MASSENA Andre - Letter Signed 1809 at the start of the War of the Fifth Coalition
André MASSENA, Duc de Rivoli and Prince d’Essling (1758-1817)Letter Signed (“Massena“) to General Oudinot, requesting that he let him know when his own troops have moved to new positions so that his men can take up their new positions.
1 page 4to in French, Ulm, 31 March 1809.
Trans: “I have just been informed by H.H. the Prince Major-General that you have received the order to place all your cavalry and your infantry on the right bank of the Lech, and on the left bank to occupy only the city of Augsburg, in order to leave space for my corps. As I cannot order any movement of my troops until yours are in their new positions on the right bank, I would be obliged if you could let me know as soon as His Highness’ orders have been carried out by your corps.”
Central Europe had known a period of peace following the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, but early in 1809 Austria, encouraged by the British, was once again ready to engage in hostilities against France.
This letter dates from the prelude to the war; diplomatic relations between France and Austria had broken down a week earlier, and Austria officially declared war on France at the beginning of April.
Napoleon amassed a large army of over 200,000 men, but whereas his army in his early campaigns had consisted primarily of French troops, his men now came from allied, or conquered, nations as well. Massena was responsible for the inclusion of men from Saxony and Hesse into the force.
It was to prove a difficult campaign for Napoleon, a herald of difficulties to come in the next few years, but nevertheless ended with victory for France at Wagram in July. Massena distinguished himself at Wagram, but it was his conduct at the battle of Aspern-Essling in May which earned him the title of Prince d’Essling.
Remains of guard at left margin, but the letter is otherwise in excellent condition.
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