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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Virtual Battlefields

Austerlitz Tour:

By William Peterson


The Battle of Austerlitz, 2 December 1805, was regarded by many (including the Emperor himself) as the most brilliant victory of Napoleon and the Grande Armée. By feigning weakness and withdrawing from the obvious defensive position of the Pratzen Heights, Napoleon fostered the overconfidence of the Allies and enticed them to launch a heavy attack on the French right. While 7,000 troops of the French right wing in Tellnitz and Sokolnitz fought 24,000 Allies to a standstill, the divisions of Saint-Hilaire and Vandamme were launched in a surprise attack onto the Pratzen Heights in the Allied center, pinning the Allied left against the Satschen Ponds. In the north, Lannes' French V Corps met Bagration's Russians head-on in a classic chessboard-like face-off. Desperate Allied counterattacks led to multiple episodes of heroism on both sides, but the Allied leaders had been thoroughly outwitted and out-generaled and went down to catastrophic defeat.


Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2000