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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Organization, Strategy & Tactics

History and Organisation of the Dutch 8th Militia Battalion

By Marco Bijl


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

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

The 12th Militia Battalion is Raised.

The 12th (later 8th) Dutch Militia was one of the 45 battalions of militia infantry raised in 1814. The unit was formed from conscripts and volunteers of the Den Haag Military District, the Netherlands (18). Between March and May 1814, 846 man and 39 officers joined the battalion. Many of them were not in the unit by the time of the Waterloo Campaign. Many of these "first joiners' retired (mostly officers), others were going to overseas units, or were simply leaving the battalion for various other reasons (14, 15). As the unit was raised in Den Haag they were stationed at the Zoutman Kazerne (barracks). These barracks were built 1807 on a place called "Warmoesland" behind "Westeinde". The buildings were eventually torn down and there are no known pictures or drawings of them (54). Luitenant-Kolonel Willem, de Graaf (Count), van Bijlandt was appointed the first commander. It was under his leadership that the unit became a military battalion (14).

Van Bijlandt
Original signature of Van Bijlandt, taken from one of his original letters.

Battalion Organization

See the names of officers and men. The information below is from the Dutch "Requil Militair 1813,1814 & 1815", a bundle of the original Dutch army orders issued every year (22, 70).

The militia battalion numbers 1-20 were Dutch, 21-45 Belgium. Besides these 45 battalions there were the 16 regular infantry battalions (numbered 1-16), 3 Dutch jager (17, 18, and 27), 2 Belgium jager (35 and 36) battalions, 7 Colonial and one colonial depot (numbered 19-26 and 33) battalions, one garrison (34) and 4 Swiss battalions (in two regiments, battalion numbers 29-32).

The 8th Militia was composed as all Dutch and Belgium infantry units were, and consisted of 6 companies and 1 depot company. The 1st and 6th Companies were designated as Flank Companies. The official nomination of the companies was: Left and Right Flank Company and 1st - 4th Center Companies; but a simple numbering 1-6 was also used. The Flank Companies formed the elite units of the battalion, comprising the best men.

In theory the 8th Militia had 6 companies of 129 men and 11 active battalion staff members; 785 men total (of which 23 officers). The battalion in June 1815 in Belgium had a strength of 561 men and 22 officers and was therefore not up to strength.

The Battalion Staff

The Battalion Staff was composed as below (14 in total of who 3 are mostly with the depot company). Where possible the original names of the 8th are given:

Officers of the Staff

1 Luitenant-kolonel (first Van Bijlandt, later de Jongh)
1 Majoor* (Stavenise de Braauw )(later Kapitein Sijbers)
1 Kapitein van Kleeding [captain of clothing -- he was normally with the Depot Company]
1 1e Luitenant-kwartiermeester*[also with the Depot Company]
1 1e Luitenant-adjudant
1 Aide-chirurgijn (Wilson)
2 Chirurgijns 3de klasse

Troops of the Staff

1 Adjudant onderofficier [adjutant-N.C.O.] ( Adj. De Vriese)
1 Tamboer-majoor (major-drummer); (Tamb-Maj Ceppel)
1 Korporaal-tamboer [corporal-drummer]
1 Korperaal-Pijper [corporal piper]
1 Meester kleer- en slobkousenmaker (Sergeant) [Master tailor and Gaiter-maker] (Korp Fistel)
1 Meester schoenmaker (Korporaal) [master shoemaker] (Korp Vosse)|
1 Meester geweermaker (Korporaal) [master gun-smith]

Organisation of a Company In this case, it is the 6th flank Company

A company was composed as follows (129 men in total):


1 Kapitein (Thomson)
1 1e Luitenant (Werner)
1 2e Luitenant (Cantzlaar)


1 Sergeant-majoor (Woesthof)
4 Sergeants (Bijl, Eringaard, Nijhauser and Ten Hengel)
1 Fourier (paid as a Sergeant) [quartermaster-sergeant] (Sonne)
8 Korporaals (Jongh, de, Overgaauw, Verschuur, Pollock, Beij, de, Hogewoning, Borzie and Hoogwerf)
2 Tamboers (Opbroek & Henriette).
1 Piper (Van Helden)
1 Sappeur (in the Right Flank Company with the rank of Corporal) (Sondervang)|
107 Soldiers

The Depot Company

The depot consisted of 1 company, which was to have a minimum strength of 130 men (N.C.O.'s and soldiers). It remained at the battalion's garrison place, Den Haag. The depot company had the following cadre:


1 Majoor (Also part of the Battalion Staff -- charged with the administration of the Company and the instruction of the new recruits)
1 Luitenant-kwartiermeester [quartermaster] (Also part of the Battalion Staff)
1 Kapitein van Kleding (Also part of the Battalion Staff)
1 Kapitein
1 1e Luitenant
2 2e Luitenants


1 Sergeant-majoor
6 Sergeants
1 Fourier
12 Korporaals
4 Tamboers
2 Pipers
1 Sappeur
129 Enlisted

Some Facts about the Composition of the 8th Militia Battalion

Age of Enlisted Soldiers:

Of all enlisted soldiers 286 were 20 years old or younger; 388 men were between the ages of 21 and 30; while 163 men were between the ages of 31 and 40. There were 40 men between 41 - 50 years and one many was over 50! The average age was 25 years and 8 eight months.

Enlisted or Conscripts:

Around 60% of the men were volunteers.


When the unit was raised in March 1814, there were 9 officers who were very old and hd been recalled from retirement. They helped to raise the unit, but all were retired again within six months.


In June 1814, the amount of enlisted was highest -- at 855 men. But soon after that this amount began to decline. Between March 1814 and June 1815 there were 49 deserters and 161 man who left the unit for several reasons. Most of them went to overseas army units like the 2nd Battalion 5th Regiment which was in the East Indies and the 21st East Indies Jager battalion. Many men also went to the newly raised navy. Some went out for illness or died. Some had accidents during the service, some went to prison and some were replaced by other men. The battalion in June 1815, when it was in Belgium had a strength of 561 men and 22 officers. In the depot were still 84 man left behind.


Although many books say that Dutch militia units were green troops this is certainly not the case. Although 61% of the men of the 8th Militia were recruits, 39% were experienced men, some with long histories in the military service.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2008

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