Austerlitz, Battle of

(1805)
   The decisive battle of the War of the Third Coalition, and widely regarded as Napoleon’s greatest tactical success. Austerlitz was fought on December 2, 1805 in Moravia, in the Austrian Empire, between approximately 70,000 French with 139 guns and 85,000 Allies (60,000 Russians and 25,000 Austrians) with 278 guns. Having surrounded and captured an Austrian army near Ulm six weeks earlier and taken Vienna, Napoleon proceeded northward to a position near Brunn. There he sought to draw the Allied army into a trap by feigning weakness; he first occupied, and then conceded, the high ground on the Pratzen plateau. With Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Emperor Francis II of Austria attached to his headquarters, the Russian general Mikhail Kutusov commanded a numerically superior Allied army, with which he occupied the heights unchallenged.
   Ignorant that Napoleon had deliberately overextended his right flank and concealed some of his troops, Kutusov opened the battle with a flanking movement in an effort to cut French communications with Vienna. When a French corps under Marshal Davout arrived, Napoleon’s position stabilized, prompting Kutusov to throw yet more troops into the fray. On the French left, Marshals Lannes and Murat enjoyed considerable success, driving back the Allied assaults before moving to the offensive themselves and pushing their opponents eastward. Seeing this development, and aware that the shift of Allied troops south across the Heights of Pratzen left that weakened, Napoleon threw in Marshal Soult’s corps to seize the heights. The Russians counter-attacked with their Imperial Guard, against which the French sent their own elite formation, with the former unable to retake the lost ground. The French made still further gains, in the process dividing the Allied army in half and piercing their lines. Soult thereupon struck the Allied rear, already committed to the fighting against Davout. Finding themselves surrounded, the Allies fled across the nearby frozen lakes, where many drowned when the ice broke under French artillery fire.
   Austerlitz constituted a crushing French victory. A third of the Allied army was rendered out of action, with 16,000 killed and wounded and perhaps 11,000 taken prisoner, plus a loss of 180 cannon. The French lost 1,300 killed and 7,000 wounded, plus 500 taken into captivity. Unable to prosecute the war further, the Austrians concluded a treaty of peace at Pressburg on December 23, thus confirming their withdrawal from the Third Coalition. The Russians, incapable of bearing the sole burden of the fighting, withdrew east into Poland.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Bowden, Scott. Napoleon and Austerlitz. Chicago: The Emperor’s Press, 1997;
    Castle, Ian . Austerlitz 1805: The Fate of Empires. Oxford: Osprey, 2002;
    Castle, Ian. Austerlitz and the Eagles of Europe. London: Leo Cooper, 2005;
    Duffy, Christopher. Austerlitz 1805. London: Seeley Service, 1977;
    Goetz, Robert. 1805 - Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition. London: Greenhill Books, 2005.
   GREGORY FREMONT-BARNES

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Austerlitz, Battle of — (Dec. 2, 1805) First engagement of the War of the Third Coalition and one of Napoleon s greatest victories. In the battle, fought near Austerlitz in Moravia (now Slavkov u Brna, Czech Rep.), Napoleon s 68,000 troops defeated almost 90,000… …   Universalium

  • battle — battle1 battler, n. /bat l/, n., v., battled, battling. n. 1. a hostile encounter or engagement between opposing military forces: the battle of Waterloo. 2. participation in such hostile encounters or engagements: wounds received in battle. 3. a… …   Universalium

  • Austerlitz (Netherlands) — Austerlitz is a town in the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is a part of the municipality of Zeist, and lies about 6 km east of Zeist.In 2001, the town of Austerlitz had 1254 inhabitants. The built up area of the town was 0.23 km², and contained… …   Wikipedia

  • Austerlitz — may refer to:People* Austerlitz (family) * Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz * Robert Austerlitz (1923 1994), linguist, specialist in the Proto Finno Ugric languageHistory* Battle of AusterlitzPlaces* Austerlitz (Netherlands) * Austerlitz,… …   Wikipedia

  • Austerlitz (film) — Austerlitz Directed by Abel Gance Produced by Antoinette Coty Alexander Salkind Written by Abel Gance Nelly Kaplan Roger Richebé Starring …   Wikipedia

  • Austerlitz — n. a decisive battle during the Napoleonic campaigns (1805); the French under Napoleon defeated the Russian and Austrian armies of Czar Alexander I and Emperor Francis II. Syn: battle of Austerlitz. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Battle of Austerlitz — Infobox Military Conflict conflict=Battle of Austerlitz partof=the War of the Third Coalition caption= Napoléon at the Battle of Austerlitz , by François Gérard. date=December 2 1805 place=Austerlitz, Moravia result=Decisive French victory,… …   Wikipedia

  • Austerlitz — noun 1. a town in Czech Republic; site of the battle of Austerlitz in 1805 • Members of this Region: ↑battle of Austerlitz • Instance Hypernyms: ↑town • Part Holonyms: ↑Czech Republic 2. a decisive battle during the Napoleonic campaigns (1805);… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Battle of annihilation — A battle of annihilation is a military strategy where an attacking army seeks to destroy the military capacity of the opposing army in a single planned pivotal battle. This is achieved through the use of tactical surprise, application of… …   Wikipedia

  • Austerlitz, New York — Infobox Settlement official name = Austerlitz, New York settlement type = Town nickname = motto = imagesize = image caption = image |pushpin pushpin label position = pushpin map caption =Location within the state of New York pushpin mapsize =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.