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LETTER V. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 4.
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Magnificent Signori, etc.: —
I will answer first your Lordships’ letter of the 12th, in which you desire to know the number of troops in each camp, and how many of the regular troops, infantry and other service, ought in my judgment to be changed; also, that I should fully advise you upon every point. In reply I have to say, that since leaving Florence I have not yet been able to visit the camp at San Piero in Grado, and can therefore give you no account of that; but as to the other two camps, I will now report the condition in which I found them. In the camp of the Val di Serchio, where Antonio di Filicajo is the commissary, there are the following troops, viz.: 1st, the priest of Citerna, with 250 men from Fivizzano; 2d, Giovanni Agnolo da Monterchi, with the contingent from Castiglione del Terzieri, numbering 150 men; 3d, Giannesino da Serezzana, with the men of Casentino, being 130; of the original number of 150 twenty were lost by the treason of Alfonso del Mutulo; 4th, Morgante dal Borgo, with 100 men from the Val di Cechina; 5th, Antonio da Castello, with the 100 men from Firenzuola; — making a total of 730 men. Then there are Giannone da Librafatta and Gianotto da Cardo, with 60 men; the Signori Francesco and Giulio del Caccia, with 100 men; and finally, Bernardo da Carrara, who guards the fortress; so that, leaving out Bernardino, there remain to Antonio fit for service 890 men. The said Antonio had, moreover, Dietajuti, with 100 men from Valdinievole, which brought his command up to 1,000 men. But Niccolo Capponi, imagining himself to be too isolated and feeble, asked Antonio for the loan of a constable until he could be supplied from Florence; and so he sent him Dietajuti, who was here; and I believe that Niccolo will rather send him in return one of the constables that are again reported to be on the way here, than to give him back Dietajuti, who, as well as his company, is familiar with the country, whilst any newly arrived men are unacquainted with the localities. The other troops under command of Antonio have also a good knowledge of the country, from having been schooled in it for two months. In truth, the whole of Antonio’s infantry is as good and handsome, in my judgment, as any other in all Italy at the present day.
Besides Dietajuti, who is not yet quite sure of remaining, we have here the company of Anghiari, without any captain; the men have declared that they will not leave here; on the other hand, Alamanno refuses to send Ronzino here. We will see how we can settle this in the best way, so soon as the troops that are destined for this camp shall have arrived at Cascina. This company of Anghiari counts about 110 men; 2d, there are here the infantry of Pieve, numbering about 180 men; 3d, the infantry of Bibbiena, 186 in number; 4th, the men of Pontessieve, under command of Agnolona, being 112 strong; and finally there are 80 fusileers here, who, added to the others, and not counting Dietajuti’s men, make 668 enlisted regular troops. Of inexperienced troops we have, 1st, Carlo da Cremona with 100 men; 2d, Daino and Gattamelata with 60 men; 3d, Morello with 40, and the son of Sannicia Corso with 40; which makes a total of 908 without Dietajuti; so that if you send 200 infantry here, as I understand is to be done, we shall have in all over 1,100 men, not counting Dietajuti; and if he remains with Antonio, or another be sent in his place, then Antonio will also have his full 1,000 men.
The way to prevent the number of our regular troops from diminishing is, whenever eight or ten per cent of them are absent, either from sickness or any other cause, to send the constable and his chancellor into his circumscription, there promptly, and by the use of his and your Lordships’ authority and that of the rectors, to raise and send here the number of men that are wanting. And then to make it a rule that the commissaries shall not grant leave of absence to any except such as are really sick; and to punish those who absent themselves without leave, or who disobey, either here or at Florence, or at their own homes, or wherever it can be done. In this way the companies will be kept full and complete without any further trouble. I do not see what troops I could disband, or which to call to replace them, unless in a case of necessity, and then in the manner indicated. And if your Lordships send the money for the pay of the troops in time, I will do my best to save all trouble on that account.
Your Lordships have written me another letter on the 14th, in which you direct me to fix my residence at Cascina, and to order that there be always some eight or ten men under a chief kept in garrison there, with provisions for at least two weeks; and to collect there all the ammunition of lead and balls that has been provided. This letter of yours was found at Cascina by Francesco Serragli, who after reading it sent it to me here yesterday. But as I was here, and not at Cascina, your Lordships will see that I could not have complied with your instructions. I read the letter to Niccolo Capponi, who promised me to answer it to your Lordships. It seems from that letter that your Lordships intend I should fix myself at Cascina; but I do not think this would answer a good purpose, as that post can be filled by any man, no matter of what qualifications; whilst if I remained there, I could be no longer of any service to the army here, nor be in any other way of use here. I am aware that that post would expose me to less danger and fatigue, but if I wanted to avoid danger and fatigue I should not have left Florence; and therefore I entreat your Lordships to allow me to remain in the camps to co-operate with the commissaries in all the measures that have to be taken. For here I can make myself useful, but at Cascina I should not be good for anything, and should die of sheer desperation. I beg your Lordships, therefore, to think of some one else for that post, if Serragli is not willing to remain there, although I think him the most suitable man for the place.
Allow me to remind your Lordships of the pay of Paolo Antonio and his men, who are guarding the forts of Cascina and of the Verruca.
I shall finish the pay of all the regular infantry now at this camp, and will then immediately send you the accounts. I have nothing else to communicate to your Lordships at this time, for their Magnificences the Lords Commissaries will have written to you in relation to the more important matters, and to that I must refer for the present; nevertheless, the moment I have the time, I shall not fail to make a full report on that subject to your Lordships. Valete!
From the Camp at Mezzana, 16 April, 1509.