Description

    Gouverneur Morris Writes About Napoleon in Russia. ALS: "Gouv Morris", 2p, 8" x 9.5" (front and verso). Morrisania, 1813 August 11. Integral leaf addressed to: "Robert G. Harper Esqr./Baltimore". Excellent "NEW-YORK/12 AUG" postmark. Docketed by Harper. In full: "Accept my thanks for your kind Letter and the Pamphlet enclosed. I had already twice perused and with increased Pleasure your Speech at the Festival. Your Views both Military and political appear to me perfectly correct. As to the latter the most incredulous must soon believe. Unfortunately Kutusow is no more and Bonaparte remains again unrivalled. The old Marshal's Campaign appears to me not only a Chef d'oeuvre but unique -From the time when the Russian force was collected, from the extensive Posts which the uncertainty of Bonaparte's Attack rendered necessary the French Emperor was no longer master of a single movement. He could not take the Road to Petersburgh because he would have left his Flank and Rear opposed to the grand Army of Russia - In retreating from Moscow he would I believe have taken the Road to Cracow, in order to pass his winter in Prague, if he could. This at least is the Course I had marked out for him long before we heard of his Movements and indeed immediately on receiving the news of the burning of Moscow fixed on the 20th of October for his Departure, I conceive that it was for this Purpose he fought the Battle in which he was defeated. In Possession of Prague and leaving Garrisons where he did leave them he would have secured the Cooperation of all his Vassals including Austria for the present Campaign. After we had received information of the Ruin of his Army I looked forward to every thing good if Kutusow should live, but feared much that the slender Thread of his Existence would break or be broken. The last Affairs prove that he has not left his Mantle to his Successor. Adieu believe me always truly yours." Gouverneur Morris, a Signer of the Articles of Confederation, served in the Continental Congress (1777-1778) and the U.S. Senate (1800-1803). From 1792-1794, he was U.S. Minister Plenipotentiary to France. Robert G. Harper, Congressman from South Carolina (1795-1801), moved to Baltimore, was Major General in the War of 1812, and later represented Maryland in the U.S. Senate (1816). He was an unsuccessful Federalist candidate for Vice President in 1816. In this letter, Morris refers to Napoleon as Bonaparte, his given name, which he dropped after he became Emperor Napoleon I in 1804. In 1812, Czar Alexander had named 67-year-old General Mikhail Kubusoff (or Kubusov) as commander in chief of all his armies. Kubusoff had previously been remembered as losing the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 to Napoleon. On September 7, 1812, near the village of Borodino, more than 100,000 men with about 600 pieces of artillery were engaged on each side. It ended in a victory for Napoleon, but he lost about 30,000 men, including two Generals; the Russians lost nearly 50,000 men. On September 14, 1812, Napoleon entered Moscow. The campaign ended in disaster for him and on October 19th, after burning the Kremlin, he ordered a retreat. While his army had dwindled, the Russian forces had increased. Peace with Sweden had released a Russian army in Finland and peace with Turkey had released the army of the Danube. In July, 1812 Napoleon's Grand Army had more than 250,000 men. It had suffered no decisive defeat, yet it amounted now only to 12,000. In the retreat from Moscow alone, about 90,000 had been lost. By December, in the unbearable Russian winter, Napoleon's Grand Army ceased to exist. Kubusoff pursued Napoleon through Poland and into Prussia, where he was replaced in April, 1813, when he became ill. An exhausted Kutusoff died peacefully later that month. An important foreign affairs letter about Napoleon in Russia written by an American statesman who had served as Minister to France. Show-through, but Morris has penned his letter on each side in the spaces between the lines so that words are not behind each other. Very fine condition. From the Henry E. Luhrs Collection. Accompanied by LOA from PSA/DNA.

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