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Battle of Austerlitz
In the Battle of Austerlitz (December 2, 1805), which was part of the Napoleonic Wars against the Third Coalition, a French army of approximately 68,000 troops under Napoleon's command decisively defeated a joint Russo-Austrian army of over 89,000 troops, commanded by Russian General Kutuzov and Austrian General von Weyrother . The battle was followed by the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg, and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire. Austerlitz (the modern town of Slavkov u Brna in the Czech Republic) lies approximately 20 km away of Brno.
The Battle of Austerlitz took place after Napoleon's significant defeat of the Austrian General Mack at Ulm. In an unprecedented rapid concentration of French forces, Napoleon essentially defeated Mack by maneuver, resulting in the surrender of a major Austrian army protecting the northern approach to Vienna, and subsequently leading to the capture of the Austrian capital.
Napoleon's army held the Pratzen (also Prace) Heights, but Napoleon abandoned this strategically advantageous position in favor of an unconventional maneuver. Napoleon intentionally made his right flank weak. To the Russo-Austrian army, this weakness appeared to be the perfect target. However, when Kutuzov's forces attacked, Napoleon allowed his right flank to be reinforced which kept it from collapsing. The Russo-Austrian forces had fallen into the trap. The Russo-Austrians army was occupied with battling Napoleon's right flank, and they began to push the French back on the right. Suddenly and unexpected, 17,000 French troops came marching towards Pratzen Heights. Kutuzov's army that was expecting French counterattacks to be flanking side maneuvers, was surprised at the frontal attack, and eventually, had to surrender the center after heavy fighting. The French managed to take back the Pratzen Heights, and with the center broken, the Russo-Austrian armies on the side flanks were cut off from each other. The French forces then attacked from the Pratzen Heights at the Russo-Austrian left flank, and continued attacking the Russo-Austrian rightflank across the Heights. The separated parts of the Russo-Austrian army were thus forced off the field.
The French suffered 9,000 casualties and the Russo-Austrian army lost about 25,000 men, killed, wounded or captured. Eventually, the Russians withdrew from Austria, and the Austrians signed the Treaty of Pressburg (26 December 1805), conceding substantial territories to the French.
Austerlitz is sometimes falsely known as the "Battle of Three Emperors". Actually, it only represented the clash of Napoleon I of France and Tsar Alexander I of Russia, who were personally directing the troops on the battleground. Emperor Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire was not present at the battle.
Mound of Peace (Mohyla míru in Czech) has been erected at the site of this bloody battle in 1909 - 1912. It is 26 m high, of a square shape and with four female statues, symbolizing France, Austria, Russia and Moravia. Its interior comprizes a chapel, under which there is an ossuary with bones found on the battlefield.
- http://www.zamky-hrady.cz/1/slavkov-e.htm in English
- http://www.pis.cz/c/page.php?menu_item=1092&page_id=175&pamatka=1 in Czech
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