Saturday, 5 August 2017

4th Dutch Belgian National Militia Battalion

It has become received wisdom that the non-British parts of the Allied Army have had a poor hearing from British historians of the battle, and none more so than the Dutch-Belgian militia.

Given the events surrounding D'Erlon's attack, most of the attention has focussed on Bijlandt's brigade.  My personal instincts are that the revisionist historians over-state their case: in reality, Bijlandt did withdraw, but there were good reasons why this happened.  The Dutch-Belgian militia were less experienced than veteran British and KGL battalions, but then so were some British, Hanoverian, Nassau and Brunswick units which were equally raw.

There are various reasons given for this: Bijlandt's brigade was roughly handled at Quatre Bras (but then so was Picton's division); the Brigade was on the forward slope, exposed to the French artillery and unsupported by flanking brigades (although its right was covered by the sandpit).

There is less controversy about General Chassés 3rd Division, which was relatively unaffected by the battle until brought into the right-centre towards the end of the cavalry attacks, where it conducted itself with distinction.
I've chosen to represent the 4th Militia Battalion in General Detmers's Brigade.

Dutch Brigade Commander and staff

The uniform of the National Militia battalions was officially all the same, but unofficial differences may have arisen.  The basic uniform is shown below.

Some pictures show the Militia with a red plume but most show white.

Officer (they seem to have worn a Line shako) and drummer

A frequent assumption made about the Dutch Army at Waterloo was that it lacked experience.  A good study of the 8th Militia Battalion  shows a more variegated picture and can be found at Erwin van Muilwijk's website.

His research shows the following:  286 men in the battalion 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. Around 60% of the men were volunteers.  When the unit was raised in March 1814, there were 9 officers who were very old and had been recalled from retirement. They helped to raise the unit, but all were retired again within six months.  The battalion strength was 855 in June 1814. Between March 1814 and June 1815 there were 49 deserters and 161 man left the unit for various reasons. Most of them went to overseas army units and some to the Navy.  39% were experienced men, some with long histories in the military service.

Given all this, here is my square, formed to receive French cavalry.  There are about 400 figures in total.

The figures are mostly the Hat set with some Emhar, Hinton Hunt and Hagen.  The kneeling front rank are Newline.

The Prince of Orange and General Chassé.  The Chassé figure is the Lucky Toys Garibaldi.
The officers are a mixture of Art Miniaturen, Hat and, on the left, an Imex Alamo defender. 

Two Field officers, one is W1815, the other is from the Emhar Spanish set.

Flank companies.  The second row figures are Hinton Hunt.

The Drum Major is a Kennington conversion.  The drummers are a mix of Emhar, Hagen, Kennington, some Ykreol and one Qualicast.

The Pioneers are converted from the Hat British set and based on the picture below.

Flank Companies.  There aren't many sources to show whether the militia had flank companies or, if they did, what their uniforms looked like.  In accordance with the sources below, I've gone with green plumes for the Light company and red over white for the Grenadier company.
There is some evidence that this picture was done in Paris after Waterloo and that this Light Company soldier got his epaulettes and plume from captured French stock.

The nearest officer is Art Miniaturen.  The figure sat on the ammunition box is an Airfix conversion.

An Emhar figure in the corner loading.

The mounted officer is a Hagen Portuguese.

Light company

The Ensign is a conversion from the Revell 30 Years' War set

This staff officer is by Fine Scale Factory; his comrade is by Strelets

The drum major - mine is a little different from that shown below, which might be from the Dutch artillery judging by the trumpeter behind and is post-Waterloo.

The whole square

The Prince of Orange - Hinton Hunt.  The Prince spent most of the battle nearer to the centre leading  various Hanoverian battalions into trouble.  He joined his own national troops at this stage of the fight and was later wounded leading them forward.

Grenadier Company, modelled on the picture below.
Grenadier Company - red over white plume and swallow's nest wings.
Another picture showing Grenadier company soldiers although I'm unclear why he is wearing a Line shako - perhaps NCOs wore them?

This coat is of a Regular rather than Militia battalion but it shows the swallow's nest wings worn by flank companies.

This Dutch militia battalion is my thirteenth - two of which are double squares.  I thought I'd show all thirteen squares together - I need a bigger table!

Hanoverian landwehr

Nassauers in the foreground.

Two Nassau squares

Glosters in the foreground

51st behind the Nassau square

I like the red on the Nassau colpacks.

Glosters light company


Foot Guards

Rifle Brigade

Cameron Highlanders


Royal Welch Fusiliers

Highland Light Infantry


  1. It is always inspiring to see your ideas for conversions. 30YW Flagbearer - I never tried this:-) With the Hanoverian Jägers (Kielmannsegge?) I saw the Revell Union infantry officer. Great idea!

    The RSM officer was also a nice find!

    The numbers are of course impressing too:-)


  2. Thanks Uwe, I do like different conversions,it's almost as much fun as the painting.

  3. I'm always a bit lost for words after seeing your posts, Picton. They are simply too spectacular. I love your militiamen!

    Yours, WM

  4. Thank you WM, you are very kind. I should say that I review your blog every day and yours are much better painted than mine which are more about numbers than the beautiful attention to detail which you achieve.

  5. Very impressive work, all those squares! Love the Belgian and Dutch square to! And that are some wonderfull uniform plates! Thanks for sharing!