II - Chapiter 11
BUILD-UP TO AUSTERLITZ
OR THE INCREDIBLE ROUT OF THE AUSTRIANS
that are unavoidable are always just.
September 3, the troops that had now become the Grande Armée
set off singing.
Eastward bound !
what an army it was!
ranks were manned by veterans of the early victories of Valmy, Jemmapes
and Fleurus, won by the first great leaders; Lodi, Castiglione,
Bassano, Arcole, Rivoli, and the Pyramids by General Bonaparte;
Altenkirchen by Hoche; Hohenlinden by Moreau, and Marengo by
the First Consul…
these young men – around 30 years old for veterans of the Revolutionary
wars, under 25 for those who took part in the Consular campaigns
– had been hardened by the chilling rain of Holland,
the glacial cold of Germany
and the Alps,
and the scorching sands of Egypt.
youth and vigour of the troops was all to the good, for the Emperor
had laid down strict rates of advance to cover the 1,380 km separating
them from the combat that English treachery had provoked: almost
four kilometres an hour in 35- to 40-kilometre stages on average,
with a five-minute rest each hour and a long break of 30 to 60 minutes
three-quarters the way through the stage.
in the background, surveys the departure of the Grande
the military Camp of Boulogne. The men who were to march at the
speed of four kilometres an hour and cover thirty-five to forty
kilometres daily in a race against time on the long journey to Vienna,
said: “The Emperor has found a new way of making war : he uses our
legs more than our bayonets”.
3 September, Napoleon’s Grande
along the French coast suddenly swung into action and marched east
as war was now obviously inevitable. The French army totalling some
196,000 men formed seven powerful columns described by Napoleon
as “seven torrents”.
AND STRENGTH OF THE FIRST SEVEN ARMY CORPS
Bernadotte. Drouet, Rivaud and Kellermann divisions,
artillery and engineers: 17,737
Marmont. Boudet, Grouchy, Dumonceau, and Lacoste divisions,
artillery and engineers: 20,758
Davout. Bisson, Friant and Gudin divisions, General
Vialannes’ light cavalry, artillery and engineers: 27,452
Soult. Saint-Hilaire, Vandamme, Legrand and Suchet divisions,
General Margaron’s cavalry, artillery and engineers:
Lannes. Oudinot and Gazan divisions, General Treilhard’s
light cavalry, artillery and engineers: 17,788
Ney. Dupont, Loison and Malher divisions, General Tilly’s
light cavalry, artillery and engineers: 24,407
Corps (in training)
Augereau. Desjardins and Maurice Matthieu divisions,
artillery and engineers: 14,450
Murat. Two divisions of armoured cavalry (Nansouty and
Hautpoul); four divisions of dragoons (Klein, Walther,
Beaumont and Bourcier); a division of infantry dragoons
(Baraguay d’Hilliers); artillery and engineers: 22,015
troops of Napoleon’s German allies should be added to
advance was not just seven army corps on the march, it was a torrent
– "the Seven Torrents" Napoleon called them – that streamed
was of the essence.
allies had conceived a plan that at first sight seemed intimidating.
The troops in the north were to advance on Hanover, Holland and
Belgium, by way of Pomerania,
while the Austro-Russian forces would make for the Rhine
along the Danube
and thrust into Alsace
and the Franche-Comté. Other Austrian troops under Archduke
Charles were to invade the Po Valley and all of upper Italy.
the Anglo-Russian forces, with assistance from Naples,
were to sweep down the Italian peninsula. We should here note the
duplicity of the Court of Naples (which in that period comprised
the south of Italy);
it is a small digression that shows the difference between Napoleon
and all the other European monarchies, be they grand or laughable.
Queen Marie-Caroline of Naples
formally pledged herself to:
neutral in the war underway;
any troops of a belligerent power from entering or landing on any
part of her neutral territories;
to give command of her fortresses to any Russian, Austrian, or other
officer from a belligerent power;
any squadron to enter her ports.
under the terms of Article 5, had undertaken to withdraw from the
Neapolitan territories in the month following ratification of the
treaty, so, faithfully executing signed agreements as usual, he
had given orders that the withdrawal be completed before the agreed
date. How, then, did the Queen of Naples react as soon as French
departed? On November 19, she welcomed twelve thousand Russians
and eight thousand English with open arms, and to complete her treachery,
she gave command of all her combined forces to an English officer,
Lacy, who already had command of the twelve thousand Russians!
first army of 80,000 men,
three or four days’ march from the River Inn, and therefore
near the Bavarian border. The Archduke Ferdinand held
the command, and they were led in the field by General
Mack. They were to invade Bavaria,
an ally of France,
and take up position near Ulm
to await the arrival of the first Russian army. If successful,
this army would invade France
and the Franche-Comté.
second army of 100,000 men
under the direct command of Archduke Charles, split
into two forces: 45,000 near Bassano commanded by General
Bellegarde, and 55,000 more at Laybach.
third army of 20,000 men
in the Tyrol
in Voralberg under the command of Archduke John. Its
mission was to maintain communications between the two
other forces and bring reinforcements where needed.
strength of Austrian Forces: 210,000 men.
army of 50,000 men
under the command of General
which was to join the Austrians immediately and fight
second army of 50,000 men
third of 40,000 men
on the Prussian border.
Imperial Guard: 12,000 men
commanded by Grand Duke
the brother of Tsar Alexander.
strength of Russian Forces: 152,000 men
total strength of the Austro-Russian forces of 362,000
mercenaries an appreciable advantage over Napoleon’s
... Part 2
... Part 3