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France history notes
1. History of France Kings and Queens
2. Napoleon Bonaparte
3. Napoleon Bonaparte
4. Napoleon Bonaparte the early years
5. General of Revolutionary France.
6. Napoleon Military Ambition
7. The Revolutionary Directory
8. French army of Italy
9. Bonaparte First Consul for life
10. Napoleon Invasion of England
11. The Battle of Austerliz
12. Map of the Battle of Austerlitz
13. Battle of Jenna
Bonaparte thought of no retreat, even with the threat of an oncoming severe winter and possible starvation of his troops, he planned to draw the Austrian and Russian armies into a pitched battle of his choosing before the Prussians could decide to ally themselves with this new coalition.
Napoleon's plan combined both political skill and considerable military forethought. He had formed troops atop the strategic Pratzen Heights, a strong point from which which artillery and infantry could domineer much of the battlefield.
On November 27th, Bonaparte falsely called for an armistice and withdrew troops from Austerlitz and the Heights giving the impression that he was weak militarily and lacked the will for a fight. This gave the French army more time to force march troops toward Austerlitz and allowed Bonaparte to create a plan that would be written in history as one of the greatest military victories of all time.
By December 2nd 1805 the French army had risen to 73,000 and was still well outnumbered, but this was the day Emperor Alexander of Russia ordered the coalition to attack. Napoleon in expectation of this event, had deliberately placed a weak force on his right thus giving the impression that his line of retreat to Vienna was over exposed.
The Austro-Russian army fell for the ruse and marched down the Pratzen Heights (which now formed the centre of their line) and assaulted Bonaparte's right flank.
The successful result and plan of the encouraged attack, was to draw enough enemy troops away from the Pratzen Heights so that a counter attack could be made against the plateau which would cut the Austro-Russian force in two. Bonaparte timed his plan to perfection, and when he considered enough time had passed, ordered French Marshal Soult and his subordinates Vandamme and St Hilaire to storm Pratzen Heights.
The French troops under these commanders captured the Heights amid bitter fighting and by 1 pm in the afternoon had indeed split the Allied forces in two halves. Napoleon's cavalry had also in the meantime charged the Austro-Russian troops in the North under Lichtenstein, to drive a further wedge between the Allied army.
With both parts of the Austro-Russian army now fighting desperately for survival, Bonaparte ordered his army to sweep downward from the Pratzen Heights and assault the rear and flank of the Allied left in the south. The Russians here were quickly forced back to the frozen Satschan lakes, which under the weight of horses, cannon, troops and cannon fire, broke underfoot drowning much of the remaining Russian force that fought for survival, the rest then surrendered.
Although in the North the Austro-Russians made a fighting withdrawal, by 4 pm the battle was lost and Napoleon Bonaparte had effected his greatest victory. Russian Emperor Alexander returned to Russia, and Austrian Emperor Francis sued for Peace.
However, Great Britain had also gained a victory. In turning Bonaparte's Grand Armee's efforts toward other nations and with Lord Horatio Nelson's defeat of the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar October 21 1805, it had delayed the French invasion of it's own shores. [ More]
Battle of Austerlitz
Napoleon marched his army through France at the rate of 16 miles a day, and with this rapid advance on October 7th 1805 outflanked and shocked the Austrian General Mack who was protecting the road to Vienna at Ulm on the Danube river 300 miles to the east. The French crossed the Danube and marched toward Augsburg, some 50 miles to the rear of Mack's force.
On October 20th Bonaparte forced Mack to surrender, and with the road now open for rapid reinforcement of the French army Napoleon marched on Vienna and captured the city without a fight.
However, the bulk of the Austrian army joined with the Russians in Moravia and with 90,000 troops took up defensive positions close to the town of Austerlitz. With the French army numbering some 53,000, the coalition against Napoleon Bonaparte fully expected victory would be theirs in the expected confrontation.