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Our Allies the Bavarians – Appendix III and IV

Our Allies the Bavarians – Appendix III and IV

Our Allies the Bavarians – Appendix III: A letter from Marshal Lefebvre to the Emperor during the Tyrolean campaign.

(Communication from Mr. André DUBOSC, according to the Archives of War.)


Innsbruck, 12 August 1809.


It is therefore said that I must make my first retreat in front of the furious peasants.  My last hand-written letter made your Majesty aware of the hatred that Tyrol in general has for the Bavarians.  The three campaigns that I have done under your orders have been quite difficult, but my star has always helped me out, especially in this one where nature fights for the inhabitants who are the most cowardly, the most deceitful, in the end, more furious than savages.  Well, despite my hatred for lies and my love for loyalty, I was able to deceive these scoundrels by an appearance of arrangement that they and I did not want to maintain, and without this deception, I would have had the same outcomes as General Rouyer[1] and Colonel Burcheidt.[2]  I owe therefore to this first falsehood of my life and by deceiving my generals and my troops on their true destination, to have passed, not without difficulty, through the defiles where the Prince of Bavaria and a General d’Arco succumbed as easily as Marshal Ney, losing during my march on Innsbruck, only about 200 men; a few unfortunate imbeciles, including a colonel, were the victim of their lack of character, preferring life and servitude to being slaves of savages.  My friend General Drouet[3] held Innsbruck with talent and coolness a very few men maintain,  with few people and again with soldiers who had just received a terrible failure a few days before.  Without this French general, I would no longer find a man in this town.  The day before, despite the representation of this general, all the higher administration fled, which had the worst effect in the country behind us.  Pardon me, Sire, if I speak to you too often about this general, so extraordinary in his modesty and his talent.  I asked for a great favour for him:  Your Majesty does not see fit to grant it to him, I will not speak to you about it again.  I will have done my duty.  The great heart of the Master of one part of the world will do him justice to the day.

So I am in Innsbruck with the Prince Royal’s division and the peasant corps of the counts of Arco and Oberndorf. Only the Deroy Division lost three cannons, a superb squadron and most of the 10th Infantry Regiment.  General Rouyer lost at least 1,200 men.  These savages descend from Inn-Thal with furious cries, with crucifix at their head, with priests as furious as tigers, and I await your majesty’s orders, or I will be buried under the ruins of Innsbruck, and I will keep my word, Sire.

I am so little a geographer and I remember so little of the points I passed that I take the liberty of sending the attached report made by General Montmary,[4] which I beg Your Majesty to consult, Sire, but I must confess to him that I myself commanded my advance guard of three battalions.  I gave the centre to General Montmary and the rear guard to Colonel Maingarnaud.[5]

I must not let Your Majesty ignore that there are excellent officers in the Bavarian troops, but they are said to be too young, although they have fifteen or twenty years of service.  I have to commend to you myself Lieutenant-Colonel Habermann, Major Sebersdorf, Captain Lindenscholz, and many other officers.  I will only speak of my son who still had his horse killed, and according to appearances he will not go far if the war continues; nor General Montmary, Colonel Maingarnaud, squadron leaders Harty[6] and Fontange,[7] Captains d’Andlau and Latourette, and Deputy Captain Lefebvre, my nephew:  all had difficult commands.  One of my volunteers was killed, Mr. Malomont the elder.  I recommend to Your Majesty his brother, Mr. Dieck and Mr. Wertamy, all volunteers, sons of ancient noble families; I beg you to be willing to appoint them as second lieutenants.

I will add to this letter that I challenge the most skilful to pass through these valleys in the season in which we are. In January we will be able to make attempts with the French and not with mine, who are partly demoralized.

As for me, Sire, finish making me wage revolutionary war; twenty years ago I almost got killed with a stone blow to the head, and here I got one in the knee which hurts me like hell.

I am, with the deepest respect, Sire, of Your Imperial and Royal Majesty, the very humble and very obedient servant and faithful subject.

Marshal Duke DE DANZIG.

I must not let Your Majesty ignore that I am told that on the 10th there was a meeting of Swiss and Italian deputies at the Sandwirth, in the Passergra Valley.



Appendix IV: Report of the captain of the general staff of the Bavarian army, Baron von Voelderndorff, concerning the  excesses committed by twelve soldiers of the Illyrian troops belonging to the 4th Corps in the vicinity of Balvierciszki.[8]

Guaderiemie, 10 July 1812.

Arriving on the 3rd of this month at Balvierciszki, a small town belonging to the Polish General Count Dieskowitz, the inhabitants loudly asked me for help against twelve Italians, who for eight days had been hiding in the woods, had come out during the night, and had set fire to a house, pillaged everywhere, and by setting fire to all those who wanted to oppose these crimes made the terror of these already so miserable regions by a continual passage of troops.  That these same soldiers had just passed through the said city, accompanied by a carriage loaded with all kinds of effects belonging to the inhabitants, and with the last horses of the city.  Running after them, I caught these same again in the city, and arrested them, disarming them myself.  After questioning them, it turned out that they were twelve soldiers from the Illyrian troops.  They confessed to me at the same time that they had remained for six to eight days in the woods of Balvierciszki; and as to the effects found on them, even composed of beds, etc., sufficiently proved to me that they were marauders who deserved to be punished, I thought it my duty to return these soldiers, one of whom, however, had escaped me, to the escort of the reserve artillery of the 19th Division which followed immediately after me, and to make the above report.


Captain of the General Staff of the 20th Division of the Bavarian Army.



Facsimile of the signature of Captain von VOELDERNDORFF.





[1] Combat at Ober-Au.

[2] Landeck affair.

[3] Chief of Staff of Marshal Lefebvre.

[4] Marshal’s aide-de-camp.

[5] Idem.

[6] Idem.

[7] Deputy to the General Staff.

[8]Papers of General d’Albignac. –The signature of this unpublished report, addressed to the staff of the 6th Corps, is the author, often cited in this work, of the History of the Bavarian Army under the Reign of Maximilian-Joseph.  He presents a day he was very sincere about the miseries of countries crossed by the troops, in their marches through Poland.