Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo
Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo
Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo

Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo

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The Duke of Wellington described the Battle of Waterloo as ‘the most desperate business I ever was in. I was never so near being beat’.

The courage of British troops that day has been rightly praised ever since, but the fact that one-third of the forces which gave him his narrow victory were subjects, not of George III, but of the King of the Netherlands, has been almost completely ignored. This book seeks to correct a grave injustice through the study of Dutch sources – both primary and secondary – the majority of which have never been used by English-speaking historians.

The Dutch-Belgians have been variously described as inexperienced, incompetent and cowardly, a rogue element in the otherwise disciplined Allied Army. It is only now being tentatively acknowledged that they alone saved Wellington from disaster at Quatre Bras.

He had committed a strategic error in that, as Napoleon advanced, his own troops were scattered over a hundred kilometres of southern Belgium. Outnumbered three to one, the Netherlanders gave him time to concentrate his forces, and save Brussels from French occupation. At Waterloo itself, on at least three occasions when the fate of the battle ‘hung upon the cusp’ their engagement with the enemy aided British recovery. Their commander – the Prince of Orange – is viciously described as an arrogant fool, ‘a disaster waiting to happen’ and even a dangerous lunatic. According to the assessment of the Duke himself, he was a reliable and courageous subordinate.

Table of Contents


1 The Netherlands
2 The Creation of the Netherlands Army
3 The Armée du Nord
4 Coalition
5 Language
6 Brussels
7 The Netherlands Commanders
8 The Prince of Orange
9 Strategies
10 The French Advance
11 The Battle of Quatre Bras
12 Preparation
13 Waterloo Acts I and II
14 Waterloo Acts III and IV
15 Waterloo Act V
16 The Pursuit
17 The Myth of Waterloo
18 Concealment
19 Aftermath – the Netherlands

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