Front Page Titles (by Subject) LETTER XIX. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 4 (Diplomatic Missions 1506-1527)
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LETTER XIX. - 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.: —
Day before yesterday I reported to your Lordships all that had taken place here. Since then I have nothing special to mention except that the enemy passed the river Lamone to-day, and are taking the lower road towards La Marca. They make as little progress as usual, and it is supposed that they will not lay siege to any other place whilst they are in Romagna, for we are always before them in time to garrison the place. But it is believed that we shall not be in time to supply garrisons to any of the towns of La Marca. Indeed, it is not a good plan that does not permit us to advance with sufficient troops to be able always to supply a sufficient garrison to the places we leave behind, and yet to have troops enough to take with us in our march forward. For it is like a consuming disease to be obliged to withdraw the troops from the places we have left behind for the purpose of placing them as garrisons in those that are before us; otherwise, we should not be in time to do it, and disorders and inconveniences would arise that would be apt to prove our ruin.
According to the orders given by the Duke of Urbino, we have commenced extending the army towards Parma, and have come, thus diminishing our forces, as far as here to Furli, where not enough troops remain to us to permit our leaving any behind and advancing with the remainder to Cesena and Rimini; for the Count Cajazzo was sent to Ravenna, and the Swiss that were left here cannot be induced to separate, one portion being unwilling to leave the other. If this could have been done, we should have left one part here, and would have gone with the other to Cesena; but as this was impossible, we found it necessary to begin to make use of the troops which we had left in detachments along the road. For it will not do to strip a place of its garrison, unless the enemy is so far off that he cannot return to attack it before a sufficient force is sent back for its defence. We are therefore obliged to be constantly on the alert, and to do everything just at the moment, if we wish to avoid the occurrence of disorders in front or in the rear. And as we cannot always get exact information, it is impossible entirely to prevent such disorders. Thence the contradictory reports, according to which at one moment the troops were coming from Tuscany, and the next moment they were not coming. Thence came the untimely evacuation of Imola, and the apprehensions in consequence on account of Bologna. It results from this that with such a system and such embarrassments it will be impossible for us to defend La Marca; to which is superadded the fact, that the places there are much less strong than those of Romagna. This plan of proceeding has shown and will show from day to day how much better the suggestions of Pietro Navarra were, and which he wrote to the Duke here, who, however, would not adopt them. According to Pietro Navarra’s plan, all our forces were to have been united into one body. The enemy would not then have been able either to have entered Tuscany, or to have come here; for it would have sufficed in all these places merely to have put men enough to guard the gates, as the enemy could not have attempted to besiege a place with an army in the rear that would have cut off their supplies. Anyhow there is the whole difficulty, and if we have to carry on the war, and the League does not unite its whole army, everything will go to ruin, unless, indeed, some of the necessities on which we have several times based our hopes should force the enemy to disband; but the obstinacy which the enemy manifests deprives us of all hope that this will happen. Matters have come to that point that we must either achieve or conclude a peace, which, however unfavorable it may be, we shall not be able to decline, provided the conditions are at all endurable. For if we continue the war, and all our forces are not united, and if the commanders are not satisfied, and the king of France and the Venetians do not prove themselves better allies, and the Pope does not show himself more liberal with his money, then we shall be exposed to the most evident dangers of headlong ruin.
Furli, 11 April, 1527.