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Battle of Austerlitz

From Academic Kids

In the Battle of Austerlitz (December 2, 1805), part of the Napoleonic Wars against the Third Coalition, a French army of approximately 68,000 troops under Napoleon's command decisively defeated a joint Russo-Austrian army of over 89,000 troops, commanded by Russian General Kutuzov and Austrian General von Weyrother. The battle was followed by the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Austerlitz (the modern town of Slavkov u Brna in the Czech Republic) lies approximately 20 km away from Brno.

The Battle of Austerlitz took place after Napoleon's significant defeat of the Austrian General Mack at Ulm. In an unprecedented rapid concentration of French forces, Napoleon essentially defeated Mack by maneuver, resulting in the surrender of a major Austrian army protecting the northern approach to Vienna, and subsequently leading to the capture of the Austrian capital.

Napoleon's army held the Pratzen (also Prace) Heights, but Napoleon abandoned this strategically advantageous position in favor of an unconventional maneuver. Napoleon intentionally made his right flank weak. To the Russo-Austrian army, this weakness appeared to be the perfect target. However, when Kutuzov's forces attacked, Napoleon allowed his right flank to be reinforced which kept it from collapsing. The Russo-Austrian forces had fallen into the trap. The Russo-Austrian army was occupied with battling Napoleon's right flank, and they began to push the French back on the right. Suddenly, 17,000 French troops came marching towards the Pratzen Heights. Kutuzov's army was expecting French counterattacks to be flanking side maneuvers, was surprised at the frontal attack, and eventually, had to surrender the center after heavy fighting. The French managed to take back the Pratzen Heights, and with the center broken, the Russo-Austrian armies on the side flanks were cut off from each other. The French forces then attacked from the Pratzen Heights at the Russo-Austrian left flank, and continued attacking the right flank of the Russo-Austrian across the Heights. The separated parts of the Russo-Austrian army were thus forced off the field.

The French suffered 9,000 casualties and the Russo-Austrian army lost about 25,000 men, killed, wounded or captured. Eventually, the Russians withdrew from Austria, and the Austrians signed the Treaty of Pressburg (26 December 1805), conceding substantial territories to the French.

Austerlitz is sometimes falsely known as the "Battle of Three Emperors". Actually, it only represented the clash of Napoleon I of France and Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who were personally directing the troops on the battleground. Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire was not present at the battle.

The Mound of Peace (Mohyla m韗u in Czech) has been erected at the site of this bloody battle from 1909 - 1912. It is 26 m high, square in shape, with four female statues. It symbolizes France, Austria, Russia and Moravia. Its interior comprizes a chapel, under which there is an ossuary with bones found on the battlefield.

Cultural References

  • Austerlitz is remembered as a significant battleground in Carl Sandburg's poem Grass.
  • 'Austerlitz' is the title of one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, by the German-born, British-based writer W. G. ('Max') Sebald. The Napoleonic battle is not a central reference in the novel but there are many echoes.
  • The Battle of Austerlitz holds a prominent place in Part Three of Leo Tolstoy's great novel, War and Peace.

External links

fr:Bataille d'Austerlitz it:Battaglia di Austerlitz he:קרב אוסטרליץ lb:Schluecht vun Austerlitz nl:Slag bij Austerlitz ja:アウステルリッツの戦い pl:Bitwa pod Austerlitz pt:Batalha de Austerlitz fi:Austerlitzin taistelu sv:Slaget vid Austerlitz zh:奥斯特里茨战役

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