Lot 325: LS in French, signed "Np," one page, 7.5 x 9, January 29, 1811. Letter to his chief of staff, General Louis-Alexandre Berthier, concerning the evacuation of Spanish prisoners from the Depot de Paris, in part (translated): "Give the order that no Spanish prisoners remain at the Depot de Paris. Make General Quesnel responsible if anyone is left under your Command under pretext of illness or any other pretext; it is necessary that everyone be evacuated." In fine condition, with light creases, paper loss to upper corners, and a bit of feathering to ink in the signature.
This letter comes from the time of the Peninsular War, in which Napoleon's French Empire fought the allied powers of Spain, Britain, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula. Thousands of prisoners were taken from both sides, and the French used them in varying capacities-some were held captive and some were traded for French prisoners, while others were put to work or incorporated into military divisions. Although Napoleon believed the Spanish were most likely to become 'traitors,' he established a regiment of Spanish prisoners of war in 1809 to be commanded by his brother, Joseph Bonaparte. A few months after this letter, the referenced general, Francois Jean Baptiste Quesnel, commanded troops in the successful but costly Siege of Figueras in Catalonia. The siege, which lasted for the whole summer of 1811, resulted in the French capture of two thousand Spanish soldiers, who were marched into captivity. An interesting wartime order concerning the prisoners of war held captive by the French during the Napoleonic Wars.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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