NAPOLEON I, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Napoleon's preparations for the Prussian Campaign of 1813

NAPOLEON I (1769-1821). Emperor of the French.
Letter Signed ('Np') to Clarke, Duke of Feltre, 1 page 4to with a note pinned to the foot, Paris, 30 March 1813. The note at the foot reads 'remis le 30 mars à M Gérard'.
Giving orders for a battalion of 840 men of the 8th Light Horse, well equipped, and the same number of the 18th Light Infantry, to leave between 5 and 10 April for the nearest navigable point on the Rhine in order to reach Mainz, and asking that he be notified as soon as they arrive so he can issue further orders.
 Prussia had declared war on France on 16 March 1813. Following the disastrous Russian campaign the previous year, and the decimation of the Grande Armée in the retreat, the following letters to Marshal Clarke, his Minister of War, show Napoleon, with his customary grasp of detail, speedily reorganising his forces, moving troops from Italy, demanding detailed information about numbers of men and the state of their arms and equipment, and revealing that he expects to suffer a large number of casualties. As the recipient's affixed notes reveal, Clarke lost no time in passing on the Emperor's orders to those who were charged with executing them. At the same time, Napoleon is concerned with the location and employment of the prisoners from the unsuccessful Peninsular campaign.
 The Prussian campaign, which got off to a good start with French victories at Lützen and Bautzen in May, would end in failure by October with a catastrophic defeat at Leipzig and withdrawal back across the Rhine. The Allies (joined, in spite of Napoleon's marriage to Marie Louise, by Austria in August 1813) were then preparing the invasion of France which would lead to Napoleon's abdication the following year.
[No: 24906]

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