NAPOLEON I, Emperor of France. Letter signed ("Napoleon," with flourish) as Emperor, to Minister of Finance François-Nicolas Mollien, Paris, 15 February 1806. 1½ pages, 4to, 225 x 185 mm. (9 x 7¼ in.), very light and scattered spotting at margins, otherwise in very good condition, in French.
3O MILLION LIVRES IN BULLION: NAPOLEON AND THE FINANCIAL ASPECTS OF WAR-MAKING
A highly unusual letter demonstrating Napoleon's personal control of the movement of the enormous capital in bullion needed to finance his campaigns. Less than two months after the key defeat of the Russians and Austrians in the Battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon sends urgent instructions to his Finance Minister for the disposition of funds and bullion for the Army and the Treasury. "You have 11 million at Strassburg in the account of the Grande Armée's paymaster. 10 more are coming from Strassburg on February 28, which are the 10 million from the Vienna tax. During the same period 3 million more are supposed to arrive from Augsburg, 3 from Frankfurt, and 2 million more from the taxes levied on the latter city; this makes a total of 18 million that the sinking-fund ('caisse d'amortissement') will have for the Rhine, which together with the 11 million in the Treasury will total 30 [sic] million...Here are my plans: negotiate with the caisse d'amortissememt and get them to deposit in the Treasury the 18 million that they have coming from the Rhine; give them in exchange whatever bonds you need to...Write without delay to have the 6 million from Ausgsburg and Frankfurt directed to Mainz and Strassburg; the 10 million in silver sent from Vienna will be arriving in Strassburg in 80 carriages: give orders to have 6 million of this kept in Strassburg and converted into currency, and have the rest, along with the ingots coming from Augsburg and Frankfurt, transported to Paris and sent to the Mint. Write immediately to Strassburg by courier to have the Army paymaster send everything in his account to Paris, except for 3 million which he should keep to cover the account. Take measures to have this money invested, but keep aside 9 million which I will need in March to pay the Army upon its return...It might also be useful to send a few ingots to Lyon, as much for the good of the city as to give some business to its Mint...".
After a summer's respite, Napoleon, at the head of the Grande Armée, launched his campaign against the Prussians which climaxed at Jena-Auerstadt on 6 October 1806.