Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Remnant of one of French leader's darkest moments offers fascinating glimpse into era

"At three o'clock in the morning, on the 22nd I am going to blow up the Kremlin," wrote French General Napoleon Bonaparte in a coded letter describing his desperate, last order against the Russians. The Russian czar's seat of power was in flames and the greatly hobbled French army was in retreat. Depicting one of history's famed generals at one of his weakest moments, the message is now up for auction.

Historians cite the letter as evidence of the general's fall, wherein Napoleon's 'glorious empire,' which started in Russia and ended in disgrace at Waterloo three years later.

Historians cite the letter as evidence of the general's fall, wherein Napoleon's "glorious empire," which started in Russia and ended in disgrace at Waterloo three years later.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/28/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Napoleon, coded letter, auction, russia, Napoleonic wars, rise and fall


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "My cavalry is in tatters, many horses are dying," Napoleon says in his pleading missive. It's a sterling example of how far the mighty can fall, penned at a time when his calamitous Russian invasion halved his army.

Dated Oct 20, 1812, signed "Nap" in the emperor's hand and written in numeric code is up for auction this weekend at France's Fontainebleau Auction House.

Used only for top-secret letters when the French emperor was far from home, the Napoleonic code attempted to halt enemies from intercepting French army orders. The code was regularly changed to prevent it from being cracked.

The system presumably used Napoleon's strongest horses and riders to carry the news: It only took three days to reach France's interior ministry - 1,540 miles across Europe.

"This letter is unique. Not only is it all in code, but it's the first time we see this different Napoleon. He went into Moscow in 1812 at the height of his power. He returned profoundly weakened. In Moscow, the Russians had fled days before and burnt down the city. There was no victory for Napoleon, nor were there any provisions for his starving, dying army," Jean-Christophe Chataignier of the auction house says.

Napoleon final order was to burn Russia's government buildings - coded in the letter as "449, 514, 451, 1365..."

Historians cite the letter as evidence of the general's fall, wherein Napoleon's "glorious empire," which started in Russia and ended in disgrace at Waterloo three years later.

In June 1812, Napoleon's "Grand Army," at 600,000 men one of the largest in human history entered Russia. Unprepared for the harsh weather, the strong Russian defense and its scorched-earth tactics, nothing was left behind to sustain the hungry and freezing French troops.

"This letter is an incredible insight, we never see Napoleon emotively speaking in this way before," Chataignier says. "Only in letters to (his wife) Josephine did he ever express anything near to emotion. Moscow knocked him."

The message announces that his commanders are evacuating Moscow and Napoleon laments his army's plight, asking for assistance to replenish his forces and the ravaged cavalry, which saw thousands of horses die.

The letter, which is accompanied by a second decoded sheet, is estimated to fetch up to 15,000 euros.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Europe

Archaeologists find a very different type of 'treasure' - a 2,000-year-old toilet seat Watch

Image of Discovered at Vindolanda fort on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Accustomed to finding priceless coins, artwork and historical artifacts, archaeologists in Great Britain have found an altogether different type of treasure - one that was desperately needed in ancient times - a wooden toilet seat, believed to be 2,000 years ... continue reading


Over 1,400 girls raped and abused by Muslims in English town Watch

Image of For more than 12 years a large community of Pakistanis living in England have enjoyed sexually abusing girls while officials turned a blind eye a new report reveals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over a 12 year period, hundreds of children were systematically raped, beaten and sex trafficked in a northern English town, and the government commissioned report on the incident reveals that it is still going on today. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This ... continue reading


Guilty? Corruption case moves forward against the head of International Monetary Fund Watch

Image of Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund, who is facing charges currently in France.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Christine Legarde, the chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and one of the most powerful women in the world, has been charged with "negligence" over a multi-million-euro graft case relating to her time as a French finance minister. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Scandalous details come to light over defrocked nuncio's abuse of young boys Watch

Image of Shoeshine boys int he Dominican Republic say that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual acts.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Loathsome details have come to light over defrocked Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the Vatican's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Shoeshine boys say that Wesolowski would cruise the oceanfront promenade and offer them large sums of money for sexual ... continue reading


Archbishop appeals his defrocking for sexual abuse allegedly committed in Dominican Republic Watch

Image of If found guilty in a criminal trial, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski could risk extradition to the Dominican Republic, which has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the case.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, from Poland, is accused of child sex abuse while he served in the Dominican Republic. He has since appealed against a Roman Catholic tribunal's decision to defrock him, according to the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


SHOCKING: Are there more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for British military? Watch

Image of Many young men facing poor job prospects in the U.K. find the IS narrative of defending Islam hard to resist.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a shocking figure that has many questioning immigration laws. Britain's Ministry of Defense has confirmed that there are approximately 600 British Muslim service members in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. In a momentous slap to the West - and ... continue reading


British Archbishop demands Muslim leaders enforce discipline on youth or face the consequences Watch

Image of George Carey, a former Archbishop recently spoke on the dangers of the Islamic State, as well as the British Muslims who go overseas to fight for it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has called for Britons that are fighting for the Islamic State to be banished from Britain. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Lord George Carey of Clifton said that Muslims must  discipline their young people, or see them ... continue reading


Pontifical Council Statement on the Violence in Iraq Watch

Image of Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis:

By Vatican Radio

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) - The Pontifical Council for Interreligious ... continue reading


British rapper makes 14-year-old girl post sex video online Watch

Image of The girl, who can't be named for legal reasons, accepted a friend request from rapper Logik, whose real name is Kyle Burns.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was a sick incident that highlights what's going on around the eyes and ears of semi-attentive parents. A British rapper who goes under the stage name of "Logik" asked a 14-year-old girl to pose an indecent 60-second video of herself to which he promised ... continue reading


A new tomb may be the burial place of Alexander the Great Watch

Image of This road leads up to a newly discovered tomb which could hold the remains of one of Alexander the Great's generals.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Archaeologists in Greece have discovered an immense tomb that they believe may be connected with Alexander the Great, whose conquests stretched from Greece to India. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This tomb, which dates to around 300 BC, may have held the body ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:1-5
1 Now when I came to you, brothers, I did not come ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
97 How I love your Law! I ponder it all day ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2014 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter