[DUMOURIEZ, General Charles-François], letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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French plans for the invasion of England, ca. 1804

[DUMOURIEZ, General Charles-François] (1739-1823). French general who became and adviser to the British government.
'Mémoire militaire sur l'Angleterre'; manuscript of 113 pages folio in a neat scribal hand with corrections and annotations in another hand. The paper is watermarked 1799, which indicates that the manuscript is contemporary with the one in Dumouriez's hand which came into the possession of A.M. Broadley and was published by him in 1909.
A set of proposals for defending the English coast against French invasion, preceded by a survey of past French projects for the invasion of England and Ireland, compiled by Dumouriez for Frederick, Duke of York, commander-in-chief of the British army:
'... j'ai l'honneur de présenter à Son Altesse Royale le duc de York [le mémoire détaillé sur la défensive des CÔtes, dont la Note historique est l'introduction nécessaire]. Heureux, si mon expérience peut être utile à un grand et bon Roy, adoré de ses sujets, et à une nation pleine d'énergie et de ressources, si je peux contribuer à sauver une seule chaumière de l'heureuse Angleterre. ...'

Though he had fought against Prussia and Austria during the Revolutionary Wars in France, Dumouriez was opposed to the execution of Louis XVI and his support for the Royalist cause made him increasingly an object of suspicion in France. He defected to Austria in 1793, and after several years of exile, settled in England in 1804, where he was granted a pension by the British government and acted as an advisor in the struggle against Bonaparte. The present manuscript appears to have been compiled for this purpose; Dumouriez's detailed knowledge of earlier French plans to invade England would have made him an invaluable source of information and advice on how best to defend the British south and east coasts at a time when invasion was expected daily. Chief among these was a project to invade the Isle of Wight in 1778, when, according to this memorandum, 50,000 English troops were fighting in America and only 10,000 regular troops would have been available for the defence of the realm. This invasion was to be launched from Cherbourg, helped by the local knowledge of both French and English smugglers who would serve as pilots. Had this plan been put into effect, Dumouriez suggests that the consequences for Britain could have been disastrous.

The contents of the manuscript are as follows:
Note historique sur les différents plan [sic] de descente en Angleterre
Projet d'invasion de L'Isle de Wight d‚tach‚s d'un plus grand plan
Memoire militaire sur l'Angleterre 1ère partie-De l'arm‚e
-Division de l'Angleterre en six d‚partements militaires-Apperçu de la deffensive des cÔtes de l'est depuis l'Ecosse jusqu'à la Stour
-Comt‚ d'Essex
-La Stour et le Wash
-La Colne, le Blackwater et la Crouch
Seconde partie - deffense de la Tamise du comt‚ de Kent
-Projet de descente par Rye et Romney
Troisième partie - deffense du comt‚ de Sussex
-Note sur Jersey et Guernsey
-Examen des ports et rades où peuvent se rassembler et d'où peuvent partir les flotilles destin‚es à l'invasion de l'Angleterre
-Examen des ports de l'ouest où l'on peut se rassembler et d'où on peut partir pour attaquer l'Irlande
-Note militaire sur l'Irlande
-Reconnaissance de l'Irlande en aperçu
Quatrième partie - Deffensive des comt‚s de Suffolk et Norfolk
Lettre à Monseigneur le duc d'York du 1er novembre 1803
Note sur les Tirailleurs

The opening pages of the manuscript give details of Dumouriez's career from 1763 onwards, including his posting as commandant of Cherbourg where he had been charged with developing French ports from which an invasion of England might be launched. It was however Bonaparte's 'usurping' of power and the prospect that he and Talleyrand might make use of his earlier invasion plans which seems to have decided Dumouriez to change sides ('... il me r‚pugnait depuis bien long tems, que des plans, que j'avais faits ou suivis par ordre de deux Rois, pour la conduite d'une guerre r‚gulière entre deux Nations rivales, puissent devenir sources de devastation et de ruine, s'ils ‚taient ex‚cut‚s par les mains barbares dans lesquelles ils ‚taient tomb‚s. ...')
The annotations and corrections, which all appear to be in the same hand, frequently correct the spelling of English place-names, and in one instance (p.7) there is a scathing comment on the feasibility of what has been proposed, which the tidal flows near the Isle of Wight would have rendered impossible. (This note is signed 'D'; but it is most likely a functionary in the British war office; the annotating hand bears no resemblance to Dumouriez's own hand.)

The present text is clearly related to or derived from the manuscript in Dumouriez's hand which was acquired by the autograph collector A.M. Broadley from a catalogue of Bertram Dobell in about 1905 and published by him as 'Dumouriez and the Defence of England against Napoleon / by J. Holland Rose ... and A.M. Broadley ...', John Lane, London and New York, 1909; a scarce book of which a copy is included with this lot. The Dumouriez manuscript, whose present whereabouts seem uncertain, contains further sections relating to the defence of Ireland and Scotland and a military essay on the defence of Portugal.

The sections now unstitched. Some damp-staining, but in generally good condition.
[No: 25431]


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