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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Horse Artillery Officers of the Netherlands Serving from 1813 to 1815: Smissen, Jacques-Louis-Dominique, Baron van der

By Geert van Uythoven

Van der Smissen was born in Brussels (capital of present day Belgium) on 21 October 1788, son of Henri van der Smissen and Marie-Anne Vanhaelen. He began his military career in French service when he joined the 3me regiment d’artillerie à cheval on 1 July 1809 as a volunteer. On 9 August of that year he became a sous-lieutenant. He took part in the 1812 campaign in Russia, and was pensioned out of the French army on 17 March 1813. On 1 March 1814 Van der Smissen joined the Netherlands army as a major with the horse artillery. Being one of the more experienced ‘southern’ artillery officers available, he was appointed Commander of the artillery of the 3rd Netherlands Division (Lieutenant-General David Hendrik Baron Chassé). Not taking part in the battle of Quatre-Bras, during the battle of Waterloo on 18 June the Division stood near Braine l’Alleud village on the far right flank of the Anglo-Allied army. At 3.00 p.m. the 3rd Division was ordered to move in the direction of the centre to link up with the British Division ‘Clinton’, placed in second line on the right wing of the Anglo-Allied army. With the Foot artillery battery ‘Lux’ arriving somewhat later, it was united with the Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ and both batteries were 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, he ordered Major Van der Smissen to sent Horse artillery battery ‘Krahmer’ into the firing line, which contributed greatly to the outcome of the battle, seemingly under the direction of Major Van der Smissen himself. For his efforts he was appointed a knight 3rd class of the Militaire Willemsorde (‘Military order of William’) on 18 July 1815. On 15 August 1818 he received his honourable discharge of the Netherlands army. He died in 1856.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: April 2014