Non-Book Review: Wellington’s Hidden Heroes

Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch And The Belgians At Waterloo, by Veronica Baker-Smith

Admittedly, my reading about the Napoleonic Wars is not as deep or as broad as my reading of most 19th century history. Nevertheless, when I had completed my last book review for the Michigan War Studies Review and was looking through the books awaiting a happy home and a long and detailed review [1], I was struck by this particular volume as it appeals to my own personal sensibilities about recognizing those who are often not given full recognition by others. When one thinks of great martial nations of Europe, it is easy to think of the thin red line of English soldiers, the Prussian or German soldiers, the French of Napoleon’s time and earlier, the Roman legion, and a few other examples. One typically does not think of either the Dutch or the Belgians as being particularly skilled military peoples. Waterloo was fought, though, in Belgium, it should be noted, which Napoleon had invaded in his hundred days, and while the Belgians are a small people, they and the Dutch, who had languished under French oppression for the past twenty years or so, were fighting for their homeland and their freedom from French tyranny.

This book comes with the claim of being a revisionist history that uses previously unseen Dutch archival research to demonstrate the pivotal importance of the Dutch and Belgian troops to the Duke of Wellington’s force. Wellington’s usual force, it should be noted, had been heavily damaged as a result of the Battle of New Orleans earlier in 1815, and the relatively crack British troops had been removed from the continent after Napoleon had been exiled to Elba and were not yet ready, which meant that Wellington had to fight Napoleon’s army with the soldiers that were available and on hand, one third of whom were soldiers under the much-maligned Prince of Orange. It is a bit odd that the Dutch and Belgians had been denied the credit they deserved given their pivotal importance at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, but I suppose I can be counted on to want to read books that give credit where it is due and not often given. I look forward to reading a book that seeks to right a historical wrong in terms of the slander given to the honor of these Dutch and Belgian soldiers.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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4 Responses to Non-Book Review: Wellington’s Hidden Heroes

  1. Pingback: Non-Book Review: A More Civil War | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The German Army In War | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Batavia’s Graveyard | Edge Induced Cohesion

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