Wednesday, 3 October 2012

the week before waterloo

JOURDAN,, Jean Baptiste 1762-1833. French Marshal

A Letter  from ("Jourdan") to the Minister of War (Davout), informing him of the supplies he has requested from civilian suppliers for army pensioners, as these cannot be obtained from the depleted military stocks.2 1/2 pages folio in French, Besancon, 12 June 1815.This is on sale.
During the Hundred Days, Napoleon appointed Jourdan governor of Besancon, in eastern France. As is evident in this letter, he was conscientious in fulfilling his duties, if somewhat lacking in the panache of some of the other, less scrupulous, marshals.Trans: ". . . you authorized me to obtain whatever may be available in terms of clothing and equipment from the military stores for the army pensioners. Your Excellency also ordered me to deal with the civilian authorities, should these stores prove inadequate . . . I must inform Your Excellency that the stores have no resources, and in accordance with your intentions I had to invite the civilian authorities to provide for the needs of these elderly servicemen, but as the prefects are busy with the clothing and equipment of the national guards, I felt that it would be impossible to satisfy my requirements. I have therefore limited myself to the most indispensable items, a cloak, trousers, hat and two pairs of shoes for each man. The pensioners in the garrison . . . come to about sixteen hundred . . . " After some confusion with the orders, Jourdan ascertained that it was unlikely that sufficient supplies would be found, and he eventually limited his request to 1100 cloaks and 1100 pairs of shoes, and ordered hats rather than schalkos, as these would be easier to find.In the chaos that was the Hundred Days, it is unsurprising that adequate provision of supplies of any kind would prove problematical. The implication here is that not only was there a shortage, but even where it might be possible to find the goods, suppliers were reluctant to risk selling their goods to those who might ultimately be unable to pay.Soon after the defeat at Waterloo, Jourdan submitted to the restored Bourbon monarchy and four years later was called upon to serve in the upper house of Parliament.

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