You need a browser with HTML 5 Canvas support to see this animated map


Click on any image for more information.

Battle of Austerlitz Area Today

Show Larger Map

Battle of Austerlitz summary

The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition. On 2 December 1805 (20 November Old Style, 11 Frimaire An XIV, in the French Republican Calendar), a French army, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I, decisively defeated a Russo-Austrian army, commanded by Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, after nearly nine hours of difficult fighting. Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna) is located 10 km (6 mi) south-east of Brno in Moravia and was at that time part of the Austrian Empire (present day Czech Republic).

  1. Napoleon had 72,000 men and 157 guns while the Allies had about 85,000 soldiers, seventy percent of them Russian, and 318 guns. Napoleon was hoping that the Allied forces would attack, and to encourage them on this mission he deliberately weakened his right flank. Napoleon believed that the Allies would throw too many troops to envelop his right flank in order to cut the French communication line from Vienna. As a result, the Allies' center and left flank would be exposed and become vulnerable. In order to encourage them to do so, Napoleon even abandoned the strategic position on the Pratzen Heights, further faking the weakness of his forces and his own nervousness. Napoleon's main force was to be concealed in a dead ground opposite the Heights.
  2. The battle began at about 8 a.m. with the Allies attacked the village of Telnitz. Several ferocious Allied charges evicted the French from the town and forced them onto the other side of the Goldbach Brook.
  3. The first men of Davout's corps arrived at this time and threw the Allies out of Telnitz
  4. A new attack by hussars forced the French to re-abandoned the town.
  5. Additional Allied attacks out of Telnitz were checked by French artillery.
  6. Allied columns started pouring against the French right, but they moved at slow speed and the French were mostly successful in curbing their attacks. Also a cavalry detachment under Liechtenstein on the Allied left flank had to be placed in the right flank and in the process ran into and slowed down other troop movements.
  7. The Allies attacked the village of Sokolnitz, which was defended by the 26th Light Regiment and the Tirailleurs, but their assaults proved unsuccessful.
  8. Allied General Langeron ordered the bombardment of the village. The barrage forced the French out of Sokolnitz.
  9. The French, however, counterattacked and regained the village.
  10. A new Allied attack gave them the village once again. Sokolnitz was perhaps the most fought over area in the battlefield and would change hands several times as the day progressed.
  11. While the allied troops attacked the French's right flank, Kutuzov's IV Corp stopped at Pratzen height and stayed still. Just like Napoleon, Kutuzov realized the importance of Pratzen and decided to protect the position.
  12. The young Tsar Alexander I did not share Kutuzov's correctly caucious approach, so he moved the IV Corp from Pratzen height and, so, pushed the Allied army into her grave.
  13. The French now advanced against the Allied center. The attacks by St. Hilaire and Vandamme just to the north of Pratzen split the Allied army in two and left the French in a golden strategic position to win the battle.
  14. At about 8:45 a.m., satisfied at the weakness in the enemy center, Napoleon asked Soult to attack the Pratzen Heights. A dense fog helped to cloud the advance, but as the French went up the slope the legendary Sun of Austerlitz ripped the mist apart and encouraged them forward.
  15. Russian soldiers and commanders on top of the heights were stunned to see so many French troops coming towards them. They faught valiantly and with Austrian help forced the French to withdraw down the slopes.
  16. However, the French of St. Hilaire's division attacked again and took the heights. To the north, General Vandamme's division attacked an area called Staré Vinohrady ( Old Vineyards ) and through talented skirmishing and deadly volleys broke several Allied battalions.
  17. Napoleon ordered Bernadotte's I Corps to support Vandamme's left were the Russian Imperial Guard under Grand Duke Constantine, Tsar Alexander's brother, counterattacked in Vandamme's section of the field.
  18. To help Vandamme Napoleon ordered his own heavy Guard cavalry forward.
  19. With help form their infantry and artillery the French Cavalry forced the Russians to retreat and pursued them.
  20. By 1400 hours, the Allied army had been dangerously separated. Napoleon now had the option to strike at one of the wings, and he chose the Allied left since other enemy sectors had already been cleared or were conducting fighting retreats.
  21. In the north prince Liechtenstein's heavy cavalry began to assault Kellerman's lighter cavalry forces but with help from their infantry and cuirassiers the French ultimately prevailed. Bagration's Russians were also forced to retreat.
  22. Napoleon now turned his attention to the South where the French and the Allies were still fighting over Sokolnitz and Telnitz. A double-pronged assault from North and West smashed through Sokolnitz and forced the Allies to retreat.
  23. General panic now seized the Allied army and it abandoned the field in any and all possible directions.