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Napoleon's preparations for the Prussian Campaign of 1813

NAPOLEON I (1769-1821). Emperor of the French.
Lengthy Letter Signed ('N' with a smudge) to Clarke, Duke of Feltre, 4 pages 4to with a note pinned to the foot, Paris, 26 March 1813. The note at the foot reads 'remis le 26 mars à Mr Lebarbier'.
Giving instructions that, since the Duke of Plaisance (Lebrun) has been given responsibility for the third cavalry corps, the rest of France is to be divided between Generals Corbineaux, Dejean, Flahaut and Préval, and Clarke is submit to him a plan for this distribution of responsibility: given that there are 52 Grande Armée depots, each general should be responsible for 10 or so depots, and for an entire division; they are to begin work at once to fill all empty subaltern ranks, to submit a detailed muster list of men in the corps before January, those who came in the conscription of 1813, and from other sources; he also asks for information regarding the number of horses already available and those which could be acquired on the spot, and for similar information regarding uniforms, arms and equipment, the generals are to make a detailed report to him as soon as possible; meanwhile Prince Borghese is to appoint an officer to review the 19th and 4th divisions in Italy, so as to make the most efficient use of the available manpower.
 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: 24901]


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