The Brunet Papers consist of 1 box of letters and documents from the period 1802 - 1803, during which time the French were waging war against the Haitians in Haiti (or Saint Domingue). The majority of items are letters from Brunet, a French Division General, to the General en Chef, Donatien Rochambeau. Other tiems consist of letters from Brunet to Rochambeau's predecessor, Victor Leclerc, letters to Brunet from his subordinates, and some miscellaneous documents, including the transcript of the interrogation of an officer accused of high treason and a draft of civilian laws or rules.
The Brunet Papers cover the period just before the death of General Leclerc up to a point several months before the French were forced to evacuate the island. The French forces, at the beginning of this period, were able to defend against the Haitians with the help of Haitian generals who had turned against their own people (only to turn against the French later) such as Dessalines and Laplume. However, the "maladie" which so greatly afflicted the French, their lack of supplies, and the treachery of the forenamed generals (and other complications in France itself), which are all documented in these papers, helped to turn the tide against the French.
Jean Baptiste Brunet (1763-1824) was an experienced military man, having served France in Germany and Italy, among other places, before being transferred to Saint Domingue. Brunet began his career as Captain of the Volunteer Light Infantry of Rheims and worked his way up to become a Division General in Saint Domingue. His letters show that he was an intelligent officer who did what was necessary in times of hardship but who was also fair and compassionate. The "maladie" (probably related to the Haitian climate) which took so many French soldiers in Saint Domingue greatly concerned Brunet, both because of its devastation to the size of the army and for purely humanitarian reasons (as can be seen in his letters concerning the hospitals). Brunet was captured by the English, with whom France was also at war, as he was trying to flee Saint Domingue in 1803. He was no released until 1814, at which time he returned to France and received the Cross of Saint Louis. He continued in military duty until his death. At least one historian alleges that Brunet had captured the famous Haitian governor of Saint Domingue and leader of the early Haitian resistance, Toussaint Louverture.