Austerlitz : The Battle of the Three Emperors


The Allied Army lumbered on in the direction of Austerlitz with its right on the Olmütz-Brno road and its left on the Littawa. Progress was delayed by lack of supplies and inadequate reconnaissance. However, by the evening of December 1st the Allies had occupied the plateau of Pratze. They then made the terrible mistake of holding this feature with a thin screen of troops, hoping to mislead Napoleon while they persisted in their efforts to envelop his right wing. The Allied movements and intentions were clear to Napoleon, who had established his headquarters on a knoll (afterwards called the "Kaiserbühl", or Emperor's Hill) about five miles east of Brno.

The Grande Armée held the general line of the Goldbach brook on a six-mile frontage extending south from the positions astride the Brno-Olmütz road to the hamlet of Telnitz, eight miles south-west of Austerlitz. Lannes and Bernadotte were on the left wing, Soult was in the center, and Davout on the right. Murat's cavalryand the Reserve, together with most of the artillery, were posted near Napoleon's headquarters, in the rear of the left wing.

Battle of Austerlitz : Situation - 1800hrs 1 December 1805
(Map used with permission granted by the Dept. of History, USMA)

Napoleon was now supremely confident of the result. He even disclosed his intentions, on the eve of the battle, in another of the famous proclamations his army had come to expect on these occasions;

"Soldiers, I, myself, will direct all your battalions. I shall keep out the zone of fire ["loin du feu"] if, with your customary bravery, you carry disorder and confusion into the enemy's ranks. But if, even for a moment, victory is uncertain, you will see your Emperor exposing himself to the first blows, because victory must come this day.

Let no one break ranks under the pretext of removing the wounded; let everyone be filled with this thought, that is absolutely necessary to crush these English hirelings, who are filled with such intense hatred against our nation.

This victory will finish our campaign, and we shall be able to go into winter quarters, where we shall be joined by new armies being formed in France. Then I will make a peace worthy of my people, of you and of me."

(Correspondance de Napoleon Ier, XI 535 (No. 9532))

Austerlitz : The Battle of Three Emperors

La Marche d'Austerlitz (1805)