Норец Максим Вадимович
Таврический национальный университет им. В.И. Вернадского
доктор филологических наук, доцент кафедры теории и практики перевода

Статья посвящена исследованию концепта "шпионаж" во время наполеоновской войны. Рассмотрение "шпионажа" осуществляется с позиции историко - литературной рецепции данного концепта современными историками и теоретиками литературы.

Ключевые слова: шпиономания, шпионский роман


Norets Maxim Vadimovich
Tavrida national university Doctor of sciences in philology
PhD in philology

The article is devoted to the investigation of the concept "espionage" during the napoleon war. The research of the "espionage" is done from the point of view of the historic-literary reception of the concept by the contemporary historians and theorists of the literature.

Keywords: spy mania, spy novel


Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Норец М.В. The development of espionage during napoleon war and later // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2014. № 12. Ч. 3 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://web.snauka.ru/issues/2014/12/40324 (дата обращения: 03.06.2024).

Concerning the organization of the intelligence service before the war with Russia in 1812, the letter of Napoleon to Mare, Duke of Bassano, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated 20 December 1811, is very instructive:

“Duke of Bassano, encipher the letter to Baron Mignon that in case the war starts, I will assign him to the headquarters and put in the control of the secret police, that means the espionage in the enemy army, translation of the captured letters and documents, testimony of prisoners and so on; it is necessary that he should form immediately the secret police and to find two well-speaking Russian Poles, military with combat experience, intelligent and trustworthy. The first should know Lithuania, the second − Volhynia, Podolia and Ukraine, and the third should be German speaking and well-knowing Livonia and Courland. These three officers will have to interrogate prisoners. They need to have at their command about twenty well-selected agents, who will be paid depending on the information they delivered. It is desirable for them to be able to report about the points, through which our army will be passing.

I wish Mr. Bignon were immediately engaged in this great organization. To begin with, these three agents must mislay their agents on the way from St. Petersburg to Vilna, from St. Petersburg to Riga and from Riga to Memel, on the way from Kiev and three roads leading from Bucharest to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Grodno, and report daily on the state of fortifications.

If the reports are satisfactory, I won’t spare 12,000 francs a month. During the war, the rewards to individuals, who can provide with some useful information, can’t be limited. Among Poles there are some people who know the fortifications and can report on their state from different locations”.

In May 1812, Baron Bignon was replaced in Warsaw by the Archbishop de Malines, and the management of all intelligence organizations was given to him.

Napoleon personally dictated to Duke of Bassano very detailed instructions to the new representative in Warsaw, and it provides instructions on the conduction of policy in Poland, the creation of public opinion and stimulation of a guerrilla war against the Russian. Concerning the intelligence issues, in this letter the following is written:

“Baron Bignon, a resident of the emperor, created the service on extraction of information about the organization, state, location and movements of the troop. Due to this information, as well as the reports of the ministries, we have managed to find out the general situation, which is reported to you in the attached copy. You are to continue this work and to consider it as the most important among all of the trusted ones to you. The direct process of work is entrusted to the First Secretary. Mr. Bignon will explain the methods of his work and tools. Mr Envoy should give this matter the more extensive development.

Necessary funds will be provided at his disposal. It is necessary for you to have a dozen of agents-Poles at various points on the border, on the tracts, in the countries neighboring with Russia, and even, if possible, in a hostile country. Warsaw is the great central point where everything will flock; from there the quick correspondence with the Bureau should be carried out, which is located at the headquarters and is in charge of these matters under my leadership.

The locals, who are artfully used and skillfully interrogated, will also provide the envoy with useful and extensive information.

It is also necessary to enter into relations with the prefects and sousprefects of the border areas, with the Austrian authorities in Lviv, the French ambassadors in Vienna and Constantinople and with the consuls in Iasi and Bucharest. We should offer them to have the correspondence with the envoy and inform him about everything that could give information about the projects and the movements of the enemy in the various countries where there might be military actions.

Mr. Bignon will receive the order to remain in Warsaw as long as it will be necessary to obtain the guidance from him in the local environment, which he perfectly knows. Mr. Envoy should select two translators, the Polish and the Russian ones, at that choice of great value, he can help Mr. Bignon”.

Marshals followed the example of their leader. “It is as much important to the military leader to hide his intentions as to delve into the enemy’s intentions, − says Marmont. − In this regard, he should not miss anything. He should keep spies; pay them well, although not to trust their testimony blindly. It is particularly advantageous to establish relations with employees at headquarters”. The general Belliard wrote to Lassalle in October 1805: “Dear Lassalle, obtain various information about the enemy, if it’s possible, send a spy in Naumburg, promise him a large sum of money, 3000, even 6000 francs, if he delivers valuable information”.

“Bugeaud tells among other things the following fact: “In 1812 there was a moment when the French army lost contact with the Russian one and had no information about it, despite all attempts to learn at least something. Then this problem was taken by some Captain Lafontaine, who was brought up in Russia and spoke Russian perfectly well. Disguised as a Russian officer, he got into the area occupied by our army, rode around on post-horses, having required them by the imaginary commandment of the emperor, and returned a few days later with a rich resource of valuable information”.

Marbot says in his memoirs that before going to Russia all the French generals got the maps of Russia, they were printed from the copper engraving boards, which despite their unhandiness were stolen from Russian archives by the French spies, and then sent out to France.

In 1811 Lord Wellington kept many spies and often sent plainclothes officers to the French. From the first French corps, he received information from the working in the Spanish embassy counselor, and from Madrid − from the famous guitarist Fuentes. Some Stewart, who led the maritime trade of bread with France, kept the fisherman under this pretext on the shore of the Bay of Biscay and got a lot of information about the enemy army. Finally, Wellington had a spy who was a shoemaker, who lived in a hut on the tip of the bridge near the Bidasoa. He was to watch every French soldier who entered the Spanish territory, and deliver all the information to Lisbon.

In 1812 we used the spies many times, and this role sometimes was taken by our famous partisans. Suffice it to recall the searches of Figner in the outskirts of Moscow. Speaking French perfectly, he easily went to the French bivouacs disguised as a trader, a tramp, and sometimes even as a French officer. Our army is obliged to its glorious partisan Figner due to the considerable amount of important information.

Austrians also did not neglect the services of the spies. According to de Braque, in the day of the battle of Esslingen on the French bivouacs Austrian spies were found, who got into there under the pretext of buying leather of the cattle slaughtered for provisions for troops.

France and Germany after Napoleon

After the fall of Napoleon in France everyone starts to neglect the collection of information with the help of spies, which lasts till 1871, whereas in Prussia, this industry of reconnaissance is gradually being expanded”.

“Having achieved the brilliant flowering under Frederick the Great, the secret service of reconnoitering in Prussia after a period of decline again acquired the immense importance under Bismarck and Moltke, who both understood profoundly a broad public importance of intelligence and who could choose the employees not regretting for this purpose its main engine – the money.

Before the planned war with Austria in 1866, the intelligence service in Bohemia was organized by the famous chief of the Prussian secret police Stieber – who was according to Bismarck, “The King of Spies”.  Stieber’s work lasted for two years (from April 1864 to May 1866), and during this time he was subjected to constant risk. He personally studied the upcoming theater of war, and also put in Bohemia a number of “milestones” – the agents, aptly described by Stieber. Most of the agents were quite trustees, mainly Prussian nationals, retired militaries, businessmen, etc.

The information provided by Stieber to Bismarck, was so valuable and definite that at the beginning of hostilities Stieber was appointed as a chief of the Field Police.

Well thought-out, planned and systematically carried out into life the organization of intelligence service gave excellent results and in the huge extent contributed to the rapid and victorious end of the campaign.

Even stingy with praise Moltke could not keep himself from telling Bismarck: “Greenhorn Stieber or someone else organized this important service, but it runs good, so everything is great”.

After the Austro-Prussian campaign Stieber offered Bismarck a plan of a new organization of intelligence service in France, which had to be built “on the basis of bohemian approach, but with greater prudence and methodicalness and on the larger scale”.

For organizational success Stieber asks Bismarck only for two things – the money and carte blanche for his actions, based, of course, on the general guidelines above.

An energetic, tireless, systematic work on the organization of intelligence service in France began.

Since that time we can see not just a training of intelligence service before this war, but the methodical, deeply thoughtful spreading of intelligence service in the country of the possible enemy in case of war.

What was the purpose of the organization of intelligence service in France? Stieber personally spread intelligence service in the departments of the Upper and Lower Rhine, Moselle, Murtha, Vosges, Jura, Ardennes, Marne, Haute-Marne, Haute-Savoie , Doubs , North , Seine and Oise,  the distribution of the network was built in accordance with the planned operational directions, the entire network was given a slim hierarchical organization, with central intelligence agency, to which there were two subordinate trustees  − police lieutenants, who had four subordinate regional inspectors that had residences in Berlin, Brussels, Lausanne and Geneva. The areas of inspectors were divided into brigades.

Stieber took measures and for the continuity of the intelligence after the declaration of war, − for this purpose a significant portion of agents under various pretexts, had to remain at their locations even after the declaration of war.

During the trips, Stieber controlled by his personal visit 1850 people of already spread agents in the listed departments, gave them new instructions and increased the salary. Besides the already existing agents there were thirteen thousand more secret agents added to their list, among whom there were from four to nine thousand German women servants for coffee houses, restaurants, pubs and hotels, from seven to nine hundred retired non-commissioned officers with a primary school education, settled in various retail companies, forty six young and pretty Prussian girls to work in military buffets, and finally two hundred of female servants to work at lawyers, doctors, officials, officers. The French hired the German servants willingly, because besides their direct work, they were children’s first teachers of German. Besides all these agents mentioned above, Stieber wanted to spread about 20,000 more spies, so all in all there were about 35 thousand of agents to be implemented and who had to cover all operating ways from Belgium and Berlin to Paris.

Besides the spreading of intelligence service in the period before the war of 1870 for a detailed and competent study of the future theater of war and secret reconnaissance by the German General Staff was sent a number of plainclothes officers, who executed their important and responsible work under various pretexts.

By the summer of 1870 apparently all the plans of Stieber were carried out into life, a network of intelligence service in France was organized, the war began. The systematic work of secret intelligence service continued during the war. “The third intelligence bureau” was headed by Major Krause, who concentrated all the information.  In the close connection with this bureau worked the Field Police headed by Stieber headed, which was in charge of specific issues of the intelligence service and the fight against espionage.

The Field Police was responsible for: in the intelligence to assist the military authorities on the delivery of the information:

a) about the placement, strength and movements of each of the enemy troop;

b) about the age, character and reputation of each of the heads of units;

c) about what happens, the mood of the minds; the means of the areas through which the German army had to pass;

d) to deliver people in each of these areas who may report useful information, to intelligence;

e) to use already existing permanent spies, hire new ones and finally to corrupt traitors.

As for the counterintelligence:

a) to watch foreigners inside and outside the main location of the headquarters;

b) to view letters and journals by special instructions;

c) to control and monitor the activities of the newspaper reporters, who have access to the headquarters, the content of their correspondence and dispatches in the specific edition, which was established by the army headquarters;

d) to watch the various people by the instructions of the army headquarters;

e) to protect the individuals of the senior officers.

After the war, Stieber, who remained at the head of the secret service, continued his work against France, by expansion and capture of the new areas.

The intelligence service already began to haunt not only purely military purposes, i.e. information acquisition which is necessary for the successful prosecution of war, but also enhanced the activities in the sense of conducting propaganda.

Since 1880, Stieber began to spread the special railway secret service, so at the moment of the mobilization and transportation of troops to begin the destruction of railways; the tremendous importance for the systematic implementing of the army concentration and its deployment is trouble-free work of railways, needs no proof, and it is clear what kind of hopes Stieber had about the successful execution of his grand plan. In 1883, already a very large number of German spies managed to be employed on the French railways, and in February 1884 the French Military Department managed to track down a German spy railway organization − and it was ordered to inform all foreign nationals, who worked on the railways, of the need to “immediately take French citizenship under penalty of immediate dismissal and expulsion from the service”.

Among 1641 of foreign nationals, who served on the railways, only 182 of them refused to be naturalized and came back to Germany.

In the early nineties a serious propaganda started on the French railways, which had the purpose of a general railway strike, besides the verbal propaganda waged by the German money, there was also the printed propaganda, for which there was opened a special loan from the secret fund to the sum of 80 thousand thalers in order “to pay for the foreign publications useful for the imperial policy”.

“The campaign of 1870-1871 also proved that the Germans in general, and the Prussians in particular, with regard to espionage have not forgotten the lessons of the past and the instructions of “Old Fritz”. It is true that the French people, irritated by the failures, were ready to recognize a spy in every foreigner, which has led to many unfortunate misunderstandings. However, according to the unanimous testimony of many French writers and officials, who are to be trusted, both civilian and military ones, long before the war, the eastern France was overflowed by the legion of the Prussian spies and undercover officers. Some of them measured the depth of rivers under the pretext of fishing, others, disguised as the artists, took pictures of the neighborhood of Langres, Belfort and other fortresses.

At the beginning of the war in Strasbourg a man appeared, who pretended to be an authorized of the U.S. company on the delivery of weapons and ammunition to the army. His presence in Strasbourg, where there was no emperor nor the army headquarters, evoked the suspicion. He was watched and he was about to be arrested, but he suddenly disappeared. The military police was reported of his distinguishing features, which detained him at the exit from the wagon in Metz. Then he confessed that he was one of the chiefs of German spies and told about the organization of this business. After he was committed to trial, he was shot.

The German spies were also found among the personnel of military medical institutions. The greatest number of them was discovered during the siege of Paris, two of them, for example, disguised as nurses, one was the begging, and at the bottom of his cap he made ​​the drawings of the Paris fortifications. There was even found a brave heart, who managed to inspect the Fort of Mont-Valerysh disguised as the marine lieutenant with a fake pass signed by the Minister of War. He was accessed to the examination, but by the telegram it was reported that the Military Department ordered to arrest him immediately, but the answer was too late, so the spy had escaped.

September 30, 1870 someone Cruzem was sent from Metz to discover if the Germans got reinforcements from Strasbourg, which had surrendered to the enemy. Cruzem had walked around almost the entire German blockade line on the left bank of the Moselle, and on the way back to Metz he had to go crawling about three miles. On his return he had delivered information on the approximate number of the enemy, on the location of its warehouses and brought them the discovered Prussian newspaper. All in all he had got about 40 francs.

The police agent Flahaut was sent in Aug. 20 from Thionville to Metz with two important dispatches from Mag-Nagon to Bazin. After arriving safely in Metz and passing dispatches, on the next day he went back to Thionville with five important dispatches; the Prussian patrol spotted him and pursued for four miles. To avoid capture Flahaut had to leave the wagon, in which he traveled, and jump into the Moselle. After swimming for about four miles away, he went ashore and without further adventures reached Thionville. For the execution of the order Flahaut got 50 francs.

August 20, the forest guard Dechou delivered seventeen official dispatches from Thionville to Metz, and on the way back, he got under the fire of the French, who were shooting at the Prussian Lancers. Dechou was given 20 francs.

The sailor Donzella for the delivery of dispatches first from Tours to the  blockaded Thionville, literally with the same difficulties as those of Flahaut, and then back to Brussels got 200 francs.

In the campaign of 1870-1871 the French authorities, generous on promises proved to be mean, when they had to pay for the execution of the order: the rewards for the transfer of dispatches through the enemy lines ranged between 50 and 200 francs, but they repeatedly paid only 520 francs.

With the regard to the cash costs of the Germans on spying in 1870-1871 there is no data.

“September 1, 1871 in Sedan, the French army surrendered, which listed in its army in the last day of the battle 124 000 of people (among whom 17,000 of people were killed and wounded, 21,000 − taken to prison, 83,000 − surrendered by capitulation, 3000 − disarmed on the Belgian territory) . What are the causes of such a catastrophe? There are many of them, but the reader deigns to realize at least the essence of data presented below. Long time before the Franco-Prussian war, France based its foreign policy on the weakness of Germany, looked down at the union of the German states, ignoring them as something unnatural.  Before the war the French believed that Germany could use only 350,000 of troops, while Germany already in the war in 1866 exposed so many troops that afterwards its armed forces had grown on three corps and 50 battalions of Landwehr, not including Saxon corps and Hessian divisions, which had, of course, to join Germany in case of war. Overall in the beginning of the war of 1870-1871 Germany actually exposed 531,000 of active troops. The full and robust report of the great French agent in Berlin Lieutenant Colonel Stoffel of Prussia’s preparations for war, its armed forces and the command wasn’t believed by the minister of war, nor Napoleon III, who was so much confident in the friendly attitude of Prussia to France, that he withdrew Stoffel, but in 1868 reappointed him in Berlin. After the Sedan’s defeat in Paris there were even rumors that Stoffel’s reports were found unopened, although partly. Finally there is an eloquent excerpt from a military order of Napoleon III from August 4, 1870: “You always have to expect from the enemy the most reasonable actions. In English journals there is written, that General Steinmetz occupies the central position between Saarbrücken and Saarlouis; he is supported behind by the corps of Prince Frederick Charles, and from the left he is joint with the army of prince who is in Rhenish Bavaria. Their purpose is to go straight to Laney. In fact: the 1st Army of Steinmetz was the right wing of the Prussian Army , the 2nd army of Prince Frederick Charles – the center, and not the support of Steinmetz , third army of the Crown Prince of Prussia – the left wing, not the left neighbor of Steinmetz, but of the 2nd Army. The goal is “to find the main forces of the enemy (the French) and to beat them”, but not “to go straight to Nancy”.

It seems to us that already these brief details about the neglect of the French intelligence, especially the secret one, forejudged the fate of the French army.

  1. V. N. Balyazin, (1931 – 2005). Non official history of Russia. Russia against Napoleon (Моsсow, 2007)
  2. L. G. Beskrovny, The Patriotic War of 1812 (Моsсow, 1962)
  3. Correlli Barnett, Britain and Her Army 1509-1970. A Military, Political and Social Survey (London, 1970)
  4. J. F. C. Fuller, The Conduct of War 1789-1961 (London, 1975)
  5. Lord Moran, The Anatomy of Courage (London, 1945)

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