Doel Under Siege

While Belgium wins its independence (from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands) in 1830, the region around Doel remains a tug-of-war between Belgium and the Netherlands for another 9 years. Are you ready to discover the distinctive role played by Joannes Camerman during that period?

General Map of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, 1816 by E. MaaskampOriginal Source: Gelders Archief

One country

From 1815 the Southern and Northern Netherlands formed one country, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Official portrait of king Willem I, 1819 (1819) by Joseph PaelinckOriginal Source: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The South rises 

The new state is ruled by king William I (1772-1843). After a few years, the governance is considerd disadvantageous for the South. The unrest grows and disturbances break loose. The South is rebelling.

Cartoon of the battle with the Belgians at Baarle-Nassau, 1831 (1831/1831) by UnknownOriginal Source: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The rebellious southerners, the later Belgians, obviously do not have their own army. Volunteers report spontaneously and form civilian militias. They have to fight against the Dutch army, maintain public order and prevent looting. They are poorly organized, poorly dressed and poorly equipped.

Some of the soldiers employed by the Dutch army originating from the southern part of the country desert and join the insurgents. They take the lead of the civil guards and thus lay the foundation of the later Belgian army. Among them are the Beveren brothers Louis and Henri de Brouchoven de Bergeyck (1809-1864). The latter becomes Lieutenant Colonel of the Civil Guard.

Technical plans of the peaks of the civil guardGemeente Beveren

In Beveren and other rural communities the militias use peaks.

Overview of the Scheldt from Fort Bath to Antwerp (1832/1833) by J. B. ClermansOriginal Source: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Dutch garrisons keep the region under control from the fortresses Sint-Marie, de Perel and Liefkenshoek. They are backed up by cannon-armed Dutch warships on the Scheldt. The intention is to preserve the port of Antwerp for the North.

1. Antwerp

15: Doel

14: Fort Liefkenshoek

8: Fort De Perel, close to the town of Kallo

Battle of Kallo (1831/1879) by UnknownGemeente Beveren

On the 5th of August 1831 Dutch troops hit Kallo: they murder, plunder and raise fire.

Eight civilians are killed.

17 granaries are lost by arson and 108 houses were destroyed.

Minutes of the municipal council of Doel reporting the French quartering in Doel (1832-12-03) by Municipal council of DoelGemeente Beveren

The French arrive!

On the 30th of November 1832, French soldiers arrive in Doel. They come to support the Belgians in their fight against the Netherlands and to protect Doel. The polder village is still in the line of fire. The Dutch vessels lie in front of the village keeping it at gunpoint. The French find shelter with the farmers in the polder; the municipality of Doel takes care of their supplies.

Cannonbal (1800/1832) by UnknownGemeente Beveren

On the 6th of December 1832, the Dutch open fire on Doel. The cannonballs cause serious damage to the church and a large number of houses. Due to this bombardment, the people of Doel flee, leaving the village behind. This particular cannonball was found in the side wall of house Camerman.

Joannes Cornelius Camerman (1795/1880) by UnknownOriginal Source: Private collection

Not everyone is on the run. Municipal secretary Joannes Camerman (1795-1872) remains firmly on post. He keeps a protective eye on the remaining goods and, even more important, on the movements of the Dutch war fleet. He reports daily in Kieldrecht to Major Baudisson who leads the military actions from the French side.

The two marks of honor on his chest remind of the active role he played during these years.

The Camerman family was known as catholic and anti-revolutionary. Peter Joannes Camerman, the brother of the municipal secretary, died of deprivation on the 13th November 1813 in Wesel in Germany, after he had been taken away as a young seminarian to be incorporated into the French army. He received a remarkable burial monument in the church of Doel.

Combat de Doel, 1832 (1839/1840) by Ignace-François Bonhommé and Jean-Antoine-Théodore GudinOriginal Source: Chateau de Versailles

Battle of Doel

On the 23th of December 1832, the day of  the Dutch capitulation of the citadel of Antwerp, the Dutch set foot in the Doelpolder. Approximately 2,000 soldiers migrated southward on the
23rd of December along the Verkortingsdijk. The French warned by Camerman waited for
them and managed to break them apart and drove them back to their ships. They also managed to capture some of the besieging ships.

Ten French soldiers were killed in the vicinity of the Verkortingsdijk and their corpses were buried underneath the dike. Hence the Verkortingsdijk has been popularly known as the 'French dike'.

Sisters of the Congregation of Our Lady Presentation at Old Spiritual Court of Ter Welle (1880/1910)Gemeente Beveren

Forty French heavily wounded soldiers were deported to Beveren and taken care of in the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady Presentation in the castle of Hof ter Welle. Eight French soldiers did not survive their injuries and died on the spot. The total loss of French troops is eighteen, the Dutch regretted two deaths.

Leopold I of Saksen-Coburg and Gotha, king of Belgium between 1831 and 1865 (1831/1980) by UnknownGemeente Beveren

Royal visit

Between 5 and 15 May 1833 the new Belgian king Leopold I made an inspection tour through East and West Flanders. On 9 May he visits Doel. The mayor of Doel meets him at the farm on the redoute Spar.

Minutes of the municipal council of Doel with report of king Leopold's visit to Doel (1833-05-10) by Municipal council of DoelGemeente Beveren

"Vous ne serez pas inondés, Messieurs!" ("You will not be flooded, Gentlemen!")

Cartoon 24 Articles (1833)Original Source: http://

It was not until 1839 that William I recognized the Treaty of the XXIV articles, which put an end to the war between the Netherlands and Belgium. The Dutch troops withdrew and the Netherlands transferred the Lillo and Liefkenshoek forts to Belgium on 22 June 1839. After the draining of the polders, Doel is waiting for a long recovery period.

Up to this day Dutch tourists often visit Fort Liefkenshoek and Doel in search for their ancestrial 'roots'.

Photograph of Camermanstreat viewed from dike (1950/1999) by UnknownGemeente Beveren

To this day Joannes Camerman is honored by giving his name to the central street of Doel. The Camermanstraat connects the church and the port.

Credits: Story

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Château de Versailles - Grand Palais
Zusters van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Presentatie Beveren
Gemeentearchief Beveren
Erfgoedhuis Hof ter Welle Beveren

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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