James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, Jr., 13 August 1808

13 August 1808.


I have this moment recei⟨ved⟩ a note from Paris of which, what ⟨f⟩ollows, is a litteral translation: "The news from Spain, are very afflicting. ⟨Mo⟩ncy has been defeated before Valentia and compelled to retreat. He ⟨re⟩ached Madrid on the 21 of July with the loss of 13,000 Men. Dupont ⟨(w⟩ho marched against Cadiz) after much hard fighting, has been ⟨fo⟩rced to capitulate: in a word, the king has been obliged to leave ⟨M⟩adrid. He has been at Burgos and is coming ever nearer to France. ⟨It⟩ would appear that the French mean to retire behind the Ebro. ⟨Whether⟩ they can make a stand there, is doubtful. We know nothing ⟨fr⟩om Portugal via Spain, but from Holland we learn that Junot ⟨was⟩ shut up in a fort while Lisbon received the English troops. Oporto ⟨ha⟩s even done worse since the people there have shot the french ⟨co⟩mmandant because he would not Capitulate. The Spaniards treat ⟨the⟩ prisoners they make most abominably. Our friend the young ⟨Pri⟩nce de Salm was found dead of 21 wounds and Noailles (son ⟨of⟩ the late Vis-comte) of 17. Gen. Reni & his Aid de Camp have been shut up in their Voiture and burnt to death. According to the constitution of Spain, in the absence of the king or in case of his imprisonment by the Moors, a general junto meets at Seville and exercises his powers. It was with this general junto that England made the treaty of Peace on the 5th. of Jun⟨e⟩ last"

We are probably about to see the Emperor in new circumsta⟨nces⟩ and without that glare that fortune throws around her favor⟨ites.⟩ What course he will take, is difficult to say. Will he, can ⟨he⟩ abandon a project, for the execution of which he stands so ⟨   ⟩ so solemnly committed? Or will he pursue it at the risk of ⟨   ⟩ing that charm which has hitherto made him invincible⟨, by⟩ Which he now holds more than half of Europe in the ⟨most⟩ abject submission? If the latter be his course, he must with⟨draw⟩ his army from Germany, or he must call out the Natio⟨nal⟩ Guards of the Empire. Either of these measures would ⟨seem⟩ very hazardous. If, as my Paris correspondent supposes, he ⟨m⟩eans to take the Ebro as a line of defense, it will only be ⟨   ⟩ the first step to an entire abandonment of the country. ⟨S⟩pain will not consent to let him keep Biscay, & Catalonia and ⟨as⟩ little will he be disposed to pursue the quarrel for these ⟨P⟩rovinces alone. I wish I could persuade you, as I have persuaded myself, that the circumstances of the present moment 1280. ⟨   ⟩18. 415. 1165. 1020. 632. 972. 187. 1116. 1217. 410. 391. 796. 1319. ⟨   ⟩69. 1116. 392. 1503. 415. 653. 772. It so happens that there is no one even to 1226. 1201. 287. 945. 166. 988. 1304. With very high respect & consideration, I am Sir, Your Most Obedient & very humble Servant

John Armstrong

DNA: RG 59—DD—Diplomatic Despatches, France.

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