Peccavi (pe-kah-vee)(Latin) n. `An admission of guilt or sin’,
from Peccare (to err).
Many people are attributed with such a quote. The most often told of these tales happens in 1842-3, after the defeat of the First Anglo-Afghan War. British forces under Major General Sir Charles James Napier conquered Sindh (a province in the lower delta of the Indus, in present-day Pakistan). A telegram was sent to announce his victory with the message consisting of a single word... `Peccavi'.
Napier was under express orders not to capture the territory. Peccavi meant both I have Sindh, and I have sinned.
Even by the principles of international relations prevailing then, the British hadn’t… well, to quote Napier on this: "We have no right to seize Sindh, yet we shall do so, and a very advantageous, useful, humane piece of rascality it will be." (victorianweb.org)
Perhaps the truth of empire is Peccavimus. (We have Sinned)
This pun first appeared as a cartoon in Punch Magazine vol. 6, p. 209 (18 May, 1844) [if anyone can find this online]. Some say Napier didn’t actually say it. That the magazine put the word "Peccavi" in his mouth with the cartoon. Although apocryphal, it’s still a great story.
WordSmith.org mentions another tale: "Rabbi Yosef’s peccavi had a certain dignity, unlike the cringing surrender of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz." N.D. Gross; Two Sinners; Jerusalem Post (Israel); Aug 18, 1989.
Surprising that WordSmith.org chooses this example for peccavi.
It is not of the historical Rabbi Yosef Karo or Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn that Gross writes. Is an editorial article about rabbis at politics in 1989 over Palestinian land. This tale should be given it’s context; West Bank Settlements, Moshe Levinger. Looking at the West Bank’s wall, this tale continues.