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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Europe

Spiritual Ecumenism: Pope Francis Visits Evangelical/Pentecostal Church in Caserta Italy Watch

Image of Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis took a trip to Caserta, Italy on Monday, June 28, 2014. He visited with a friend named Giovanni Traettino who pastors an evangelical, charismatic/Pentecostal protestant Church. This friend of Francis oversees the growing evangelical Church of the ... continue reading


Spanish priest packs them into church - by dancing the flamenco Watch

Image of Father Pepe danced in front of the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1997. He says w he will retire this coming September.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jose Planas Moreno, known as "Father Pepe," has revived interest in his church in Malaga, Spain. The priest has brought parishioners flocking back to the Nuestra SeƱora Del Carmen church in Campanilla, a district of Malaga, with his unusual style of worship. ... continue reading


LUNCH SURPRISE: Pope Francis eats with Vatican employees in surprise visit Watch

Image of The Pope spent about an hour dining at a table with around 10 other people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A "lunch surprise" usually means an item that's not on the menu offered at a lower price. At the Vatican, employees got quite a "lunch surprise" on Friday when their "boss" and bishop, Pope Francis, turned up at their cafeteria. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Stop! I am asking you with all my heart. Stop! - Pope Urges End to Wars in Ukraine, Iraq and Gaza

Image of Brothers and sisters: never war.My thoughts go especially to the children, from whom we take away the hope for a decent life: dead children, injured children, maimed children, orphaned children, children who have war relics for toys, children who do not know how to smile.- Pope Francis

By Asia News

He mentions children, victims of war, "from whom we take away the hope for a decent life," urging the parties to address "every diatribe with the tenacity of dialogue and negotiation and the power of reconciliation". As tomorrow marks 100 years since the outbreak ... continue reading


Meriam Ibraham is Free! The Living God Has Heard the Cry of His People! Jesus Christ is Lord! Watch

Image of Meriam receives the blessing and the gratitude of the successor of Peter, Francis.- What should be front and center in every Christian news report on this remarkable story is that God intervened on behalf of Meriam and her family. The God whom we profess is real and His power is greater than any regime or any form of opposition. Yes, He used men and women, and even government leaders, to accomplish His deliverance. He often does. But it was His Love and Mercy which broke the shackles of evil. He deserves all the praise.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The photo of Pope Francis blessing Meriam Ibrahim and her little daughter Maya in the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday, July 24, 2014, reciving a blessing from a smiling Pope Francis, made millions of hearts leap for joy. The God of love answers the prayers of His ... continue reading


'A negative act necessarily must be condemned:' Vatican revising law on abuse penalties Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In regards to canonical law regarding acts of sexual misconduct, according to law ended up being too vague, Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta says, church sanctions were being applied so haphazardly that the church appeared to be divided. In response, the Vatican is ... continue reading


VILE: Somali girl smuggled into United Kingdom for organ harvesting Watch

Image of In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for transplant.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There has been a noticeable uptick of cases of human trafficking in the United Kingdom. In perhaps the most horrific recent case, law enforcement learned that a Somali girl had been brought to England for the express purpose of harvesting her organs for ... continue reading


HORRIFIC ABUSE: 18-year-old girl coerced into group sex while being recorded on cell phone Watch

Image of The incident is being called an example of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An 18-year-old girl performed explicit sex acts on 24 men on a dance floor with the promise of a holiday - which never arrived. Presented with a mixed drink for her acts of indecency, the sordid episode was recorded on a cell phone camera - for the world to ... continue reading


Female genital mutilation threatens young females in England, Wales Watch

Image of The Department of Health has ordered hospitals to report signs of genital mutilation. The first statistics aren't due until September.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Far away from Africa and parts of Asia, girls and young women are still at risk for female genital mutilation, or FGM within the United Kingdom. The barbaric practice, FGM, is still carried out among various immigrant females in both Great Britain and Wales. ... continue reading


Putin vs. the World: One plane crash may spell the end for Russian president's ambitious plan of conquest Watch

Image of Russian backed separatists stand around wreckage from the downed Malaysian Airlines plane.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World opinion continues to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine being the most notable and recent example of Russian interference in Ukraine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Time and evidence ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Gospel, John 11:19-27
19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 29th, 2014 Image

St. Martha
July 29: "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique ... 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