A Concise History
of the Netherlands
Battaillon Jagers
No. 27

in the Waterloo Campaign, 1815

Part I

Majoor Hans Boersma
Battaillon Jagers No. 27
1e Brigade
2e Nederlandsche Divisie
I Corps
Anglo-Allied Army


A number of persons have contributed in making this article as it is presented here. My thanks go firstly to Sjak Draak of the Royal Netherlands Army & Arms Museum and the Bataljon Infanterie van Linie No. 7 re-enactment group, for his guidance in finding sources and sharing his knowledge on matters of unit organisation and battalion flags, and to Victor Krone of the Bataljon Jagers No. 27 re-enactment group for doing the same regarding unit organisation and light infantry tactics. Geert van Uythoven spent quite some time digging up data from his library and previewed the article, which resulted in improvements. Anneke Huitink, musical conductor, was of great help with the interpretation and transcription of the bugle calls into midi format. Erwin Muilwijk of the Bataljon Jagers No. 27 re-enactment group kindly provided me with a copy of the skirmishing regulations.

Terminology, language

Where appropriate, all ranks and organisational designations of specific units are in contemporary Dutch or French. Where I considered Dutch designations too dissimilar from the English ones, I have added a translation.

The designation "Belgian" does not refer to a nationality, but rather to a regionality: that of the former Austrian Netherlands, which in 1815 were included in the new Kingdom of the Netherlands. "Belgian" was an adjective used with some frequency at the time, and there certainly was some sense of a Belgian identity; Belgium however first became an independent nation in 1831.

1. Genealogy of the Battalion, 1813-1818

On 16 December 1813 the Belgian Major A.J.G. Chevalier de Perez is charged to raise a Belgian battalion of Jäger. The formation takes place in Breda, later in Geertruidenberg and soon after in Kampen. This unit is referred to as the Battaillon Jagers van Perez.

On 9 January 1814 the Battaillon Jagers van Perez receives the number 3, its designation thus becoming Battaillon Jagers No. 3. After 22 January command is taken over by Kolonel Cornabé.

On the same day the formation of the Battaillon Jagers No. 6 is ordered, taking place in Zutphen, later in Doesburg. Its first commander is Kapitein C.T.W. van Glockman, later succeeded by Luitenant- kolonel Godefroy.

In June 1814 the 2ème Bataillon Vélites [1] of the French Garde Impériale arrives in the Netherlands from Boulogne. It consists of 396 Dutchmen and 96 men of other nationalities, and is commanded by Luitenant-kolonel J.J. Westenberg. [2]

On 18 October 1814, by decision of 23 September of that year, the non-Belgian men of the Battaillon Jagers No. 3 and a small part of the Vélites are incorporated into the Battaillon Jagers No. 6. [3]

On 15 January 1815 the Battallion Jagers No. 6 is renumbered No. 27, its designation thus becoming Battaillon Jagers No. 27.

As part of a reorganisation of the Army, ordered on 8 October 1815, the Battalion is to be incorporated into the 15de Afdeeling [division] Infanterie, together with the Battaillons Nationale Militie No.'s 39, 40 and 41. This is probably effectuated only months later, as the Battalion is still in France at this time; the Army's weekly strengths of 2 October and 27 November 1815 still display the old organisation of single battalion units organised in Brigades and Divisions subsequently. After the end of the campaign in France the Battalion returns to the Netherlands, arriving in its cantonments in Mons (4 companies), Binche (1 company) and Thuin (1 company) on 14 and 15 December 1815 respectively.

By order of 28 November 1818 the incorporation of the single battalion units into Afdeelingen is being continued: the Line Infantry and Jäger Battalions of the Army are disbanded and incorporated into the 3 Militia Battalions of the Afdeeling to which they belong. Consequently the Battaillon Jagers No. 27 is broken up as follows: each Company is divided in three parts, which parts are incorporated into the sister companies of the Battaillons Nationale Militie No.'s 39, 40 and 41; for instance the 3 divisions of the Left Flank Company go to the left flank companies of the 3 Militia battalions mentioned.

On 27 February 1819 a renumbering of units is ordered. The Battaillon West-Indische Jagers No. 10 receives the number 27.

The traditions of the battalion were not taken over.

1.1 Footnotes

[1] Vélites = pupils. This was the former Koninklijk Hollandsch Legioen Véliten [Royal Dutch Legion of Vélites], raised by Louis Napoleon, King of Holland from 1806-1810.
[2] In the Waterloo campaign Luitenant-kolonel Westenberg would command the Battaillon Nationale Militie No. 5.
[3] In November 1814 a good 200 men (rank and file) of the Battaillon Jagers No. 3 have been transferred to the Belgian Bataillon de Chasseurs No. 10, later renumbered No. 36; the remaining 336 are incorporated into the Battaillon Jagers No. 6, as well as 80 Vélites. The rest of the Vélites are incorporated into the Battaillon Jagers No. 18.

2. Organisation and Composition of the Battalion, 1815

Like all Netherlands infantry battalions, the Battaillon Jagers No. 27 consisted of 6 companies and 1 depot company. [1] The 1st and the 6th Companies were designated as Flank Companies. [2] The official nomination of the companies was: Left and Right Flank Company and 1st-4th Centre Companies; but a simple numbering 1-6 was also used. The Flank Companies formed the elite units of the battalion, comprising the best men. [3]

As we have seen in the previous, 80 former Vélites of the Garde Impériale was incorporated into the battalion; These should not be seen as crack or veteran troops: the Vélites were recruited from orphans, street children and children from soldiers fallen in battle; they had to be at least 10 years of age and were not to be older than 16 years. Although this small contingent of Vélites certainly will have formed a valuable contribution to the battalion given its probable high level of training and discipline, it should thus be noted that these soldiers were young or very young, and that they had no or very limited combat experience. Indeed it is not unlikely that a substantial part of them will have been placed in the Depot Company, since the youngest and weakest soldiers were dispatched there.

The Battalion's organisational strength was 23 officers and 766 N.C.O.'s and soldiers, the depot company excluded. On 12 June 1815 the Battalion had 23 officers, 786 N.C.O.'s and soldiers in the field, with 7 horses attached. The N.C.O.'s and soldiers included 667 Dutchmen, 43 Germans, 26 Belgians and 15 men of other nationalities. [4] Of these, 182 men had combat experience, having served either in Napoleon's Army or in one of his enemies' forces. All were volunteers.

On 15 June 1815 the Battalion had the following strength: 23 officers, 739 N.C.O.'s and soldiers, and 2 horses attached. [5]

The Battalion in Line Formation

Plate 1: A schematic view of the battalion in line formation, with the names of the Company Commanders and the Battalion Commander.

2.1 The Battalion Commander

On the 28th of April 1815 Luitenant-kolonel Jan Willem Grunebosch, born in Leiden on the 29th of November 1783, replaced Luitenant-kolonel Godefroy as commander of the battalion. His military curriculum vitae shows he was an experienced officer:

In service of the Batavian Republic
In service of the Kingdom of Holland
In service of France
In service of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

2.2 The Battalion Staff

The Battalion Staff was composed as follows:

Officers of the Staff
Troops of the Staff

* Normally placed with the Depot Company

2.3 Organisation of a Company

A company was composed as follows:

Schematic of a Company

X Luitenant-kolonel; A 1e Luitenant-adjudant; C Kapitein; 1 1e Luitenant; 2 2e Luitenant; M Sergeant-majoor; S Sergeant; F Fourier; V Vaandeldrager; K Korporaal; T Tamboer; H Halvemaanblazer

Plate 2: A zoom-in of Plate 1: this is a schematic view of the 3rd Centre Company of Kapitein de Nave in standard battle line formation, in 2 instead of 3 ranks since April 1815, with the prescribed standard positions of the various officers, N.C.O.'s etc. indicated. Each company consisted of 2 platoons; each platoon consisted of 2 sections. On the right of Kapitein de Nave's company is also highlighted the Vaandelwacht [colour guard], adjoining on the left flank of the 2nd Platoon of the 2nd Centre Company of Kapitein de Burleux, which platoon consequently was referred to as Vaandel-peloton [colour platoon]. The position of the Colour Platoon as it is displayed here is that of the parade order: when the battalion advanced its 2nd rank would be in line with the companies' first ranks; when firing its first rank would be in line with the companies' 2nd rank.

2.4 The Depot Company

The depot consisted of 1 company, which was to have a minimum strength of 130 men (N.C.O.'s and soldiers). It remained at the battalion's garrison place, Doesburg. The depot company had the following cadre:


* Part of the Battalion Staff

2.5 Footnotes

[1] Since 23 April 1814; prior to that, an infantry battalion comprised 10 companies.
[2] There was no distinction between a Grenadier and a Voltigeur Company, although contemporary writings often use these terms as a holdover from the French.
[3] Notably: the elite of the battalion, not elite troops. In the line and militia battalions, the 2 flank companies were to operate as light infantry; in the Jäger battalions of course all 6 companies were designated as light infantry.
[4] The reader will notice that these numbers added up (751) do not match the strength per 12 June (786), or that of 15 June (739). All data in this paragraph is taken from De Bas and De Bas/De Wommersom; until now I have not been able to explain this difference of 35 men. Notably De Bas/De Wommersom appear to offer contradictory data in this case; perhaps they used strengths of another date.
[5] I cannot account for the negative difference of 47 men between the morning states of 12 and 15 June other than by possible explanations: detachments to other units, places or cantonments, deserters or sick. Note that the number of horses has dropped also, from 7 to 2. Also, sometimes all men of the battalion were counted and sometimes only combatants; in the field the battalion counted 40 non- combatants (the Staff, musicians and Quartermaster-Sergeants). Also note that the Battalion on 12 June had, strictly speaking, a surplus of 20 men.

3. Uniforms, Equipment and Armament

Bataljon Jagers No. 27 Re-enactment Group

Plate 3: Part of the Bataljon Jagers No. 27 re-enactment group in action. Photograph by Robin Muilwijk.


Bell-topped shako of Austrian pattern, with front and rear peaks. On the front a brass stringed bugle with the battalion number on top. Orange cockade with yellow loop and button. Green plumes for the 4 centre companies, green tipped yellow for both flank companies.

Short dark green coat of British pattern, single-breasted, with a row of 9 yellow buttons with battalion number. Lemon yellow collar, cuffs and tunic front piping; dark green shoulder-straps and cuff flaps, piped lemon yellow. [1] Red turnbacks. The two Flank Companies wore dark green shoulder rolls piped lemon yellow. Buglers wore yellow swallow's nest wings with golden lace. The Major-drummer wore golden swallow's nest wings with golden lace.

Wide grey trousers over short grey gaiters. Grey greatcoat.

Black crossed leather belts, black leather cartridge pouch. Brown hide knapsacks. Uncoloured linen haversack. British light blue canteens, or possibly tin water bottles, as the former were found to be of bad construction.

Armament: "Brown Bess" musket with bayonet. These were used muskets, delivered by the British in 1813 and 1814. Many of them had to undergo several repairs, after which they were usable at best; bayonets in some cases had to be hammered onto the barrels in order to be reliable in battle. [2]

Sergeants and Korporaals were armed with a short sabre: sword knots of white ribbon with orange tassel for Korporaals, of silver ribbon with orange tassel for Sergeants.


Officers' coats were long-tailed. When on campaign they wore the universal orange waist sash over their coat. Shako plume of cock's feathers in the colour and size of the ordinary plume. Tight grey trousers and black boots à la Souvarov; rounded top at front, without tassels.
Armament consisted of a sabre, hanging on a white leather belt over the right shoulder, under the coat. Sword knots partly of silver and partly of orange, with heavy bullion fringe for the ranks above Luitenant; light fringe for Luitenants.

Rank Distinctions

3.1 The battalion flag in the Royal Netherlands Army & Arms Museum

Battalion Flag

Plate 4: The Battalion Flag

In June 1815 the Netherlands Army had no official colours to carry into the field. Due to political events, the Waterloo campaign and reorganisations within the Army colours would only be issued as late as September and October 1820. As a temporary measure fanions [3] were issued in October or December 1815, in all probability 3 per battalion: two small flags of which the pole was to be stuck into the barrel of a musket, each to be carried by a Sergeant, called Guide, placed on the flanks of the battalion; and one larger flag, called "battalion flag", referred to as "colour" in exercise, to be carried by a Sergeant or a Sergeant-majoor, called Vaandeldrager [colour bearer], placed in the centre of the battalion [see plate 2]. It is uncertain what these flags looked like, but it seems apparent that they will have been of a uniform design. Battalion flags remained in use after the official colours were issued in 1820; they were replaced by extra colours in 1829. The flag collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam contains 10 fanions from 1831; their design may be based on those of the October/December 1815 pattern.

There are sources, both visual and written, that suggest that at least some Netherlands battalions used "unofficial" battalion flags during the Waterloo campaign, notably the Battaillon van Linie No. 7, the Battaillons Nationale Militie No. 8 and possibly No. 5. [4] This is hardly surprising, as manoeuvring a battalion in the field without a flag in the centre merely adds difficulty to the execution of the various movements. Moreover, Netherlands infantry regulations (an almost direct translation of the French regulations of 1791) prescribe the use of a battalion flag and two fanions. Providing instruments like these lay within the competence of the battalion commanders; where in use, the flags will probably have been designed by the commanders themselves. Visual sources show rather straightforward designs: plain orange flags or orange flags with a simple unit designation; some visual sources show the national tricolour is used.

The collection of the Royal Netherlands Army & Arms Museum in Delft contains two 1815 battalion flags: of the Bataillon de Chasseurs No. 36 and the Battaillon Jagers No. 27 [plate 4]. [5] Of both flags the colours appear very faded; of No. 36 to white, of No. 27 to dark green-brown. It seems obvious that the No. 27 flag has been orange; for the No. 36 it seems possible to me that white was actually its original colour. [6] Both flags are about 80 cm by 80 cm in size, which, notably, matches the size of the French battalion flags of 1812-1815.

Taking into account the relatively short time these battalions existed (No. 27: January 1815 – November 1818, No. 36: April 1815 – November 1818), and considering the general issuing of battalion flags in October or December 1815 as well as the different design of the No. 27 and the No. 36 flags, it appears to be certain that at least one of these flags is an "unofficial" one, [7] possibly used in the Waterloo campaign.

When compared to the 1820 colours and the 1831 fanions, the battalion flag of Jagers No. 27 has an atypical appearance on both its sides. The emblem on the obverse, a bugle with the battalion number in the centre is non-standard, and interestingly it differs from that worn on the Jagers' shakos; a bugle with the unit number in its centre would appear on shakos only after 1823, but with the bugle's bell on the right. On the reverse, the motto "AAN KONING EN VADERLAND GEWYD" [to king and fatherland devoted] differs from the general "VOOR VADERLAND EN ORANJE" [for fatherland and Orange] and "VOOR KONING EN VADERLAND" [for king and fatherland] displayed on the shako plates of the National Militia.

Until now I have not come across any concrete evidence that this battalion flag was used in the field in June 1815. Indeed light infantry units often did leave their colours behind either in the depot or behind own lines, as their field tactics could make it difficult to protect them from damage or capture. However, if this is indeed a pre-October/December 1815 flag, as its design leads me to believe, it may very well have been carried into the field; firstly because this is not a colour but a battalion flag, without the symbolic value of the latter; in all probability foremost a manoeuvring instrument rather than an object of honour or decoration. Secondly the battalion was, as we will see in Part II, "still far behind in training" and had "only little experience in skirmishing", which means the flag would have been of good use. At Waterloo, the battalion did not operate as light infantry. [8]

3.2 Footnotes

[1] Uniform regulations of January 1815; before, facings were poppy red.
[2] It should be noted that the Brown Bess musket was an unbefitting firearm for light infantry: the windage, or difference between the diameter of the barrel (0,76 inch/1,93 cm) and the size of the musket ball (0,71 inch/1,80 cm), made its shooting most inaccurate: the weapon was unsuitable for aimed fire and best used for volley fire. The reason the Jagers nonetheless received the Brown Bess is probably because the French muskets (Modèle 1777 Corrigé) that were still around in some numbers were in a very poor condition. In fact, the ballistic performance and maximum range of the Brown Bess was inferior to that of the French Modèle 1777 Corrigé — something that was recognised in the high command of the Netherlands army where the issuing of the Brown Bess was seen as a temporary measure. As early as August 1814, while the Brown Bess was still being widely distributed, it was decided that the French musket would become the standard infantry firearm for the Army. It would be produced in the Netherlands as the Model 1815, having a slightly shorter barrel than the 1777 Corrigé.
[3] In Dutch: richtvlag; nominations in English: guide flag, guidon, pennant, marker pennant.
[4] Luitenant-kolonel de Jongh of the Battaillon Nationale Militie No. 8 in his after action report on the battle of Les Quatre Bras: "[...] the cannon balls of the enemy artillery [...] now began to fall in it [the battalion, H.B.], by which the sergeant-majoor colour bearer and two N.C.O.'s of the colour platoon were badly wounded [...]"
[5] The emblem on the obverse is taken from a photograph of the flag, made by me. The way the flag is exhibited hampers the making of a good overall photograph.
[6] Until now no scientific investigation has been undertaken to establish the original colours of these flags. Description of the No. 36 flag in its present state: size: approximately 80 centimetres by 80 centimetres; colour: white; obverse: outer border with a simple oak leaf-like outer edge; in every corner a small bugle, diagonally placed with their bells pointed towards the centre; in the centre the text "BATAILLON/DE/CHASSEURS/No. 36"; reverse: as the obverse, except for the centre, which displays the crowned royal cipher "W".
[7] Evaluating the design of the No. 36 flag leads me to the supposition that this may be a battalion flag of the December/October 1815 pattern. Firstly the design would lend itself very well for general use, and in fact it is closer to that of the official 1820 pattern than the design of the No. 27 flag is. Secondly the design is quite similar to that of the 1831 fanions in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. More or less contradicting this supposition is the fact that the text on the flag is in French rather than in Dutch, which appears to be pointing to an unofficial design, made by a French-speaking battalion commander. No. 36 was a Belgian Battalion; its commander, Luitenant-kolonel Ch. Goethals has a Dutch/Flemish sounding name, but no conclusions can be drawn from that. The same goes for Luitenant-kolonel Vandensande, commander of the Belgian Battaillon van Linie No. 7, of whom a confidential report from September 1815 notes that he "should apply himself to mastering the Dutch language, of which he has nor the tone nor the pronunciation." Although Dutch was the official command language, French was indeed a language much heard in the Netherlands Army of those days; Generaal Perponcher's Chief of Staff Kolonel van Zuylen van Nyevelt at the end of his divisional journal complains that the records could not be continued due to the emerging hostilities as well as the fact that "he had never had with the staff [...] an officer that has mastered the Dutch language".
[8] The reader will note that the arguments presented in this subchapter, and in the preceding note, are largely based on circumstantial evidence; clearly more research on this topic needs to be done.

4. Tactics

As mentioned, Netherlands infantry regulations were merely a translation of the French infantry regulations of 1791. Regarding line tactics however, just prior to the campaign a change of direction was made by the Commandant en Chef [commander-in-chief] of the Army, the Prince of Orange: [1] on 24 April 1815 he issued the order that from then on the troops, when operating in line formation, should be arrayed in 2 instead of in 3 ranks. Regarding the exact implementation of this order no specific documents are known to exist; in all probability the battalion commanders merely removed the middle rank and distributed its men over the 1st and 3rd (now 2nd) rank. The result was a British- style line formation commanded by a French-style cadre. The change was received with much criticism, and indeed the question arises whether it was sensible to apply such a drastic change to such a young Army with a major campaign looming on the horizon. An official motivation for the adoption of the 2-deep line is not known to me; a variety of reasons has been given by a variety of authors in the past, all of which make some sense: reducing vulnerability to artillery fire; increasing fire power; a necessary increase of unit frontage because of the fact that a lot of battalions were not on full strength; and, in general, British influence through the Prince of Orange, who was a General in the British as well as in the Netherlands Army. Whichever it may be, several after-action reports and eyewitness accounts confirm that Netherlands infantry indeed applied the two-deep line formation during the Waterloo campaign [2].

4.1 Light Infantry Tactics

While the formations and tactics of the Netherlands line infantry can be traced back directly to either French of British examples, Netherlands light infantry tactics appear to have a somewhat more distinctive character. They form about the most straightforward skirmishing system conceivable; when compared to French and British light infantry tactics, the Netherlands system stands out in simplicity, especially regarding the guidelines for the conduct of the individual skirmisher. Plate 5 shows the standard pattern; the numberings correspond with the subchapters below:

Netherlands Skirmishing Line

Plate 5. The Skirmishing Line

4.1.1 The Skirmishing Line

When a skirmishing line was to be established, the flank companies would be the first to be sent out, if necessary reinforced by a third company, as is illustrated above.

The 3 advanced companies would split up in platoons, being the base unit in the formation of the skirmishing line. Each of the 6 platoons would form up in 2-rank line formation, after which the commanding officer for that platoon would divide the platoon into 3 sections.

The left section would then advance to the left and forward, the right section to the right and forward. Both sections would immediately start spreading out while advancing, establishing the desired frontage in the act. Each section ideally would have an N.C.O. on both its flanks.

The 2 men that formed a file in closed formation would remain a co-dependent team throughout the skirmishing action. These skirmishing files would operate in a line, at intervals of about 10 or 12 paces. The 2 men of a file could operate behind or alongside each other, depending on the terrain and the situation at hand, but they would at all times stay in each other's view. Likewise, at least one of the two men would keep a clear line of sight to the middle section of the platoon that had remained behind, in order not to be cut off from it.

The number of skirmishers sent out and the distance between each of them would depend on the size of the frontage to be covered and the terrain conditions; a minimum distance of 5 paces between each skirmisher was to be maintained, however.

The terrain and the course of the action itself would determine the positions and movements of the skirmishers, but in all situations the N.C.O.'s would see to it that the skirmisher line would keep a certain degree of integrity; no large holes were to appear in it because of groups of skirmishers advancing or recoiling too fast or too slow.

The skirmishing line, thus established, would advance no further than 150 paces from the middle section, which would remain formed and in its position to provide close support.

4.1.2 The Residual Platoons in Close Support

Both in its initial movements as well as in the choice of its stationary supporting position the reserve section would take as much advantage of the terrain as possible: heights, woods, ridges etc. were to enable it to offer a more tenacious resistance if the skirmisher line would be forced to fall back before an enemy in force.

The commanding officer and the bugler would normally stay behind the middle of this reserve section, in order to control the movements and actions of the skirmishing line by bugle calls. The commanding officer would see to it that the reserve section remained out of small arms range, while at the same time keeping it ready to advance in support of the skirmishing line if necessary.

In combat, there would be a constant exchange of men between the reserve section and the skirmishing line: jammed guns, ammunition supply, the replacing of wounded or dead and a possible necessity of reinforcing or extending the skirmishing line would give ample reason for this. This exchange was to take place gradually, if possible.

In case of enemy cavalry attacks the supporting sections would form rallying squares to hold off the enemy until supported by the battalion reserve, or until they could fall back on it.

4.1.3 The Battalion Reserve

The reserve sections would never be placed further than 200 paces from the 3 formed companies in reserve: the battalion reserve. This, the main corps of the battalion, would at all times be the basis of the movements of the advanced companies operating in skirmishing order. Normally the battalion commander would place himself here; depending on course of the action he could either advance the main corps in support of his skirmishing formation, or call the latter back.

In Part II we will see that at Les Quatre Bras the principles described above were initially followed quite closely, but that the overstretched position of the battalion soon caused a dangerously large distance between the skirmishing formation and the battalion reserve.

4.2 The Individual Skirmisher

For the conduct of the individual Jager in the skirmishing line the regulations [3] give the following guidelines (paraphrased):

The movements of the skirmisher are free and unconstrained; it is recommended only that the skirmisher should not neglect entirely the cohesion of the line. In advancing as well as in retiring he will pay attention to this, in order to cover his fellow skirmishers as well as the corps from which they are detached, and in order not to be cut off from it. He will however not observe this rule too strictly; he will make the smallest advantage offered by the terrain to good use rather than stay in a strict formation.

The skirmisher both during firing and reloading will take as much advantage as possible of the terrain, taking cover behind trees, hedges, walls and in dry ditches etc., or behind any object that may serve as cover; in the open field he can lay down at will or move in irregular patterns as not to become an easy target for the enemy. Cover should always have an offensive potential, meaning that the skirmisher should be able to take aim at the enemy from it.

In general the two men of a skirmishing file will not fire simultaneously: the first man will not fire his weapon before the second has reloaded his. After having fired a shot he will advance and cover his companion who will be reloading his weapon in turn. This mutual support should however not be maintained too habitually; when solid cover is present there is no reason for firing in turns.

The skirmisher will only fire if he expects a good result from his shot. To fire, he will halt; even when advancing, he will stand still temporarily to take good aim. When available he will make use of objects such as trees and hedges etc. to support his musket, in order to take good aim. Also when in prone or lying position he will make use of anything that can support his firearm.

The skirmisher will at all times have his bayonet fixed on his musket as to be able to defend himself against attacking enemy cavalry. When attacked by a single cavalryman, the skirmisher should bear in mind that in the open field he needs not to fear his mounted opponent, while in obstructed terrain all disadvantages are on his opponent's side.

The skirmisher should at all times be very attentive to the bugle calls given by order of the officer commanding the skirmishing line, and follow them promptly; he should always bear in mind that he is only a part of a larger organisation, directed by the commanding officer, and that the latter is the only one who has overall knowledge about the general movements and course of the action.

When falling back on the reserve section the skirmisher should always do so by diagonal lines, adjoining on the flanks of the reserve, and he will under no circumstance fall back straight on its frontage.

Only in few cases the skirmisher will run, as this will merely cause untimely fatigue and a too hasty firing. Accelerated movement is only appropriate when the enemy attacks with cavalry, when the enemy tries to cut off the skirmisher line by an unanticipated move, when one seeks to drive the enemy form an advantageous position, or when one wants to prevent him from obtaining it; when one wants to obtain an advantageous position that is nearby, or when wants to end exposure to a murderous enemy fire.

All in all, the Netherlands skirmisher regulations for the individual are perhaps best summarised by the following quote:

"In these cases sound judgement will teach the skirmisher better than any regulation how he has to conduct himself in actual combat."

4.3 Bugle calls

Halvemaan Bugle

The bugles used were of the so-called Halvemaan type (literally: half-moon), in use in the Army since about 1795: brass signal instruments without valves, set in B flat. When blowing it, the bugler would hold it in such a way that the bell was pointed backwards over his right shoulder. Below are six of the signals that were in use in 1815, in midi format: [4]

To conclude, one of the two marches included in the bugler's bundle:

4.4 Footnotes

[1] This function was taken over by the Duke of Wellington on 7 May 1815, after being appointed Veldmaarschalk [Field Marshall] of the Netherlands Army by King Willem I.
[2] For instance: De Bas/De Wommersom, Vol. III, p. 338; De Jongh, p. 19; Scheltens, p. 84 (also in Coppens/Courcelle: Le Chemin de Ohain, p. 32 and 35 respectively). De Jongh and Scheltens even mention their battalions lying down on the ground at Waterloo, in British fashion.
[3] See the sources below, "Algemeene Voorschriften" etc. (General regulations on skirmishing). The copy used was printed in 1832; as it is a 9th edition, these are in all probability the same regulations as those used in 1815.
[4] The signals and the march are included in the skirmishing regulations. They were composed and published in 1814 by Jacob Rauscher, a German military musician in Dutch service since 1793, and established by royal decree in November of that year. It should be noted that on instruments of this type a note sounds one tone lower than notated; in these midi files I have therefore transposed the signals down one note. In reality they probably sounded even a bit lower, as from the 18th century on the pitch of instruments was gradually tuned up. Since 1939 the standard is A=440 Hertz; in 1815 it probably lay around A=430 Hertz. This is a difference not reproducible with the software I used; it is smaller than a minim. The difference may have been larger though, as I do not know to what extent the manufacturers of military signal instruments followed the musical innovations of their days.

5. Sources

6. Links