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Beginning mai1809, England prepares a forwarding against Zealand (a province of the Netherlands). The Dutch coasts and the wearing of Antwerp being disarmed, England plans an invasion of Holland, thinking of rejoining the population easily.
The task force of 35.000 men is placed under the command of Lord Chatam, brother elder of the Pitt Prime Minister. The strong fleet of 22 ship of the lines, 120 buildings of war and 400 transport is ordered by the admiral Strachan.
On July 24,1809, the English fleet installs towards Zealand. The 29 in the morning, it arrives for the Dutch coasts: some frigates and a hundred transport under the orders of the Huntley general come to wet close to Breskens, while the remainder of the fleet travels towards the beach of Breezand, in north from the island to Walcheren.
The coasts are slightly defended, general Rousseau who has 300 national guards in Breskens, recalls the troops stationed in Ghent. The reinforcements arrive at Groede the 30 at midday. The Huntley general, seeing the French preparations, decides on August 1 to join the island of Walcheren. General Monnet, governor of Vlissingen, sent 1.200 men to the front of the English close to the camp of Westkapelle. In spite of a sharp defense, the French troops cannot prevent the unloading of 18.000 English soldiers on July 31.
Folded up in Vlissingen, the French troops are reinforced by several battalions coming from Breskens. On August 2, the English troops unload in the island of Zuidbeveland and occupy the chief town (Goes). Sent in recognition, a detachment of 30 English soldiers seizes without fighting fort of Bath evacuated by the French troops. The capture of this fort opens with the English fleet the estuary of the Scheldt.
On August 6, the English begin work from the head office of Vlissingen. Two days later, general Monnet decides an exit to remove a battery installed not far from the city on the dune known as of Nolle. An attack of diversion makes it possible the French troops to profit from the effect of surprise, but they must move back in front of an enemy ten times higher in a number. The losses rise with 800 men for French and 1.500 men for English.
On August 13, Vlissingen undergoes a first bombardment which lasted 42 hours. A first English summation is pushed back by general Monnet. A second bombardment, supported by many shootings of rockets flamers, begins on August 15. The following day, general Monnet capitulates : the garrison (4.000 men) is made captive with the honors of the war to be taken along to England.
During the head office of Vlissingen, Dutch troops (5.000 men) conduits by king Louis give an opinion around Antwerp. The Council of Ministers of the Empire, chaired by Cambaceres, issues the lifting of 30.000 national guards in the departments bordering. Cambaceres places these troops under the command of marshal Bernadotte. Arrived to Antwerp on August 6, Bernadotte has 30.000 men quickly, he isolates the islands from Walcheren and Zuidbeveland and thus prevents any English unloading on the continent.
Les Anglais abandonnent l'île de Walcheren (Musee Malmaison)Antwerp being defended, Lord Chattam can only note the failure of its military forwarding and decides on August 26 to re-embark for England with two thirds of its troops. Dissatisfied with the choice of Bernadotte (in disgrace since the battle of Wagram), Napoleon replaces him by marshal Bessieres. This one reconquered the island of Zuidbeveland and prepares to take again Walcheren.
The English troops are insulated on the island of Walcheren surrounded by the French batteries. The wet and marshy climate of the island starts as of the first rains of autumn an epidemic of fever among the English troops. In one week more than 10.000 soldiers are sick without counting the sailors of admiral Strachan’s squadron.
England makes hold Vlissingen thinking of involving Austria to break the armistice by the promise of a diversion in Zealand. With the advertisement of peace between Austria and France, the evacuation of the island of Walcheren is decided. The English evacuate Vlissingen, after having set fire to the vast military arsenal built by the French.


20/08/06 - Emmanuel Prunaux