Bertrand Sends

/Bertrand Sends

June 10 - Bertrand Sends

Previously, we saw that Bertrand had a recorded sending an order to Soult requesting that duplicates of the orders Soult would receive be distributed to the Army, or in Vandamme’s case, forwarded.

The 18th entry records and order to the army:

Gen. Reille
Comte de Lobau
D’Erlon
Vandamme
Marshal Mortier
10 June
Gen. I have the honor of sending you a copy of the Ordre du Jour that indicates the position the army must occupy on the 13th. — This order must be kept secret. Insofar as you are concerned, please comply with the stipulations that it contains. The Emperor will be in Avesnes on the morning of the 13th. His Majesty desires that you be there in person.

A near verbatim original letter exists for this entry:

Paris, June 10, 1815,
Général,
I have the honor of sending you an official copy of the Ordre du jour indicating the position the army is to take on the 13th. — This order must be kept secret: you will keep to the dispositions described herein for you. The Emperor will be in Avesnes on the morning of the 13th; His  Majesty desires that you be there in person.
Please accept assurances of my highest consideration,

Le Grand Maréchal,
Bertrand

Service Historique de la Défense, Correspondance de l’Empereur Napoléon et du Major Général, GR 17 C 193

In this same archive, we have the Ordre du Jour for Position of the Army on the 13th:

Paris, June 10, 1815
Ordre du jour
Position of the Army on the 13th
Army General Headquarters and Imperial Guard in Avesnes.
Park of Artillery and Bridge Equipage on the slopes ahead of Avesnes
Reserve Cavalry
I and II Corps at Beaumont
III and IV Corps between Avesnes & Beaumont

VI Corps at Beaumont. Headquarters to the rear.
Should the VI Corps find too many obstacles in reaching Beaumont, it may stop half way.
1st Corps at Pont-sur-Sambre. This corps will not march via Bavay. It will pass by Le Quesnoy, so as to distance itself from the enemy. It will conceal its movements as long as possible. Since they are at Valenciennes, this should take no more than a day. The march to reach the Sambre is therefore not to take place until the 13th.
2nd Corps behind Maubeuge in column on the route to Thuin. They are not to cross the border and should keep from
view as much as possible.
3rd Corps in Philippeville.
Armée de la Moselle at Mariembourg.
All communications at the border will be intercepted.

Soldiers will carry with them 4 days ration of bread, ½ pound of rice—50 cartridges — batteries with the divisions — Reserve Batteries with their corps — Light Cavalry of each army corps to be at the front of the corps — each ambulance with its division.
The auxiliary or military carts of each division shall provide 8 days ration of hard-baked bread and a park of livestock for 8 days.*

Signed Napoleon
By the Emperor
The Grand Maréchal
(signed) Bertrand

* There are to be no exchanges at the border. Do not cross the border at any point. No canons are to be fired. Do nothing that could give warning to the enemy.

The present order shall be kept secret.
(signed) Napoleon

 

Considering its importance, it is worth viewing the original:

We see that the previous draft for the Position of the 13th has been augmented by the details from other notes/drafts.

The next letter deals with Napoleon’s itinerary, and contains an aggregation of various notes we have seen:

De Guerchy
Mr. de Guerchy will leave with Mr. Baillon. He will make the Emperor’s lodging in Soissons. The Grand Equerry is sending a horse brigade there and I am sending a purveyor there who will prepare the Emperor’s breakfast for 6 o’clock in the morning.
He will go to Laon where he will also make the Emperor’s lodgings. I am sending 1 purveyor there to prepare the Emperor’s dinner. — 1 horse brigade will remain there. He will arrive in Laon and will send word to Mr. Baillon in Avesnes to make the Emperor’s lodgings there.
The General Headquarters, staff and maison of the Emperor must go to Avesnes.
No one from the household will take the post from Laon to Avesnes.

Moving Napoleon was like moving a small town, and it was every bit as important as moving a Corps.

The next entry is an order to Soult:

10 June
To the Major General
I have the honor to send Your Excellence the order of the day which makes known the position that the army must occupy
on the 13th.

This is most certainly a truncated version of a longer letter.  I would guess that this is the “second letter” to the major-general, and the one that would have the post-script reinforcing that d’Erlon must not move until the 13th.   When Bertrand took that dictation, he may have mistakenly placed it under what we will now call the Mons Plan.  The Position of the Army on the 13th is the Charleroi plan – three balanced columns each on roads that lead to Charleroi and environs on the Sambre.

The next entry is the order to Cafarelli that he will remain in Paris.

The next entry is an order to Reille:

Reille
To give information. It is vital that you position your corps without revealing your movements, and that you strictly forbid all communication.

This is a truncation of a longer letter that exists:

Paris, June 10, 1815,
Général,
I have the honor of sending you an official copy of the Ordre du Jour indicating the position the army is to take up on the 13th. This order must be kept secret: you will keep to the dispositions described herein for you. The Emperor will be in Avesnes on the morning of the 13th; His Majesty desires that you be there in person to give information. It is vital that you position your corps without revealing your movements, and that you strictly forbid all communication.
Please accept assurances of my highest consideration,

Le Grand Maréchal
Bertrand

Service Historique de la Défense, Armée du Nord – 1er au 10 juin – 1815, GR 15 C4

We note that Bertrand recorded in the registry what was unique to Reille, rather than the entire text.

The next entry is for the letter which was drafted prior to the long letter to Soult – for Gourgaud to have one of his orderlies carry the dispatch to Soult:

10 June
Order
Mr. [blank], officer of ordinance, will go to the Major General. He will present to him the dispatch, here attached, and will wait in Laon for new orders.

The remaining entries deal with Napoleon’s itinerary, and specifically his meals.

Bertrand’s registry follows: