Russo-Austro-French War of 1805

Russo-Austro-French War of 1805

 

a war between the Third Coalition of European powers—Great Britain, Russia, Austria, Sweden, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies—and Napoleonic France. The allies sought the expulsion of French troops from territories seized by the French and the restoration of the prerevolutionary order in France. The armed forces of Austria and Russia were to play the main role in the war. Having joined forces in Bavaria, the Austrian Danube Army of 80,000 men, under Field Marshal K. Mack (nominally led by Archduke Ferdinand), and the Russian army of General M. I. Kutuzov, numbering 50,000 men, including 15,000 Austrians, were to invade France across the Rhine. The Austrian Italian Army of 140,000, under Archduke Charles, was to occupy northern Italy and invade southern France. The Austrian Tirolean Army of 30,000, under Archduke John, was to invade Switzerland in order to establish communications between the Danube and Italian armies. A landing of Russian, English, and Swedish troops was also planned in Pomerania for an offensive against Hanover and the Netherlands; Russian, English, and Sicilian troops were to land in Southern Italy. Napoleon, who had been waging war against Great Britain even before the creation of the Third Coalition and was preparing to invade England, received the news that Austrian troops had entered Bavaria on August 27 (September 8). He then began to shift troops from the Boulogne camp to the Rhine with the aim of defeating Mack’s army before the arrival of Kutuzov, who had left Radziwittów (now Chervonoarmeisk) on August 13 (25).

Marshal A. Masséna’s army of 44,000 was sent into northern Italy. By skillful maneuvering of his main force of 220,000 men, Napoleon surrounded Mack’s army in the vicinity of Ulm and on October 8 (20) forced it to surrender. The Russian forces, which had arrived in Braunau on September 29 (October 11), were in a difficult position and were forced to retreat along the right bank of the Danube, conducting rearguard actions at Lambach on October 19 (31) and Amstetten on October 24 (November 5). In an attempt to surround the Russian forces in the vicinity of Sankt Pölten, Napoleon ordered the corps of Marshal E. Mortier, which was advancing along the left bank of the Danube, to capture the crossings at Krems. However, Kutuzov, having anticipated the enemy’s move, turned his forces to the north and crossed the Danube before the arrival of the French; he then defeated Mortier’s corps on October 30 (November 11). On November 1 (13) the vanguard of Marshal J. Murat occupied Vienna and advanced on Znaim (now Znojmo), endeavoring to cut off the Russian Army’s line of retreat. Kutuzov used General P. I. Bagration’s detachment of 6,000 at Schöngrabern as a screen and advanced on Znaim by a forced march. On Nov. 4 (16), 1805, in the battle of Schöngrabern, Bagration’s detachment repelled the attacks by a French vanguard numbering 30,000, allowing the main allied forces to retreat toward Olmutz (now Olomouc), where they joined the Austrian troops and General F. F. Buksgevden’s army of 50,000, which had arrived from Russia. On Nov. 20 (Dec. 2), 1805, in the battle of Austerlitz, the allied troops were defeated. Austria withdrew from the war and signed the separate Treaty of Pressburg with France. The Russian forces were recalled to Russia. At sea, the Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated at the battle of Trafalgar. The landing of allied troops at Naples and in northern Germany ended without result, and the troops were withdrawn.

The war clearly showed the outstanding military abilities of Napoleon, who created a superiority of forces and means on the decisive axes and defeated his enemies piecemeal.

REFERENCES

Kutuzov, M. I. Sb. dokumentov, vol. 2. Moscow, 1951.
Levitskii, N. A. Polkovodcheskoe iskusstvo Napoleona. Moscow, 1938.
Mikhailovskii-Danilevskii, A. I. Opisanie pervoi voiny imperatora Alek-sandra s Napoleonom v 1805. St. Petersburg, 1844.

I. I. ROSTUNOV

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