The single line of Napoleon's secret code told Paris of his desperate, last order against the Russians: "At three o'clock in the morning, on the 22nd I am going to blow up the Kremlin."
By the time Paris received the letter three days later, the Russian czar's seat of power was in
flames and the diminished French army was in retreat. Its elegantly calligraphic ciphers show history's famed general at one of his weakest moments.
The rare document dated October 20, 1812, signed "Nap" in the emperor's hand is up for auction on Sunday at Fontainebleau Auction House.