Siege of Antwerp Medal 1832


Siege of Antwerp Medal 1832


General Chassé, the Dutch garrison commander.

Siege of Antwerp Medal 1832

    Awarded for service during the Belgian Revolution to the Dutch garrison of the Antwerp Citadel, who held the fort from the Belgians who were in control of the surrounding territory. The medal was awarded to those who were present during the French assault, November 28th to December 24th 1832. Sailors and marines in the Dutch support vessels on the Scheldt also qualified. The garrison, which numbered about 4,500, were finally ousted by the French.


    Description:   A bronze circular medal 30mm diameter. Obverse bears the impressed inscription 'CITADEL VAN ANTWERPEN' within a plan of the citadel perimeter. The designer's signature is at 6 o'clock:- 'I.P.Schouberg F'. The reverse is inscribed 'DECEMBER 1832', with the royal cypher and crown over, all within a laurel wreath. Suspension is by means of a pierced ball and ring.

Ribbon: plain Nassau blue


     In 1830 the Belgian Revolution broke out, and some of its most stirring incidents occurred in Antwerp. The Citadel, Alva's building with part of the city wall or enceinte and a new curtain erected under Cohorn's direction to replace the void that followed the destruction of the city bastion in 1576 was held by a strong Dutch garrison, and as soon as the rebellion became overt, the guns of the fortress were turned on the city, which suffered heavily. The bombardment took place on October 27th, 1830, and lasted for seven hours, during which eighteen thousand shot were poured into the city. The Entrepôt, the largest and most important bond-houses in any continental port at that time, the Arsenal built by Napoleon, and the fine old Church of St. Michael were all destroyed, to say nothing of hundreds of private residences and minor buildings.
    A lull of two years followed, and during that period Antwerp at least saw no more fighting. The Dutch in the Citadel, the Belgians in the city, formed two opposing camps, each watching the other. On October 22nd, 1832, an Anglo-French Convention was signed by which recourse was to be had to force to expel the Dutch from the Citadel of Antwerp. The task was to be performed by a French army, and the Belgians were peremptorily forbidden, much against their will, to take any part in freeing their own territory. The long period of inaction at Antwerp was ended by the advance of a French army seventy thousand strong, under Marshal Gérard, in November, 1832, to attack the Dutch position.


Antwerp Citadel



    General Chassé, who had distinguished himself at Waterloo, commanded the Dutch garrison, which numbered 4,500 combatants, an amply sufficient force for so restricted a circumference as the Citadel. Before hostilities began an arrangement was come to confining their area within defined limits, for it was perfectly clear that the guns of the Citadel might legitimately cause, if an attack were made on all sides, immense and irreparable damage to the city, and more especially to the Cathedral, which was within easy range. A special agreement was therefore concluded between Marshal Gérard and General Chassé restricting the sphere of action. The French commander engaged himself not to attack the north side of the Citadel, and the Dutch to consider that the French attack was directed solely on the southern or external side of the fortress. Moreover, Chassé was formally warned that both England and France would hold him and his government responsible for any damage done to the city, which, in a sense, they had taken under their special protection. In this way the city of Antwerp was placed outside the field of operations.
    On the other hand, it must be noted that, apart from the substantial nature of its walls and bastions, the Citadel had not been prepared to meet a heavy bombardment, which the Dutch never expected. Some of the casemates were bomb-proof, but others were not, and these were soon demolished by the French fire. The principal well supplying the place with water was also choked up with débris at an early stage of the attack. The bombardment went on with hardly any intermission from November 29th till December 23rd, when everything being ready for an assault that could not have been resisted, General Chassé surrendered. His stout defence covered him with honour. About four thousand Dutch troops surrendered, and it is of interest to record, for the sake of comparison with more recent wars and sieges, that sixty- five thousand shells and cannon­balls were fired by the French. Having done its work, the French army returned to France, handing over the Citadel to the Belgians.



 © 2005-10 ©