Reviews: Military Books

1815: From Mobilization to War, Volume 1

Muilwijk,  Erwin. 1815: From Mobilization to War, Volume 1. Bleiswijk (The Netherlands): Sovereign House Books, 2012. 280 p. ISBN# 9789081931816. Paperback. $32.60

There are two editions of “Volume 1”, a coloured edition and a black and white edition. I am reviewing the black and white edition. Erwin Muilwijk has undertaken to explore a subject usually given a cursory look at in the history of the Campaign of 1815— the contribution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to this campaign and the defeat of Emperor Napoleon I. This is the first volume in a four volume set entitled The Netherlands Army during the Waterloo Campaign. “Volume 1” will cover from mobilisation to war giving details on the period from the formation of the new Kingdom of the Netherlands to the eve of the Battle of Quatre Bras. The volume is a large paperback divided into an “Author’s  Preface”, twenty-six chapters, “Annexes” (detailing the deployment of the army), “Bibliography”, “List of 21 Illustrations”, “List of 11 Maps”, and an “Index”.

This volume, a fresh perspective, is both enlightening and entertaining.  It is well-written and is expertly end-noted in each chapter by the author with much detail adding to the text.   For example, the notes contain short biographies of the key players. My mother, being a Belgian war-bride, I was aware, at an early age, of the basic contribution of the Belgians (and the Dutch) to the victory at Waterloo.  So the background information contained in Erwin’s book is especially interesting, as it should also be to those not so aware. Here, we are treated to the relationship between the newly created King of the Netherlands and Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, as we are with His Grace’s relationship with both General the Prince of Orange, his Corps Commander and Commander of the Netherlands Mobile Army and his other commanders. Some may be surprised at the author’s conclusions regarding these relationships. No hints here! We are also given interesting information on the Prussian forces garrisoned within the borders of the new Kingdom.

As befits a military history, Erwin provides nice considerably detailed background information on the merging of two separate forces, the units raised by the Belgians and Dutch when they rebelled and which had fought against Napoleon since 1813.  He also includes the details on the further amalgamation of the Kingdom’s forces with the allied forces to form the Duke of Wellington’s army. The Kingdom provided four divisions, plus an independent brigade to this army. As volume 1 ends on the eve of the Battle of Quatre Bras, we are presented with a fresh look at the decisions reached before 16 June which affected that fateful battle. Again, no hints here!

The volume has enough detail and information to satisfy any historian from the academic to the newly interested. Definitely the new series deserves to be in the collection of anyone who enjoys studying or just reading about the campaign of 1815.  1815: From Mobilization to War is highly recommended.

The black & white and colour editions of 1815: From Mobilization to War is available from Lulu.  http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/erwin-muilwijk/1815-from-mobilisation-to-war/paperback/product-20219682.html

Reviewed by Ron McGuigan

Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2013

 

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