Austerlitz, or the Battle of The Three Emperors

..."Soldiers, I am pleased with you! You have, on this day of Austerlitz, justified all that I had expected from your courage, and you have honoured your eagles with immortal glory. In less than 4 hours, an army of 100,000 men, commanded by the Emperors of Russia and Austria, has been cut down or scattered. Such enemy as escaped your bayonets have drowned in the lakes.

40 colours, the standards of the Russian Imperial Guard, 120 pieces of artillery, 20 generals and over 30,000 prisoners are the result of this day - to be for ever celebrated. That such vaunted infantry, so superior in numbers, could not resist your charge, proves henceforth you have no longer any rivals to fear. Thus in 2 months, this Third Coalition has been overthrown and dissolved. Peace cannot now be far away...

Soldiers, when everything necessary for the happiness and prosperity of the motherland has been accomplished, I will lead you back to France: there you will be the object of my tenderest solicitude. My people will greet you with joy, and it will suffice for you to say, 'I was at the battle of Austerlitz', for them to reply: 'there is one of the brave...'"

Austerlitz or the Battle of The Three Emperors, Napoleon, Tsar Alexander I and Francis II (although command was exercised by Alexander) fought on 2 December 1805, was the penultimate of Napoleon's masterpieces. Though outnumbered, Napoleon managed to rout the combined Austrian and Russian army destroying the Third Coalition.

Through deception, Napoleon allowed the Allies to think that his army was weak and could easily be swept aside. The Austro-Russians fell for his trick and were lured to turn the French right. The allied attack began at dawn although the battlefield was shrouded in mist.

Right:: French Infantry

When Napoleon judged that the Allies were fully committed to an attack on his right he gave Marshall Soult the order for the Austro-Russian center located on the Pratzen to be carried. The legendary "Sun of Austerlitz" at 9 AM burned off the mist. To the Austro-Russians it appeared that the entire french Army was attacking them. By 11 AM the French had carried the Pratzen Heights.

At the same time a cavalry battle was taking place on the French left which commanded by General Lannes. When Lannes judged the moment when the final push should begin he pushed forward his infantry. The Infantry advanced with elan despite terrible losses. By noon the Coalition was collapsing.
Above left: Austrian Grenadiers*

Above:Russian Guard Infantry

On the Pratzen, counterattacks against the French failed. The Russian Imperial Guard Corps under Grand Duke Constantine was thrown into battle in a last ditch effort. The Russian Imperial Guard, 3000 Grenadiers and 15 squadrons of Cavalry assaulted the Pratzen, routing the 4th Line Infantry and 24th Light Infantry Regiments. This caused a break in the french position. This hole in the French line was filled by the French Imperial Guard Chasseurs-a-cheval (light cavalry) and the Grenadiers-a-cheval (heavy cavalry). As the two forces of Guard Cavalry met fierce disorganized close combat insued. Napoleon ordered the Mamelukes of the Guard and 2 more squadrons of Chasseurs-a-cheval into the fray. Suddenly, the Russians retired.

As the French had control of the center, Napoleon ordered his troops to right wheel in order to roll up the extended Austro-Russian left. This was the beginning of the end for the Austro-Russians. Their troops began to retreat and soon they were in full route. The only escape for the Austro-Russians was to the south, and across the frozen Lake Satschan.

French losses amounted to 9000 casualties. The Austro-Russians lost 27000. A ratio of 1 Frenchman to every 3 Austro-Russians.

Dieu Le Roy!

* Hungarian troops would be in the same uniform with light blue trousers with Hungarian knots at the waist over each leg.

Photos were borrowed from my freind Nicolas Mozaks site
Russian Generals of the Napoleon Epoch and the Austerlitz battle reenactment which occured in Gatchina Russia in 2001.
More photos may be found here of the 2005 Austerlitz, the text is in Russian, sorry. You have to trust me when I say it supposed to be Austerlitz, (Gratchina , Russia)
Yes, I know some of the uniforms are not 100% correct for the period of 1805.

No comments: