History of the association
The 'Napoleontische Cavalerie Vereniging' (Napoleonic Cavalry Association or NCV) was founded in 1992 with the objective to study the Dutch cavalry of the Napoleonic era and to enable riders to re-live aspects of military mounted life of that period.
The NCV as an equestrian association now reconstitutes two Dutch cavalry regiments: the 14th Regiment of Cuirassiers, Dutchmen in French service (1810 – 1814), and the 2nd Regiment of Carbineers, one of the three heavy cavalry regiments in the Netherlands army that fought for the Allies at Waterloo (1815). Members of the NCV ride according to historical regulations and aim for museum quality outfit and equipment. After thorough research the NCV has been able to compose a well-balanced, historically correct attire.
Each year the NCV is invited to participate in several living-history events, mainly in France and the United Kingdom. Overall, these events last for three days, giving reconstituted cavalry, infantry and artillery units from all over Europe the chance to re-enact historical battles, engage in mock fighting and perform several tactical manoeuvres for the public. These 'fights' strain both man and horse to certain limits. To ensure safety during these events and in order to be worthy of the uniform of those mounted men of the past, the members of the NCV practice drills and skill-at-arms once a week at 'Manege Berestein', a riding school in The Hague.
The purpose of the NCV is to find enjoyment in riding together, to uphold some mounted traditions and to catch a glimpse of the past. The NCV firmly rejects all glorification of war and militarism, i.e. the undiscriminating emphasis on solely positive aspects of warfare in any period. Enhancing historical awareness and remembering the atrocities of the turbulent history that shaped the world of today, the NCV hopes to unite friends from all over Europe in their common interest in history and riding.
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The 14th Cuirassiers (14ième Régiment de Cuirassiers)
In 1810 Napoleon decided to incorporate the satellite Kingdom of Holland (1806 – 1810) into the French Empire. The regiments of the Dutch army were completely integrated into the French army and given a new number and uniforms. Thus, the Dutch 2nd Regiment of Cuirassiers, which had distinguished itself in the battles of Friedland and Stralsund, became the 14th Regiment of Cuirassiers in the Grande Armée. At the time still in their white uniforms with light blue facings,. the uniform would change into dark blue with wine lees-coloured facings ('lie de vin') in 1812.
|Cuirassiers hiding for snowstorm in Russia, 1812|
They took part in the 1812 Russian campaign as part of the Heavy Cavalry Division under General Doumerc which in its turn belonged to Marshal Oudinot's II Corps. Commanding the 14th was Colonel Albert Dominicus Trip. This II Corps, which formed the left wing of Napoleon's army together with VI and IX Corps ultimately reached positions at Duna and Drissa, near Polotsk. The 14th Cuirassiers took part in the fighting around Polotsk and later joined the army on its retreat to the Berezina. At the Berezina they charged the Russian cavalry in an attempt to buy precious time for what was left of the Grande Armée's men and horses who tried to cross the river.
During the further retreat to France, the 14th barely survived. In the next year, the regiment was replenished with Dutch and French recruits, but it never reached its original strength again. The 14th Cuirassiers, now 2 squadrons strong, were now part of the 1st Brigade under General D'Audenarde of Doumerc's 3rd Heavy Cavalry Division.
In the great clash around Leipzig, on 16th October 1813 all four cuirassier divisions of Latour-Maubourg's 1st Corps with Murat at their head made a massive charge against Pahlen's cavalry, between Liebertwolkwitz and Wachau. The charge was succesful in that respect that a battery of 26 guns was taken, but it could not be pursued to the full because the terrain provided too many obstacles. When retreating the cuirassiers had to fend off the light cavalry of the Russian Guard which attacked on their flank.
After the ordeals of 1812 and 1813 the regiment was not able to able to move to the field in the 1814 campaign. This was mainly caused by the transition of power in the Low Countries to the Allied Prince of Orange in December 1813. The surviving native Dutch in the 14th were confined to their barracks, designated to be demobilised. The French cuirassiers in the 14th will probably have served in other cuirassiers regiments in 1814. In the Spring of 1814 what was left of the 14th was incorporated in the 12th Cuirassiers and the regiment was formally disbanded.
The 2nd Belgian Carabiniers (2ième Régiment de Carabiniers)
In 1814, the newly founded Kingdom of the Netherlands was rapidly building up its army in order to be able to defend the sovereignty of the country. At the Congress of Vienna, the allied powers decided that they needed a strong buffer state at France's northern borders, so the erstwhile Austrian Netherlands (currently Belgium) were to be amalgamated with the former Kingdom of Holland into the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.
In the fall of 1814, preparations were made to raise new regiments in all parts of the country, also in what were now named the Southern Netherlands. In Brussels the 2nd (Southern Netherlands) Carbineers were formed as one of the three heavy cavalry regiments destined to become cuirassiers. Many of the veterans of the 14th Cuirassiers and other regiments such as the 27th Chasseur à Cheval joined this new regiment.
Most of the officers were highly experienced and a substantial number of them had been awarded the Légion d'Honneur during their service in the Grande Armée. Commanding the regiment was Jean-Baptiste de Bruijn. During the 1815 campaign the 2nd Carbineers were part of the Heavy Cavalry Brigade under the command of General Trip, who had led the 14th Cuirassiers in the past. The other heavy cavalry regiments were the 1st and 3rd (Dutch) Carbineers. Just like the British cavalry the Carbineers didn't take part in the battle of Quatre-Bras, but were in time to join Wellington's army as it took up positions on the heights of Mont St Jean., near the village of Waterloo.
The Carbineers remained in the centre during the entire battle. The 2nd Carbineers are known to have taken part in at least three charges upon the French heavy cavalry. At 16:00 hours when the French massive cavalry charge against the allied centre took place. In this countercharge Trips' heavy brigade succeeded in throwing the French off the ridge. At about 18:00 hours when the French Cavalry charges became weaker and allowed the heavily pressed allied cavalry to adopt once again a more offensive role. And finally at about 20:00 hours when the whole allied line advanced. Losses were quite heavy and amounted to about a third of the original strength.
2nd Carabiniers charge French Cuirassiers at Waterloo|
National Army Museum, Brussels
After the Battle of Waterloo, the 2nd Carbineers took part in the march upon Paris, which soon ended the campaign. They returned to their garrison in Brussels in December 1815.
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