The registry, or order book, that Soult turned over to Grouchy on June 25, 1815, is famously lost. Grouchy would publish a copy of it, but only from June 13, and it was very incomplete.
Source: Copie du registre d’ordre et de correspondance du major général, à partir du 13 juin jusqu’au
26 juin, NAF 4366, Bibliothèque nationale de France
An exhaustive search for additional materials has been ongoing since 2013. As it has now been over 200 years since the campaign ended, it will take expanding our search to find new materials.
The cent-jours was probably one of the most dramatic episodes for those who lived it, thus its expected that some individuals would have collected mementos from this period.
Général Anne François Mellinet is one such individual. Significant enough to be listed in Article 2 of the Ordonnance du 24 juillet, along with the likes of Soult, Carnot, and Lobau, yet he is minor enough to be absent from Napoleon’s Correspondance générale, published in 2018. He is not mentioned in many histories of the events of 1815. He fled to Belgium after Waterloo.
His son is another such individual. Émile served in 1815 as a sous-lieutenant of the 96th Line Regiment. When Gérard and the Armée de la Moselle joined the Armée du Nord, Émile appears to have remained behind, where, it is said, he was wounded in the siege of Metz. Émile had a long career, and is best known as commander of the Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard at the battle of Magenta, where his grenadiers distinguished themselves in a decisive French victory.
At first glance, one would not expect either father or son to possess a critical resource related to the materials in this reference, and indeed, they were neither researched, or candidly, even recognized.
In the summer of 2015, there was great success. While searching for anything related to Soult, in the 1874 catalog of items in the library of Nantes, titled Catalogue méthodique de la Bibliothèque Publique de la Ville de Nantes, I found the the following entry:
The (G. É. M.) was explained that:
Cet ouvrage et beaucoup d’autres qui vont suivre ont été donnés à la Bibliothèque par le général Émile MELLINET et sont enrichis d’un hommage écrit de sa main. Nous les signalerons par les lettres G.E.M. imprimées à la fin de leurs titres respectifs.
This book and many others that followed were donated to the Library by General Émile MELLINET and are enriched with a tribute in his handwriting. We will post them by the letters G.E.M. printed at the end of their respective titles.
Émile donated this registry to the library at Nantes in 1871, where it is today. Émile was born and died in Nantes (1798-1894) and lived to be 95 years old. He was one of the last living veterans of Napoleon’s army and he is found among a popular set of photographs of Napoleon’s veterans.
After retiring to Nantes late in life, he donated the book to the local library. How he acquired it is unknown. His father would have had greater opportunity in the aftermath of the campaign.
This registry contains many reports from Soult to Napoleon, as well as reports for Davout, orders to the generals of the Armée du Nord, and other pieces of correspondence sent to those in the military and government. It is of supreme importance – evidence that no stone can go unturned if we are to find the many known missing primary sources.
This item is transcribed in Volume 1
Source: Registre de correspondance et rapports du maréchal Soult à l’Empereur (9 mai – 6 juin 1814), Manscript 1201, Bibliothèque municipale de Nantes
Finding one of Soult’s order books provided new search terms, and many auctions of correspondence from 1815 were identified.
One, a November 28, 2006 auction, contained many lots of material from 1815, but two lots were of particular interest:
Enregistrement de la correspondance du mouvement des troupes du 11 mai au 25 juin 1815. Compte-rendu résumé du contenu d’environ 350 lettres adressées par le Maréchal Soult, Duc de Dalmatie et Major général de l’armée, à tous les généraux et officiers. Ces lettres forment l’intégralité des ordres donnés par Soult aux différents généraux de l’armée, avec leurs dates. Le manuscrit s’interrompt le 17 juin 1815, veille de la bataille de Waterloo. On trouve à la fin du cahier, réunis par une petite ficelle, certains ordres sur feuilles volantes datés jusqu’au 25 juin avec la mention : « A inscrire dans le registre ». Cet ensemble forme un cahier de 54 pages avec marge à gauche et à droite avec le nom des personnes à qui les lettres étaient destinées où les noms des personnes pour lesquelles il devait être fait une copie. Reproduit page 59.
Lot n° 261
Enregistrement de la correspondance concernant l’Administration et la comptabilité des Armées. Résumé des lettres adressées par le Maréchal Soult à ses généraux qui s’occupaient de l’administration, à l’intendant général ou encore au Ministre de la Guerre ou du Trésor. Ces 125 lettres environ furent envoyées entre le 15 mai et 16 juin 1815, seule une petite note du 19 juin se trouve en fin de manuscrit, visiblement à insérer. Reproduit page 59.
It is very difficult to contact the anonymous buyers of auction materials, but in this case, François Gianadda, of Martigny, the buyer of Lot 260 graciously provided a scan of the item. It provides hundreds of new pieces of correspondence from the campaign, and has allowed many items in the archives to be properly organized.
It is transcribed in Volume 1.
Source: Mouvement des troupes. Enrégistrement de la correspondance, commencée le 11 Mai 1815,
Collection François Gianadda, Martigny
Lot 261 is yet another registry of Soult, and would undoubtedly add many new items to our collection. One key area it could illuminate could be Soult’s mission to Lille, as there is very little recorded for the days of June 9, 10, and 11.
Finding the new registries has even answered questions about Grouchy’s copy. It starts on June 13 as the Mouvement des Troupes continues into combat operations. It appears Soult started a new book for the combat operations. Activities of June 17, after the battle of Ligny when Soult was absent from Napoleon, are recorded in Mouvement des Troupes with letters about prisoners and replacing ammunition.
From these registries, it becomes clear that only 20% or so of the correspondence survives in the archives. Thus, it is no surprise that the history of the French concentration has been rewritten with these new discoveries.