Lieutenant General Przhebishevsky’s Report on Actions of the 3rd Column during the Battle of Austerlitz
Translated By Alexander Mikaberidze, FINS
Source: Russian State Military Archives (RGVIA),
To His Imperial Majesty
Lieutenant General Przhebishevsky’s Report
During the Battle of Austerlitz, following the disposition assigned to the 3rd Columns by the commander-in-chief General of Infantry Golenischev-Kutuzov and having defeated the enemy and completely secured the crossing site, I was completely surrounded despite all my endeavors. Having endured the fiercest enemy fire for seven hours in a low-lying and disadvantageous position and losing many subordinates, some killed, others wounded, while remaining were in confusion from a ferocious canister fire from three directions and without any ammunition or hope for reinforcements, [I and my troops] fought to the last, as required of the subjects of Your Imperial Majesty, before being finally captured by the enemy.
Unable to report to Your Majesty until now, I consider it my duty to submit my report on those events, describing for Your Most Gracious Consideration the perseverance of the troops of Your Imperial Majesty, who although did not achieve complete success in the battle, but commemorated it with their steadfast faithfulness to you.
General Lieutenant Przhebishevsky
July 11/23 1806
Report on Actions of the
On 20 November of 1805, around 7:00 in the morning, according to the disposition of the commander-in-chief General of Infantry Golenischev-Kutuzov, the entire 3rd Column departed from its camp near the village of Pratz and, having marched through this village, it advanced, under guidance of our and Austrian column guides, not along the road, but across ploughed fields, filled with ditches that forced us to employ pioneers three times to clear path to move our artillery.
The 3rd column soon approached the castle [zamok] of Sokolnitz that was designated by the guides as the crossing point for the column: castle was located in a valley, protected by stonewall and surrounded by heights that dominated this location. Advancing to an artillery fire distance, I soon noticed numerous enemy forces marching on the right flank across the heights and near marshes at the bottom adjacent to the Sokolnitz Castle. I immediately ordered my columns, advancing by sections [otdelenie], to redeploy by platoons [vzvod] and then arranged regiments in dense columns to facilitate they movements, if necessary.
I dispatched Major General Muller III, who commanded the advance guard, with the remaining two battalions of his 7th Jager Regiment to occupy important points and drive the French out of the Sokolnitz Castle, which [Muller] accomplished with particular vigor and courage and succeeded in driving the enemy out of [castle].
However, an enemy battery suddenly appeared on the opposing heights near the castle and opened an intense fire; Major General Muller III was wounded but informed me that as he pursued the enemy he encountered superior enemy forces; I immediately moved there with the Galitsk Regiment of Major General Schtrick that repulsed the enemy with particular vigor and greatly facilitated in securing present positions. But since my column was still exposed on open grounds and to avoid enemy artillery fire, I ordered troops to move to the castle itself and personally led the Narva and Butyrsk Regiments through the castle, observing increasing enemy forces [in vicinity]; I ordered Lieutenant General Baron Wimpfen to remain with the Azov and Podolsk Regiments in reserve until further instructions.
Meanwhile, I learned that the enemy advanced along the high hill to the village of Pratz and appeared in the rear of my and Lieutenant General Count Langeron’s columns. I ordered my reserve to follow the enemy movements and protect our rear, and then sent a dispatch to the commander-in-chief. Meantime, I attacked the enemy forces in order to drive them back through the village of Sokolnitz on the left side of the castle and open communications with the 2nd Column. As I achieved success in this direction and outdid the enemy, parts of the 2nd Column and Austrian horse artillery retreated to the village of Sokolnitz and brought even more enemy troops from the left side against me.
Thus, I was already surrounded from three sides and my two reserve regiments were attacked by superior enemy forces from the rear but still fought resolutely for a long time, suffering heavy casualties: enemy cavalry finally charged and routed them; Lieutenant General Baron Wimpfen himself was wounded and captured.
I was hard pressed by the enemy and was constantly under fierce and continuous canister fire, suffering many killed and wounded while the remaining [forces] were in confusion. Despite my dispatches, I received no information at all. Many soldiers, now incessantly engaged in battle from 7:00 in the morning to 4:00 in afternoon, had no cartridges left. I could do nothing but to retreat according to the disposition and was assured by the Austrian guides that I can find favorable grounds on the right flank to extricate my troops; I ordered to march along swamps at the bottom of the hill to conceal how disordered my troops were and to reorganize them to overcome any future difficulties and join the main army. However, since the enemy fire kept pursuing us, all endeavors of my generals, staff and ober-officers to reorganize our troops proved to be in vain. As we were at some distance from the Castle, an enemy cavalry charged our troops that became further disordered and were captured by the enemy.
Lieutenant General Przhebishevsky
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