Caulaincourt had kept copious notes on his conversations with the Emperor Napoleon. In the 1820s a number of memoirs of the First Empire were published, written by individuals who had served with Napoleon. These seemed to rely on the retelling of events by Hugues-Bernard Maret, Duke of Bassano, who had served as a personal secretary of Napoleon. Caulaincourt believed these badly misrepresented conversations, individuals and events. In response Caulaincourt wrote his own memoir using his notes as reference. The work consisted of two independent parts (of which this is the first). The first work records the discussions between the author and Napoleon just prior to the campaign in Russia, the events of the campaign, the occupation of Moscow, the fire that destroyed the city and the retreat that destroyed the Grande Armée. Following this is a recitation of Napoleon's analysis of events and the world situation as told to the author in the course of their journey to Paris. The second part of the memoir covered the period of 1813 through Napoleon's first abdication, and was still being worked upon at the time of the author's death.

The publication of Caulaincourt's memoir was delayed for a variety of reasons, and the work was eventually lost. Following the First World War the work was rediscovered, and efforts were made to prepare it for publication. After several years of work the entire memoir was published by Jean Hanoteau in 1933 with the title With Napoleon in Russia.

The work developed new found significance with the events of the Second World War. Following the initial astonishing success of the German invasion of Russia in June 1941, military historian and theorist B. H. Liddell Hart coolly appraised the difficulties awaiting the Wehrmacht, citing Caulaincourt's work extensively in an article he published in the British magazine The Strand in October 1941. After the war, it was learned that Caulaincourt's With Napoleon in Russia was read with great interest by many German officers during their invasion of Russia. Friedrich von Mellenthin made reference to it in his memoir while describing the character of the Russian soldier, his stubbornness in defense, and his capacity to endure bombardments. General Günther von Kluge, commander of Army Group Center, reportedly often referred to the work. Liddell-Hart interviewed a great many German commanders after the war, and though Kluge did not survive he states General Günther Blumentritt recounted: "I can still see von Kluge trudging through the mud from his sleeping quarters to his office, and standing there before the map with Caulaincourt's book in his hand. That went on day after day.

$5 off if you buy both volumes!!!

With Napoleon in Russia: The Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza

  • 1935 William Morrow and Company NY

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