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Blenheim - Battle for Europe Documentary

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  • #16
    Originally posted by jf42 View Post
    Who ordered/organised the clear up of the Waterloo battlefield, I wonder- was it local civil authority? Presumably the allied forces, having done what they could for their dead and wounded, had moved on.

    We wouldn't be having this discussion if there was a general understanding of what steps were taken, in general, to clear up after major battles, or in districts regularly fought over. We know about some but a question mark seems to hangs over others. Can talk of an 'SOP' be more than speculation?

    Clearly resumption of normal life would have been impossible in the vicinity of a major battle until the dead were disposed of.

    We can understand how local communities, local landowners and local authorities (sometimes the same thing) might come together to organise the clear up of battlefields, and yet there numerous accounts of battlefields where hastily buried dead from recent battles lie exposed by the elements and scavenging animals.

    The article quoted cites newspaper references from the 1820s onwards to the trade in battlefield bone resources (as well as in bones from abattoirs and cemeteries) so while there might be journalistic exaggeration it seems less likely that that the accounts can all be dismissed entirely as myth.
    By the beginning of the 19th century here was a , mistaken, belief in educated circles that disease was spread by evil miamas (bad smells) and a battlefield full of rotting corpses would smell pretty evil (and there are contemporary accounts of the stench) over a wide area so I imagine it was the local authorities which in those days would have been the Dutch Netherlands who ordered the clean up to avoid widespread outbreaks of disease.

    It is a mistake to believe that because something is reported in a lot of papers this is proof of veracity. There are plenty of examples of urban myths that keep popping up today - it was no different then.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #17
      Originally posted by MarkV View Post

      It is a mistake to believe that because something is reported in a lot of papers this is proof of veracity.
      I am shocked- shocked- to learn that all that is printed in the newspapers might not be true.

      Of course, that doesn't mean to say that everything that was printed in the cuttings cited in the link, was not true.

      On reading the article you referred to, it appears that the disposal of bodies on the Waterloo battlefield might not have been as orderly or as comprehensive as you suggest. It seems the burial of men in pits of specified size and in specified numbers might have been as much an aspiration as a consistent programme. It would be interesting to know where those figures came from.

      Similarly, Sullivan doesn't say the process of cleaning was completed by 23rd July, only that by then visitors could see piles of ash from bodies that had been burnt in a process he describes as 'moderatley successful.' Meanwhile, by harvest time farmers were still finding unburied dead (I am surprised there were any crops left to reap) and the countless dead horses had been simply left to rot.

      It would have been interesting to know the sources on which Sullivan was drawing. These could, of course, have included newspapers....
      Last edited by jf42; 19 Jan 17, 15:07.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by MarkV View Post
        In fact at Waterloo at least the dead were not left to rot but were buried in pits each six foot deep and up to 20 foot square and containing up to 40 bodies. The work was carried out by local peasants who were impressed for the work and paid a pittance. By the 23rd of June any bodies still unburied were collected into multi layered pyres and burnt. All work was completed by 23rd July. The ash was later collected and used locally as fertilizer. To get at the bones of those buried in any quantity would require considerable excavation of a wide area and there is no evidence that this was ever carried out. I believe that this was SOP for major European battlefields at the time.

        based on an article by Steve Sullivan, January 2017 - The missing Waterloo Dead
        http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...ight=bone+meal

        Paul
        ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
        All human ills he can subdue,
        Or with a bauble or medal
        Can win mans heart for you;
        And many a blessing know to stew
        To make a megloamaniac bright;
        Give honour to the dainty Corse,
        The Pixie is a little shite.

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        • #19
          The British Army only played a secondary role in the Battle of Blenheim - an important one mind but most of the casualties were incurred by the Army of Austria under Prince Eugene of Savoy. BTW the battle is known as 'Hochstadt' to the Austrians, Bavarians and the French.

          There is no such place as 'Blenheim' - as the English called it - it is actually the village of Blindheim!



          http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Wolfe Tone View Post
            The British Army only played a secondary role in the Battle of Blenheim - an important one mind but most of the casualties were incurred by the Army of Austria under Prince Eugene of Savoy. BTW the battle is known as 'Hochstadt' to the Austrians, Bavarians and the French.

            There is no such place as 'Blenheim' - as the English called it - it is actually the village of Blindheim!
            Not sure if it's right to call it the Army of Austria - there may have been more English than Austrians at the battle.

            From here: http://www.spanishsuccession.nl/blenheim.html

            " The Alliance Army

            • Allied infantry OOB

            There are of course multiple sources for the strength and composition of the allied army. From these we can deduce that it counted 66 battalions, 181 squadrons and 66 guns2 or 51,000 men3.

            With the right wing under the command of Eugen were: 11 Prussian Battalions, 7 Danish battalions and 74 squadrons of Imperial, Prussian, Swabian, Franconian, Würtemberg and other Imperial cavalry.

            With the left wing under command of Marlborough were: 14 battalions and 18 squadrons of the United Provinces; 14 battalions and 14 squadrons from England; 7 battalions and 7 squadrons from Hesse; 25 squadrons from Hannover, Luneburg, Zell and Swiss; 22 Danish squadrons4.

            blenheim_oob.jpg

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            • #21
              This superb website drills down even more into the make-up and composition of the armies. http://obscurebattles.blogspot.com/2...heim-1704.html

              In addition to those listed there were also Irish, Italian, Spanish and Swiss (on both sides) battalions.

              What a wonderfully European affair!

              I am a bit puzzled what all those Danes were doing down there, just for the money or did they have a real beef with the French over something?

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              • #22
                Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                This superb website drills down even more into the make-up and composition of the armies. http://obscurebattles.blogspot.com/2...heim-1704.html

                In addition to those listed there were also Irish, Italian, Spanish and Swiss (on both sides) battalions.

                What a wonderfully European affair!

                I am a bit puzzled what all those Danes were doing down there, just for the money or did they have a real beef with the French over something?
                Prince George of Denmark and Norway, Duke of Cumberland was Queen Anne's consort and Denmark was an ally of Britain's
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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                • #23
                  Ok, great that makes sense, although proportionately Danish contribution to the battle was greater than Englands - excepting Marlborough of course.
                  In pondering what was in it for Denmark one might also think what was in it for England?

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Gooner View Post
                    Ok, great that makes sense, although proportionately Danish contribution to the battle was greater than Englands - excepting Marlborough of course.
                    In pondering what was in it for Denmark one might also think what was in it for England?
                    The loose alliance was formed in the 1680s with the marriage of George and Anne and intended to constrain Dutch Naval expansion. This created some coolness when William and Mary took the throne after 1688 but revived with the death of William. and became stronger when Mary died. (as Ann was Queen of England and Scotland it applied to both Kingdoms). Relations between the Netherlands and England were always a mite iffy, even when fighting on the same side against France. because of the Naval rivalry. The Danish West Indies company was only able to operate with the agreement of England (and to a lesser extent Scotland which was also pursuing claims in the Caribbean) and the sugar trade was important to Denmark which was also a reason for staying friendly with Britain.

                    Coalition warfare is always complicated
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #25

                      The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Battle of Blenheim, by Hilaire Belloc
                      http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32195/32195-h/32195-h.htm

                      Excellent account here on the Campaign and battle - and by a Frenchman too!





                      http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Wolfe Tone View Post
                        The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Battle of Blenheim, by Hilaire Belloc
                        http://www.gutenberg.org/files/32195/32195-h/32195-h.htm

                        Excellent account here on the Campaign and battle - and by a Frenchman too!




                        Hillaire Belloc was Anglo French spending most of his life in Britain. He moved to England, with his British mother when he was two, his father having died. Brought up in England and having British nationality he was a very English writer.
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by jf42 View Post
                          Who ordered/organised the clear up of the Waterloo battlefield, I wonder- was it local civil authority? Presumably the allied forces, having done what they could for their dead and wounded, had moved on.
                          Hardly - the Dutch part of the Allied army never went anywhere after the battle as the war was over.

                          From 1823 onward, the entire battlefield was reshaped, earth was dug up across the field, but mostly along the ridge the Britsh held, and a giant memorial mount for the prince of Orange built, for three years after, work crews and tourists covered the field.

                          Whatever human remains were burried there, would likely have been dug up and removed then.

                          Victor Hugo in his Miserables famously, although probably apocryphally, quotes the duke bitterly complaining they had "...altered his field of battle."

                          British writer Charlotte Eaton, visted the field less than a month after the battle and reports letting "...the ashes of the fallen slip though her fingers.."

                          The romantic poet Robert Southey, who visited in 1816, on the other hand reports his amazement about the flowering cornfields and "poppies" (then already) in a place where just a year before nature had seemed utterly erradicated.

                          http://cultuurgeschiedenis.be/oog-in-oog-met-waterloo/
                          Last edited by Snowygerry; 14 Aug 18, 08:34.
                          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                          Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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                          • #28
                            Snowygerry;n5055260]

                            Hardly - the Dutch part of the Allied army never went anywhere after the battle as the war was over.
                            Elements of the Dutch army participated in the occupation of France before the signing of the 2nd Treaty of Paris in November 1815 which officially ended the war.
                            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Oh no doubt, but I mean they were not (all) in a hurry to move on to the next battle (there was a second Dutch army stationed at Mons and Brussels that never even entered the fight), like happened at Borodino for instance where the French reported the corpses of the fallen still rotting on their retreat from Moscow.

                              https://www.napoleon-series.org/mili...nedresarm.html

                              At Waterloo the field quite quickly re-assumed its agricultural function, and of course that of a tourist attraction (Mercer reports the first visitors from Brussels the day after the fight iirc) which was probably more valuable compared to digging up the fallen for bonemeal.
                              Last edited by Snowygerry; 14 Aug 18, 09:12.
                              High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                              Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
                                Something wrong with that link there I think ? It links to the current ACG home page, for me at least...
                                High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                                Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

                                Comment

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