Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kleber Addresses French Soldiers after Bonaparte Leaves

From: Copies of original letters from the army of General Bonaparte in Egypt, intercepted by the fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson. With an English translation (London, J. Wright, 1798-1800, 3 vols.), vol. 3, pp. 55-56.


Head Quarters, Cairo, August 31, 1799.

KLEBER, Commander in Chief, to the ARMY SOLDIERS!

MOTIVES of the most imperious nature have determined the Commander in Chief, Bonaparte, to return to France.

The dangers incident to a voyage undertaken in no very favourable part of the year(1), on a narrow sea, covered with the enemies’ fleets, were too feeble to arrest him. Your happiness was at stake!

Soldiers! A powerful reinforcement, or a glorious peace, is at hand: a peace worthy of you and your achievements, is on the point of restoring you to your country.

In taking upon myself the charge with which Bonaparte was intrusted, I was neither unaware of its importance, nor of the toil and danger attending it; but on the other hand, when I considered your gallantry, so often crowned with the most brilliant success; your unwearied patience in braving every calamity, and supporting every privation; when I considered, in short, all that might be done or attempted with such soldiers, I lost sight of every thing but the advantage of being at your head, and the honour of commanding you; and I felt myself inspired with a new vigour.

Soldiers! Rely upon what I say; your urgent wants shall be the never-ceasing object of my most earnest solicitude.


By order of the Commander in Chief, the General of Division, and Chief of the Staff,


A true copy.

DUMAS, Adjutant General.

A true copy.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)The 22d of August may seem to those acquainted with the Mediterranean, no very unfavourable season for putting to sea; but the north west winds, which almost constantly prevail there about this period, make the voyage to France extremely tedious, and fully justify Kleber’s observation. For the rest, this ADDRESS, delivered while that General was yet smarting from the recent perfidy of Bonaparte, may be recommended to the reader as a model of generosity, manliness, and true military honour.

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