Dutch Generals

Rank among Dutch Generals

One of the most important things to understand regarding the internal power struggle between the Dutch Generals is that after 1702 the 'eminent leader' (William III) had passed. This meant that in principle the seniority of the generals was marked first by their rank, then by the date they had attained it and then by their age. This table illustrates the rank among the Dutch generals in 1702. One has to keep in mind here that the arms (Infantry, Cavalry and to some extent the Artillery) had their own chain of command and that only a field marshal or a specifically assigned commander of a body of troops held sway over all three1. Therefore there are two tables here; one for the cavalry and one for the infantry2.

Cavalry
NameGeneralLt-GeneralMaj-General
Nassau-Saarbrücken*-16731672
Athlone**169216831675
Ouwerkerk***170116911683
Obdam170216911683
Tilly****170416941691
Dopff(1696)317011694
Albemarle170917011697
Dompré-17041697
Hompesch172317041701
Ostfriesland4-17041701
*FM 15 jul 1689**FM 19 Oct 1702***FM 11 April 1704****FM 1708

and

Infantry
NameGeneralLt-GeneralMaj-General
Slangenburgh170416921683
Noyelles170416941691
Coehoorn*-16951692
Salisch170416971694
Fagel170917011694
Heuckelom-17041695
Dedem-17041701
Van Goor**-17041701
Friesheim5171817041701
Oxenstierna6-17041701
Sparre7-17041702
Yvoy--1706
*1697 MG of Art.**1704 MG of Art.

Their place in history

Up to about 1800 the Dutch had a proud military tradition, but nowadays litle is known about these soldiers and their achievements, especially those of the Spanish Succession War. Sources of knowledge about these men can either be contemporary, or date from the nationalist era (ca. 1850-1945). While the men fighting the Succession war got some attention from contemporary sources, they had very bad luck in getting attention from the nationalist historians.

In contemporary sources the Dutch soldiers probably got their fair due, or even more. There are sources that ascribe to them a very big role in the allied victories. An example is one that says the battle of Vigo was fought on the initiative of the Dutch admiral. However even in contemporary sources they probably got less attention than their colleques from other nations. The 'Burgher' culture that has dominated the Dutch state since it's foundation simply did not appreciate warfare as a virtue in the way kingdoms did.

The primary reasons for not getting attention from the historians of nationalist era (ca. 1850-1945) are different. The Dutch golden age was and is the primary focus-point of Dutch historians, and by 1700 it had ended. The Dutch also have great artistic, commercial and naval traditions, that eclipse the miltary tradition. For the Dutch their golden age was marked by Rembrandt, Vermeer, the VOC, De Ruyter and Tromp, not by military achievements. The deeds of the house of Orange however did attract the attention of the 'nationalist' historians, but sadly no Oranges were ruling at the time. (I have no doubt whatsoever that a lot more would have been written about e.g. Ramillies had a stadholder been present at that battle.)

After the second world war one can say that writing about history had definitely changed. Whereas it used to lay great stress on warfare and the acts of kings, it now studies all aspects of history far more evenly, and military history has been all but left to the hobby-historians. For the soldiers of the Spanish Succession War this means that they do not have to expect much attention from today's historians.

Notes

1) I do not know how this worked exactly in cases of equal rank. Some nations let the cavalry commander give the orders while in the field and let the infantry commander order while in a town.
2) These tables are primarily based on the tables in 'Het Staatse Leger' part VII and the Heinsius Archive.
3) Dopff was appointed General of Dragoons in 1696
4) Friedrich Ulrich count of Ostfriesland-Kriechingen
5) Johan Theodoor Baron of Friesheim
6) Count Bengt of Oxenstierna, son of the chancellor or Sweden
7) Charles William baron of Sparre, of Swedish origin