter-order had been received, and that we were to return home. If the order had been to storm Naarden, it could not have been obeyed with more alacrity, and cheerful and hearty we marched back into town around seven o’clock. The courage and bravery of the bravest in the Landstorm was now heralded to all of our fellow townsfolk, and all went home, where they were met with surprised looks on our speedy return. What the plan ought to have been, and what our role in it was supposed to be, we didn’t know. We did know that the Landstorm and soldiers at ‘s Graveland had been moved towards Naarden as well, and that some men from Loosdrecht had also been on the heights and moors. It is said that parlementaires (heralds that would ask for the fortress to surrender, BdG) had been sent to Naarden. In the chest that has been placed here to receive all the gifts that are to be used to arm the Landstorm, the ‘considerable’ amount of 4 florins/guilders and 14 cents has been deposited so far. Our Receiver of Revenue has visited all the separate congregations and has exhorted them to raise more funds, and the Reformed congregation is rallying and has promised to send in 1300 florins for the cause.
Saturday 8 January. Nothing of importance happened. Coming Monday the Dutch guns, it is said, will start bombarding Naarden, but we are yet to see any signs of their impending surrender. It has become more peaceful now in the village, but outside our town a lot of rumours have been spreading about us, such as that we were rebelling, riots going on, etc. French stock papers have gone down from 100 per cent to 50 per cent. There is less and less talk of a general peace.
Sunday 9 January. This day has passed without anything remarkable happening.
Monday 10 January. From the side of Naarden not much to report. Four pieces of artillery and some black powder wagons passed through here, coming from Amsterdam and going to Zwolle, and probably on to Coevorden (Coevorden was also being blockaded by Dutch and Allied troops, BdG). There are some persistent rumours going around that Deventer, Coevorden and Gorinchem have all been given up by the French, but they are obviously too good to be true.
Tuesday 11 January. Nothing new.
Wednesday 12 January. At ten o’clock in the morning the entire Landstorm of Hilversum was gathered in their respective companies. An officer arrived from ‘s Graveland, naming himself our Colonel, giving us some instructions, after which he left again. All of the rumours about Deventer and the other places we heard two days ago have been found to be false.
Thursday 13 January. Day of prayer and thanksgiving. How positive our current governing council looks in comparison with our previous ruler, especially when it comes to religion, and what hope it does give us for the future! Here, one of the first measures to take to preserve our Country was for the whole nation to solemnly call upon the help of the Supreme Being. What a difference to the French, who know very well how to call up new batches of conscripts and levy new taxes, but think it superfluous to call upon the blessing of the Almighty for those levies. Then how very appropriate it was on this occasion to sing Psalm 124-126 v2 and Psalm 66 vs 5 and 6. Around four o’clock some three shots were fired from Naarden. Around five o’clock I was on the mound near Scheiboom. I could hardly see the towers of the neighbouring villages, everything was covered in snow. My own village with its whitened roofs was in front of me, and it was incredibly quiet, as nobody was to be seen on the road.
Friday 14 January. There are continually men deserting from Naarden. Otherwise nothing mentionable happened.
Saturday 15 January. Our hopes for a happy ending for our cause, the humiliation of France and the return of peace and quiet and balance to Europe are steadily growing. Napoleon seems to be completely powerless, and France does not seem to favour him anymore. We are even beginning to believe that he will be done away with completely, and that the Bourbons will be restored in his place. All of the hopes of our compatriots who were pro-French seem to have been dashed altogether. As for our local circumstances, we are living quite peacefully here for now, but we have to donate quite a bit of money to pay for the so-called Batteryworkers (local farmers who were pressed by the military to dig trenches and build fortifications to protect the troops from French artillery fire from Naarden, and who were to be paid a daily sum for their expenses, BdG), and every day we have to furnish some men and horses to patrol the area towards Naarden, which makes us, amongst other reasons, wish for the surrender of that place all the more, although it does not look like it is going to happen any time soon.
Sunday 16 January. Nine Dutch artillerymen have deserted from Naarden to Bussum, but they didn’t bring much important news. More artillery has arrived.
Monday 17 January. At nine o’clock in the morning almost all of the unmarried men of our Canton were assembled at Nieuw Loosdrecht to draw lots to enter the Landmilitie (the Landmilitie was a more permanent form of reserve troops, comparable to modern day Territorial or Reserve Army troops, which was filled through conscription. It differed from the Landstorm in that the Landmilitie received uniforms and was put through formal military training, and Landmilitiemen had to serve for a period of five years, whilst the Landstorm was only called up in time of war. A large part of the Dutch army at Waterloo in 1815 was made up of this Landmilitie, by that time renamed to Nationale Militie, BdG). The Loosdrechters were first up, then the people from Hilversum and finally the people from ‘s Graveland. By 7 o’clock in the evening the ceremony was finished. There were no soldiers or strangers around that people could take offense from, and although at times people were loud, unruly and sometimes near brawling, the whole thing ended peacefully without sadness or fear. There were a 1030 lots to be drawn from, as a number of married men were also to be part of the lottery. I was so fortunate as to draw lot number 569. All those who have drawn a lot number greater than 300 will most likely be free from service.
Tuesday 18 January. No news apart from the fact a fairly deep and broad dry ditch is being dug around the village of Huizen (to protect it from French attacks, BdG) and that that village has only donated 80 florins/guilders to the fatherland. In the evening, the men of Landstorm received orders that we were to assemble the next morning at 5 o’clock in order to reach Bussum at six o’clock. We have no idea what the purpose of this assembly shall be, but we are very curious about it.
Wednesday 19 January. True to our orders, we assembled at five o’clock in the morning, and soon afterwards we marched for Bussum, in a fairly quiet fashion. It was dark, cold, there was a lot of snow on the ground and the north-eastern wind helped us to some more, in our faces, but we marched steadily on to our designated point of assembly, just this side of Bussum, and we arrived well before six o’clock. Here, we found no other men, not from any of the neighbouring villages, yet. But after having stood still for half an hour, men from Blaricum, Laren and Eemnes began to join us. After another half hour of waiting, we all received orders to relocate to the hillocks on the left side of Bussum. When we arrived there, we found the Landstorm of Loosdrecht, ‘s Graveland, Kortenhoef, Ankeveen, Den Berg, etc, all assembled there, so that we numbered more than 2,000 in total. A number of our captains were already becoming intoxicated with liquor, and were being taken home. Having nothing else to do, we started diverting ourselves by visiting acquaintances in the other companies, and checking out the state of other companies, but this form of entertainment could not last forever, and very soon the cold in our feet was beginning to bother us. Some carts with firewood arrived, which provided us with some short-lasting joy. After some difficulty we got some fires started, but the great crowding around them made sure that not all could profit from their warmth. Now we were told that we might not be able to return home until well in the evening. This news created a new embarrassment. Most of us had only brought a few provisions from home, and by ten o’clock in the morning, most of those provisions had been used. There was nobody selling any food, either, and the liquor and the cold were having such a combined effect, that even I was in fear of being sent home as unable to remain on my feet. Together with another man I decided to make an expedition to Bussum in order to satisfy our hunger, even though everybody trying to enter was being sent back from that place. By taking a number of backroads we succeeded in fleeing into Bussum, and buying some food at the Baker’s. We then went for a stroll through Bussum, taking a good look around, warming ourselves by the local fires, and hearing that there were Parlementairs in Naarden, and that an answer from the French to a proposal was being awaited, and that the fire of our artillery would commence immediately if the reply was unsatisfactory. Our spirits now restored we went back to our colleagues, and found everything as it was when we left. After having got bored again for quite some time, we heard shots. Soon after we got orders to march back to our previous position, and so it happened. As we were now standing on an open moor, the cold was really starting to get to us. More liquor was used as a measure to keep warm, a large number of the officers went to Bussum, and the situation was growing ever more chaotic, so much so that fights were breaking out, sometimes in three different places simultaneously. Some officers got caught up in the din, and everyone was starting to get so bored and frustrated, it being very hard to restore order, that the men started to desert their ranks, fifteen at a time, taking lieutenants, sergeants and the whole rigmarole with them. During all of this, the shooting was still going on. At last, at four o’clock in the afternoon, all of us who had remained faithful, as well as mightily bored and extremely cold, got leave to return home. Our force came home a mere fifth of the force it had been when we had marched out in the morning, having spent twelve consecutive hours on the moor in the cold and snow – snow meeting our feet on the ground and our heads when it fell down on us -. We wished never to be required to be part of such a completely useless undertaking again.
Sunday 23 January. From my last entry until today nothing of much interest happened, either here or before Naarden. We still and continually have several deserters coming in from that place every day. The howitzer grenades that have been fired into the city last Wednesday are being said to have caused quite some damage (another source makes mention of a howitzer grenade landing in a pot of soup that some French drummers were cooking, the soup dousing the fuse of the shell, causing the grenade not to burst, BdG). The French Commandant is said to be quite fearful.
Wednesday 26 January. This morning at nine o’clock all of the Hilversum Landstorm was assembled on the Kerkbrink (Church square, BdG). Our commander, Beekman, inspected us, and told that anyone who was willing could, during this week and the next, pick up a flintlock musket from the Maire’s office, and if he was employed on guard duties, he would also receive food rations and pay.
Saturday 29 January. Almost two months have passed now since the blockade of Naarden began, and it doesn’t look like there will be a speedy ending to it. We really had not foreseen that the blockade would last this long, and we’ll be lucky if it’s all over and done in two more months’ time. Naarden will most probably not be shelled by artillery too much, far less be stormed. The best opportunity to do that has passed, and the present troops are not suited for storming a fortress. Things remain extraordinarily quiet. During this whole last week not a single shot has been fired by either side. The French remain shut up in Naarden and the Dutch remain on the outside, carefully blockading the fortress. The grand cause is looking brighter every day, the Allies are advancing in force, and we are very curious to hear if they will take Paris without fighting, and how things will end for Mr Napoleon the Great. In our town it is more peaceful now than it has been in a while, although a lot of well-respected and notable inhabitants continue to refuse to aid the Maire in his arbitrary requisitioning. It is said the Landstorm will be re-organised.
Thursday 3 February. The sound of guns and musketry, which had become so strange to us because we hadn’t heard it for a while, began this morning again at eight o’clock, fairly intense. In the early afternoon, when three of us arrived at Bussum, it stopped again. The French had left Naarden for a short expedition, and had then returned. It is said both in Hilversum and Bussum that yesterday some Douaniers deserted from Naarden, that they had told the Commandant at ‘s Gravenland that their comrades in the city were scared of bad treatment by the Dutch if they were going to desert, but that they had agreed that they would fly some green flags to reassure their comrades if their treatment was good. If those green flags were hung out, more of their comrades would follow them in greater numbers. And indeed, a green flag was flying from the little chapel’s tower at Bussum, and we hope it will do its good work. At Bussum there were many soldiers, all armed and with 7 or 8 pieces of artillery. When we returned to Hilversum, we saw the Landstorm of ‘s Gravenland, which had been marching towards Bussum, but which was now given leave to return to their village. When we got home, we heard that at Hilversum and in some of the surrounding villages the bells had also been rung, and that the Landstorm had been called up, but soon after had been allowed to fall out again. In the late afternoon and the evening we heard the heaviest, uninterrupted cannonade one can imagine, to the south of us. We thought it would be at Gorinchem, but as the papers had stated with a fair amount of certainty that a Convention had been entered into with regards to that city, we remained very curious about the location of the noise (It was actually the Allied troops’ bombardment of Antwerp, BdG).
Friday 4 February. This morning the gunfire from Naarden was even more intense than yesterday. In the afternoon we heard that the French had come out with over 100 men and ten carts in order to take firewood from an estate near the road to Huizen. A musket fight soon broke out and the French quickly withdrew. Several rumours agree that a number of them were killed or wounded. On our side, a marksman from Huizen was killed, one of their leaders was wounded, as well as a horse of the Dragoons (Perk means the Amsterdam Mounted Paid Guard, BdG). All day long the artillery fire to the south continued as well, and as Gorinchem hasn’t surrendered yet, it’s probably over there. Last Monday night a number of the battery workers from our town and neighbouring villages have taken away a large quantity of hay, on sleds, that was lying close to the walls of Naarden.
Saturday 5 February. By eight o’clock in the morning we heard the guns of Naarden again, but as the gunfire wasn’t as heavy as yesterday or the day before, we didn’t think much of it. But at ten o’clock the church bell suddenly tolled, and half an hour later we marched, according to our orders, for Bussum. Because of the haste, no roll was called, and little notice was taken of who marched off, and who stayed behind, so that more than half of our men remained behind. The rest of us arrived at Bussum, and found there the Landstorm companies of Eemnes and Laren. Shortly after, the gunfire stopped, and we were allowed to return home again, which we did after having a look around Bussum, and watching the soldiers return with their artillery. Around half past one we marched tiredly back into Hilversum, having walked along bad, iced roads in freezing winds, so that we were glad to have a good fire and a welcome meal await us. The French, heavily escorted, had gotten two carts as far as the White House, but then the brave marksmen from Huizen, the Landstorm and the Dutch soldiers arrived, so that returned to the fortress empty-handed. We received the news of the capitulation of Gorinchem again today, dated the night of 4 February, for the fourth or fifth time, so it will probably amount to nothing. We did notice that there was no sound of gunfire to the south today. Tonight, a large load of potatoes has to be brought in from near the White House close to Naarden, with the cooperation of Mr E. van Veerssen. It is unfortunate that he and his brother are acting so irresponsibly and are being such a bother, otherwise we would have gotten along quite well, but now it’s all constant bickering. There is no more hope of a speedy surrender of Naarden than there was last Saturday. The Allied armies are marching onwards on all sides. A large flag could be seen again, waving from Naarden’s church tower. The last time that happened, on 27 December, they had seen a number of gunboats on the Zuiderzee, and thought that they were French, and were coming to their aid. Their hope was so great then, that even the sick left the hospital to come and see the boats for themselves from the parapets. The reason for flying the flag this time we do not know. Whether it has something to do with the cannonade to the south or something else we will have to learn from deserters.
Thursday 10 February. Up until this day nothing has happened again for a while. It is said that the French have found some more cows somewhere, but that rumour hasn’t been proven. The potatoes that E. van Veerssen was supposed to pick up last Saturday had already been taken by the French. The shooting that we heard last Thursday and Friday did not occur at Gorinchem, but at Antwerp, at the amazing distance of thirty hours hence (an hour’s distance was roughly 5 kilometers, or 3 miles, BdG). Gorinchem has capitulated. During the fight last Friday, when the French had advanced beyond the little forest at the Neede, near Naarden, Mr Roozeboom, commander of the sharpshooters, behaved himself with the utmost courage, just as his Lieutenant Leedermooij, who was shot in the arm. The French couldn’t hold their ground, and retired to Naarden after having taken some real casualties, which could be detected from the blood on the ground. They made a stand at the White House for a while (picture: http://hilversum-in-kaarten.clubs.nl/afbeeldingen/slideshow_large/3095049/Noordse+Bosje+nr+15+a+1923.JPG), and fired from within, but when our troops brought up a cannon from Bussum and fired three shots through the house, they speedily retreated. The sharpshooter from Huizen who was killed has been buried with military honours at Huizen, and his mother en his fiancée will receive ample financial support. Last Saturday when we were at Bussum with the Landstorm, a howitzer shell from Naarden fell across from the Swan inn, not four paces from two of our fellow Hilversum Landstormers, Merel and Floor, but luckily the fuse was smothered in the mud and snow.
Friday 11 February. General consensus has it that the French have been out of the fortress this morning. But we’ve hardly heard any gunfire. Only tonight around seven o’clock have the guns of Naarden fired a few shots. It is being said that instead of the Dutch soldiers we are to have Irishmen stationed in the area.
Saturday 12 February. We do not have any more hope that Naarden will surrender soon than yesterday, but the hope that Paris and Napoleon will surrender is growing ever more.
Thursday 17 February. Last Sunday the French made an attack towards Muiden. Monday and Tuesday they repeated their attacks, but they didn’t even get as far as Muiderberg. It appears they desperately need hay for their cattle. One or two men of the Amsterdam Burgerwacht (Citizen Soldiers, BdG) have been killed in action, and several others have been wounded. On the French side several soldiers were seen to have gone down as well. In the night of Sunday on Monday our troops have burned several haystacks between Muiden and Naarden. Tuesday evening we have seen the first howitzer grenades being fired into Naarden. Some flares were fired up into the sky as well, which made for a beautiful spectacle in the dark. The nightly bombardments are not very heavy, however, with only one howitzer grenade being fired every fifteen minutes or half hour. The same happened on Wednesday night, and tonight.
Saturday 19 February. Last night there was heavy artillery fire, mostly from the guns of Naarden towards Bussum, but with little effect, as most of the roundshot fell beside the village. Rumour has it that the damage inside the city is by now becoming considerable.
Thursday 24 February. A lot of rumours had been circulating, making us hopeful that Naarden would surrender this Tuesday, but time has caught up with these nonsense tales again. But, this day has not been without any advantages to our cause, as around fifty Dutchmen of the garrison went over to us, each of them arriving either in Muiden or Bussum. Last night there has been heavy artillery fire again from the guns at Bussum, firing at Naarden.
Saturday 26 February. This morning there was a lively gun fire. The garrison has made a sortie on two sides of the fortress, and have taken two prisoners and lost four men, it is said. Workmen who had been called up from here to chop wood at Bussum could not continue their work because of it. An estate, said to be Kommerrust, was allegedly burnt down by the French (http://www.buitenplaatseninnederland.nl/NoordHolland_beschrijvingen/Naarden_Kommerrust.html) . At least, we saw a heavy smoke drifting up in that direction. Tonight the firing was heavy again, and with all this going on we are really losing hope of a speedy surrender, and we now consider it a real possibility that the siege will last until at least as late as the beginning of May. Some among us are even beginning to despair the state of the Allied armies in France. But we are at least expecting to receive news to the contrary on that account very soon.
Wednesday 2 March. Since last Saturday, the French have made daily attacks. On Saturday twenty men, including two Officers, were wounded on our side. Sunday a Hilversum marksman was shot through the leg. Our troops behaved very well, and have chased the French back the way they came without them being able to do much damage. On the contrary, there have again been a number of desertions from Naarden, among them a Captain. They have suffered considerably. Monday 500 more Dutch soldiers have arrived at ‘s Graveland as reinforcements, but that same day the French burned the great White House (see the diary entry for 10 February, BdG). Tuesday I was at Huizen when the bugle called out the sharpshooters, but as I didn’t have a travelling pass, the Huizen Landstorm detained me and brought me to two of their Officers, but as they were absent, I was given leave to depart for Blaricum, and thence home. We are now daily expecting a large contingent of troops and ammunition to attack Naarden in all seriousness. Today the Commissions arrived for the re-appointed officers of the Landstorm, which gave us great pleasure. Mr Straalman is our Lieutenant-Colonel.
Sunday 6 March. It was expected that many more troops would arriv for the siege of Naarden, but none have come. Friday and Saturday most of the Dutch soldiers in French service that remained in Naarden were disarmed by the Commandant and sent from the city. We do not like this very much, as we were hoping they could do more damage from the inside. The hope for a speedy surrender is all but gone, and what is worse, the Allies have been beaten. It has been confirmed without a doubt, and it has started all sorts of discomforting rumours, so that we have ample reasons not to be as joyful as we were some weeks ago. Eight days ago, it was still completely unclear to us if the Allies had indeed lost a battle. But now we know the truth, and we have to wait to know if they have recovered themselves, and if they are still as eager and in good spirits. We’ll probably know in another week’s time. Daily we are now very busy in re-organising the Landstorm, appointing non-commissioned officers etc, but it will still take quite some time and work before everything is settled. In the afternoon 50 Prussian troops arrived, which will depart for Amsterdam tomorrow, it is said.
Monday 7 March. It is becoming more and more probable that the siege of Naarden will intensify very soon, and we will live to see more turbulent times. The Church of ‘s Gravenland is completely filled up with powder and shot, a 24-pounder has arrived there, and a considerable train is expected soon. Also, General Krayenhoff (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornelis_Rudolphus_Theodorus_Krayenhoff) issued a General Order that removes all doubt about it. The following bit is in honour of the brave man from Huizen, see my diary entries for 4 and 10 February : Obituary for the brave and courageous Reijer den Oude of Huizen. Jager in the corps of sharpshooters of the Amsterdam arrondissement, killed in battle before the fortress of Naarden, 4 February 1814. ‘In this hallowed grave, on the bed of honour, rests – the courageous Den Oude, slain in the prime of his youth – but whose heroism, even though black melancholy struck him down – will once have him carry God’s unwithered crown. – Batavian! Even though his grave will not bear a marble memorial, - surrounded with cypress and crackling laurels of honour, - the barren bud of the moors will add more shine to his grave – than the golden sapphires of war will do for any bastard. – He had a fatherland, a treasure no slave ever possesses. – He fought for his salvation, and died for You. – Come! That your arm may avenge him, and that Dutch honour of war may shine – and that we may follow in his footsteps, never to lose such a treasure. Written by Mr Meijer, Sergeant Major in the same Corps.
Wednesday 9 March. This afternoon there was a very lively artillery fire between one and four o’clock in the afternoon, and almost continual musket fire all day. The French made an attack with 350 men, and reached the Karnemelksloot, where they torched a house. On our side, we have four wounded. The proper siege of Naarden hasn’t started yet, and it may take as much as eight days more before it does, but it is now sure that it will take place.
Saturday 12 March. Every day since my last entry the French have made sorties. In the direction of Ankeveen they managed to get quite far, but now they will most probably be forced to cease their attacks, as the entire Amsterdam Schutterij (Civic Guard, BdG) has marched out to reinforce us, and has been distributed among the communities surrounding Naarden. We have received a garrison of 200 men. More artillery has arrived at ‘s Gravenland, and the headquarters ofColonel Van de Bos has been moved to Old Bussum, or will be shortly. The siege of Naarden will now commence in earnest. Until now, it has really only been a blockade, and it is likely times will become more turbulent. I do not believe, as many others do, that the hoped-for result will come about soon, and have placed a bet only just this evening that Naarden will not have capitulated in fourteen days time. I would be only too happy to lose it. Yesterday, after we, the officers of the Landstorm, had notified our men accordingly, which had been quite difficult, as all of the Roman Catholic Sergeants and Corporals had been dismissed, three of the Hilversum companies assembled in front of the houses of their respective Captains. At nine o’clock in the morning, the officers assembled at Tigges’ inn, and found the Lieutenant-Colonel of the Staff and several others there. At ten o’clock, all the officers joined their companies, led them to the Kerkbrink, and placed them on the road as well as they were able, facing the house of Mr De Vries and the inn. The company of ‘s Gravenland arranged itself opposite the rectory, and the men from Loosdrecht assembled at the house of Dr Swaving. Then a drink of Jenever was given to every man, as orderly as was possible in that chaos. It had been delivered to the Quartermaster by the Colonel. At the same time the officers retired to the inn to partake in a splendid dejeuner, after which some presentations were made. After the passing of quite some time, Mr Straalman, accompanied by his officers, went to the Courthouse, and from its steps he addressed the assembled battalion with an inspiring speech, which was met with repeated cheering and ‘Hoezee! Oranje Boven!’ from the entire crowd. After the speech, the Lieutenant Colonel and us retired to Tigges again, and in their own time, the companies were dismissed, but not after a few fights, numerous threats and prolonged tumult, especially near the house of J.G. de Wit. The men from Loosdrecht in particular were stirring up trouble, but in general the ceremony, although far from orderly, went better than expected, considering the mix of an irascible troop of Loosdrechters and the large bunch of cross Hilversummers, both poorly disciplined, but rich in jenever, and armed to boot. Even though all this disunity causes us some grief, we bear it with courage, all the more because the news about the Allied armies give us much joy, and the hope that we will soon see an end to the war and all its devastations and discomforts.
Monday 14 March. At four o’clock in the morning the Amsterdam Civic Guards left from here to Bussum. Around nine o’clock we began to hear a lively cannonade. I went to the Trompenberg, and from there saw that the guns in the Batteries at and near the Karnemelksloot were firing at the city, and that the city’s guns were returning the fire. Mr Schook and I went from there a little more forward, first towards the Witte Bergen (White Hills, BdG) near Bussum, then on towards the Battery on a hill at the Meent, where we could hear the constant noise of cannon fire and small arms fire, and saw the enemy roundshot fall not more than 150 paces from us. This day the French attacked with 400 men and three artillery pieces. They marched forth on both sides of the Karnemelksloot, thinking to again take the battery there as they had done they day before, when they had burned a few powder carts there, but this time they had overestimated themselves. The battery was well-manned and well-provisioned, and they had to retire, and were chased all the way back until they were close to the walls of Naarden again. They had lost quite a number in dead and wounded, as well as four prisoners of war. On our side, we lost one man killed and fifteen prisoners taken by the French.
Tuesday 15 March. On hearing the guns firing in the morning, I went to the moors with R. de Groot, and we got even nearer to the battery than yesterday, so that we were not further than 100 paces from it. We could see the guns and the men in it, and could see the howitzer grenades fall around it, as the guns from the city were keeping up a heavy fire against the battery, which was was answered by the battery itself. This day 108 howitzer grenades have been fired into the city, causing fires to start in several places. After remaining in this dangerous place for some time, we returned home, passing through ‘s Gravenland on the way, arriving around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Just after lunch, I was informed that ninety men of our Landstorm, with three Lieutenants, were to go to ‘s Gravenland at 4 o’clock in order to move some artillery pieces, and that I was to be one of the Lieutenants, as three others were away from home at that time. Having arrived on the Kerkbrink at the designated hour, we found, instead of ninety men, only eleven men present. After a long wait, we left for ‘s Gravenland with just our eleven men. Some twelve more men from Hilversum eventually caught up with us. When we met Colonel Van den Bos at ‘s Gravenland, we reported the rest of our absent men to him, especially our non-commissioned officers, who were the most to blame, and His Honour promised us their absence would not go unnoticed. After waiting again for quite some time, we finally marched off around seven o’clock in the evening, accompanied by men from the companies from Loosdrecht and ‘s Gravenland, around 100 men all in all. We were led by Captain van Os (the painter who made a number of sketches and paintings about the siege of Naarden, BdG), assisted by Lieutenants Meijers, Streefkerk, Pekelharing, Ravenzwaaij and gullible old me. Some of us had spades with them, others crowbars and ropes. When we were halfway to Bussum, we found a twenty-four pounder gun which had gotten stuck along the road. We immediately went to work, and we got it unstuck quite quickly, after which we pulled it to Bussum. We were not given any rest, and were immediately ordered back to ‘s Gravenland. Having arrived back there, the Colonel expressed his approval of our behaviour, and after a short wait, we were all given a stiff drink, after which we started on our way again. At the far side of ‘s Gravenland we found the other two twenty-four pounders which now still had to be moved. The men from Loosdrecht took the nearest one and soon got it under way, but us poor Hilversummers and ‘s Gravenlanders were sorely tested by the other gun. It had become frozen to the ground, and was completely immoveable. Only after an hour of hacking and chipping and hard toil could we move it. We now started off, but circumstances proved so difficult that the even the Lieutenants and sergeants had to take their turn in pulling the gun, even though the men exerted themselves greatly. Nearly twenty times we had to stop because the gun either would not be pulled over a small hill, or had become stuck in a rut in the road, and we had to exert ourselves to the utmost to keep the gun in motion. But our endurance paid off, and finally, at half past one o’clock in the night, we arrived at Bussum with our burden, tired, but happy. The Loosdrechters had arrived half an hour before us, and were just leaving for their homes. We also marched for home, satisfied and pleased with our exertions, but highly dissatisfied with the malicious lingerers. Around three o'clock in the morning we arrived back in Hilversum, and as we had toiled continuously for eleven hours, and had marched for four more hours, we had no need of sleeping draughts to get to sleep. The night had been dark and cold, our route of march led us to within range of the enemy guns, and our second round we had had a lantern with us, making us moving targets, but fortunately for us the French didn't fire on us. Around four o'clock in the afternoon our Amsterdam garrison troops had returned.
Wednesday 16 March. Nothing happened today, not all of the batteries have been finished yet, I delivered the rolls of our volunteers to Captain van Os and to our Major.
Thursday 17 March. The men of the Landstorm that had been at Bussum and 's Gravenland the day before yesterday to move the artillery were gathered today, and were given a glass of schnapps each for their efforts, as well as the thanks of our Colonel Van den Bosch. An order has been read that all of those who had participated in the detachment that had transported the artillery would be relieved from the duty to have soldiers billeted at their houses. A number of Battery workers from places that we don't know have arrived here, and they are now quartered at the houses of those men of the Landstorm who had stayed behind, a measure which is sure to bring back order and activity to our community. There was a continuous fire from the city on the battery workers, as they were working very close to the city now. General Kraijenhoff visited the Redoubt at the Karnemelksloot this morning. A number of unknown workmen have arrived at 's Gravenland, as well as wheelbarrows, spades, timbers to make floors for the Batteries with, shot, powder and two more thirty-six pounder guns, so that all in all the work is progressing steadily.
Friday 18 March. Just after noon we received an order that each of our companies had to assemble 60 men at 's Gravenland at four o'clock in the afternoon. Having learnt from the experience of having to billet strange workmen if they did not show up, all of our sergeants and corporals, save one, performed their duties. The Lieutenant of the 5th company, however, still refused to turn up, so that none of his men turned up either. But Schook and I marched a good number of our men to 's Gravenland. At the Smits bridge, we formed up our men, and with closed ranks we marched into the village. After having stayed a while at Hodson's place, we went to work. The men from Loosdrecht took a 36-pounder gun, the men from 's Gravenland ditto, and we a 24-pounder, and we brought them all to Bussum without any trouble. We then returned to 's Gravenland, got some spirits to drink, and then took up the remaining 24-pounder. We were now with so many men to move a single gun, it was child's play, and we sang as we marched along. Having arrived back at Bussum, we arranged the guns and placed them in their proper spaces, and then we returned home, where I arrived at 2.30 in the morning, very pleased with the exertions of my men, who had completed their task with affability and zeal and united efforts. The Amsterdam Civic Guards that are quartered here do guard duty at Bussum every other day.
Saturday 19 March. The French again have fired a number of shots at the batteryworkers, whose work is becoming more evident daily, but it appears they do not dare to stage any more attacks on us. From further afield, the news is good, some even say Paris has been taken by the Allies already. In our region, there is a growing order to things again, but Naarden remains in enemy hands, and can long remain so, still.
Sunday 20 March. Early in the morning and late at night the French have fired their guns. They have also set off fireworks, in honour of the birthday of the King of Rome.
Wednesday 23 March. There is a continuous firing from Naarden, aimed at the battery workers. Yesterday, four of our men were supposed to be killed. In the meantime, our works continue to advance and grow in size, at 's Gravenland people are working hard at making powder magazines, gabions, and filling artillery cartridges. The mortars that were at 's Gravenland have also been moved to Bussum, so we are beginning to expect the start of a bombardment. Rumours, which seem to come from reliable sources, state that the Naarden garrison is down to eating horse meat already, and that milk costs 1 guilder per 2 pints there. Yet I do not believe the garrison will surrender before Easter, or possibly even before May.
Thursday 24 March. At 4.30 in the morning the French made an attack in the direction og the house of Mr Echeninge, where one of our batteries is positioned. They got quite close to the battery, but were pushed back by the Amsterdam Civic Guards and a number of armed sailors, losing 3 prisoners. On our side nobody was killed or wounded except an artilleryman, who got wounded by his own gun. In the afternoon, while I was at Bussum, a bound man brought up, who was taken by a patrol near Naarden, was looking rather filthy and was said to be a spy. Numerous people again told us today that the bombardment of Naarden would start tomorrow, but as a number of guns haven't been placed in the batteries yet, this is unlikely. So now it must, off course, surely start the day after tomorrow, because the rumour always states that it will start tomorrow. Every day people become more sure that it will definitely be tomorrow, but the facts always catch up with them. Still, when many people keep repeating that Easter will come, it eventually will, and we must believe that the same will happen in this case. Bombarding the city is a sure means to make the city surrender more quickly, and even though it is a bitter solution, it may be the only one that will work.
Sunday 27 March. Yesterday another 100 Voltigeurs from Amsterdam arrived here to stay, while at the same time some fifty Grenadiers left from here to 's Gravenland. Nothing much has been happening here, besides the fact that the guns of Naarden are firing every day. But this morning the French made an attack in the direction of Muiden, and as they made good use of the thick fog, they were able to set fire to a mill near the Hakkelaarsbrug.
Thursday 31 March. Between today and last Sunday, which I spent happily in Amsterdam, at the festivities in honour of the inauguration of the Prince, nothing much has happened apart from the fact that the feu de joi of the guns at Bussum (because of the inauguration, BdG) was answered with a hail of shot and grenades from Naarden, which killed and wounded a number of men on our side. Today, in the afternoon, all of the Amsterdam Civic Guards that are stationed here were ordered to Bussum, even though it was not their turn to provide a guard detachment, and all of those whose guard duty had just finished were also ordered to stay in Bussum. The soldiers and Civic Guards at 's Gravenland also left. This seems to confirm the rumours that the bombardment will indeed start tonight, but even though it seems very likely, we have become cautious in believing rumours. Even now, some are already contradicting them, saying the bombardment will be postponed for a few days. In any case, we do believe that it will now at least not be long before it starts. But although another month has come and gone, there is no hope that Naarden will surrender very soon.
Saturday 2 April. The day had a troubled start. Before eight o'clock in the morning, the bells tolled. The Landstorm gathered in its usual slow and slovenly fashion. By nine o'clock we were just about ready, so that the Captains and Lieutenants with their distinctions on their clothing, and accompanied by nearly 200 men, could march out of the village. At Mr Van Haeften's place the companies were separated and reorganised, and with fairly well-closed ranks and in good order we marched from there through 's Gravenland to headquarters, where we found the Loosdrechters and 's Gravenlanders already assembled. We now took our places in the formation, and soon after Prince Frederik rode by us, going to Hodson's place. After having remained here for a little while, he got back in the saddle and rode to Bussum, where we were able to see him up close, and in good company. After this we went to look at a few of the batteries near the Kweek, passing close by the house of Jan Tabak, and marched through Old Bussum back home, where we arrived around 3.30 PM. In all this time, the French fired only one shot.
Sunday 3 April. This night the French attacked through the Amersfoort Gate, with 400 men. They surprised one of our outposts, which had a garrison of thirty men. They have taken 12 men and a sergeant prisoner, wounded six others, and chased off the rest in disorder. They then took possession of the Battery near the White House, spiked three 24-pounder guns that were there, damaged the wheels, and then retired. Although we were extremely saddened by this news, the guns, fortunately, were very soon after unspiked, and a stronger guard will be posted from now on. The Lieutenant in command of the outpost has been arrested. The French continue to fire occasional shots with their artillery, even into the night. Every moment now we expect our artillery will begin the bombardment, but the waiting seems to go on and on.
Monday 4 April. At four o'clock in the afternoon, according to the orders they had received in the morning, 60 of the Amsterdam Civic Guards that were garrisoned here were to leave for Bussum, to take up their turn in guard duties. But when the hour came, all of the Civic Guards that remained received the same order to march, so that not even a small guard detachment was left, which had happened last Thursday. Our marksmen were likewise to march, so that our hopes for a bombardment were renewed, and this time we were not disappointed. Even when the Civic Guards were still marching off, at five o'clock in the evening, three or four our batteries commenced the bombardment, which lasted, with changing intensity, until five o'clock in the morning. During the bombardment, it is said that no less than 1600 shots were fired by our guns on the city. The batteries near the White House and at the Red Bridge fired the most, the battery at the Karnemelksloot the least shots. The guns at Naarden replied continuously to our firing. On our side only two or three men were hurt. The bombardment drew a large crowd to the moors and Trompenberg, where each shot, and the bursting of the howitzer shells could be observed. But the continuous rain and the drizzle were not kind to us.
Tuesday 5 April. After five o'clock in the morning the gunfire stopped, and a number of our Amsterdam Guardsmen returned to the village. In the afternoon a few hundred Dutch Dragoons arrived here from Bussum and 's Gravenland, partly on horseback, part on foot. They stayed only for a short time, but were quite unruly. They left for Utrecht, to be clothed and equipped there, after which they were to march to Brabant. A little later we heard that a bugler was admitted to Naarden, but that he hadn't returned yet. We still hadn't heard a single gun firing. After having gone for a look at the battery at the Red Bridge, I heard in Bussum that somebody from Weesp had told there that the Parlementair (negotiator, BdG) had returned,and that our side had agreed to halt the bombardment, which made us all think that there were negotiations underway. This happy rumour was reinforced around 9.30 PM by the detachment of Amsterdam Civic Guards returning to our village. And still there was no gunfire, which made us really hopeful. Tomorrow, it is claimed, all shall become clear. The commander of the Amsterdam Civic Guards, Colonel van Brienen, was said to have entered the city together with the Parlementair. Allegedly, the bombardment has caused a lot of damage, and no more than four live cows were to be found in the city. From the great Allied armies more good news has come, so that this evening is in all respects an enjoyable one.
Thursday 7 April. We entertained our hopes for a capitulation until 10 o'clock yesterday morning, but then we heard that both parties could not come to an agreement, because the French demanded a free and unhindered departure to their country. After negotiations had ended, there was continuing cannonade. In the afternoon a detachment of the Hussars of Boreel passed through here on their way to Amersfoort. They carried themselves very well and their uniforms and equipment looked excellent. Around five o'clock in the evening our entire garrison, as well as our marksmen, received orders to march out. Swaving and I accompanied them to Bussum, where we wiled the time away with a walk around the village and speculating what would be happening around Naarden until eight o'clock, when another bombardment of the city began. The weather had improved, and we now had a beautiful view of the city, and of the howitzer grenades falling into it. Two of the same, that were fired from the city towards us, fell very near to us, and we heard them sizzling and smothering in the wet earth nearby. Around eleven o'clock we left Bussum again, but saw the artillery fire continue from the batteries near the Trompenberg until two o'clock in the night. There has been much more artillery fire than on Monday night. Our artillery consisted of 18 guns today, whereas last Monday we had only 15 guns. The guns on the side of Muiden, where General Kraijenhoff was, likewise fired into the city, but the guns of Naarden replied only feebly. In the early morning, the French made a sortie with 300 men towards the Karnemelksloot, but after a small skirmish they soon retired. Of the Dutch, one man has been hurt by the nightly artillery fire, and one was wounded during the sortie. The rest of the day, the artillery remained quiet, and it does not look like there will be another bombardment this night. Naarden has to fall within the next fourteen days, if only because of the lack of food and the very probable revolution in Paris.
Friday 8 April. The morning passed quickly. Two of the Amsterdam Civic Guards, who had been found guilty of aggravated insubordination, had their clothes removed in front of the rest of the troops, and were escorted away. Around five o'clock in the afternoon, wholly unexpected, all of our Civic Guards received orders to assemble at Bussum. We thought another bombardment was about to start, but the reverse seemed to be true. Colonel Van den Bosch was up at the barrier (a roadblock in front of the city gates, BdG) with his aide de camp, and spoke with an emissary of General Quitard, who told him that, as they still had plenty of food, they would not surrender. On our side, most likely because of the good tidings from Paris, the heavy artillery is being taken away, the batteries are being levelled again, tomorrow the sailors will leave for their ships and the siege will return to being merely a blockade. Last night a Frenchman tried to flee from Naarden. He had quite a lot of money with him, and tried to sneak past our outposts, but our pickets caught him.
Monday 11 April. Easter Monday. A strong French detachment has made an attack, have taken possession of Muiderberg just when General Kraijenhoff was there, have taken three guns and probably much more valuable things. They ravaged the home of the Vicar, but did no other damage. All the inhabitants had fled to Muiden in time, where General Kraijenhoff made himself secure as well. The brave Amsterdam Civic Guards arrived too late, as usual, and was only courageous enough to retake Muiderberg when all of the French had left. Allegedly, thirty Frenchmen deserted to our side during the attack. The French took five or six of our men prisoner, and we have six or seven dead to mourn.
Tuesday 12 April. To our great joy our Amsterdam garrison left us this morning to take up post at Huizen, as the inhabitants of that place had asked for more garrison troops. They will not do the village much good in case of an attack, as they bring dishonour to the name of Dutchmen. This evening, it is said, the French advanced close to Huizen, but they were chased off by the soldiers at Old Bussum, because the national guards (Perk most likely means the Amsterdam Civic Guards, BdG) refused to enter the fray.
Wednesday 13 April. Early this morning the enemy made an attack towards the Karnemelksloot, but they didn't achieve much. There is much, and continuous artillery fire, until late in the evening. A number of townspeople who have been driven from Naarden arrived here. Apparently, the garrison of Naarden will not surrender any time soon because of the lack of food, but the most important tiding that we received this evening, namely that Napoleon has relinquished the throne and all power, will hopefully bring an end to the war in this region within the next fourteen days, or so we hope and think.
Saturday 16 April. Yesterday and the day before the French have made attacks, but they weren't capable of penetrating our defences. Yesterday night there was heavy artillery fire, but today it has calmed down again. Yesterday, Colonel Van den Bos sent orders to the Mayor of 's Gravenland to send off all of that village's cattle in order to secure it from the enemy, but the reason for the order we can only guess at. Tonight, an order arrived that 50 men of our Landstorm had to assemble at 's Gravenland in order to move the artillery back from Bussum to 's Gravenland. But as our Captains felt that they were not given the means to support their authority, they took the wise decision not to undertake any action while that situation endured, and as such only took note of the order. We are still in hopes that orders from Paris will reach the garrison of Naarden soon. If not, the blockade could easily take another three months to end.
Sunday 17 April. Today, the French undertook a vigorous attack towards Huizen, creating some chaos and panic there, but they were beaten severely by our troops, losing some 30 to 40 men in the fight. Our Garde Nationale, and all of us who were in the fray, did their duty.
Saturday 23 April. Last week, during which I left for The Hague, nothing much happened around Naarden, and there was but little gunfire. Between 500 and 600 Infantry of the Line have arrived to reinforce the blockading force. Almost all of the remaining strongholds in our country have surrendered by now, only Naarden and a few others remaining in French hands, yet we still feel the hope that in only a short while some well-known French officers will arrive, bearing official orders that will change the garrison's minds.
Saturday 30 April. This week ended reasonably quiet. As far as we know, the French attacked only once. But last night the city's artillery fire was the heaviest we have yet noticed. In less than a minute no less than 14 or 15 guns of the heaviest calibre were fired on all sides of the ramparts, so that the entire city was covered in smoke. Only a few of our guns at the Karnemelksloot gave a feeble reply. The French Commandant has again rejected our proposals, but the treaty that was signed in Paris, and the articles in it about foreign strongholds still in French hands make us hope that as early as this next week decisive negotiations will take place.
Wednesday 4 May. Fortunately, we are to be spared any more billeting of troops. At 's Gravenland the National Guard is quartered, and at Huizen the Battalion of Lepeltak. The heavy artillery, mortars, powder magazines, howitzers, hospitals, etc, are still at 's Gravenland, and are being guarded by the Landstorm, but we are not doing anything that would remotely resemble anything like military service, we only pay for the heavily increasing upkeep costs of the labourers and the horses of the mounted patrols, and those costs make us long for the surrender of Naarden so much the harder. Last Monday a French Officer carrying despatches was turned away when trying to deliver them. Today, even though we remain hopeful for better tidings, there was more gunfire. Yet we keep up hope that an agreement will be reached, whether it be an honourable or an unconditional surrender. It is said that General Molitor himself will come to Naarden this week.
Friday 6 May. Yesterday a Parlementair has been to Naarden, and this morning the Colonel of Engineers of Naarden has gone to Weesp, and he hasn't returned yet. Around 5.30 PM, after having heard several rumours about a white flag, I went to Bussum with Mr J. Ham. From there, we went to the Battery at the Red Bridge, and then on to the Red Bridge itself. We then returned to Bussum, and on to the Kweek, but we were stopped by our own outposts and had to return a fair way. We then took the same road we had gone on Saturday 2 April, and climbed a garden shed, from which we had very fine view of the city. From there, we went through the siege trenches to the Battery at Kommerrust, that was still properly garrisoned. After having taken a good look at it, we were requested by the officers to go back, and we passed through Old Bussum back to our home, where we arrived around 9 PM. Colonel Van den Bosch and his entire Staff have left Bussum, and have gone to Weesp. There seems to be a truce of some sorts in place now. This, and the journey of the French officer to Weesp gives us hope, and makes us think a positive change is about to befall our region. Some 50 unarmed Landmilitie men have arrived here.
Saturday 7 May. Finally the happy, joyous days on which we can safely say and believe that NAARDEN HAS SURRENDERED is here. Every person breathing the Gooische air (Hilversum is located in the region of Het Gooi, BdG), and there are many of them these days, is celebrating this day with much rejoicing. A day that for us, and all who shall live in this area, will always remain memorable. Before noon there were lots of rumours flying around, but they were all unconfirmed, and we half expected it would be some time yet before there would be any resolution. But soon after three o'clock in the afternoon 60 men from Hilversum were ordered up to repair the roads in the direction of Naarden, and immediately afterwards we received some messages that boded well for our cause. Swaving and I went to Bussum, where, from the other side of the Red Bridge, from up the Chapel tower, we could see the white flag hanging from the main Church Tower in Naarden. There, we also heard that the French will leave Naarden this Monday, and that Dutch troops will march into the city. Yet there has still not been any formal correspondence. The bridges at Naarden were still raised, and their sentries still posted. But on the walls we could see more than usual activity. Just before we left, we witnessed a Feu de Joi by two field guns opposite the Swan Inn. At Bussum, the cheering is just as loud as it is here.
Sunday 8 May. We remain joyful over the surrender of Naarden. A large crowd of curious tourists had gathered this afternoon at Bussum. Through the assistance of Major Appel, I received a pass, allowing me to go beyond our outposts, and this I did in the company of J. van R., G. van R., P. van R. and L. Vl. Across the Red Bridge, through the Kweek, we went to Kommerrust, and from there close behind the White House crossed back through Old Bussum, so that during our walk we were able to observe all of the burned buildings in the area, the rubble of the inn of Jan Tabak, and the bridges and walls of the city up close. Nobody was able to enter or leave Naarden today.
Monday 9 May. Expecting that the French would march out of the city today, I and many others had gathered at Bussum very early in the morning. But, seeing that we were to be deceived in our expectations, we returned home around noon, having heard that the French exit had been determined to take place tomorrow. This news was reinforced during the evening.
Tuesday 10 May. At five o'clock in the morning, I again left for Bussum. As the French exit seemed imminent, I waited until two o'clock in the afternoon. But as I had heard nothing by then, I again returned home, having no wish to undertake such a useless journey again the next day before I had solid confirmation.
Wednesday 11 May. The last few days communication with Naarden has still been almost non-existent. This evening, I saw the Civic Guard of Weesp, and part of the Civic Guard of Amsterdam, together with their bands, march into 's Gravenland. They remained there for the night, and were ordered to march to Bussum at 2.30 AM. A large number of carts and wagons were requisitioned to ride to Bussum this night, and there now was a general rumour that the French exit and the Dutch entrance would take place at 6 o'clock the next morning, and this was confirmed by official sources.
Thursday 12 May. At four o'clock in the morning I rose, and after rousing a few of my friends, the three of us went to Bussum. Having arrived there at five o'clock, we found the place nearly completely deserted. We took a right turn towards the Kweek, but then saw troops in dark clothing march towards Old Bussum. Saddened by the thought that I might be the French retreat already, and that we'd missed most of it, we walked as fast as we could towards them, but to our great joy we found them to be the Amsterdam Civic Guards, who were lining up together with the volunteers. We passed along the ranks, taking the road that the French would have to take when leaving Naarden until we came to the inn of Jan Tabak, and on towards the bridge near the inn, that we weren't allowed to cross. After having waited only a short while, we saw the French march out through the gate, past the Barriere, and pass us by so close we could have touched them. The Dutch Major Appel, who was to escort them as far as Hoogstraten, accompanied by two Captains, was leading the column on his horse. Then there was a band of Etrangers (4th Regiment of foreign soldiers in French service, BdG), then the band, then another band of Etrangers, the General commanding the Engineers, the artillery and the gunners, some heavily laden wagons and finally the entire troop of Douane. Altogether we estimated the troops leaving the city to be around 1,000 men. All the Dutchmen and Germans wishing to do so had been allowed to stay behind in Naarden. The French passed us by in good order, many were quiet, others sang songs and were good-humoured, but many others had thunderous faces, seeming malcontent that they hadn't been relieved by troops of their beloved Emperor, so that they could have gone on to add yet more money to their purses at their will from these rich surroundings, and punish us for our mutinous behaviour. But even though they might not have been in good spirits, ours were raised so much the more, when we saw these friendly frauds and con-artists, who had descended on our lands and had feasted on the toils and exertions of our forefathers like a swarm of locusts, with their rapacious claws and bodies that were used to poverty and need, and even now didn't think us worthy of even a single look but with haughtiness, take the road southwards. Ever south, marching on, giving us back our days of freedom and prosperity, which they had taken from us with deceit and force. Some still seemed to believe in a return to this country, which I don't doubt, and will gladly permit them, if only they transform themselves into tinkers, basket sellers and knife-grinders! To live on the crumbs that we toss them, as dogs, and only make a big fuss of it in their own country. When the last French troops had passed us, we tried to cross the bridge into Naarden, in which we succeeded at first, until a Dutch corporal, posted at the Barriere, made us go back. As he returned to the Barriere, I hailed him again. And, escorted by a silver coin and backed by my Lieutenant's insignia of the Landstorm, this rough guard became a helpful guide, and I arrived at the Barriere just as a friend of mine arrived, carrying official letters for Naarden. I joined him, the Lieutenant of the Guard let us pass, and to my great joy we were the first of all the onlookers who entered the city. Our friends in Naarden received us with great acclamation, and my wheat meal sandwich greatly revived an 82 year old pensioner, who, although he belonged to the richest people in the city, hadn't eaten white meal bread in three months. We now went on an extensive tour of the city. The exteriors of the houses didn't seem to be too badly damaged in our opinion, although some houses have their entire roofs shot away. But the most damage has been done to the interiors of houses. An hour after I'd arrived, the Dutch troops marched into the city. The first to enter were the volunteer marksmen, followed by a Battalion of Volunteers, then the Amsterdam Civic Guards, Dragoons, Gunners, etc. They formed in double ranks, ranging all the way from the Amsterdam Gate to the Utrecht Gate. With them entered a few lucky other members of the public, including my two friends, but most of the onlookers had to wait outside until four o'clock in the afternoon, when the Barrieres were finally opened. After having watched the Dutch troops' entry, we visited the entire city, the Church, climbing the tower, and walked along the entire length of the outer walls, which took quite some exertion. After a long while General Kraijenhoff entered the city and then the City Hall, where he received the Officers who had remained, and the Civil Authorities. After that, he went out to visit the city, accompanied by Colonel Pfaffenrath. Later still, the Governor of North Holland, Mr Van Tets van Goudriaan, arrived and was received at the City Hall, after which he sent out a proclamation in the afternoon, and named the members of the city's provisional government. Around five o'clock all the Dutch troops, with the exception of a single Battalion, left the city again, and this turbulent but happy day ended, without chaos, but in utter happiness.
Images by Pieter van Os, captain of the Kortenhoef Landstorm, mentioned in Perk's diary entry for 15 March 1814:
Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2014