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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Foot Artillery Officers of the Netherlands Serving from 1813 to 1815: Lux, Johannes Hendrik

By Geert van Uythoven


Lux was born in The Hague (present day Netherlands) on 12 February 1787. His father came from Saxen-Gotha and his mother from the Paltz. His father had enlisted as a trumpeter in the Dutch Cavalerie Regiment ‘van Eck’, later becoming one of the four trumpeters of the Guardes du Corps squadron, the personal bodyguard of the Stadtholder; in 1789 finally becoming ‘trumpeter of State’, promoted to commissioned officer. On 18 December 1799 Johannes Hendrik Lux enlisted as ‘cadet-voluntair’ with the 2de Bataljon Artillerie, with free entrance to the artillery schools or to do his tour as a cadet-gunner, the two ways open to reach an officers rank. Note that Lux was only 12 years old then! He was promoted to ‘cadet-canonnier’ on 15 August 1800; ‘cadet-élève’ on 17 November 1801. On 28 June 1805 Lux was promoted 2nd Lieutenant with the 6th company of the 2de Bataljon Artillerie; and 1st Lieutenant on 8 August 1808 with the same unit, now renamed 6th company of the 2nd battalion of the Regiment Koninklijke Artillerie te voet. From 1805 to 1809, his company was in Zeeland, on Goedereede island as part of the kustkanonniers (‘coastal gunners’), which had to defend the coast against any landings of the enemy, i.e. the British. In 1809 his company was ‘evacuated’ to Brielle after the British invasion. Later that year his company was transferred to the Bath fortress, after it had been ‘retaken’ from the British. On 24 September of the same year, Lux took up a civilian post in the army as a master of magazines 2nd class in the fortress-city of Brielle. On 6 November 1809 he married Henrietta Wipperman, widow of J.J.M. de Serière du Bisournet who was 1st Lieutenant in the Light Infantry Regiment, daughter of a cavalry captain of German descent.

When the Kingdom of Holland was incorporated in the French Empire in 1810, Lux retained his post. In 1813 when the French were retreating out of the Netherlands, they kept occupied a number of fortress-cities including Brielle. On 1 December three hundred soldiers of the 4me Régiment Etrangers which were part of the garrison deserted and left the city to join the Allied cause, leaving the French governor with a few hundred unreliable men of Netherlands descent, and a mere handful of Frenchmen. Knowing that two hundred French marines were on their way to reinforce the garrison, a certain Jan Haak tried to persuade the Netherlands part of the garrison to take possession of the city. He failed however. Now Lux came forward, urging the men to do the same. A sergeant-major told the men: “now an officer whom we can trust has the lead!”. The men deciding to follow him, Lux led them trough the alleys of the city to the artillery park, where they fetched two small cannon. While detachments occupied the gates, Lux led the main force to the central market place, where the French governor had concentrated his reliable part of the garrison. Heavy fighting started, with both sides firing cannon and musketry from behind every cover available. After one and a half hour of fighting the Netherlanders managed to force their way into the Town Hall from behind. The French, surrounded and attacked in the back, surrendered. Some time later the French marines from Hellevoetsluis arrived at a gate, but retreated when they were fired at. For his deeds, Lux and fourteen others received the Silver ‘Brielle-medal’, commemorating the event. In addition, those persons could make a wish, which would be fulfilled by Prince William of Orange, the future king, whenever possible. Lux wished to return in military service with a higher rank then he held previously, at the post of second-inspector of the artillery in the Land of Voorne. He received his higher rank, but instead of becoming second-inspector, on 12 February 1814 Lux was appointed 1st captain with the horse artillery (an arm he had no experience with at all!) and was ordered to Utrecht to raise there the 4th or 5th company (exact which one is unknown). It seems probable that Lux was not happy with his new appointment, and that he applied for transfer, In any case, already on 1 January 1815 he transferred to the 2de bataljon artillerie van linie in the same rank, receiving command of the 1st company in garrison at The Hague. For the Waterloo campaign, the company made mobile a foot artillery battery.

Leaving Delft on 19 and 26 April in two halve batteries, it arrived with its Division on 30 April respectively 6 May. It was assigned to the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division (Chassé), not taking part in the battle of Quatre-Bras. However, during the battle of Waterloo, the 2nd Brigade (d’Aubremé) stood near Braine l’Alleud village on the far right flank. Therefore, the more mobile Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ was attached to it, while the battery ‘Lux’ came on the inner left wing of the Division, attached to the 1st Brigade (Detmers) which occupied the village itself. At 3.00 p.m., the 1st Brigade (Detmers) was ordered to link up with the British Division ‘Clinton, placed in second line on the right wing of the Anglo-Allied army. Initially, two infantry battalions and the battery ‘Lux’ had to remain in Braine l’Alleud. When it became clear that this flank was not threatened by the French, these units were also ordered to move, joining the Division again which was placed in low ground along the chaussee from Nivelles to Mont St. Jean, about 500 metres behind the Guard brigades ‘Byng’ and ‘Maitland’. Arriving here, battery Lux was united with the Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’, positioned some distance behind the infantry under the command of Major van der Smissen. When around 7.30 p.m. Lieutenant General Chassé noticed that the fire of the British artillery in front of him slackened, because of sustained casualties of the heavy French artillery fire and lack of ammunition, in addition observing the advance of the French Guard, on his own account he ordered Major Van der Smissen to sent Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ into the firing line. A short while later, battery ‘Lux’ was also ordered to advance. Unfortunately, the less experienced Captain Lux decided to use a hollow road for his advance, which was stopped by an overturned caisson, blocking any further movement. After having extricated his battery from this mess, his advance was hampered again, this time by masses of foot and horse and the difficult terrain. In addition both half batteries lost sight of each other, with the forward half battery straying off in the direction of Mont Saint Jean. Because of all this, the battery never reached the firing line, and the contribution of battery ‘Lux’ to the outcome of the battle has been insignificant. Later both half batteries found back each other again, and for the rest of the day stayed in reserve with the 2nd Brigade (d’Aubremé). According to some sources the battery finally deployed behind the hollow road, at the same spot where Maitland’s Guards had beaten off the attack of the French Guards, but in any case it did not fire a single shot. Apparently, Lux’ lack of experience, and the heavy and cumbersome equipment of his battery with all its gunners on foot walking alongside the guns and limbers, were the main cause of the inactivity of his battery. The battery bivouacked on the crest, between the battered British batteries. During the battle, the battery ‘Lux’ lost about 10 men dead or wounded.

After Waterloo, the 3rd Division became part of the 1st Netherlands Army Corps (Prince William of Orange), which took part in the advance on Paris. On 5 July the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Division, including battery ‘Lux’, occupied the Montmartre suburb of Paris. After that, all Netherlands artillery bivouacked in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Passy. On 17 July, the 3rd Division moved to the valley of Montmorency, with the battery ‘Lux’ at Domont, its train detachment 3 kilometres to the northeast in Moiselles.

After the Waterloo campaign, on 29 November the battery marched back to the Netherlands with the 2nd Brigade, being garrisoned in Mechelen, where its personnel was gradually replaced by men of the southern Netherlands. Lux stayed with the 2nd Artillery battalion, renamed 2nd Battalion field-artillery (‘2e Bataljon Veld-Artillerie’) in 1818, which became a ‘southern’ battalion in 1818. After Mechelen, he came in garrison in Ath and Mons, remaining there until 5 January 1830. Because of the Belgian rising the 2nd Artillery battalion was disbanded, Lux and a few other men returning to the north. Lux became captain with the 6e Bataljon Artillerie Nationale Militie (6th Militia Artillery Battalion, fortress-artillery), in garrison in the fortress-city Bergen-op-Zoom. Here he remained until his promotion on 21 February 1833, when he became major and commander of the artillery in Brielle, and on 16 December 1837 he was promoted lieutenant-colonel in the same function. He was pensioned out of the army on 22 March 1841, and died in Bergen op Zoom on 12 August 1865 at the age of 78.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2013