Op Russische veldtocht in 1812 | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 8, Issue 1/2
  • ISSN: 2588-8277
  • E-ISSN: 2667-162X



In 1812, about 15,000 Dutch men were sent on a Russian campaign on command of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. They were part of the Grande Armée, which numbered about six hundred thousand soldiers. Historians estimate that between June 1812 and the end of February 1813 some 400,000 of them had died. Of the Dutch soldiers no more than thousand survived. One of the men who participated in the Russian campaign was the 23-year-old Elle Onnes Smidt from Delfzijl, a small fortified town of eight hundred people in the north of the Netherlands. It can be deduced from scattered sources that, in addition to Elle, another eighteen men between the ages of 21 and 23 from the municipality of Delfzijl – born there or living in 1811 – had to go into active service. Elle Onnes Smidt survived the campaign, but most of his fellow townsmen died from exhaustion, hunger, thirst, disease, and other hardships.


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