Napoleon was at Dorogobush when he received a letter from Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès regarding the attempted coup by General Claude François de Malet in Paris two weeks earlier. Malet attempted to establish a provisional government by forging documents stating Napoleon had died under the walls of Moscow.
With fewer than 20 co-conspirators, Malet was successful in taking control of the National Guard at Trianon on October 23. Savary was arrested and the governor of Paris was shot in the jaw, where the bullet remained, giving him a nickname of bullet eater.
Cambacérès doubled the guards around Marie Louise, released Savary, reinstated the prefect of police and ordered the arrest of Malet and his accomplices. ‘By 9 AM it was all over,’ recalled Comte de Lavalette.
Napoleon was concerned, and with good reason. No one other than Cambacérès considered a regency for his son in the event of his death. ‘Napoleon the Second, nobody thought about him,’ he cried. At his court-martial, Malet said, ‘Who are my accomplices? Had I been successful, all of you would have been my accomplices.’ Napoleon suspected Malet was right. The plot demonstrated just how fragile his new dynasty really was, prompting him to abandon his army and rush back to Paris.