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Item:  BSL - NAPOLEON-17 SEPTEMBER 1808


1808 - NAPOLEON ORDERS NATIONWIDE CELEBRATIONS,
AND SONGS TO BE SUNG PRAISING THE GLORY OF FRANCE
AND THE VICTORIES OF THE FRENCH SOLDIER

 
Napoleon predicts the overthrow of British supremacy on the high seas, even as he sends forth troops to suppress the Spanish uprising

A Scare look into Napoleon's Wily Propaganda
using Songs to enlist and encourage his troops as he readies them for his Invasion of the Iberian Peninsula
 
 
 


Napoléon, the French EmperorBy the year 1808, France had achieved domination over the great majority of continental Europe. Through victories at Ulm (1805), Austerlitz (1805), Jena-Auerstädt (1806) and Friedland (1807) her armies had successively eliminated Austria, Prussia and Russia as military opponents. Britain alone had withstood the power of France, achieving security against invasion through Nelson's victory over the combined French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar (1805).

In 1808, Napoleon usurped the Spanish throne in favor of his brother Joseph. The Spanish uprising that followed encouraged Britain to send an expeditionary force to the Iberian Peninsula.

Britain landed an expeditionary force under the command of Lt.-Gen. Sir Arthur Wellesley at the mouth of the Mondego river in Portugal. Moving south towards Lisbon, Wellesley defeated Gen. Delaborde at Roliça on 17th August before turning to the mouth of the Maceira river to protect the landing of reinforcements. On 21st August, Wellesley's position around Vimeiro Hill was attacked from the east by Junot. The Battle of Vimeiro was the first occasion on which Napoleonic offensive tactics combining skirmishers, columns and supporting artillery fire failed against the British infantry line and Wellesley's defensive skills. Junot was defeated. 

British supremacy of the seas had made such a move possible. And it must have been a wake-up call. But far from weakening Napoleon’s resolve, it reinforced it. He moved up by 6 months an involuntary conscription campaign, adding thousands of troops and bringing veterans to the forefront. In doing so he sought not only to strike a blow against the Iberian peninsula and crush the rebellion, but to appeal to the nationalism he had engendered and show a moral force that would strengthen his men and strike fear into others. The soldiers destined for the Spanish front and to reinforce the German sectors of his empire were feted as they were stationed around his empire, ready for a blow against Spanish and English ambitions, as Napoleon orders here in this letter.

Napoleon Letter Signed, September 17, 1808, at Saint Cloud, to Minister of the Interior, Emmanuel Cretet, Comte de Champmol (1747-1809)



Note

"The troops have been processed at Metz, Nancy, and Reims.  I want them to be at Paris, Melun, Sens, Saumur, Tours, Bourges, and Bordeau…. You will send me a note of what this will cost per man, according to the authorization you have been given.  Have songs written in Paris and sent into these difference towns; these songs will speak of the glory the army has acquired, of what it will acquire, and of the liberty of the seas that will result from these victories.  These songs will be sung at feasts we will host.  You will make three types of song, so that the soldiers will not hear sung the same song twice."


                                                                                                Napoleon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the very letter quoted by Francois Guizot, who writes in his authoritative book, L'histoire de France depuis 1789 jusqu'en 1848,

“These orders were followed point by point…. The passage through France of these different corps was as a triumphal march.  Municipalities of all towns were revitalized with zeal… The military songs rolled out to celebrate the triumphs of the grand army and to predict yet more.”

 
 

Page 1

 

Detail of Instruction and Napoleon Signature

 
       

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