Product images of Letter from Decres to L. Bonaparte reporting the losses at the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
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Letter from Decres to L. Bonaparte reporting the losses at the Battle of Trafalgar, 1805
Days before the destruction of his fleet at Trafalgar, Napoleon had launched the most brilliant year of his career, forcing the Austrian army under General Mack to capitulate at Ulm. Louis DecrÃ”Ã²Ã¡â”¬â•�s, the French Minister of Marine, received the first report of Trafalgar by courier from Spain. Napoleon was still on campaign, marching towards Austerlitz and perhaps his greatest victory (in December 1805). DecrÃ”Ã²Ã¡â”¬â•�s therefore wrote to Louis Bonaparte, one of Napoleon's younger brothers, giving the bare outlines of Trafalgar. His major concern was how this should be presented to the French people, and he wanted to publish information in the 'Moniteur', France's official state newspaper. Louis's reply warned against releasing any information until orders were received from Napoleon himself. Further conscripts were then leaving the country for Austria, and he did not want the news to be general knowledge. Famously, the official French account eventually published in the 'Moniteur' proclaimed a French victory - 'The English fleet is annihilated â”œÂ½Ã”Ã»Ãª_ our loss was trifling.'
- Image reference: F4379
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London