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Duke of York's Campaign in the Low Countries.

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Duke of York's Campaign in the Low Countries.

Postby Josh&Historyland » January 8th, 2015, 12:24 am

An interesting discussion about this campaign sprang up on a thread about battalion guns.

http://www.napoleonicwarsforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=2419

So I thought I'd start a seperate thread about it. Most people have heard about the Duke of York going up that hill and going back down again, I've read about it through biographies of the Duke of Wellington where he learnt "what not to do". It is the 220th, anniversary of these events, and it highlighted problems not so much in Britain's army, but in its senior commanders. Usually passed off with stock sentences in most histories. It is nevertheless a fascinating campaign.

Josh.
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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby Student of 1812 » January 8th, 2015, 4:54 pm

I can link this to your recent Jersey post. On return from the Flanders campaign the Russians, as foreign troops, were prohibited from landing in England and they were found temporary billets in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey. I know that about 6,000 were quartered in Guernsey where many died of diseases, contracted in Holland, while awaiting transportation to Russia. I've searched for the graves where I thought they would be (Vale Castle) but not found them in a quick search.
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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby Josh&Historyland » January 8th, 2015, 8:27 pm

Interesting Student. Russians on Jersey, who would have thought!

I read that Sergeant Ewart of Waterloo fame served in this campaign. Apparently rescuing a baby from its dead mother's arms on the retreat from Nimguen (Nijmegen?), (Sounds awfully like the one Sir John Moore rescued at Corunna, the source is a semi autobiographical book of remembrances published in 1871). There's also an interesting bit about the Battle of Turcoing, saying that the Grey's somehow got themselves cut off and dispersed in small groups to escape (sounding very WW2 like at the mo). Ewart and his group apparently were pursued into a wood, were they were briefly captured and plundered by some French infantry, who in turn were captured and plundered by some rescuing Austrian infantry who allowed the Grey's to loot their former captors before leaving. For his good service he apparently got his stripes.

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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby jf42 » January 8th, 2015, 9:34 pm

Student, that would have to be the Helder campaign of 1799- which did not take place in Flanders but the Netherlands. There were no Russians on the pitch during the Duke of York's campaign in the Low Countries 1793-95 (Well, he'd been recalled in December 1794 but let's not fall out over that). Once again, Josh, not 'Flanders campaign'.

We need to be strict. Previous generations of British commentators have referred promiscuously to any British campaign north of Lille as in 'Flanders' when they might have been operating in Flanders, Wallonia, Brabant or any one of the United Provinces.

I think we need to move on from that C19th 'Fog in Channel' mentality.

(Oddly, though, Waterloo is rarely referred to as being in Flanders; more frequently as in 'Belgium'- although I am fairly sure Belgium didn't exist in 1815. 'Belgic' shako anyone?)

Josh, the Ewart anecdote sounds as if it comes from the British retreat into Germany in January 1795, once it had been accepted that the line of the Lek/Lower Rhine could not be held and the defence of the United Provinces was no longer feasible. Nijmegen on the south bank of the Waal had been lost to the French two months before.

The retreating army was hit by a fierce Arctic storm, with high winds and driving snow as the columns made their way north eastwards across the trackless heath of the Veluwe towards the river IJssel. Hundreds, if not thousands, died in the course of one night, many of them women and children dependents with nowhere to go, as the army marched on in searching in vain for shelter. Sick men without covering froze to death in wagons. Those who fell by the wayside were soon comatose and died of hypothermia. Men were removed from their horses with both legs frozen. It was said that only in terms of scale was it less of a disaster than Napoleon's retreat from Moscow.

Count Walmoden, York's deputy, later wrote to the Duke to tell him "Your army is destroyed. The officers, their carriages and a large train are safe, but the men are destroyed." The scale of the calamity was doubtless exaggerated by some for political reasons- it was alleged that as many as 6000 died on the retreat- but it was nonetheless a disastrous end to the campaign.
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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby Student of 1812 » January 9th, 2015, 9:15 am

Guilty as charged!
My little Englander problems start with fog north of Watford, never mind the Channel, and distinguishing accurately between different 'Low Countries'.
I'm talking about post the 1799 Anglo-Russian invasion of Holland rather than the 1793-5 Flanders Campaign.
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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby jf42 » January 9th, 2015, 10:03 am

"Anglo-Russian"? Ahem

Abercromby. Dundas.

3rd Foot Guards 2/1st, 25th, 79th and 92nd

Edit: Clue: the above-named were not Anglish.
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Re: Duke of York's Flander's Campaign.

Postby jf42 » January 9th, 2015, 10:04 am

Student of 1812 wrote: Rather than the 1793-5 Flanders Campaign.



"LOW COUNTRIES" !!
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Re: Duke of York's Campaign in the Low Countries.

Postby Josh&Historyland » January 9th, 2015, 12:31 pm

We do seem to have come of the rails here! Guilty of propagating one of those nasty little innacuracies I usually dislike, and I didn't even know it, ignorance is bliss, but not on a history forum! Lucky we have our own Wichita Linesman around to keep things straight.

Never let it be said I don't listen. Note the title of the post now. (FYI ever since a convo on the VWF I no longer say Artillery teams but Artillery detatchemnts) :)

I was going to say the end of this campaign sounds awfully like a Moscow or a Corunna, if not a Burgos with snow. This must have been the last campaign the Grey's were in until Waterloo.

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Re: Duke of York's Campaign in the Low Countries.

Postby Josh&Historyland » January 9th, 2015, 1:54 pm

This earthenware jug, commemorates the surrender of Valencennes, I've actually seen one in person in a private collection.

http://www.nam.ac.uk/online-collection/detail.php?acc=1961-07-10-1

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Re: Duke of York's Campaign in the Low Countries.

Postby jf42 » January 9th, 2015, 3:01 pm

I can't resist pointing out that Valenciennes was not in Flanders, not even in in French Flanders. Historically, it lies in the lands of Hainault.

However, the Duke of York was there to help defend the Austrian Netherlands (aka 'Flanders' in common parlance) so it's fair enough, perhaps, to describe that phase of the fighting as taking place in Flanders. Once the allied army divided in June 1794 and withdrew from Brabant on divergent axes, the focus of the campaign moved to the United Provinces (aka 'Holland')

This Wiki article does help clear some of the fog in the Scheldt:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Netherlands
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