10 (22) November Kutuzov reached Olmütz, where he joined the Austrian units and the army of General Buksgevden from Russia. The famous more than 400-kilometer march maneuver Kutuzov successfully completed. He entered the military history as an outstanding example of strategic maneuver. During the Ulm-Olmütz march-maneuver, Russian troops demonstrated their high combat skills, courage and endurance. As a result of this maneuver, Kutuzov retained his troops and created favorable conditions for the actions of the allies. True, the Russian emperor Alexander and the Austrian emperor Franz II themselves doomed the Allied army to defeat when they decided to fight the French at Austerlitz.
Position of the Russian army
During the defeat of the Austrian army of Maka (Makka), Kutuzov was in Braunau, awaiting the approach of all troops. He had no knowledge of the situation under Ulm. The Archduke Ferdinand, in a letter from 28 in September 1805 reported that the army is intact and ready for battle. A day later, they reported a victory over the French. After this, there were no letters from the Archduke and Mack, but there were rumors about the withdrawal of the Austrian army to Tyrol, or about the transfer to the left bank of the Danube.
Thus, it was clear that the situation was dangerous. However, Kutuzov still hoped for the Austrians, remembering that they had a well-trained and equipped army. The Russian commander planned to continue the movement when all the troops were gathered.
Meanwhile, Kutuzov received unexpected reinforcements. The Austrian corps of Kinmayer with the 24 battalions and 60 squadrons (about 18 thousand bayonets and sabers), dropped by the French from Donauvert, arrived to him. Then, in Branau, Count Nostitz, cut off from Ulm, arrived with 3 battalions and a hussar regiment. However, neither Kinmayer nor Nostitz had information about what happened under Ulm. Kutuzov placed the Kinmayer corps at Salzburg, and the Nostitz detachment at Passau.
In the meantime, Russian troops were approaching Branah, extremely exhausted by the forced march undertaken for the quickest connection with the Austrians. The shoes were falling apart, many soldiers were barefoot. About 6 thousand people remained on the way. In total, 32 thousand people arrived in Branau. Together with the Austrian troops, Kutuzov had about 50 thousand soldiers.
The Austrian generals who were at Kutuzov, with whom, at the behest of Emperor Alexander and the Vienna court, had to confer, offered to immediately go to Munich and establish contact with Mac. However, Kutuzov preferred to first clarify the situation and then act. He thereby saved the army. If he listened to the Austrians, then there was no way to avoid a trap.
Finally it became known that the Austrian army suffered a catastrophe. 11 (23) October in Branau arrived Karl Mac, whom Napoleon let go on parole. He reported that from 70-th. The Danube army saved only 10 battalions sent to Tyrol and 14 squadrons that had gone with Archduke Ferdinand to Bohemia. True, Mac did not yet know that only 14 survived from the squadrons of 4, and the battalions sent to Tyrol also capitulated. Mack also reported that Napoleon was collecting an army from Munich and begged Kutuzov to retreat.
Austrian generals offered to cross over to the left bank of the Danube and to join the Bohemian corps with the Buxgevden corps. Kutuzov agreed with the need to concentrate all available forces (significant Austrian forces now remained only in Tyrol and Northern Italy), but noted that there are no troops from Branau to Vienna, except for his army. The Austrian capital is defenseless. Therefore, without the permission of the Austrian emperor, he cannot leave Vienna to the enemy and will retreat to Lambach, and from there to Linz or Enns, judging by the movement of the French troops.
In Vienna, upon learning of the death of the Danube army, they were horrified. Emperor Franz gathered a military council, which ordered the formation of a militia in Hungary, and the Archdukes Karl and John immediately to retreat from Italy and the Tyrol, to rush to save Austria and try to unite with Kutuzov.
Meanwhile, Kutuzov, cautious and unhurried, keeping his presence of mind in the most difficult situations, was in no hurry to come out of Branau, awaiting the actions of the enemy. He ordered the removal of the sick, Austrian supplies and artillery, and the destruction of the bridges over the Inna. Kutuzov tried to cheer up the allies. With the general despondency of the Austrians, the Russian army maintained a high morale and wanted to fight the French, bearing in mind the previous victories in Italy.
Alexander's attempt to persuade Prussia to side with the anti-French coalition
In October, 1805, that is, at the time when Mack, locked up in Ulm, was preparing to surrender and surrendered to the whole army, Russian Emperor Alexander I was in Berlin and inclined the Prussian King Friedrich-Wilhelm III to declare war on France. The Prussian monarch Friedrich-Wilhelm was in alarm and indecision, like other Germanic electors. He was afraid of both Alexander and Napoleon. At first, Alexander even wanted to blackmail Berlin, hinting at the violent passage of Russian troops through Prussian territory. However, the Prussian king showed unexpected firmness and began to prepare for resistance. Prussian troops began to advance to the eastern border.
Then Alexander began to act persuasion. By the way, it was reported that Napoleon ordered Marshal Bernadotte on his way to Austria to pass through Anspach, the southern possession of Prussia. A violation of neutrality was evident, and the Prussian king, insulted by Napoleon’s arbitrariness, on the one hand, and on the other, not knowing about the defeat of the Austrian army, Mack, began to lean towards intervention in the war on the side of the anti-French coalition. The Prussian court and the military were outraged and demanded revenge. Prussian troops now concentrated on the western border.
It ended with a secret treaty between Frederick William III and Alexander. Prussia presented France with an ultimatum: to reward the king of Sardinia; withdraw troops from Germany, Switzerland and Holland; to separate the crown of France from the crown of Italy. Prussia promised to declare war on France if Napoleon did not give a satisfactory answer in a month. Frederick William, Queen Louise (not indifferent to the Russian monarch) and Alexander went down to the mausoleum and then, before the coffin of Frederick II, they swore eternal mutual friendship. After this demonstration of Russian-German mutual love, Alexander left Berlin for Austria. In England and Austria they exulted, hoping for the support of a strong Prussian army.
Plans for Napoleon. The retreat of the army of Kutuzov
After the Ulm victory, Napoleon sent Corps Augereau and Ney to Tyrol to attack the Austrian forces there and secure the right wing of the army. The main forces of the French army were concentrated in the Munich area.
15 (27) October, the French launched an offensive towards the Inna River. Napoleon planned to defeat Kutuzov’s army. Having received news of discontent in Prussia and its preparation for war, Napoleon wanted to defeat Kutuzov before the rupture from the Kingdom of Prussia followed and Kutuzov would receive reinforcements coming from Russia and unite with the rest of Austria’s troops. He planned to smash Kutuzov and occupy Vienna in order to frighten Prussia and force Austria to capitulate.
Napoleon divided the army into two parts. The first, which led the French emperor, consisted of the corpses of Lannes, Davout, Soult and Guard, was sent to Branau. The second, the corps of Bernadot, Marmont and the Bavarian troops, marched on Salzburg, bypassing the Russian army from the left flank. At the forefront was Murat's reserve cavalry.
The strategic situation for the Allies was difficult. The main forces of Austria and Russia were scattered over a huge area. Austrian archdukes Karl and John have not yet received instructions to retreat from Italy and Tyrol. Buksgevden Corps was on the march from Troppau to Olmutsu, Bennigsen made a speech from Warsaw. Russian guard only left from Warsaw. Kutuzov stood at Branau and was the first to meet the enemy. The Vienna court prescribed Kutuzov a very difficult task - to avoid battles, to keep troops and at the same time keep the enemy at every turn, giving time to arrive to the corps and troops of the archdukes. That is, this task was generally impossible. It was impossible to avoid battles and save troops and at the same time restrain the enemy "at every step." Kutuzov noted this discrepancy in a letter to the emperor Franz.
Learning about the movement of the French army and the appearance of advanced enemy forces on the banks of the Inna, Kutuzov 17 (29) October ordered the Russian troops to retreat from Branau to Lambach, the Austrians of Kinmayer from Salzburg, covering the left flank. The Austrian detachment Nostitz was supposed to go from Passau to Linz. The Russian rearguard was commanded by the brave Bagration, his cavalry was led by Count Wittgenstein, by artillery by Lieutenant Colonel Ermolov. To reinforce the rearguard of Bagration in a half-way between him and the main forces of the Russian troops, a separate detachment of General Miloradovich followed.
The Russian army was extremely hard. We had to make the second forced march, and almost without interruption. Kutuzov’s retreat was somewhat facilitated by the fact that on his way there were quite a few rivers (tributaries of the Danube) on which the onslaught of the French could be contained by rearguard battles. The rest of the Russian army suffered heavy hardship. There was no supply, no ammunition, no provisions, no clothes - nothing the Austrians promised. “We go at night, we blackened ... Officers and soldiers barefoot, without bread ...” - the participant of this campaign wrote Dmitry Dokhturov home.
The Russian army, hastily departing, reached the river Troon. On October 19, Russian troops arrived at Lambach and stood around Wels for two days, awaiting the arrival of the Kinmayer corps. Napoleon was also detained, restoring destroyed ferries. Soon, Emperor Franz arrived at Wels, a military council was convened to discuss a further plan of action. Kutuzov, in fact, anticipated the 1812 campaign, and offered to take a difficult but necessary decision: not to persist in defending Vienna, and, if necessary, to give it to the French, to save the army to send it across the Danube. In this case, no need to hurry. At first, according to Kutuzov, it was necessary to partly force the French on the Enns River, then go to the left bank of the Danube, not letting the enemy follow. In the meantime, unite the scattered troops of the allies and go on the counteroffensive. Initially, the Austrian emperor expressed his willingness to donate the capital. However, the Austrian generals sought from Kutuzov to stay on the right bank of the Danube as long as possible, first across the Enns, and then defend the crossing at Krems, “whatever the cost”, hoping that during this time Austrian troops from Northern Italy would have time to go.
But the Russian commander, who also had information about the secret negotiations of the allies with the French on a separate peace treaty, was of little interest to the Austrian wishes. It is worth saying that, despite the instructions of the Austrian emperor to mobilize the country (and the possibilities of the Austrian empire were very large), things went badly. The government was upset, the Austrians, after the defeat at Ulm, lost morale and did not believe in the success of the anti-French coalition, they wished for peace at any price. Our troops continued to retreat.
19 (31) October 1805, the first battle took place between the Russians and the French at Merzbach. Four Austrian battalions, which went between Kutuzov and Kinmeyer, were overtaken by Murat's cavalry. Austrian Count Märfeld asked for help from Bagration, who stood in Lambach. Bagration sent a squadron of Pavlograd hussars, 6 and 8, chasseur regiments and an artillery company to help the allies. Despite the enemy’s considerable superiority in forces, our soldiers restrained the enemy for five hours. Rangers twice went into bayonet attacks. Our troops retreated only on the orders of the command, ensuring the further withdrawal of the Russian and Austrian troops. During this first battle with the French, our troops lost 152 man.
After this battle, Kutuzov ordered the destruction of the bridges over Troon, and moved to the Enns River. Graf Merfeld, who carried out the general leadership of the Austrian troops, with the corps of Kinmayer moved to Steyer. October 23 (November 4) Our troops near the city of Enns forced the Enns river. Murat all day long was pushing the rearguard of Bagration, trying to get around and cut him off from the crossing. Not succeeding in his intention, Murat attempted to seize the bridge. However, Pavlograd hussars managed to light the crossing.
Initially, Kutuzov, according to the will of the emperor Franz, planned to detain the enemy on this river and ordered to build fortifications along the coast, in different places. However, the French overthrew the Austrians of Merfeld at Steyer and captured the crossing. Kutuzov continued withdrawal, as now the French threatened his left flank and could press the Russian army against the Danube. Meanwhile, Märfeld was instructed by the Vienna Court to separate from Kutuzov’s army and go through Annaberg to defend the crossings at Vienna. Deprived of support for the Austrian corps, Kutuzov moved from Ens to Amstetten.
Napoleon moved beyond Kutuzov, ordering the Mortier Corps (three infantry and one cavalry division) to move to Linz, force the Danube and follow the left bank, preventing Kutuzov from crossing. At the same time, the French collected everything that could be tried on the Danube, amounted to flotilla, which was supposed to follow Mortier and help in deterring Kutuzov’s troops. Thus, Napoleon wanted to put Kutuzov between two fires.
In addition, Napoleon sent the corps of Davout to Annaberg to intercept Merfeld. Davu overtook the Austrians, and before they came to Annaberg. Suddenly seeing the French in front of him, Merfeld decided to go to Vienna in a roundabout, mountain path. Pursued by the French, the Austrian corps quickly lost all its artillery, carts, many soldiers were captured or fled. As a result, the corps ceased to exist without a fight. Merfeld with a small detachment made his way to Hungary. Having scattered the Austrian corps, Davout accelerated march toward St. Pölten, to join up with the main forces of Napoleon’s army.
Portrait of P. I. Bagration by George Doe
Rearguard battles in Amstetten and Melk
October 24 (November 5) Murat at Amstetten attacked the rearguard of Bagration, which consisted of chapters of 9 battalions, Pavlograd hussars, 4 croatian battalions (Austria’s light cavalry, staffed mainly from Croats), several squadrons of army units of Austria, a few cavalry of the Croats), several squadrons of the army of Austria, which was equipped mainly from the Croats), several squadrons of the army of the equals of Austria, complete with mainly Croats), several squadrons of the army of the army of Austria, made up mainly of Croats), several squadrons of the army of the troops of Austria, a few cavalry of the Croats), several squadrons of the army of Austria, an army of light battalions The attack was so strong that Kutuzov, who personally watched the battle, ordered the Miloradovich detachment to come to the aid of Bagration. Miloradovich under the command of the Little Russian Grenadier, Absheron and Smolensk Musketeers, 8 th Jäger and Mariupol hussars.
Miloradovich came up when Bagration was already cramped. Having missed it, he built the shelves in two lines. Murat resumed the attack and hit the right wing, where Little Russian grenadiers were standing. They fought off the attack. Reflected the enemy attack and the right wing. Then Miloradovich led the grenadier battalions of the Absheron and Smolensk regiments to the counterattack. He forbade the soldiers to load guns, recalling that Suvorov had taught them in Italy to act with bayonets. Russian soldiers hit the bayonets. However, the French grenadiers Oudinot, accustomed to victories, turned out to be a lumpy ten. An extremely stubborn hand-to-hand fight broke out. They fought until the exhaustion of forces, but crushed the French. The French troops retreated in disarray. After that, a detachment of Miloradovich was in the rearguard.
The Russian army retreated through Melk to St. Pölten. October 26 (November 7) Murat again attacked Russian troops. A detachment of Miloradovich took the battle from Melk. There was a violent fight. Both sides recorded the case in their favor. The French, because they continued the offensive, the Russians repelled the enemy attack, then retreated in order.
The movement of the Russian army was assessed by Napoleon as Kutuzov’s aspiration to defend Vienna in a more comfortable position. The emperor was convinced of the correctness of this assumption that Buksgeveden's Volyn army was approaching Olmutsu and the Austrians were being forced towards the capital. Napoleon also received news that the new Russian army was marching through Moravia and was approaching Krems. It was part of Kutuzov’s army, which, when delivered from Russia, was returned to the Podolsk province, in case of war with Turkey, and then sent again to Kutuzov. This column was taken by the French for the army of Buxgewden. As a result, Napoleon believed that Kutuzov would defend Vienna. The stubborn rearguard battles at Merzbach, Amstetten and Melk seemed to confirm Kutuzov’s aspiration to detain the enemy and gain time for the arrival of reinforcements.
Considering that Kutuzov would strive to maintain his position, the French emperor decided to surround him in the area of St. Peltin. To this end, Napoleon directed the corps of Bernadot and Davout to bypass the enemy from the south in order to stand between him and Vienna; the Lanna corps, the Udino grenadier division and Murat's cavalry were to attack the right wing of the Russian army; Soult and guard - attacked in the center; and Mortier's corps was transferred from Linz to the left bank of the Danube with the task, moving east to seize the crossings from Krems and cut off the bypass routes for the Russians. Thus, the main forces of Napoleon were to surround and crush a small army of Kutuzov, not allowing them to join up with reinforcements. In addition, the Marmont Corps was moved to the south, in case the Austrian army appeared there, Archduke Charles. He had to hold back the Austrians if they tried to break through to Vienna.
The Russian commander Kutuzov, conducting continuous reconnaissance, guessed the enemy’s plan to press him against the Danube and crush him. Having learned about the crossing of the Mortier Corps, the Russian army 28 of October (9 November) under the cover of the rear guard removed from the position. Kutuzov decided not to defend Vienna, but to save his army. On October 29, the Russians crossed the Danube at Krems, ahead of Mortier. The rearguard of Miloradovich destroyed the crossing under enemy fire.
Thus, Kutuzov cleared the right bank of the Danube, contrary to the instructions of the Austrian emperor, who ordered him, by all means, to defend the bridgehead at Krems. Kutuzov saved the army. If Kutuzov had listened to the instructions of the Austrians, then the French could have twice destroyed the Russian army - during the possible attack on Munich and during the defense "at any price" of the Vienna direction.
To be continued ...