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Jan Oedses Bangma soldier in Napoleons Army



Napoleon Soldier Registry

At the time of the French Revolution there were many countries that were supportive of the cause. So when the French invaded the Netherlands in 1795 with their cries of 'Liberty and Equality' they were initially welcomed by the populace, or at least by the common folk. The Netherlands at the time was subject to much corruption and oppression and many hoped for better times. At first, many stormed the homes and institutions of the wealthy and some volunteered for the French army. [The Langenberg shipyard in Deventer, Gelderland was raised to the ground by Napoleonic troops during this period.] It soon became apparent that the French did not care for the welfare of the Dutchman. Dutch volunteers were not sufficient in number to be of any military use to the French. As Napoleon pushed eastward into Russia so began conscription in the Netherlands.

The first obligatory military service or conscription occurred in the Netherlands during the latter years of the French occupation of the Netherlands 1795 - 1813. All men who had reached the age of twenty years, were subject to military service although boys as young as 13 years were taken. The annual drawings took place and a numbered ballot for each man who had reached the required age was placed in an urn. Those who were drawn a place by lottery could appoint a substitute. The unfortunate reality however was that if your number came up you had no choice but to enlist, as a voluntary substitute was virtually unknown. In the period 1810-1813 approximately thirty thousand Dutch men fulfilled their conscription into the French army.

Jan Oedses Bangma, 26 years of age, a day worker living in Bolsward, was conscripted into Napoleon's army and was registered as a fusilier in the French 124th Infantry Regiment, (5th Battalion) and 2nd Battalion, 1st Company of Napoleons Army on the 27 April 1813. The term fusilier refers to the fusil a French term for a musket. The fusilier was a line infantryman (Infanterie de Ligne). Jan would have found himself kitted up in the standard French Infantryman uniform. A fusilier of the 124th Regiment in 1813 wore a black shako (hat) with a large 124th regimental number on the front; to to the left was a large brass loop, a button, and on top of the loop a pompom in the 124th regiment facing colour of pink; white cords were worn. They had no epaulettes, but white shoulder-straps edged in the facing colour; short skirted white tunics, white waistcoat, breeches and belts and short black gaiters. All buttons were brass. They carried a flintlock commonly refered to as a 'Charleville' musket, but no sabre.

The Napoleon Soldier Registry shows that Jan replaced a deserter by the name of Jan Arjens Noordenbos. Jan Arjens Noordenbos was not unusual as many non-French soldiers were deserting at this time. Jan Oedses Bangma, no doubt disappointed with his lot, would however have been grateful that he had not been conscripted the previous year as the 124th Infantry Regiment had formed part of Napoleons Grande Armee. The Grande Armee numbering some 500,000 men would be virtually destroyed during the 1812 invasion of Russia and subsequent winter retreat. The 124th Infantry Regiment, composed almost entirely of Dutchmen, was to be reduced at one point from 2,400 to 600 men during this catastrophic campaign.
Jan Oedses Bangma however was now part of a military force that was on the decline. Napoleon's empire was crumbling around him as Russia and it allies now pushed forward into Western Europe.

The Russian push into the Netherlands and its subsequent liberation began in November 1813 just seven months after Jan Oedses Bangma's conscription into the French Army. Although initially planed as a defensive move by the Russians to defend Germany against gathering French troops in the region of Deventer, it subsequently led to Russian Commander Alexandre Benckendorf's detachment of some 4,600 men liberating the Netherlands from almost twenty years of French rule. Benckendorf determining that he had much support from the Dutch and a superior fighting force disregarded orders from his superior to maintain a defensive position and began his invasion of the Netherlands.
Benckendorf's detachment was comprised of Infantry, Jager, Hussar, horse artillery and Cossack regiments and had the political backing of the British. Jan Oedses Bangma would have found himself in the unfortunate position of serving on the enemy occupiers infantry no doubt wishing he was on the liberator's. Over the two-month period November to December the Russians engaged many French garrisons routing them from their fortresses and eventually driving them from the lowlands. Was Jan Oedses Bangma's 124th Infantry Regiment engaged by the Russian Cossacks or did Jan desert like his predecessor Jan Arjens Noordenbos? Did Jan take up the fight with his fellow countrymen and their new Russian allies for freedom of his Dutch homeland? No doubt freedom from French rule would have been the likely choice.
In 1815, some eighteen months later Napoleon was to face another decisive loss at the battle of Waterloo in Belgium. The French army was crushed by combined British, Dutch, Belgium, Russian, Austrian and Prussian forces under the command of Wellington.

Registry Details:

Bangma, Jan Oedses, day worker,
born Bolsward 07.11.1786,
living in Bolsward, son of Oeds Obbes Bangma
and Lijsbeth Durks also known as Lijsbert Pieters,
conscription call for Howerd, 1812;
substitue for Jan Arjens Noordenbos (born 1792)
in Holwerd; 27.4.1813 fusilier 124th Infantry Regiment, No. 5066
5th Battalion, 2nd Battalion 1st Company; in 1813, deserted

Sources: Tresoar access 8/4065.401; Raf Holwerd fol. 7v



Soldaten leger Napoleon

Bangma, Jan Oedses, dagloner, geb. Bolsward 07.11.1786,
wonende aldaar, zoon van Oeds Obbes Bangma en Lijsbeth Durks
ook bekend als Lijsbert Pieters
lichting 1812 mairie Holwerd; plaatsvervanger voor Jan Arjens
Noordenbos (geb. 1792) te Holwerd; 27. 4. 1813 fuselier 124
regt. inf. onder nr. 5066, 5e bat., 2e bat. 1e comp; in 1813
gedeserteerd
Bronnen: Tresoar toegang 8/4065. 401


Noordenbos, Jan Arjens, geb. 1792, wonende te Holwerd; zoon
van Arjen Jans Noordenbos en Trijntje Willems
loteling lichting 1812 kanton Holwerd; plaatsvervanger Jan
Oedzes Bangma, dagloner te Bolsward; bij aanneming
familienaam 19 jaar
Bronnen: Tresoar toegang 8/4065.401; Raf Holwerd fol. 7v

Sources:

1. Soldaten leger Napoleon:
Tresoar toegang 8/4065. 401& Tresoar toegang 8/4065.401; Raf Holwerd fol. 7v

2. Uniforms, Kingdom of Holland, 1806-1810

3. The Liberation of the Netherlands (November - December 1813)
From the Memoires du comte Alexandre Benckendorf,
General cavalerie, Aide de Camp General de S.M.E I'Empereur de Russie

Owner/SourceSoldaten leger Napoleon: Tresoar toegang 8/4065. 401& Tresoar toegang 8/4065.401; Raf Holwerd fol. 7v
Date27 April 1813
Linked toJan Oedses BANGMA

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