Austerlitz, Battle of 1805

Austerlitz, Battle of (1805)

 

the decisive battle between Russian and Austrian and French troops on November 20 (December 2) near Austerlitz (near the modern city of Slavkov in Czechoslovakia), during the Russo-Austro-French War of 1805.

On the eve of the Battle of Austerlitz, the Russian and Austrian army under the command of General M. I. Kutuzov numbered 86,000 men (including 15,000 Austrtans) and the French army of Napoleon I numbered 73,000. The Russian and Austrian troops occupied strong positions near Olmütz while awaiting reinforcements. Alexander I, ignoring Kutuzov’s opinion, followed the plan of the Austrian general F. Weyrother, which called for an attack based on obsolete strategy without consideration of the maneuvers of the enemy and without sufficient data about the situation. Napoleon aimed for a general battle, planning to rout his opponents before reinforcements could arrive. He spread rumors about the weakness of the French Army and even began secret peace negotiations with Austria.

From November 15 (27) to November 19 (December 1) the Russian and Austrian troops marched from Olmütz to Austerlitz, took up an initial position in view of the enemy, and on November 20 (December 2) began an attack along the Sokolnitz-Telnitz front, using their main forces. Napoleon, covering his right flank with part of his troops, struck a blow with his main forces (50,000 men) against the Pratzen Plateau and then the main forces of the Russo-Austrian army from the south, causing it to retreat with heavy losses. The allies lost 27,000 killed and captured; the French lost more than 12,000 men. The victory at Austerlitz showed the superiority of the new French strategic system and the failure of cordon strategy and linear tactics. It accomplished the defeat of the third anti-French coalition. Austria withdrew from the war and signed the Treaty of Pressburg in December 1805.

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