This is Hortense’s journal of the trip Napoleon had prepared for her as a response to her birthday greetings to him. In Hortense Memoirs, she also describes this trip yet she leaves something out which I find telling. In her memoirs, Napoleon wants Hortense to stay longer but she is afraid to remain because of her husband Louis. Napoleon gets mad since Hortense chooses to please Louis over him. When Joseph sees this, he tells Hortense that Napoleon really is angry and that she had better stay. The next day when Napoleon finds he has won the contest, he is more relaxed and tells her essentially that Louis is behaving tyrannically because she is letting him.
Also this is the first time in the letters that we hear about the de Flahaut charm offensive.
That whole account can be found here.
Saint-Amand, this Tuesday 9 Fructidor, year XIII, August 27, 1805.
I have promised you the journal of my little journey, and, although I am a little tired, I hasten to give it to you.
Pont-de-Briques is very small, but we settled in. We were two or three to a room. I went immediately to the Emperor, who received me marvelously. I had the pleasure of seeing your aide-de-camp and talking about you. I was going to write to you, but I really did not have the time. I dined at the Emperor's with Napoleon, Prince Joseph and Prince and Princess Murat.
After dinner, I played some chess with the Emperor. I was so tired that I fell asleep playing. He noticed and sent me back to bed. He put at my disposal a carriage with six horses for the whole time that I would be at Boulogne, and he ordered General Defrance to accompany me everywhere on horseback.
On Sunday morning I went with Princess Murat to say hello to the Emperor, and from there we went together to see Boulogne. Marshal Soult, General Andreossy and Admiral La Crosse came on horseback to escort us to the camp on the left. We passed the whole line in review. I went down to Prince Joseph’s barracks for lunch. He afterwards took me to see several other barracks of soldiers. From there I went back to Boulogne to go to Odre Tower to see the camp on the right. Mme. Murat, who was a little tired, left me there.
I visited the other camps in the same way. General Saint-Hilaire and several colonels rode beside my carriage as far as Wimereux. I went around the harbor and went down in a steamer.
Everywhere, the sailors shouted: “Long live the Emperor!” My horses were very tired. I stopped in the barracks of the naval officers. Napoleon [Hortense’s son] asked for food, and all these gentlemen hastened to bring us their dinner, a leg of mutton, which was excellent, it was really good.
Napoleon was really very kind, and distributed little pastries to all of them - we have after all nothing but our health. And we left to rejoin the Emperor, who was about to review the grenadiers over there.
On arriving at the ship, the Emperor sent me down into it. He held Napoleon’s hand and made the soldiers run through their maneuvers. He ordered firing. We were right in front of the line. He asked me if I was afraid. I replied that with him no one should be afraid. Napoleon was charmed. He shouted, "Fire all together!”
As he came out of there, he said, "My God, I wish that “Tété” [Little Napoleon’s name for Eugene] saw that. How beautiful is war!”
I returned quickly from the maneuver to get dressed and to go to dinner at the Emperor’s. We again played a game of chess, which is kind of boring, and I went back to bed at ten o'clock.
Madame Ney had come with me to Boulogne. She was staying with Madame Lambert, and she accompanied me everywhere. On Monday, the weather was terrible, which prevented us from going to sea as we had planned. I always went to dine with the Emperor, and after dinner he sent for Adele and Mme. Ney.
They played a game of whist and I always played my unfortunate game of chess. I had persuaded the Emperor to have them come, for I desired General Bertrand to see Adele. We talked a lot about it. I would like the Emperor to make this marriage. He does not find it rich enough for him, but, in spite of that, I hope to win [She didn’t and Napoleon ended up sharing his exiles in Elba and St. Helena with Bertrand and his future wife Fanny.]
On Tuesday, Mme. Ney left early to prepare a little party she wanted to give me that night. I was right at Etaples. I saw the port, the Emperor's barracks, and a charming maneuver that Marshal Ney did for me. I remained a long time on foot, which fatigued me a little, but that did not prevent me from dancing that evening at Mme. Ney's. The ballroom was very pretty, all arranged in flowers shaped into my crest.
I saw General Dutaillis who is deeply in love with Adele, but Marshal Ney does not want to hear about it. So I had to tell him that she was promised to someone else. The ball lasted until four o'clock.
I had to leave to return to Saint-Amand [because of Louis] but the Emperor asked me to stay a few more days, hoping that the wind would change and I could see the flotilla in action, which is very beautiful, but the wind was always contrary to his wishes and I left without seeing a little fight.
It’s not very pleasant and I will not regret this very much. The night that I was at the ball, the Emperor mobilized the whole army. They all thought they were leaving. They say this could have happened at any moment.
When we returned on Wednesday morning, all along the road, we were told: “The Emperor is gone, the whole army is embarked.” You can imagine our impatience to be at Boulogne.
General De France thought he would not arrive soon enough to be on the expedition. It is said that all night the Emperor was running all over the flotilla and saw for himself whether all the soldiers were in place. On arriving, everything was already in the accustomed order. However, I was at Boulogne where I could see the unsettled conditions. The horses alone had remained embarked.
I wished to make a small trip at sea, but the sailors opposed it. It was postponed till the next day at the tide which was at eight o'clock. I arrived in time and I went in the admiral's rowboat to Wimereux.
Marshal Soult followed us in his. The sea was very rough. General Defrance and M. d'Arjuzon were in a terrible state. I was very naughty because I laughed. I went back to lunch at the Odre Tower to resume the custom of always sharing meals with the Emperor.
We had another rainy day and on Saturday, the day of departure, I was in the morning saying goodbye to the Emperor. I embarked on the flagship. I made it to about three leagues at sea to Ambleteuse. I was very close to the English.
While marching in the port of Ambleteuse, Marshal Davout, as well as Admiral Batavian, came to take me in a charming rowboat. I crossed the flotilla to the sound of music and cries of "Hurray! Marshal Davout gave me a very fine lunch in a tent with all the generals and colonels of his army. I was between him and the admiral, whom everyone praises, especially since his last fight against the English.
During lunch, verses and rounds were sung, and grenadiers repeated the chorus. They all escorted me for a long time. I stopped at Calais to see the harbor, and to receive, in the famous inn, all the colors of the dragoons. I slept at Dunkerque.
The next day I received, at six o'clock in the morning, a visit from the corps. I went to visit the camp where there are not many troops. I saw the port and a frigate that is called the Milanese that will soon be launched. I saw the good M. Emmery and I left again through Cassel, from where one finds so many cities of war. I did not stop in Lille and I arrived at eleven o'clock at night in Saint-Amand, very tired as you might suppose, but very happy with my lovely trip. They tried to please me everywhere because I was told a lot about you. Farewell, my dear Eugene, my best friend, always love me.
PS. M. de Flahaut and Lagrange were very kind to you. I had pleasure in talking about you to them. They are the only ones who understood me, for as they are still young, they do not know ambition, and, like me, they expressed only sadness about your position.