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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

Cavalry Officers of the Netherlands: Frederik Maurits van Heiden

By Geert van Uythoven

Born in The Hague, Netherlands, 22 September 1776. Son of Sigismund Pieter Alexander van Heiden Reinestein (1740-1806) and Maria Frederica van Reede van Amerongen.

Army of the Dutch Republic

He entered the army of the Dutch Republic on 14 February 1792, as an extraordinaire ingenieur (‘extra-ordinary engineer’). An extraordinaire ingenieur was an aspirant engineer, used to assist officer-engineers whenever necessary. As such, they could gain the necessary experience for their further career, with only their expenses paid. On 17 March 1794, Van Heiden was promoted luitenant-ingenieur (‘lieutenant-engineer’). Served during the 1793 and 1794 campaigns in Brabant and Flandern, serving during the siege of Landrecies. Not prepared to serve in the army of the Batavian Republic he left the country with many fellow officers, joining the Rassamblement of Osnabrück were many Dutch officers collected to continue fighting against the French now occupying their fatherland. However, the Prussian King forbade their presence and forced them to disperse. Many left for Britain, receiving an allowance (half-pay), but soon Van Heiden decided to enter Brunswick service.

Brunswick Army

On 4 March 1796, Van Heiden entered the Brunswick army as a cornet with the Dragoner-Regiment “Prinz Ludwig”, commanded by Major-General Baron Friedrich Adolphus von Riedesel (who commanded the German contingent in the British army in Canada 1776-1783) during the American War of Independence). On 2 May 1798 he was promoted lieutenant. In 1806, after Brunswick was incorporated in the Westphalian Kingdom by Napoleon, and after the creation of the Kingdom of Holland, Van Heiden asked and received his dismissal of the Brunswick army and returned to his fatherland.

Army of the Kingdom of Holland

On his return, Van Heiden entered Dutch service, appointed 1st lieutenant with the Korps Koninklijke Gendarmerie on 26 February 1807. This corps had to do police service, and had as well to provide couriers and guides for the army. Van Heiden served in Holland during 1808 and 1809. On 6 September 1809 the corps was disbanded, and Van Heiden transferred to the Garde te Paard (‘Horse Guards’) still holding the same rank.

Kingdom of Holland Incorporated into the French Empire

After the Kingdom of Holland had become part of the French Empire, on 14 November 1810 the Garde te Paard (‘Horse Guards’) became the 2me Regiment de Chevau-Léger Lanciers (also known as the ‘Dutch’ or ‘Red’ Lancers) of the Imperial Guard. 1st Lieutenant Van Heiden, with the rank of captain for being in a guard unit, became second in command of the 8th company of the 4th squadron, under Captain Werner. With his regiment, Van Heiden participated in the campaign in Russia 1812. Fought in the battle of Smolensk (17 August), the battle of the Moskowa (Borodino, 7 September), and Krasnöe (17 November). During the retreat while crossing of the Beresina (27-28 November) he was wounded to his leg, but managed to leave Russia alive. After having recovered from his wound he joined the French army again, as a captain with the 17th Dragoon Regiment on 18 March 1813. Campaign in Saxony, fighting at Dennewitz (6 September), Altenburg, and Zeitz. Participating in the battle of Leipzig (16-19 October), and again at the battle of Hanau (30 October).

Asked and received his dismissal from the French army on 6 May 1814. On half pay.

Netherlands Army

Entered Netherlands service on 23 December 1814, becoming on 1 January 1815 a cavalry-captain in the 6th Hussar Regiment, part of Van Merlen’s light cavalry brigade. Participated in the battle of Quatre-Bras on 16 June 1815. Van Heiden was killed ‘honourable’ during the battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, at the end of the battle during the general Allied advance against the remnants of the French army.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: October 2013