30-LOUISIANA TO TRAFALGAR

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

When Nathan moved to the City and took charge of the Goldsmid Bros. Bank, he was also taking charge of Bonaparte. One of the first things he did was help his father push through the Louisiana Purchase, and he was very successful, for the Treaties of Mortefontaine and San Ildefonso were both signed in 1800, and the Quasi-War came to a halt that same year.

Following the signing of the agreements, Bonaparte sent 35,000 French troops to free the eastern part of Santa Domingo in order to give it back to the Spanish as promised. But Bonaparte had another idea in the back of his head, for he intended to double-cross whoever was financing the deal. Once in Hispaniola, instead of freeing the island, he would use it as a military base. Being close to the USA, he could then easily land his troops in New Orleans and occupy Louisiana instead of selling it, and there was nobody to stop him. By occupying the land west of the Mississippi, a land France already owned, the French would create a bigger and more important country than the 13 loose-knitted English speaking Colonies on the east coast.

However, Nathan got word of his intentions, and was preparing to send in the English Navy to put things right when Bonaparte’s army was wiped out by yellow fever. Because the few remaining troops had to return to France, Bonaparte had no choice but to sell Louisiana to the Americans as arranged. However, he hadn’t lost out completely, for he still pocketed the sale proceeds. It was a win-win situation for all parties. The Americans got a deal beyond their wildest dreams, and the 15 million dollars went directly to Bonaparte. It was enough to satisfy all of Bonaparte’s ambitions, and he following year, in 1804, he crowned himself Napoleon. The megalomaniac had become emperor, and it was henceforth up to Nathan to keep him in check with the help of Talleyrand that he was indirectly controlling through Ouvrard.

After the signing of the Treaty of Mortefontaine with the USA, and the Treaty of San Ildefonso with Spain, the Quasi-War came to an end. The promised Louisiana Purchase that had been the bait was completed in 1803, the financing of the deal is proof of Mayer’s involvement. At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the thirteen Colonies had around seven million dollars in revenues, a 3.2 million dollar deficit, and didn’t yet collect taxes. Naturally, it was the First Bank of the United States that proposed a loan, just like Mayer had wanted. Not only would this deal make First Bank of the United States indispensable, but the Louisiana Purchase would allow Congress to open up the west.

To everyone’s surprise, when Congress offered to pay fifteen million dollars for the port of New Orleans alone, Napoleon sweetened the deal by throwing in at no extra charge all of the French possessions, including Rupert’s Land, a territory that in large part is Canada today. That was, indeed, a mind-boggling offer, and though Congress couldn’t believe its luck, it didn’t bother to question this ‘divine’ intervention. What is never mentioned is that the intent was to unite Rupert’s Land north of the 49th parallel to Lower Canada. The straight line represented by the 49th parallel was drawn by the same ‘divine’ power that had devised the Manifest Destiny concept. America was on its way to becoming a coast to coast nation with Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south in spite of the fact there was still a strong Mexican presence north of the Rio Grande.

Nathan let Bonaparte have the proceeds in order to encourage him to accept the deal in the first place, but also to give him the means to crown himself Emperor Napoleon, which he did at Notre-Dame Cathedral, in Paris, on December 2, 1804. The megalomaniac gladly did what was expected of him, because in establishing order throughout France he was ensuring his renown. He started by ramming through the Civil Code on March 21, 1805. It marked the beginning of the end for the Catholic Royalists who opposed it violently because it meant they no longer had legal recourse with regards to their confiscated property. Unperturbed, backed by Fouché’s dreaded state police, the Prefects were given full powers in the departments, and the mayors answered directly to them. France thus became the centralist state that it is to this day.

But, in 1804, what remained of the French Navy was still very much commanded by Royalists. Therefore, in wanting to finish off the French Navy, Nathan, wanting Napoleon to invade England, told Ouvrard to promise the Emperor through Talleyrand all the financing needed if he decided to do so. The plan would unfold, and when the French fleet would be at its most vulnerable, Nathan would leak the information to the English Admiralty who would be pleased to have Admiral Nelson finish the job.

Since Aboukir, the French Navy had been rehabilitated by Latouche-Tréville, but it was Admiral Villeneuve, the same one who had fled at Aboukir who was given command of the fleet. Nelson, who was chosen to command the English fleet and who had great respect for Admiral Latouche-Tréville who had once routed him, didn’t know that the French had replaced him with Villeneuve. So, when Villeneuve took off for the Caribbean, Nelson thought it was Latouche-Tréville, and that he was headed for Egypt. Thanks to favorable winds, Villeneuve kept well ahead of Nelson and Napoleon’s deception worked. Villeneuve went to the Caribbean, and Nelson went to Egypt. By the time Nelson realized his mistake, Villeneuve had had time to rendezvous with other French units in the Caribbean thirty-two days ahead of Nelson’s arrival. Villeneuve’s Navy was shipshape, superior in fire power, and could have easily defeated Nelson, but instead of engaging the English fleet, Villeneuve, who had fled before Nelson at Aboukir, fled yet again.

But Napoleon was following a clever plan. By having his navy invade a few islands, he made the English Admiralty think the French were taking over in the Caribbean. Then, as expected, most of the English Navy was dispatched to the Caribbean, thus freeing the French ports that had been under siege. Villeneuve seized the opportunity and took off as fast as he could for Europe, heading for Boulogne-Sur-Mer where Napoleon and his Imperial Army were waiting. All the French ships from the now liberated French ports were to join him there and everything was going marvellously well for Napoleon. Then, for some unknown reason, Villeneuve made the worst decision possible, one that was as catastrophic as the one taken by de Brueys at Aboukir. Instead of continuing on to Boulogne, he turned back and headed south for the Spanish port of Cadiz. No doubt, Villeneuve had been intercepted and ordered to do just that. Until then, the plan to invade England had been unfolding flawlessly. Understandably, Napoleon was furious at Villeneuve and immediately sent orders to have him removed from command. However, before receiving those orders, Villeneuve joined up with the Spanish fleet and went to attack Nelson’s fleet that had been spotted approaching from the west. Why on October 21, 1805, off Trafalgar, Villeneuve decided to attack Nelson in the worst possible weather conditions remains a mystery.

At the head of a disorganized Franco-Spanish fleet, practically in a dead calm, Villeneuve headed north to engage Nelson. When Nelson saw that Villeneuve’s ships were scattered six miles wide, he seized the opportunity and, contrary to tradition, he divided his fleet into two columns, one of which cut the Franco-Spanish fleet in two. That column went in at right angles, firing broadsides to port and starboard while remaining totally immune to enemy fire. The other column went northward and sank any enemy ship that decided to turn about and come to the rescue of the sister ships being attacked. The whole Franco-Spanish fleet was either sunk or captured. The score at Aboukir had been 13 to 0 in favor of Nelson, and now at Trafalgar it was 33 to 0 in his favor, notwithstanding the fact that he died after being shot by a French sailor from one of the damaged ships.

Nathan had to be very happy with the results, for that meant the Atlantic Ocean was now under the control of only one navy, the English Navy. The Atlantic community could now flourish. Napoleon had to abandon his plan to invade England, but he was encouraged instead to go seek fame and fortune by attacking the Ancien Regime powers to the east. And since he kept all the spoils of victory, he was doubly motivated to go on the warpath. He defeated the Austrians in Italy and continued right into Austria where he defeated both Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II at Austerlitz. It marked the beginning of the end for all the Ancien Regime countries. A year later, the Holy German Empire was abolished and replaced by the Confederation of the Rhine, with Napoleon as ‘protector’.

Napoleon then took time out to tidy up his personal life. He wanted a male heir, and since Josephine couldn’t give him one, he divorced her. He married Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810, and the King of Rome was born in 1811. As far as Nathan was concerned, with the French Navy gone, with Napoleon having restructured France and with the Holy German Empire defeated, the Emperor and his Imperial Army were no longer needed. But there was one more thing Napoleon could do before he was given the coup de grace, he could go to Russia and force the Tsar to let private companies mine for gold in the Urals.

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28-BATTLE OF THE NILE

KNOW HOW WE GOT HERE, AND KNOW INNER PEACE

Because Bonaparte was popular and a nuisance, the great statesman, Talleyrand, who had been invited back from self-imposed exile and who had accepted now that the Terror was over, took him under his wing. Barras encouraged Talleyrand to get Bonaparte to go to Egypt. Nathan who was now in control in the City, had established a French chain of command. He operated through Ouvrard who financed Barras, who in turn financed Talleyrand. Bonaparte didn’t know it, but Nathan wanted to destroy a redundant French Navy which happened to be the fiefdom of royalists, and was sinking American shipping in the Atlantic.

So, Bonaparte went to Egypt, and after unloading his troops along the Egyptian coast, the French Fleet naturally found a place to lay at anchor while waiting for the troops to return. When Nathan got word, he leaked the information to the Admiralty in London, and the British Navy was only too happy to rush to Egypt in order to sink the French Navy that had defeated them at Yorktown. A new war tactic was being created, that of financing both sides in order to get the desired results.

When Bonaparte went off to Egypt in early 1798, the Directorate had chosen Admiral de Brueys to command the fleet. Bonaparte had no choice but to accept this incompetent, boot-licking coward, but he wasn’t overly concerned, for all he wanted was to get as many men as he could to the other side of the Mediterranean. Bonaparte even sacrificed space and sailors aboard the ships in order to transport more soldiers. Bonaparte was quite eager to go to the Middle East. He must have dreamt of riches and glory in wanting to reclaim Palestine, and to dominate trade with India by constructing the Suez Canal. Pillaging Egypt was no doubt in the back of his mind as well.

Admiral Horatio Nelson was the one chosen by the English Admiralty to command the English Fleet. Nelson was taking the looming battle very personally and very seriously. Like most of his countrymen, he wanted to settle the score for what had happened at Yorktown. The English Naval defeat in America had not gone down well, and Nelson had taken off with fourteen ships filled with hooligans hell-bent on killing frogs. Meanwhile, after unloading Bonaparte’s army, De Brueys anchored down in the Bay of Aboukir.

Although his naval force was inferior to that of Admiral de Brueys, Nelson was itching for a fight. When the English fleet was spotted in early afternoon on August 1st, 1798 by the artillery unit deployed on the heights dominating the entrance to the Bay of Aboukir, the Commandant of the French unit duly gave the alert, but there was no reaction on the part of Admiral de Brueys. His ships were at anchor, chained together from bow to stern, thus forming an impenetrable line of defense… or so he thought. Many of his more intrepid officers, Vice-Admiral Cheyla and others insisted he recall the sailors who were on shore and immediately take the offensive, for the favorable winds would have given them a decisive advantage. But he chose to do nothing as fourteen ships filled with vengeful, bloodthirsty Englishmen came bearing down on him.

Admiral de Brueys reasoned that it was 5:00 pm and was too late in the day for the English to attack. He didn’t even see the need to position frigates at the head of his anchored fleet to stop Nelson from sailing behind his position. It was as though he had decided to self-destruct. The great admiral kept repeating that Nelson would not attack on that day. So, the canons were not in position, and the decks were cluttered with everything except cannon balls, powder, and artificers.

Upon seeing the French fleet in such a vulnerable position, Nelson kept on going and attacked the ships on both port and starboard sides simultaneously. The French fleet was blown out of the water, while Nelson’s ships remained unscathed. Admiral Villeneuve, who commanded the flotilla at the head of the line and who could have used the favorable winds to counterattack, decided to escape, thus saving two ships of the line and two frigates.

The Egyptian campaign thus began in defeat. The only good thing that came out of the whole campaign was due to the great number of scientists Bonaparte had brought along with him. They, at least, were responsible for some major scientific discoveries. Politically, Bonaparte left behind an efficient Egyptian governing body. However, with regards to the survey of the proposed Suez Canal, the plan to connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea was stopped dead in its tracks. Because it was wrongly concluded that the waterway would require locks to operate and would be very expensive and take a long time to construct, it was abandoned. The survey report made clear that the Red Sea was 33ft higher than the Mediterranean, an error of monumental proportion.

Bonaparte had several costly victories in Palestine, but they all went for naught. He had accumulated tons of artifacts, but since he had no ships to bring them back to France, it turned out that it was the English Navy that eventually transported most of those artifacts back to London. As for Bonaparte, leaving his army behind in Egypt, he took off for Paris. When he arrived, his propaganda machine had worked wonders, and he was again acclaimed as a hero. Thereafter, Barras quietly retired, and Bonaparte casually assumed power by declaring himself 1st Consul with Talleyrand by his side.