Paris, October, 1805.
My lord:—You must often have been surprised at the immense wealth which, from the best and often authentic information, I have informed you our generals and public functionaries have extorted and possess; but the catalogue of private rapine committed, without authority, by our soldiers, officers, commissaries, and generals, is likewise immense, and surpassing often the exactions of a legal kind that is to say, those authorized by our Government itself, or by its civil and military representatives. It comprehends the innumerable requisitions demanded and enforced, whether as loans, or in provisions or merchandise, or in money as an equivalent for both; the levies of men, of horses, oxen, and carriages; corvees of all kinds; the emptying of magazines for the service of our armies; in short, whatever was required for the maintenance, a portion of the pay, and divers wants of those armies, from the time they had posted themselves in Brabant, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and on either bank of the Rhine. Add to this the pillage of public or private warehouses, granaries, and magazines, whether belonging to individuals, to the State, to societies, to towns, to hospitals, and even to orphan-houses.
But these and other sorts of requisitions, under the appellation of subsistence necessary for the armies, and for what was wanted for accoutring, quartering, or removing them, included also an infinite consumption for the pleasures, luxuries, whims, and debaucheries of our civil or military commanders. Most of those articles were delivered in kind, and what were not used were set up to auction, converted into ready money, and divided among the plunderers.
In 1797, General Ney had the command in the vicinity of the free and Imperial city of Wetzlar. He there put in requisition all private stores of cloths; and after disposing of them by a public sale, retook them upon another requisition from the purchasers, and sold them a second time. Leather and linen underwent the same operation. Volumes might be filled with similar examples, all of public notoriety.