Dordrecht – The French occupation of Dordrecht is finally over. A final assault by French troops this morning repulsed. The moment when the flag of Dordrecht was hoisted on the Riedijk tower, it was the signal for the French to retire in a hurry. They mistakenly believed that this red flag with a white stripe was the English flag.

The attack began in the early morning hours. The French marched in large numbers, and focused primarily on the Dutch outpost in Papendrecht. Supporters were given the force majeure forced to retreat to Alblasserdam.

The French put them in positions opposite Papendrechtse Dordrecht guns and a howitzer and began a bombardment that lasted several hours. The damage was limited them known and if there are no injuries.

Resulting fires were quickly extinguished. The National Guard meanwhile knew any attempt by the French to the river to stabbing under cover of gunfire frustrate.

The two gunboats which last night were sent from Rotterdam under the command of Trippenzee and Ampt to Dordrecht had come to help to an important support for the Dordrecht case. One of these ships had to abandon the race after the gun was made unusable and returned to Rotterdam. The remaining ship positioned itself at the head Riedijkse. Again, however, the ammunition ran out. With one last shot was definitely off about eight French. This was received with cheers in Dordrecht side.

Some sailors hoisted this Dordrecht flag on the tower Riedijkse. The flag of our Merwede city was by the French considered an English flag. The effect of this last cannon shot and the idea that the citizens of Dordrecht already had received British assistance, were not without effect on the French. Rushed the signal for retreat was given. About thirty wounded and dead were taken away by the attackers.

Chaos

The struggle today is the culmination of a chaotic period. Since the defeat of the French at Leipzig is restless in Europe. Napoleon is no longer invincible and fights his way to France by the German territories.

Also in the Netherlands handles citizens their chance now seems to be the iron grip of the French occupying less. In the streets people appear orange cockades and shout "Long live the Prince" is still heard frequently.

Since mid-November are the French driver on the run. Many of them go through Dordrecht road. The prefect of the department of Bouches-de-la-Meuse, the Stassart, left The Hague and fled from Dordrecht to Gorinchem.

The result was that 19 November abandoned all Frenchmen had Dordrecht. However, the situation was not entirely safe. Gorinchem was firmly in French hands and Rotterdam was French. Moreover, the Stassart reported that a French relief force from the south was gaining ground.

Popular support

All on 18 November, also in Dordrecht, which until that time had remained quiet, a massive endorsement of the Prince of Orange. A crowd marched through the city with orange to destroy symbols of the French occupiers. On the initiative of Johan Repelaer, sub-prefect of the district of Dordrecht and brother of Mayor Paul Repelaer, Between a Directors, there was formed.

Op 19 Between November of this Board issued a proclamation. Although all of Orangist terms were avoided, it was obvious that Dordrecht was selected when the entire board with orange decorations appeared on the steps of City Hall.

The main aim of the government was to maintain order and peace. All ferry services were laid on the embankment to prevent the French who still Hardinxveld, Papendrecht and the Alblasserwaard had could cross hands.

Sandwiched between the French Gorinchem and Rotterdam was still quite risky. When some people did a gunpowder ship booty, had the government bend over backwards to get rid of the boat from Dordrecht again.

Meanwhile, there were anywhere anyway French troops moving and the Intermediate Board feared that they would come through Dordrecht. However, this was not the case, they are particularly attracted on the dike at Papendrecht. French danger seemed passed. However, this was not the case.

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Ultimatum

There now came in a letter from De Stassart. He demands that Dordrecht within three days, hundreds of thousands of kilos of grain, would deliver tens of thousands of liters of gin to the French garrison in Gorinchem. If the city did not agree then threatened looting.

Before the expiry of the ultimatum on 22 November Papendrechtse side placed there guns opened fire by the French. There was little damage but there were some wounded. The French even tried to stabbing the river but were driven out by the National Guard headed by Beelaerts Blokland. The officer tried to negotiate with the French and let himself risked his life while bullets to go over the ears flew to Papendrecht.

Crossing of kapitiein Beelaerts Blokland. Beeld: Regional Archives Drechtsteden

It led to the capitulation of Dordrecht. Johan Repelaer was replaced by his brother Paul again and French troops in the city moved again. Zo’n 400 soldiers are ingekwartierd.

The French repeated the demands of the Stassart the garrison in Gorinchem. Those demands were otherwise not much later increased by the prefect and expanded by an amount of 200.000 frank. But the French did not stay long. The next day the retreat was blown away Papendrecht and Sliedrecht. It was rumored that there was a relief force coming from Rotterdam which now had sided with Orange. That same evening there were indeed some 100 men and two gunboats to from Rotterdam.

Still the French threat was not over. Who had not yet arrived in Gorinchem, but were stuck in Giessendam.

From that place turned 800 French back, recaptured the Papendrechtse propositions and thus began the attack was repulsed morning and ended in the final retreat of the French troops.

Shelling of Dordrecht by the French. Left the big head. Maker: unknown. Dordrecht City Archives.

How it went

A seven-member board now took the city council held largely derived from the Intermediate Board.  Willem Donker Curtius even sought had also played an important role in contact with the provisional government in The Hague to ask permission for the Committee of Defense of Dordrecht and the Island of Dordrecht.

Although Van Hogendorp permission granted, it led to a conflict of competence with General Sweert of Landas of the National Guard. Incidentally, the French threat was not completely gone. That only happened when early December Cossacks arrived. They would have their fifteen minutes later it would be Scheffersplein. They finally drove the last French Gorinchem.

Meanwhile the Prince of Orange was on 30 November landed on the beach of Scheveningen, The Hague had sovereignty accepted. Between the Board showed its support by the evening of 2 december, the day before came the Cossacks, orange in full regalia again on the steps appear to read the proclamation of the sovereign for while the bells rang and the city was festively lit.

French Time in Dordrecht was finally over, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was about to begin.

Author: A.M.Schellens MA

Consulted literature:

January Alleblas, Chronicle of Dordrecht, a concise history of Holland's oldest city (Alblasserdam 2012)

Riny Benschop et al, Historical Atlas of Dordrecht (Nijmegen 2013)

Vincent Sleebe, the history of Dordrecht 1813 tot 2000 (Hilversum 2000)

Wilfried Uitterhoeve, 1813 Hague bluff, Short chaos of liberation (Nijmegen 2013)

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