First Italian Campaign |
The Egyptian Campaign |
Second Italian Campaign |
The Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign |
The Prussian Campaign |
The Peninsular War |
The Austrian War |
The Russian Campaign |
From Lützen to Elba |
The Waterloo Campaign
Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign, 1805, continued
battlefield he chose was near the village of Austerlitz, where the countryside was dominated by a gently sloping hill, the Pratzen
Heights. "If I wanted to [stop] the enemy," Napoleon
said, "it is there that I should post myself;
but that would lead only to an ordinary battle, and I want
army controlled the Heights, but he would now sacrifice his
commanding position in a daring gambit to lure the Russians
to attack his right flank. With a thin line of soldiers on
his right, he ordered his men to abandon the Heights, and
watched as enemy forces occupied it.
thousand Russian soldiers, commanded by the Tsar Alexander
I himself, stood ready to battle the French army. Just
twenty-eight years old, the Tsar was eager to cover
himself with glory by defeating the invincible Corsican
Napoleon knows that the enemy is aware that he is in
a difficult position. So he will exploit it like in judo
- he will use a seeming weakness and turn it against the
enemy. He will make the enemy believe he is afraid.
And that is where his genius reveals itself. Hes
going to make the enemy think that he is weaker than he
actually is to draw the enemy into an attack.
So the Russians figure, boy, weve got it made,
weve got the best position, in the south. The French
have very few troops. We can attack the south and roll up
the whole French army.
knew his man. The Tsar called a council of war, and argued
for an immediate attack. Only Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov
objected. Blind in one eye from a battle wound, the hard-drinking
veteran was contemptuous of his Austrian allies and wary of
He advised Alexander to wait. But Alexander found this
unacceptable. He was a young Russian tsar. He had more men
than Napoleon, and he couldnt accept the idea that
Napoleon had not been conquered. He was also surrounded
by young soldiers from the most aristocratic families in
Russia who said, "Napoleon must be crushed right away."
They felt Napoleon was afraid of them and they should attack
at once. The logic of their battle plan was correct, but
they forgot who they were up against.
night before the battle, Napoleon appeared a model of optimism
and confidence. As he rode past his men, they shouted "Long
Live the Emperor!" and waved flaming torches. It was December
2, 1805, the first anniversary of his coronation. Napoleon
told an aide, "This is the finest evening of my life."
came with an impenetrable fog. The top of the Pratzen Heights
floated like an island above the sea of mist. From his command
post on the Pratzen Heights, the Tsar, eager for battle, ordered
the Allies down off the high ground toward the far end of
Napoleons weak right flank, anchored in the little village
of Telnitz. Napoleon had a surprise waiting for them.
had summoned two divisions of soldiers from Vienna.
They had covered the seventy miles in only two days.
Napoleon had put reinforcements where they were least
expected, and faster than anyone thought possible. His
troops, exhausted after their long march from Vienna,
struggled to hold on.
far, Napoleon said, his enemy was behaving like they were
conducting maneuvers on his orders. Napoleon had wanted the
enemy to attack his "weak" right. He now had enough troops
to defend it - and more than enough for his own plan: an attack
on the Pratzen Heights, which was left with few defenders.
watched from his command post above the battlefield
waiting to spring his trap. Hidden in the haze at the bottom
of the valley below the Heights were two French divisions
17,000 men. Napoleon gave the order to advance: "One
sharp blow," he said, "and the war's over!"
fog was so dense the French soldiers could barely see ten
paces in front of them. As the sun began to rise, Napoleons
army appeared out of the mist. On top of the Pratzen, the
Tsar watched the French materialize out of the valley. "Finding
themselves attacked, when they had thought that they were
the attackers," Napoleon said, "they looked upon
themselves as half-defeated."
9:30 am, the French controlled the Pratzen Heights,
demolishing the center of the allied position. Napoleon
swept across the battlefield and attacked the allies
from behind. By five oclock, Austerlitz was silent.
Frenchmen were killed or wounded, along with 16,000 Russians
and Austrians. The Tsar and his army retreated. But the Austrian
Emperor himself, Francis I, came to sue for peace. "A battle
was fought today," Francis wrote his wife, "which
did not turn out very well."
had raised Napoleons star to new heights. He had
won his greatest victory, the victory of which he would
always be the proudest. "Soldiers,"
he said. "I am pleased with you... You have decorated
your eagles with an immortal glory... You will be greeted
with joy, and it will be enough for you to say, 'I was
at the battle of Austerlitz,' for people to reply, "There
goes a brave man."