Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz (French Bataille d'Austerlitz , Czech Bitva u Slavkova , Russian Битва под Аустерлицем ), also called the Battle of the Three Emperors , even though the Austrian Emperor Franz I was not present on the battlefield, took place on Monday, December 2, 1805, exactly one year after Napoleon I's coronation as emperor in Paris . It is one of the most famous battles of the Napoleonic Wars . On the Pratzeberg between Brno (Brno) and Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna) in Moravia , Emperor Napoleon I of France defeated an alliance of Austrian and Russian troops - the latter under Emperor or " Tsar " Alexander I.
Campaign of 1805
After the relatively peaceful years 1803 and 1804, Great Britain and Russia signed a treaty in April 1805 to occupy the Dutch daughter republic of France and Switzerland, which is under French protection . Austria joined the alliance after Genoa was incorporated into France and Napoleon was proclaimed King of Italy . Napoleon was now preparing the invasion of England and had assembled invasion troops of 150,000 men at Boulogne .
In view of the threatened superiority of Great Britain, Russia and Austria, Napoleon intended to defeat the great powers individually. The lack of coordination between the coalitionists gave him the opportunity to do so: Austria and Russia had ignored the different calendars in Austria and Russia in their deployment plans, so that the Austrians rushed to Bavaria. In a great hurry, the French Grande Armée was withdrawn from the English Channel and thrown east. The first blow hit the Austrians in Ulm with a lightning campaign (September 25 to October 20, 1805), while General Karl Mack von Leiberich was forced to surrender with part of his army. The way to Vienna was now open to Napoleon : After minor skirmishes along the Danube, his troops captured Vienna on November 13th without a fight . More French troops advanced from Italy. Napoleon pursued the retreating Russians in the direction of the Moravian city of Brno , as he wanted to force a decisive battle before the superior enemy forces could unite. In particular , Napoleon wanted to avoid Prussia's entry into the war . Therefore he lured the Russians and Austrians into the battle of Austerlitz by cleverly pretending to be weak.
Before the battle, the temperature was between 1 and 2.5 degrees Celsius. On the evening of December 1, 1805, the cloudy weather turned into a cloudless night. On December 2nd there was dense ground fog, which only gave way to the sun from Austerlitz in the morning. The temperature during the battle was about 5 degrees, the sky in the afternoon was cloudy with occasional rain. The historian Uhlíř has compiled the following meteorological data for the city of Brno:
|11/29||1.1 ° C||weak||Rain, fog|
|11/30||2.0 ° C||weak||Snowfall|
|1.12.||2.5 ° C||medium||fog|
|2.12.||5.2 ° C||weak||Fog, rain|
|3.12.||2.5 ° C||weak||Sleet|
The battlefield covers a square with a side length of approx. 12 km, which is determined by two traffic axes: in the west is the south-north connection from Vienna to Brno (Napoleon's only supply line) and in the north the east-west connection from Olomouc to Brno (the approach of the Russians). A south-eastern branch of this road leads to the small town of Austerlitz , after which the battle is named.
In the southwest, two ponds, which were marshy at the time and partially frozen over, delimited the battlefield. From these the Goldbach flows in a northerly direction until it crosses the road to Olomouc. To the northeast of this intersection is the Santon Hill, which Napoléon used as his headquarters during the battle. In the south, along the Goldbach, are the smaller towns of Telnitz and Sokolnitz . The battle-deciding, gently rising Pratzeberg stretches diagonally from southeast to northwest .
The Allies discussed their plans in the village of Krenowitz , where both the Russian Tsar Alexander I and the Austrian Emperor Franz II / I. had set up their headquarters . Despite their numerical superiority and the weakness cleverly simulated by Napoléon, Emperor Franz II / I hesitated. and General Kutuzov to launch an attack because their side expected reinforcements. Tsar Alexander I, however, encouraged by Prince Dolgorukov and other nobles and supported by the Austrian General and Chief of Staff Franz von Weyrother , decided to attack. General von Weyrother, who was familiar with the area, worked out the attack plans, which were read to the assembled generals on December 2, 1805 at 1:00 a.m. Many generals were unable to maintain their concentration at this late hour, and General Kutuzov is said to have nodded off. The lack of communication and the lack of questioning of the plans initiated some of the later problems.
The plan of the Allies with their troop strength of approx. 85,400 men (including approx. 16,000 Austrians) envisaged an attack on both wings of the French, in which the Allies were divided by General von Weyrother into seven armed forces (columns). On the right wing, 13,000 men under the Russian Lieutenant General Bagration , supported by the 4,600 strong cavalry (5th column) under Field Marshal Liechtenstein (at the same time commander in chief of the Austrian part of the armed forces), were supposed to bind the French forces on the road from Brno to Olomouc.
The main Allied attack on the left flank with 59,300 men was supposed to cut Napoléon off from his supplies from Vienna and throw him back towards Brno. The Austrian cavalry vanguard under Field Marshal Kienmayer (5,100 men) was supposed to pave the way for the 1st column (8,500 men) under Lieutenant General Dochturow to conquer the village of Telnitz. The 2nd column (11,700 men), under the French lieutenant-general in Russian service Langeron , should meanwhile take the village of Sokolnitz a little further north, supported by the 3rd column (10,000 men) under Przybyszewski . These three Russian columns were in command of the General of the Infantry Buxhöwden . The 4th column (23,000 men) under the command of Lieutenant General Kolowrat and Lieutenant General Miloradowitsch in the center was supposed to intensify the successful attack of the three columns. The Russian Guard (8,500 men) under Grand Duke Constantine, the Tsar's brother, was kept in reserve north of the headquarters at Krenowitz.
Napoleon had already sent his plan to his generals the evening before, on December 1, 1805 at 8:30 p.m. His army of 73,000 men was to be defensive in the first phase; concentrated on the French left wing (corresponds to the Russian right wing). The front line formed the V Corps (19,200 men) under Marshal Lannes , supported by Marshal Murat's cavalry reserve (5,600 men), behind it the I Corps (13,000 men) under Marshal Bernadotte , the grenadiers Oudinots (5,700 men) and the Imperial Guard ( 5,500 men) under Marshal Bessières .
The right wing was only held by the IV Corps (23,600 men) under Marshal Soult . Napoleon also concentrated his forces on the right wing by massing the two divisions Saint-Hilaire and Vandamme near the village of Puntowitz and only the Legrand division, supported by the light cavalry brigade Margaron , defending the positions around Telnitz and Telnitz threatened by the main Russian attack Sokolnitz transferred. Napoléon knew here that parts of the III. Corps (6,600 men) under Marshal Davout would arrive early in the morning after an express march from Vienna (120 km in 50 hours). As soon as his right flank would be secured, Napoléon wanted to let the two massed divisions of Soult conquer the Pratzen Hill and thus divide the enemy.
Course of the battle
At 7 a.m. on December 2, 1805, the advance guard under Kienmayer began the attack on Telnitz from Mönitz , which was defended by the Legrand division . When the 1st column under Dochturow was also thrown into battle at 8 o'clock, the French had to evacuate Telnitz. At 8:30 am, the 2nd column under Langeron, supported by the 3rd column under Przybyszewski, attacked the village of Sokolnitz until 9:00 am, despite a successful counterattack by Davout's replacement forces, both villages were in Allied hands. This Allied success was bought at a high price: The Legrand division and the forces of III. Corps stopped three Russian columns and Kienmayer's vanguard (about two thirds of the main Russian attack).
Only the 4th column under Kolowrat and Miloradowitsch, which followed the other columns unsuspectingly , faced Napoléon's main attack. Napoleon asked Marshal Soult how long it would take his divisions to occupy the Pratzeberg . Less than twenty minutes , Soult replied. Then we wait a quarter of an hour , was the reply of the emperor, who wanted to make sure that the three Allied columns had marched off from the Pratzenberg to the flank and thus weakened the center. At 9 o'clock the fog cleared and the sun began to shine ( le beau soleil d'Austerlitz ). The St. Hilaire division captured the village of Pratzen and reached the top of the hill. The Vandamme division on the left encountered resistance in the village of Jirschowitz . At 9:30 a.m. the French had taken the hill. The Allied surprise was complete. The Oberfeldherr Kutuzov accompanied the 4th column Miloradowitsch and Kolowrat when he noticed the French in the center. He ordered the column to turn back and drive out the French. The 2nd Langeron Column sent the Kamensky Brigade for reinforcement. In the meantime, the Jircik Brigade was able to recapture the mountain peak. The relentless battle for the Pratzeberg, led by both sides, lasted until 12:00 p.m. when the French won. Napoleon ordered the St. Hilaire and Vandamme divisions to pivot south and attack the remaining Russian columns.
With this, Napoleon exposed the flank of the two divisions to the Russian guard under Grand Duke Constantine, who had previously been held in reserve. At 1 p.m., the Russian guard cavalry destroyed a French battalion that had been quickly pushed into the breach. Napoleon sent the French guards cavalry under Colonel Morland to stop the Russians. Morland fell, the attempt failed. Only the intervention of General Rapp , a close confidante of Napoleon, with the elite Mamluken cavalry led to success. The report of success of this attack is immortalized in the painting by Gérard. With the break up of the Russian guard, the St. Hilaire and Vandamme divisions were able to continue their attack on the three Russian columns that were in the front from III. Corps were harassed by Davout .
In the north, on the road from Brno to Olomouc, the Russian troops under Bagration , supported by the cavalry of Liechtenstein , faced the French troops of the V Corps (19,200 men) under Lannes , supported by Murat's cavalry reserve . At 9 o'clock Bagration began his attack on the Suchet and Caffarelli divisions. He tried unsuccessfully to encompass the French's left flank. South of the positions of Bagration, the riders of Liechtenstein and Murat fought bitter battles, supported by units of the 1st Corps (13,000 men) under Bernadotte . When Bagration realized that he could not break the resistance of the French, he began to extract his units and to begin an orderly retreat.
The battle was decided, the retreat of the allies was general and soon degenerated into wild flight. On a narrow dam stretching between the Satczaner and Mönitz ponds, everything was crowded together; some ventured onto the thin ice cover of the ponds and drowned as it collapsed under fire from French artillery . The Austrians calculated their loss at 4,000 dead, the Russians their own at 11,000 dead. The French came to 1,290 dead and 6,943 wounded, made over 12,000 prisoners of war and boasted that they had captured 180 cannons and all their luggage. The bronze of the captured cannons was used to cast the Vendôme column on the Place Vendôme in Paris .
After the battle
Napoleon I moved his headquarters to Austerlitz Castle on December 3, 1805 . He met Emperor Franz II at Nasiedlowitz on December 4 and concluded an armistice in Austerlitz on December 6 , the first condition of which was the immediate withdrawal of the Russians. On December 26th, the campaign was finally brought to an end by the Peace of Pressburg , which dealt the fatal blow to the long-languishing Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and sealed the sovereignty of France over Venice , Istria and Dalmatia .
Napoleon's bulletin to his soldiers
- Soldiers, I am satisfied with you.
- During the day at Austerlitz you demonstrated everything that I expected of your fearlessness; you have covered your eagles with immortal glory. An army of 100,000 men, commanded by the emperors of Russia and Austria, was broken up and dispersed in less than four hours. Those who escaped your blades drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the standards of the Russian bodyguard, 120 cannons, twenty generals and more than 30,000 prisoners of war are the result of this forever famous day. Their so vaunted infantry could not withstand your onslaught in spite of their overwhelming numbers, and from now on you have no more opponents to fear. So in two months the third coalition was defeated and dissolved. Peace cannot be long in coming. But as I promised my people before crossing the Rhine, I will only make a peace that gives us guarantees and assures our allies of compensation.
- Soldiers, when the French people put the imperial crown on my head, I trusted in you to keep them forever in that shining glory which in my eyes alone makes their worth. But at the same moment our enemies thought of destroying them and dishonoring them! And this iron crown, conquered with the blood of so many French, they wanted to force me to put it on one of our cruelest enemies! Daring projects that you destroyed and destroyed on the anniversary of the coronation of your emperor! You taught them that it is much easier to defy and threaten us than to defeat us.
- Soldiers, as soon as all that is necessary for the fate and prosperity of our homeland has been done, I will take you back to France. There you will become the object of my most tender care. My people will see you again with joy, and it will suffice to say: I was at the Battle of Austerlitz, so that the answer would be: Look there, a brave man.
French original :
- Soldats, je suis content de vous.
- Vous avez, à la journée d'Austerlitz, justifié tout ce que j'attendais de votre intrépidité; vous avez décoré vos aigles d'une immortelle gloire. Une armée de 100,000 hommes, commandée par les empereurs de Russie et d'Autriche, a été, en moins de quatre heures, ou coupée ou dispersée. Ce qui a échappé à votre fer s'est noyé dans les lacs. Quarante drapeaux, les étendards de la garde impériale de Russie, cent vingt pièces de canon, vingt généraux, plus de 30,000 prisonniers, sont le résultat de cette journée à jamais célèbre. Cette infanterie tant vantée, et en nombre supérieur, n'a pu résister à votre choc, et désormais vous n'avez plus de rivaux à redouter. Ainsi, en deux mois, cette troisième coalition a été vaincue et dissoute. La paix ne peut plus être éloignée; corn, comme je l'ai promis à mon peuple avant de passer le Rhin, je ne ferai qu'une paix qui nous donne des garanties et assure des récompenses à nos alliés.
- Soldats, lorsque le peuple français plaça sur ma tête la couronne impériale, je me confiai à vous pour la maintenir toujours dans ce haut éclat de gloire qui seul pouvait lui donner du prix à mes yeux. Mais dans le même moment nos ennemis pensaient à la détruire et à l'avilir! Et cette couronne de fer, conquise par le sang de tant de Français, ils voulaient m'obliger à la placer sur la tête de nos plus cruels ennemis! Projets téméraires et insensés que, le jour même de l'anniversaire du couronnement de votre Empereur, vous avez anéantis et confondus! Vous leur avez appris qu'il est plus facile de nous braver et de nous menacer que de nous vaincre.
- Soldats, lorsque tout ce qui est nécessaire pour assurer le bonheur et la prospérité de notre patrie sera accompli, je vous ramènerai en France; là, vous serez l'objet de mes plus tendres sollicitudes. Mon peuple vous reverra avec joie, et il vous suffira de dire, J'étais à la bataille d'Austerlitz, pour que l'on réponde, Voilà un brave.
The slightly hilly terrain is still dominated by agriculture and little has changed since the battle - apart from the expansion of the villages. The D 1 motorway crosses the battlefield in the north. The sights are only partially accessible by public transport. Particularly noteworthy are the Austerlitz Castle of Count Kaunitz and the Burial Mound of Peace (Mohyla míru) on Pracký Kopec, each with small museums. The four statues of the burial mound symbolize the fallen of France, Austria, Russia and the Moravian battlefield. Inside the burial mound there is a chapel with a house of the dead with bones of fallen people. Near the Museum on the Burial Mound of Peace there is a memorial to the only Czech general of the battle, Jirčik, and his brigade who fought there. The ponds to the south of the battlefield no longer exist because they have been drained. First, in 1824, the Great Mönitzer Pond was drained. Then in 1834 the Satczaner pond was turned into arable land, as the fish caught from it could hardly be sold because the pond contained the remains of soldiers who died in the battle.
- In the novel War and Peace , Volume I, Part 3, Chap. XIV-XIX, Lev Tolstoy gives a detailed account of this battle.
- Austerlitz is mentioned as a battlefield in Carl Sandburg's poem Grass .
- Austerlitz is an instrumental piece from The Jezabels' album Prisoner (2011) .
- In Paris , the names Gare d'Austerlitz and Quai d'Austerlitz still remember the battle today. The Arc de Triomphe was built in 1806 to commemorate the “glorious victories”.
- The French Navy's steamship Austerlitz was named in memory of the battle.
- In the comic Asterix en Corse by Albert Uderzo / René Goscinny , “Osterlix” (German: “Austerlix”) alludes to the battle and the “Sun of Austerlitz”.
- The album Golden Heart by the Scottish musician Mark Knopfler contains the title Done With Bonaparte , in which a fictional participant in the Battle of Austerlitz has his say.
- The students of the French military academy École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr assign a letter of the word “Austerlitz” to each month of their ten-month training (S for December, for example).
- From a French point of view, the battle can be re-enacted in the computer strategy game Napoleon: Total War .
- List of wars and battles in the 19th century
- Fire in Melk Abbey in 1805 affected prisoners of this battle
- List of units of the French army in the battle of Austerlitz
- Frank Bauer: Austerlitz December 2, 1805. The climax of the Napoleonic warfare (small series history of the wars of liberation; Vol. 12). Potsdam 2005.
- Ian Castle: Austerlitz 1805. The fate of empires (Osprey military campaign series; Vol. 101). Osprey, Oxford 2004, ISBN 1-84176-136-2 .
- David G. Chandler : The campaigns of Napoleon . Weidenfels & Nicolson, London 1998, ISBN 0-297-74830-0 (EA London 1967)
Christopher Duffy : Austerlitz 1805. Battle of the three emperors (Osprey military campaigns series; Vol. 2). Michelin House, London 1994, ISBN 0-85045-957-5 .
- German: The Battle of Austerlitz. Napoleon's greatest victories . Heyne, Munich 1983, ISBN 3-453-48058-9 .
- Clemens Janetschek: Bitva u Slavkova . Brno 1898.
- German: The Battle of Austerlitz. December 2, 1805 . Self-published, Brno 1898.
- Henri Lachouque: Napoléon à Austerlitz . Edition Victor, Paris 1961.
Giles MacDonogh : The Great Battles. 50 key battles from the ancient world to the present day . Quercus, London 2010, ISBN 978-1-84916-490-0 .
- German: The 50 most important battles. From Austerlitz to Waterloo . Gruner + Jahr, Hamburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-86690-230-5 (translated by Birgit Herbst).
- Pierre Miquel : Austerlitz. La bataille des trois empereurs . Michel, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-226-15587-2 .
- Thierry Rouillard and Stéphane Le Couëdic (eds.): Campagne d'Austerlitz. 1805 (Du Directoire à l'Émpire; Vol. 17). Vouivre, Saint-Martin 1999, ISBN 2-912431-10-7 .
- Wilhelm Riistow : The war of 1805 in Germany and Italy. As a guide to war history studies . 2nd edition Meyer & Zeller, Zurich 1859.
- Jean Thiry: Napoléon Bonaparte, Vol. 7: Ulm, Trafalgar, Austerlitz . Berger-Levrault, Paris 1962.
- Dušan Uhlíř: Bitva tří císařů . AVE, Brno 2005.
- German: The Battle of the Three Emperors: Austerlitz 1805 . AVE, Brno 2005, ISBN 80-86831-03-5 (translated by Johanna Posset).
- Kajetan Unterweeger: In the shadow of Austerlitz (German library in the east). Nicolai, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-87584-564-1 .
- Austerlitz. Napoléon au coeur de l'Éurope. Actes du colloque, Musée de l'Armée , Paris 30 November - 3 December 2005 (Hautes études militaires; vol. 30). Economica, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-7178-5362-9 .
Max Gallo : Napoleon. Le soleil d'Austerlitz . Laffont, Paris 1999, ISBN 2-221-08358-X .
- German: Napoleon. The sun from Austerlitz . Development of the paperback publishing house, Berlin 2002.
Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy : Vojna i mir .
- German: war and peace. The original version . Fischer-Taschenbuchverlag, Frankfurt / M. 2008, ISBN 978-3-596-90296-5 (EA Frankfurt am Main 2003; translated by Dorothea Trottenberg, afterword by Thomas Grob).
- Austerlitz: la bataille des trois empereurs - in French - page well documented in terms of graphics and content
- Klaus Brill : 200 years of Austerlitz - Napoleon's Schlachtenbummler ("Süddeutsche Zeitung", December 2, 2005)
- In contemporary linguistic usage as well as abroad it was customary until 1917 to speak of the tsar and has been preserved in the consciousness of posterity. What this affected was not the current dignity of the empire, but the continued existence of specifically Russian reality, in the form of the Moscow tsarist empire, which served as the basis of the new empire. In the 19th century, this led to a conceptual language in literature that was not appropriate to the source and to an outmoded conceptual apparatus in German literature. In: Hans-Joachim Torke: The Russian Tsars. 1547-1917 . P. 8; Hans-Joachim Torke: The state-related society in the Moscow Empire . Leiden, 1974, p. 2; Reinhard Wittram : The Russian Empire and its shape change . In: Historische Zeitschrift , Vol. 187 (1959), Issue 3 (June), pp. 568-593, p. 569,
- Uhlíř 2005, p. 89.
- The figures for this pre-statistical age should be treated with caution. Depending on the source, they vary +/- 1000 men. Most historians use the sums of 90,000 Allies and 75,000 French. The individual information relates to the standard work by David Chandler.
- Austerlitz, The Empire at ist Zenith , Histoire & Colectiona - Paris 2003, p. 47.
- Jean Sénéchal: Austerlitz: La grande maneuver. In Revue du Souvenir Napoléonien , 1995.
- La proclamation d'Austerlitz, 2 December 1805 ( Memento of April 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Original document digitized
- Lew Tolstoy : War and Peace in the Gutenberg-DE project
- Website Les allusions dans Asterix: Napoléon 1er .
- Austerlix in comedix lexicon .