Someone is Thinking Ahead

Antony Brett-James has an account by Baron Louis Bacler d’Albe, Napoleon’s director of the topographical cabinet.  On October 15, 1812, he wrote a letter to his wife which was intercepted by the Russians.  It shows that the Baron, at least, was preparing for winter weather.

“I have been fortunate enough to find a grenadier who kindly made new warm linings for my clothes.  I have had an excellent, though antique, cloak altered so that I can ride in it; my summer hat has been cleaned by a very skillful hussar; a chasseur is mending my boots and has promised me a pair of fur half-boots to wear over them.  I have had my Paris cap covered in miniver.  Thus I am warmly re-equipped.  Joson [Bacler d’Albe’s oldest son] is equally well off with a good wolf’s fur, and we are prepared for any eventuality.  I have new French servants to replace the prisoners, and good local horses.  Sappe can bake bread for a fortnight, we are collecting a little oats, packing up some rum and wine, some sugar, tea, even some coffee and chocolate.”

“I still have left over a few soup tablets and several hams.  You can see that with all this we can travel 150 leagues in any direction.  In two days’ time we shall probably know what is in store for us.”

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