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    During his 1813 campaign in Germany, Napoleon orders the interrogation of all travelers from the enemy side and asks for a report and map with positions marked so that fortified posts can be set up from Hamburg to Bohemia

    Historic Napoleon I Manuscript Letter Signed: "Napol", two pages, 7" x 8.5", front and verso. Dresden, July 5, 1813. To "the Major General." In French with English translation. Matted and ornately framed to 13.5" by 15.75". Under glass on verso as well, showing the first page of Napoleon's letter. Hinged at the left to a larger ornate frame, 39.25" x 23.75", matted with a color portrait of Napoleon and three metal plaques, one with Napoleon's name, years of birth and death, and title, another detailing the events relating to this letter, and a third, under the hinged frame, with the English translation of Napoleon's letter.

    In full: "My Cousin, it is important that the General of the Gendarmerie be in communication with the Commander of the Gendarmerie of the Duke of Reggio, in order to get reports on everything that comes in from Berlin, and the interrogation he will subject travelers to in this regard. Write to General Lapoype in Wittenberg, and to the Commanders of Torgau and Dessau to question everyone and everything that passes through the Elbe coming from the Prussian side, in order to get information about the enemy. Strongly urge the Commandant of Torgau to speed up the departure of Torgau's artillery to Wittenberg, and order General Lapoype to set up artillery batteries immediately. Let me have a comprehensive report (with indications on the map) of all the positions the commandants have chosen, from Hamburg to Bohemia, so that we may set up fortified posts. Inform the Commandant of the Corps of Engineers about the 10 to 12 thousand tools which have arrived in Torgau, so that he may be able to make use of them in his operations. I close and pray God keep you in His Holy and protective vigil."

    Napoleon began his campaign in Germany by crossing the Saale River into Saxony on April 30, 1813. In May, Napoleon established his headquarters at Dresden. He began organizing an attack on Berlin to be led by Nicholas Charles Ouidinot, the Duke of Reggio. The cities of Wittenberg, Dessau, and Torgau were situated on the Elbe River and strategically located halfway between Dresden and Berlin. Napoleon was aware that the Allied Army of Bohemia was forming at the upper Elbe River and he decided to fortify key points along the Elbe from Hamburg to Bohemia. Improvements would be made by the Corps of Engineers and supplies were sent to Torgau. Six days after he wrote this letter, Napoleon traveled to Wittenberg to review the troops under General Lapoype.

    On June 4, 1813, Napoleon had agreed to an armistice with Prussia and Russia. The armistice was largely organized by Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Metternich who desired to maintain Austria's position as an armed mediator. During the armistice, the Congress of Prague was held on July 29, 1813. Napoleon had hinted a peace treaty was possible even though he had no intention allowing one to be signed. He was also aware that while the discussions were taking place among representatives of France, Prussia, Russia, and Austria, the Austrians were sending arms to the Prussian and Russian armies. The armistice lasted until August 10, 1813. Two days later, Austria declared war on France. Two weeks later, on August 26-27, 1813, Napoleon defeated the Allies at Dresden in what was to be his last great victory. In the October 16-19, 1813, Battle of Leipzig (Battle of the Nations), Napoleon fought against an Allied force of Austrian, Prussian, Russian and Swedish troops and was soundly defeated. French forces crossed the Rhine back into France on October 31, 1813. Napoleon was then forced to fight a defensive campaign in France. Marshal Joachim Murat, made King of Naples by Napoleon, his brother-in-law, in 1808, fought with French forces at Dresden and Leipzig, but, on January 11, 1814, negotiated with Napoleon's enemies to save his own throne. On April 6, 1814, Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, abdicated.

    In this important military letter, signed with the rare, almost full signature of the Emperor, Napoleon not only directs exactly what has to be done militarily, but also orders his officers to question anyone coming from the side of the enemy to obtain information which may be helpful. Most of the letter has been underlined, probably by Napoleon himself, to emphasize the importance of what he has written.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2006
    12th-13th Thursday-Friday
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