Back to Index Page   Back to Home Page

Item Ref:  1814 Westminster Report


Public Circular On the Devastation Following the Battle of Leipzig and a Plea for Aid





"Map by Mr. Faden of the Line of Country alluded to in this Report"


DATED: 7  APRIL 1814
Extensive Eyewitness reports on the condition of Germany following the defeat and retreat of the French after the battle of Leipzig

A Public Circular with numerous eyewitness accounts of the Aftermath of the Battle of Leipzig and the attempts to rally Support and Aid for the German victims and survivors. A stirring and graphic set of accounts and observations about the aftermath of the largest battle in Europe until World War I a hundred years later. A very nice piece of Napoleonic Memorabilia. Places specifically mentioned: Stettin, Custria, Glogan, Lower Silesia, Lochn on the Bober, Upper Lusatia, Bautzen, Gorlitz, Laun, the River Eger, Toplitz, Dresden, Preissen, Kulm, Arbesan, Nollendorf, Reisen Geberge, Peterswalda, Saxony, Meissen, Leipzig, Freyburg, Grimma, Stötteritz, Holmstadt, Eckhartzburg, Vach, Berka, Hunefield, Thuringia, Erfurt, Eysennach, Mentz, Hanau, Halle, Hanover, Gifhorn, Ratzeburg, Hamburg, Eppendorf, Lubeck, Bremen, Altoona, Lauenburgh, and Berlin.  There is also an extensive account of the "infamous and inhuman conduct" of Marshall Davoust.

Historical Note

Here are just a few of the extracts which are filled with details of towns, conditions, alarms of pestilence, starvation, exposure and civil unrest. A fascinating contemporary account of the Napoleonic War as related to the British Public:

“Between Toplitz and Dresden 500,000 men were encamped for three months; and it is at one post north of Toplitz that the most decisive signs of war are visible. Preissen, Kulm, Arbesan, Nollendorf and several other villages in the valley in which Vandamme was defeated, are all burnt to the ground. From Nollendorf across the Reisen Generge to Peterswalda not a village is standing. Fifteen or twenty hamlets through which the road passes to Dresden are fired and gutted. Amongst the ruins of a village perhaps a single chimney is seen smoking; and around it are eight or nine families in a wretched situation. In short, from Toplitz to Dresden, a distance of 70 English miles, once fertile and populous, not a single village remains. An infectious dis-order is universally present. The Postmaster generally warns travellers not to stop; I saw many dying, and one man actually died as I passed.”

“From the frontiers of Saxony to the capital, the eye is presented with one wide waste plain littered with straw and dotted with the numerous bodies of horses. The small towns on every side of Dresden are level with the ground. The fields are totally uncultivated.”

“The field of battle comprehended more than 60 villages, all of which have been completely plundered and many burnt. In this whole range, extending to the distance of ten miles around the city … for here the battle raged most furiously, and almost every house was a fortress, which was taken and retaken till it was converted into a heap of ruins.”

“In spite of the most active exertions, an infectious disease broke out in Leipsic, and prevailed to a very wide extent throughout the surrounding country. The French army indeed seems to have carried with it a contagious fever to all the places through which its retreat was directed.”

“The whole of Saxony has in greater or less degree experienced calamities similar to those which have been described. In the diocese of Eckhartzburg, consisting of 37 parishes, the French used the shutters, doors, floors, and roofs of the houses for fuel, and carried away all the utensils, beds, and clothes. The Clergy, who were generally the principal persons in their respective villages, were exposed to many indignities and sufferings. Most of their houses were burned, and their families compelled to seek shelter in the lowest huts. The Allies maintained a more strict discipline, yet it was not possible to prevent the depredations of their marauding parties. The towns of Franconia are in a miserable condition; Vach, Berka, and Hunefield, are nearly depopulated by fever. In the latter, a small town, numbers are dying daily. On the line of the French retreat, through Thuringia, the damage has been extreme. The town of Erfurt which, during the last seven years, has been six times traversed by the main army of the French, has been peculiarly distressed; and in Eysenach the general misery has been much increased by the blowing up of some French tumbrels. All the other towns on the route to Mentz, particularly Hanau, are in the utmost want.”

Document Specifications: This is a large four page public circular on one folded sheet of batonne laid paper watermarked "Morgan & Sons/1811" with a fleur-de-lis; each page measuring 9½" wide and 15½" tall (240mm x 390mm). It was printed by W. Phillips, George-Yard, Lombard Street, London and dated: 7th April 1814. It is signed in print by J. Watson and R. Ackerman, Secretaries pro tempore. It includes graphic eyewitness accounts, charitable efforts to collect, organize and deliver aid as well as a map of the distressed area in Germany. While some edge wear and aging on top half of first page, very good condition for age.

Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

End of Item - BSL -

Tel: 573-335-7720

Back to Index Page   Back to Home Page
Hit Counter