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Admiral Villeneuve escaping from Toulon with some thirty sail, fully succeeded in that portion of his task which was to decoy Nelson to the West Indies. But even whilst overreached, the English commander was able to foresee what might be the French tactics, and he warned his government of their probable purpose. A British fleet under Calder therefore awaited Villeneuve on his return to the coast of Spain, and though inferior in number fought an action with him in which two Spanish men of war were captured, and by which the French admiral was deterred from directly following his instructions. Instead of rallying the squadrons at Ferrol and Brest and proceeding with them to the channel, Villeneuve first delayed in the Spanish ports to refit. Nelson, he felt, must have returned from the West Indies, and joined by Calder, would meet him in the channel. In lieu of seeking an encounter with them, Villeneuve in consequence merely quitted Ferrol to proceed to Cadiz. No one indeed was sanguine of the success of his great naval scheme, save Napoleon himself. His admirals and even his marine minister doubted the possibility of executing on sea those successful combinations and maneuvres, which the genius of their ruler had accomplished upon land.
The recently published correspondence of Napoleon contains the full record of his plans and instructions to his admirals, as well as of his own fluctuating views. Aware that Russia and Austria were preparing to attack him, he addressed a deprecatory letter to Vienna on the 3rd of August. But on the 16th he concluded a treaty with Bavaria, offered Hanover to Prussia as the price no longer of active alliance but neutrality, and challenged Austria to declare her intentions, threatening that if the reply was not satisfactory he would be in Bavaria in three weeks at the head of 200,000 men. On August the 22nd orders were sent to Gantheaume to rally Villeneuve off Brest. But on the next morning arrived
CHAP. tidings that the latter was at Cadiz. On the instant
Napoleon abandoned his idea of invasion, and issued multiplied orders for the transport of the entire Boulogne camp to the Rhine.
The Austrian army under general Mack crossed the Inn into Bavaria on the 10th of September. The Archduke Charles had recommended the principal concentration of forces to be upon the Danube. But his court despatched 100,000 men to Lombardy, and Mack with about an equal number advanced to the Black Forest, unsupported by the Russians, who to the number of 80,000 were only then passing into Moravia. Napoleon, who crossed the Rhine with nearly double Mack's forces, took advantage of this division of his enemies, and sent half his army round by Franconia to the rear of Mack, whilst other French corps advanced against him through the Black Forest. The Austrian general was ill-supplied with information. His outlying divisions and his communications with Vienna were soon cut off. Obliged to fall back upon Ulm, the cavalry with one of the Archdukes made their escape from being besieged. In a short time after which the Austrian general was obliged to surrender in Ulm to the French (October 20). He had but 20,000 men when he capitulated. But this, added to the loss in partial actions, made up 50,000. And in fact the Austrians, so lately 100,000 strong upon the Danube, could bring but 20,000 into the field of Austerlitz, so completely and so fatuitously had their forces been frittered away.
South of the Alps the army commanded by the Archduke Charles waged a far more difficult kind of warfare with the French under Massena, driving them back from Verona, and but for the disaster of Ulm, the Archduke might have advanced into Lombardy. But this event compelled him to proceed to the succour of Vienna, to which Napoleon marched with all expedition. The Austrians made ineffectual resistance, allowing the
forces they had left in the Tyrol to be cut off either in Carinthia or the Tyrol itself. The only spot, indeed, in which the French met with resistance was at Thierstein or Durrenstein, the seat of Ceur de Lion's captivity. Marshal Mortier was there pressing on with a division to the left of the Danube, when a large body of Russian troops abandoning the right bank and the defence of Vienna passed over the bridge of Krems, fell upon Mortier, inflicting upon him severe loss, and would have destroyed his division, had it not been seasonably succoured. The French entered Vienna on the 13th of November. This would have been of little purpose, since they had been driven from the left bank, had they not contrived by rapidity and cajolery to deceive the simple Austrians and seize the great bridge over the Danube north of Vienna. Master of this they were at liberty to pour into the high plain of Moravia.
The appearance of the French in the Marchfeld was nearly accomplishing for the Russians a similar defeat to that inflicted upon Mack, one half of them being upon the Danube, the other only advancing into Moravia. Kutusoff, however, was a more active as well as a more tough adversary than Mack, and by sacrificing one of his divisions in a severe engagement, as well as by amusing the French with an arinistice, he succeeded in concentrating his forces in the vicinity of Olmutz. They were 80,000 strong, supported by 20,000 Austrians full of ardour.* The Emperor Alexander, surrounded by young aides-de-camps of his own age, entertained no doubt of being victorious, and thought far more of cutting off the retreat of the French upon Vienna than of compelling them to it by defeat. This confidence of the Russians in victory was augmented by Napoleon's sending to them Savary to treat of peace.
Thiers calculates 75,000 Russians, with 15,000 Austrians.
Whether his motive was to increase their confidence, or really to avoid an engagement, Prussia being about to enter the field against him, may be left to conjecture. The Czar sent young Dolgorouki to state his demands. As these amounted not only to the independence of Germany, and Italy, but even of Belgium, Napoleon's ire was awakened. But still concealing his sentiments, he gave orders for a backward movement of his whole arıny to the position of Austerlitz. This corroborated the belief of the Russians that their antagonist was meditating a retreat upon Vienna, and they accordingly pressed forward to fight a battle.
The line taken by the Russians in front of the French had the hill or plateau of Pratzen in its centre, which was thus the key of their position. Their first move on the morning of the battle (December 1, 1808) was to abandon it and descend into the marshy plain, so as to turn the right of the French and cut off their retreat upon Vienna. The counter-move of Napoleon was to rush forward to take possession of this height, which was accomplished, and the Russian line thereby broken. There was a great deal of hard fighting both on right and left. On the latter it was almost altogether a cavalry engagement.
The Russians soon perceived that the manæuvre of Napoleon to seize and keep the plateau in their centre would be fatal to them if successful, and all the force they could dispose of was directed to this point. Napoleon met them with his reserves. The Russians brought up their guard, and the French guard under Rapp galloped up to oppose them. There ensued a fierce collision, in which the Russian guards were routed and all their cannon taken. Rapp's feat was the decisive one of the day. And the famous picture which records the victory of Austerlitz represents him as bringing the tidings to the Emperor. The battle was soon a rout, the Russians fled everywhere;
one division in striving to escape over one of the frozen lakes of the marsh, sunk into it and perished. *
The Russians lost half their force in killed and wounded, with their guns to the number of 180. The Prince of Lichtenstein came immediately after the battle to the castle of Austerlitz where Napoleon was quartered, demanding an armistice. When the latter required some promise of concessiou on the part of the enemy, it was agreed that the Emperors of Austria and France should have a personal interview. The potentates met accordingly at a mill between the two armies, and Napoleon was satisfied with the concessions which his adversary was prepared to make. For all this, negotiations for a final peace were complicated and tedious. Napoleon demanded more than the Austrians however vanquished were resigned to give. In Italy he insisted upon the cession not only of Venetia, but of Istria and Dalmatia to Cattaro. In Germany he required not only that Austria should resign its possessions in Suabia, but the Tyrol and Voralberg, countries of which the population were most attached to the House of Austria. The minister and negotiator, Prince Talleyrand, deprecated this severity of the Emperor towards Austria, which if he thus broke in sunder, its fragments would go to increase the power of Russia, henceforth the only state to be feared by France upon the Continent. Instead of mulcting Austria of Dalmatia or the Tyrol, Talleyrand would have given it Moldavia and Wallachia, as an indemnity for the loss of Venetia and its Suabian dependencies.
About a month before the battle of Austerlitz, Napoleon, then on the Danube, had received tidings of the battle of Trafalgar. He must have congratulated
The military writers who de tained from Kutusoff's account of scribe the battle of Austerlitz are it, accompanied by the remarks of many, especially French. But the Napoleon. See the latter's Corbest idea of the engagement, and of respondence. the skill that decided it, is to be ob- .