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Napoleon Bonaparte

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Napoleon Bonaparte, 1769-1821.  French military leader; Emperor Napoleon I of France.  Very fine condition partially printed Manuscript Document Signed, Apprové / Dresden 21 Mai. / 1812 / Np, two pages (recto and verso), 8" x 12", Dresden, [Germany], May 21, 1812.  Countersigned, Duc de Feltre, by Henri J. G. Clarke.  In French.

This document is a “Report to the Emperor and King" from Clarke, Napoleon's Minister of War.  It concerns the assembly of an artillery battery under the command of General Heudelet in preparation for Napoleon's invasion of Russia, which began just over a month later, on June 24, 1812.

The invasion was the turning point in the Napoleonic Wars, and thus this document relates to one of the most important periods in Napoleon's military career.  Napoleon passed through Dresden, Germany, where this document is dated, both on his way into Russia and on his way out. 

In preparation for the invasion, the ambitious French ruler amassed enough provisions to sustain an army of 600,000 men and 150,000 horses for nearly two months.  He had also ordered heavy coats from the British.  In a cost-saving effort, however, he ordered the coats with tin buttons rather than brass ones.  He did not know that at low temperatures tin undergoes an allotropic transformation and turns to dust—a hard fact that he learned too late.  The invasion was a disaster for Napoleon, leaving his forces with only a fraction of their original strength.  Some estimates suggest that, both sides considered, over 1 million men died during the war in Russia.

Napoleon retreated, going back through Dresden, where he took a stand and decisively defeated the Sixth Coalition forces there on August 26-27, 1813.   Ultimately, however, the Sixth Coalition forces drove Napoleon from Germany in late 1813 and invaded France in 1814, forcing Napoleon to abdicate.

This is a nice, attractive document.  It has one horizontal and one vertical fold.  Napoleon's handwriting and signature are bold.  The piece is in very fine condition.






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