The Battle of Austerlitz (also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors) was a major engagement in the Napoleonic Wars during the War of the Third Coalition. It was fought on December 2, 1805 about four miles (6.4 km) east of the modern Czech town of Brno, then part of the Austrian Empire. The conflict involved forces of the recently formed First French Empire against the armies of the Russian Empire and the Austrian Empire. After nearly nine hours of fighting, the French troops, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I, managed to score a decisive victory over the Russo-Austrian army, commanded by Czar Alexander I. Despite difficult fighting in many sectors, the battle is often regarded as a tactical masterpiece.
Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end.
Here’s the entire text of the famous Bulletin issues by Napoleon Bonaparte on the day after the battle, which you can find in David’s book “Imperial Glory” (link below):
Headquarters at Austerlitz
3 December 1805
Soldiers! I am pleased with you. On the day of Austerlitz, you have justified what I expected from your intrepidity. You have decorated your eagles with an immortal glory. In less than four hours an army of 100,000 men, commanded by the Emperors of Russia and Austria, has been cut down or dispersed. Those who escaped your iron have drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the standards of the Russian Imperial Guard, 120 pieces of cannon, twenty generals and more than 30,000 prisoners are the results of this day, to be celebrated forever. That infantry, so vaunted, and superior to you in numbers, could not resist your impact, and henceforth you have no rivals to fear. Thus, in two months the third coalition is conquered and dissolved. Peace can no longer be at a great distance; but, as I promised to my people before crossing the Rhine, I will only make a peace that gives you some guarantees and assures some recompenses to our allies. Soldiers! When the French people placed the Imperial Crown on my head, I entrusted you to keep it always in a high state of glory, which alone could give it value in my eyes; but at that moment our enemies thought to destroy and demean it; and that Iron crown, which was gained by the blood of so many Frenchmen, they would have compelled me to place on the head of our cruelest enemies; an extravagant and foolish proposal, which you have ruined and confounded the very day of the anniversary of your Emperorâ€™s coronation. You have taught them that it is easier for them to defy us and to threaten us than to vanquish us. Soldiers! When everything necessary to the happiness and prosperity of our country will have been achieved, I will lead you back to France. There you will be the objects of my most tender solicitudes. My people will see you again with joy, and it will be enough for you to say: â€œI was at the battle of Austerlitz,â€ for them to reply, “There is a brave man!”
David asked me bring to your attention a History Channel DVD that has a segment on Austerlitz. He was one of the featured historians. It also has Caesar’s campaign in Gaul, and he was one of the featured historians on that segment as well.
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