Thursday, June 11, 2015

Dutch Army 1793 Part I: ARMY

by Bouko J. de Groot

Shortly after the French declaration of war (Feb, '93), the Dutch infantry was enlarged to 42 regiments (each of 2 battalions of 7 companies) plus 2 independent battalions and 3 independent companies. Of these, 27 regiments had grenadiers: 1 company in each battalion (so per battalion 1 grenadier company and 6 musketeer companies). Some troops were "subsidised", foreign regiments hired by the Dutch (not to be confused with those actually in Dutch service, like the Swiss). These were:
- from Brandenburg 3 battalions (1.400 men)
- from Brunswick 2 regiments, 1 battalion and 1 company (3.000 men)
- from Mecklenburg 1 regiment and 1 battalion (1.000 men)
- from Muenster 2 regiments (2.000 men). During 1793 French refugees formed 2 "Legions" (of 4 and 6 companies) and in 1794 another 4 refugee Legions were formed, 1 French (4 companies), 2 German (7 and 9 companies) and 1 Walloon (3 companies). In June 1794 the Brandenburg, Brunswick and Muenster troops left the Netherlands.

At most half of the army was used for the field army. Due to a severe shortage of men, this was re-organised in order to field full strength units. The grenadier companies were combined per 3 regiments to form 9 new grenadier battalions (of 6 companies each). The musketeers of a regiment were combined into 1 battalion (of 6 companies each) with 2 guns, so "regiments" became battalions instead. The same was done with the cavalry: regiments originally consisted of 4 squadrons of 2 companies each (Garde was 3 squadrons and Gardes du Corps 1 company), but they were re-organised into regiments of 2 squadrons.

For the campaign of 1794 the field army looked like this:

Infantry: 1 bat. Dutch guards, 1 bat. Swiss guards, 9 bat. grenadiers, 14 bat. musketeers, 10 bat. Swiss, some light units. One battalion was approximately 500-600 men.

Cavalry: 14 sq. cavalry, 6 sq. dragoons, 4 sq. hussars, 4 independendt companies of dragoons. One squadron was approximately 110 men.

Artillery: apart from the battalion pieces there was an artilley reserve of 104 guns, 10 howitzers and 4 mortars, with roundshot, canister, shell, incendiary and flares.

Engineers: 116 pontooners with 40 metal pontoons and 1 company of pioneers (100 men).

Health Service etc.: with the army a mobile field hospital for 200 men; 20-25 km behind the army a field hospital for 400 men and 50-60 km behind the army a big hospital for 600 men. Also included was a field bakery that produced 24.000 loafs of bread a day.

In 1792 (before the war) the complete Dutch military (incl. navy) was 58.000 men. On a population of 2.07 million that's 2.8%.

In July 1794, after the retreat from Belgium - the campaign had cost 26% in men and 15% in horses - the army counted 33.500 men, about equal to the combined forces of the British and Hessian troops after they received their reinforcements in August. Again half of these were garrison or depot and many of the others (incl. the allies) were spread over fortified towns. Against these, the French Army of the North had 72.000 men, among them also Dutch troops under Daendels: refugees from the civil war of the 1780's.

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