1805 Letter Signed by Napoleon as Emperor referencing Lord Horatio Nelson and other key military content, RARE this nice

Superb letter referencing Horatio Nelson

Superb letter referencing Horatio Nelson

Amazing content of Letter signed by Napoleon referencing Horatio Nelson

Amazing content of Letter signed by Napoleon referencing Horatio Nelson

…Admiral Nelson was in the Straits of Messina…


Rare Incredible Manuscript Letter Signed “Napoleon” in French, 1 1/4 pages recto and verso, 4to, Chateau De Stupini, near Turin (Italy), 3 Floreal, An 13 (April 23, 1805).


An important war date letter, informing Admiral Ganteaume of Vice Admiral Villeneuve’s departure in pursuit of the English armada, advising that the Vice Admiral was later joined by an additional Spanish force, and that Lord Nelson was mistakenly heading in the wrong direction in an attempt to capture and destroy the French fleet.  

Emperor Napoleon impatiently writes 

“Admiral Ganteaume…Villeneuve left on 9 Germinal (March 30, 1805) with 11 ships of the line, 6 frigates and 2 brigs.  On the 19th (Germinal, April 9th), at 5 in the evening, he was before Cadiz in pursuit of 6 ships of the line, 2 frigates and 4 English brigs.  At this exact point he was joined by the French vessel L’Aigle, a large corvette and a French brig and by 6 Spanish ships, 4 frigates and 2 brigs, under the command of Admiral (Don Carlos) Gravina.  On the 20th (Germinal, April 10th) at day break the combined squadron was out of sight. A message that I have received from Salerno informs me that on the same day Admiral Nelson was in the Straits of Messina, spreading alarm and believing that the Toulon Squadron was going to Sicily or Egypt.  He was planning to wait for two days then set sail for Alexandria (Egypt).  You know the happy outcome of the expedition of Rear Admiral Missiessy who has taken Dominique and I think Ste. Lucia.  All that remains is for me to have news of your departure.  I expect that you and your crew are constantly on board and ready to take advantage of the slightest opportunity.  It would be hard for me to describe how impatient I feel.  Do not miss any opportunity which may present itself; but maintain on board severe discipline and see to it that everyone stays on board.  Increase the level of your fleet as much as you can. Whereupon I pray God keep you.”

An important letter with rare reference to Horatio Nelson, written during a hopeful time for Napoleon.  The letter unfolds the first part of his secret plan, entrusted to no one except Vice Admiral Villeneuve and Admiral Ganteaume.  Only when the naval commanders were at sea were they allowed to open the sealed orders at specified latitudes instructing them what courses to steer.  The idea was for Villeneuve to set sail from Toulon via Cadiz where he would meet Admiral Gravina with his squadron, proceed to Matinique and if Missiessy were there,  join him and wait for Ganteaume.  On the first equinoctial gale, which would disperse the English, Ganteaume would sail from Brest with 21 ships, steer for Ferror to be joined there by the French division; past there, join up with the Spanish division, and all would meet in Martinique to form the  most enormous force ever assembled at sea.

This letter refers to the first part of the plan which succeeded in outwitting Nelson as he had not thought of blockading Cadiz.  This was a particularly difficult and frustrating time for Nelson as having lost sight of the French fleet he would only guess at their destination.  He covered the Channel from Barbary to Toro but the French were nowhere to be found.  Only on April 18th did he decide to search for the French fleet in the Mediterranean. False intelligence and contrary winds delayed Nelson’s pursuit, and by the time he had reached the West Indies, Villeneuve had returned to Europe, brushing with Calder’s squadron off Finisterre,  After a brief visit to England, Nelson resumed his command off Cadiz on board H.M.S. Victory, and on October 21st, fought and won celebrated battle of Trafalgar, but was himself mortally wounded by a French sharpshooter and died at the moment of victory.

Vice Admiral Villeneuve was charged with cowardice by Napoleon, having sailed against his better judgement, and was massively defeated by Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar, where he was taken prisoner.  When freed on parole, he committed suicide by stabbing himself six times in the heart to escape the effects of his disgrace.

Letters of Napoleon mentioning Nelson are quite scarce, and those covering events leading up to the celebrated battle of Trafalgar are rare and highly desirable. In fine condition.  $15,000

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