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A Waste of Blood and Treasure (ePub)

The 1799 Anglo-Russian Invasion of the Netherlands

Military > French Revolutionary Wars

By Philip Ball
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
File Size: 4.2 MB (.epub)
Pages: 206
ISBN: 9781473885202
Published: 19th June 2017


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With the Netherlands overrun by French Republican forces, the British and Russian governments sent an allied army of 48,000 men under the Duke of York to liberate the country and restore the House of Orange.

The largest operation mounted by Pitt's ministry during the French Revolutionary Wars, the amphibious expedition involved the first ever direct cooperation between British and Russian forces, embroiled the armies in five full-scale battles, and secured the capture of the Dutch fleet. As Britain's first major continental involvement since 1795, it played a part in shaping the early careers of many famous military commanders of the Napoleonic Wars. In the end, however, the campaign failed spectacularly. Its inglorious end provoked parliamentary outrage and led to diplomatic rupture between Britain and Russia. The Duke of York never commanded an army in the field again.

This book examines British, French, Dutch and Russian sources to reveal a fascinating tale of intrigue, diplomatic skulduggery and daring action. Spies, politicians, sailors and soldiers all play a part in the exciting story of an expedition that made (and broke) reputations and tested alliances. It recounts in lavish detail the series of battles fought to liberate a people who showed little interest in being saved and explores the story behind the triumphs and failures of this forgotten campaign.

This is a useful account of this comparatively unknown campaign, probably most famous as one inspiration for the nursery rhyme ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’.

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History of War

As featured by

Military Heritage, May 2018

With A Waste of Blood & Treasure you will discover a good synthesis of a little known campaign.

VaeVictis, January – February 2018

As featured in

Gloire & Empire N°76

This is another part of neglected history and the publisher notes that it has not been covered for more than forty years. The author has addressed this deficit with a very readable account that is based on British, French, Dutch and Russian accounts – Highly Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


This really is a fascinating work on a largely unsung military enterprise, highly recommended as ‘something out of the ordinary’.

Stuart Asquith

About Philip Ball

Philip Ball has a long standing interest in military history and worked for a number of years in museums, archaeology and the heritage industry. Holding degrees from St David's, Leicester and Birmingham Universities he wrote his Masters Dissertation on the failure of the Helder campaign and is currently researching British maritime operations in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

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