NAPOLEONIC WARS – BATTLE OF THE NATIONS Autograph journal kept by the diplomatist, Henry Unwin Addington, during the Napoleonic Wars when serving as attaché to the British mission to Napoleon's former marshal, King Bernadotte of Sweden, 1812-14; together with a notebook of about the same period kept by a member of the Talbot family and a bound group of verse epistles by or to members of the Trant family of Tipperary
Lot 56
NAPOLEONIC WARS – BATTLE OF THE NATIONS
Autograph journal kept by the diplomatist, Henry Unwin Addington, during the Napoleonic Wars when serving as attaché to the British mission to Napoleon's former marshal, King Bernadotte of Sweden, 1812-14; together with a notebook of about the same period kept by a member of the Talbot family and a bound group of verse epistles by or to members of the Trant family of Tipperary
Sold for £3,750 (US$ 6,218) inc. premium
Lot Details
NAPOLEONIC WARS – BATTLE OF THE NATIONS
Autograph journal kept by the diplomatist, Henry Unwin Addington, during the Napoleonic Wars when serving as attaché to the British mission to Napoleon's former marshal, King Bernadotte of Sweden, comprising a short "Journal of a Voyage to Cadiz", 9 April to May 1812, followed by his journal of a "Campaigning Tour Through Germany. 1813-4"; the latter opening: "Set out charged with dispatches from London on the 28th of April" and describing his travels through Sweden to Prussia; his journal then describing how, in June 1813, he accompanied Castlereagh's half-brother General Sir Charles Stewart [afterwards Lord Londonderry] on a mission to Prague, and while serving in Stewart's entourage witnessing the battles of Dresden and Leipzig; afterwards being charged with taking back to London the treaty that had been signed with Denmark and Sweden; then returning to Germany and after Napoleon's abdication ending up in Paris; together with a notebook of about the same period kept by a member of the Talbot family and a bound group of verse epistles by or to members of the Trant family of Tipperary, Addington's journal c.100 pages, in a notebook, watermark 'Edmeades & Co/ 1810', contemporary limp roan, some damage to spine, fading and other minor wear, 8vo, 1812-14 (3)

Footnotes

  • A REMARKABLE FIRST-HAND ACCOUNT OF THE BATTLE OF LEIPZIG ('THE BATTLE OF NATIONS'), Napoleon's first decisive defeat in an engagement and the largest battle fought in Europe prior to the Great War. What makes his description so memorable – and unusual – is that Addington describes the battle from the viewpoint of a civilian onlooker rather than a soldier, albeit one who sometimes found himself to be in the thick of the battle (bringing to mind Stendhal's Fabrice and his wanderings on the field of Waterloo; Addington's real-life encounter with Blücher in our account even having its parallel with the fictional Fabrice's encounter with Ney): "we had remained utterly in the dark at Halle till the 18th when we moved on to Shkeuditz [Schkeuditz]. The cannonade was distinctly heard all the way, and the black smoke of burning villages in every direction told plainly that a severe conflict was then in full operation. Shortly after our arrival at Shkeuditz (during the whole way from Halle we met guns prisoners and wounded) an officer arrived there with orders to break down all the bridges on the Saale, to prevent the enemy from crossing and retreating on the Halle road. A strong corps was known to be retreating towards Mersburg [Merseburg], and it was supposed they might recross the river and take the high road to Halle and Magdeburg... 19th [October] at nine o'clock the general attack commenced on Leipzic whither Buona[par]te had retreated during the night. – Set off from Shkeuditz and passed thro' Möckern & Gohlis, where the fields were covered with dead. Arrived at about 11 o'clock before Leipzic – Mistook the way and came slap up upon the Town. Brought up by a discharge of 4 guns from the gate. Riflemen playing away from wood and buildings on the right of the road. Turned about and retreated about 100 yards – Fell in with a Pruss: Officer (Philipsborn), kept him company. Balls whistling about at a wounding rate. Obliged to take shelter from the shot & shells behind a bank. Drank snaps to the success of the good cause. – At 1 o'clock pm. Allies entered. Bulows division first. Fire slackened on Halle side, and at ½ p.st, Blücher entered with his staff. I was close by him. Enthusiastic joy of the inhabitants. Horrible appearance of the environs of Leipzic. Emperors Kings Princes, and Generals all met in great square. Accompanied them out at the Merseburg gate. Enemy still fighting in those suburbs. – Immense destruction and carnage in that quarter. On returning to Shkeuditz witnessed several instances of fraternal affection among the Ruski. A Soldier (p.e.) went up to a wounded comrade and spoke to him in trying to raise him from the ground. The wounded man could only groan, upon which his humane Samaritan despoiled him of his cap & belt and left him to his fate. The Cossacks hovered like vultures about the carcases. The 20th took up quarters in Leipzic close by a hospital. Dead bodies carried out hourly by cart loads for burial. Wounded men dying every instant in the streets & squares. Environs of Leipzic pestilential and disgustingly hideous from the melancholy objects which met the eye at each step. Situation of town beautiful..."

    Although Addington does not name himself, he can be identified as author by the penultimate paragraph: "Left Paris for Calais on the 18 May [1814], having resigned my situation in the Swedish Mission, and been appointed Sec: Leg: in Switzerland"; Addington serving as attaché to Stockholm before his appointment as Secretary of Legation on Stratford Canning's Swiss mission of 1814. Henry Unwin Addington (1790-1870) was nephew to the prime minister, and the Addington Papers recently acquired through Bonhams by the Devon Record Office, Exeter, contains many of his official papers. He was afterwards chargé d'affaires at Washington during the period of the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine and eventually became Under Secretary at the Foreign Office. During the early part of his career, as described in our diary, while serving on the Swedish mission he was in the entourage of Sir Charles Stewart, who had been appointed British Minister to Berlin with special responsibility as military superintendent Britain's relations with the Prussian and Swedish armies (the latter thus being Addington's particular concern as attaché to Stockholm). Stewart has been credited with persuading Napoleon's former marshal, Bernadotte of Sweden, to join the allied cause. Famed for his reckless bravery in battle, Blücher gave him command of the reserve cavalry at Leipzig.

    Two months later, Addington was entrusted with couriering the treaty signed at Kiel between Sweden and England with Denmark back to London, a mission he accomplished with some difficulty in the winter weather ("...Threaten to shoot postboys, if they do not go on..."). After a short stay in London, he set off once more for the Swedish headquarters, relocated from Kiel to Cologne. Addington continues his journal with a description of Napoleon's rearguard defensive campaign, although written in general rather than first-hand terms (overall, it appears that he wrote up his diary immediately on his return to England rather than on the spot). The first-hand narrative revives with his account of their journey to Brussels and then on to Paris: "Saw all requisite lions – for description of which refer to any of the 1600 works great or small got up by English Tourists on that most profitable of subjects... Thuileries garden crowded with black spirits and white, blue spirits and grey. In passing through the crowd, heard many expressions of kindness uttered... Quer: When was the blessing changed to a curse? – Was present at a grand review of the Russian & Prussian Guard before the Tuileries windows. Emperors of Russia & Austria King of Prussia and King of France... Lord Wellington who had arrived at Paris a few hours before, was present en habit bourgeois... Impossible to judge of the state of society in that capital during the confusion produced by so vast an influx of foreigners. – One day saw a dirty rugged Coasack, at the turning of a street, run bump against the horse of a Maréchal de France – Curious appearance of those Oriental Phenomena in the polished purloins of the French Capital – especially in the Museum and Louvre. – Prodigious number of duels between French and Foreign Officers – Bois de Boulogne quite alive with rapier Pistol and sabre brandished by Gaul, Vandal, Hun and Scythian. Atmosphere of the Thuileries garden disturbed every morning by the gall and venom spit forth by thousands of News-mongers and political sages and disputants".
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