NEY Michel - Document Signed 1807 sending orders
Michel NEY, Duc d’Elchingen and Prince de la Moskova (1769-1815)
Document Signed (“Le Mal. Ney”) sending detailed orders to General Dutaillis.
2 pages folio in French, Guttstadt, 10 April 1807.
A lengthy and extremely detailed set of orders.
Stating that the following orders were to be issued by General Dutaillis, to be executed the following day, 11 April, the orders continue – [trans:] “The 31st Light Infantry will be temporarily attached to this division . . . General Brun will have the command . . . the first battalion of this Regiment will take the outskirts of Guttstadt the right bank of the Alle and will provide a chain of posts from the bridge at Kassen . . . to Lindenbrun . . . General Marchand will send an officer . . . to reconnoitre . . . all the posts will send small patrols to the stream which runs parallel to the Alle . . . it joins the Alle just before Guttstadt . . . the second battalion of this Regiment will lodge at Guttstadt, it will provide no service for the left bank but it will serve the right bank of the Alle. . .
The 69th and 76th will alternate holding the garrison at Guttstadt . .
The 1st Battalion . . . will tomorrow occupy Glottau . . . the 2nd Battalion will tomorrow occupy Queetz in case of attack . . . The company of the 25th light infantry employed to guard the Alle . . . will return to their Regiment . . . General Bisson and the headquarters of the 2nd division will be stationed at Queetz. General Colbert will leave the village of Queetz and will base himself at Warlak. . .”
There follow details of the dates and time when Ney plans to review the troops, instructions for the departure of various companies of voltigeurs and grenadiers to Deppen, Mohrungen and Saalfeld, orders that an officer and twenty men to go to Truckendorff to guard the horses which had been left there, and further specific orders.
The first months of 1807 were particularly difficult for the French. Two months earlier, the battle of Eylau had proved inconclusive and Ney set up his winter quarters at Guttstadt, while Lefebvre besieged Danzig. More conscripts were to be sent as reinforcements, but the men already in Prussia with Ney and with Napoleon were calling for peace rather than for victory. In Guttstadt, food was scarce, the cold difficult to bear and Ney wrote that his men had not been able to change their clothes for months. To add to their hardships, the town was struck by an epidemic of typhus.
The fall of Danzig at the end of May was perhaps the first piece of good news the French had had for some time. But on 5 June Russian forces attacked Ney’s vastly outnumbered troops at Guttstadt. Although the result was, technically, a Russian victory, Ney, as ever the master of the orderly retreat, succeeded in withdrawing his men with relatively few losses. One of the wounded was the recipient of these orders, General Dutaillis, who lost an arm at Guttstadt.
One week later, Napoleon was able to win a decisive victory over the Russians at Friedland, a town on the river Alle, where Marshal Ney once again distinguished himself. The peace his soldiers had asked for would come, at least temporarily, when Napoleon and Tsar Alexander met ten days later.
The document, slightly browned, has been repaired, but is entirely clear and legible.
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