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Savary: Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo
Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 14
March of the Russian army-Entry into Braunau-Return of Duroc from his mission to Berlin-General Giulay sent to Napoleon by the Emperor of Austria-Occupation of Vienna-Action at Krems-Surprise of the bridge of the Tabor-General arrangements -Napoleon examines the ground where he intends to give battle.

THE Emperor returned to Elchingen, slept there, and next day set out for Augsburg, where he lodged at the bishop's. Here he remained during the time requisite for organising a new combination of marches, and then departed.

He had learned, in such a manner as to be nearly certain, that the Russians were approaching. Travellers from Lintz had seen the first troops of that nation enter the town; as fast as they arrived, they placed themselves in carts and waggons collected before-hand, and set out post for Bavaria: this haste was probably the result of the intelligence received by Kutusow, the commander-in-chief, that we had passed the Rhine. It was not long before he was apprized of the events which had taken place at Ulm, and changed his plans.

From Augsburg the Emperor went to Munich: he there received all the Bavarian authorities, and promised not to forget their country in the treaty of peace.

The Elector had not yet returned to his capital; but he had not omitted to give orders that the reception of the Emperor should be suitable and proportionate to the advantages which Bavaria derived from the first success of the campaign. The Bavarians expressed their gratitude by illuminations ; and though the city was full of French soldiers, no complaints were heard. It was not possible, however, but that some excesses should be committed.

Our army crossed the Iser over all the bridges, from that of Munich to that at Plading, and approached the Inn.

The Emperor, with a large portion of the army, took the road to Mühldorf: the first Russian troops had advanced as far as that place, and returned, after they were apprized of what had befallen Marshal Mack.

Beyond Mühldorf we found not a single bridge that we had not to rebuild entirely: the Russians burned them in a manner that was till then unknown to us; so that we were obliged to send on with the advanced-guard companies of sappers, together with engineers, who had plenty to do.

From Mühldorf the Emperor proceeded to Burkhausen, and then to Braunau. It was believed that there was a garrison in that place; but to our great surprise we found the gates open, the fortifications in very good condition, well palisaded, artillery on the ramparts, and the magazines full of provisions. The bridge over the Inn was burned. Two; thousand men in this place would have done us a great deal, of injury, because they would have obliged us to blockade them, and to derange all the directions of our communications ; which would have been a great inconvenience to us, as,. the season had become very wet.

The Emperor judged that people must have lost their senses to commit such faults, and ordered the rebuilding of the bridge to be set about immediately. He was always on horseback whatever Weather it might be, travelling in his carriage only when his army was two or three marches in advance: this was a calculation on his part. The Point where he was always entered into his combinations and to him distances were nothing; he traversed them with 'the swiftness of the eagle.

He stayed but one night at Braunau, and took the road to Lintz : the army was nearly collected. He marched cautiously, so that he might be able to manoeuvre and to be every where himself : he proceeded therefore by short marches to Lintz.

We followed the track of the Russians; but the repair of the bridges took us so much time that they gained upon us.

The bridge of Lintz was burned; the Emperor ordered it to be rebuilt: he made infantry cross to the left bank, and, as he animated every thing by his presence, it was not long before the cavalry also was enabled to cross.

It was pushed forward on the roads to Bohemia; and two divisions of infantry, under the command of Marshal Mortier, were marched to support it. The Emperor made these dispositions, because he was apprehensive lest the Russians should cloak their retreat from him by crossing the Danube unawares; and as he was stopped at every step by the breaking-down of the bridges, he conceived the idea of marching troops along both sides of the river, since the corps which was descending the left bank, not having the same obstacles to encounter, might easily keep close upon the Russians, and consequently oblige them to seek a passage further off.

In this town the Emperor received, a visit from the Elector of Bavaria, who, having arrived at Munich after his departure, had hurried away to pay his respects, and brought his eldest son along with him : they both dined with the Emperor, and returned to Munich.

Marshal Duroc, dispatched, as I have already mentioned, to the King of Prussia, before the departure from Boulogne, likewise joined the Emperor in that town. He brought back nothing satisfactory from his mission: but at least he gave the assurance that the conduct of the cabinet of Berlin would be governed by events, or, in other words, that we should have to fight that power if fortune proved unfavourable to us. The Emperor thought that the events at Ulm had caused it to make reflections; but concluded that we had nothing solidly fixed in Berlin.

At Lintz the Emperor received intelligence from the army of Italy, under the command of Marshal Massena; it had crossed the Adige, and attacked the army of the Archduke Charles in the position of Caldiero: the action, though indecisive, was very sanguinary; the Archduke however retired, probably because he knew of the march of the Emperor upon Vienna.

There came to Lintz a flag of truce from the Emperor of Austria: it was General Giulay, who had been included in the capitulation of Ulm. He had seen our army on that occasion, and had given an account of it at Vienna. The monarchy was seriously endangered, notwithstanding the resources which it still possessed: it had need to gain time to bring together the army of the Archduke and the Russian army, and wished to unite them by the bridge of Vienna. Had it been able to effect this junction, it would have found itself in a respectable situation.

General Giulay came, in consequence, to bring assurances of the pacific intentions of his sovereign, and to propose an armistice. The Emperor replied that he desired nothing more than to make peace, but that negotiations might be opened without suspending the course of operations. He observed to General Giulay that he was not furnished with any powers on the part of the Russians, who would therefore have a right to disregard the armistice; he desired him to go and put matters into a regular train, and dismissed him.

He left Lintz, and took the road for Vienna. He arrived at St. Pölten, where he was detained a day or two by an accident which had befallen the corps of Marshal Mortier, on the left bank of the Danube; one of his two divisions had got considerably in advance of the other, and pushed on to Krems: apprized of this circumstance, the Russian army made its dispositions and marched towards us; it attacked the French division, to which it was incomparably superior in number, enveloped it, inflicted on it severe losses, and would infallibly have destroyed it, had not the second division come to its relief. The Russians took from us three eagles : these were the first that we lost.

This little check threw the Emperor into an ill-humour, and caused him to stay twenty-four hours longer at St. Pölten. General Giulay, who had already been to receive his instructions, rejoined him in that town. He was more urgent than on the former occasion, for the evil was becoming worse; but he was not more regular, so that he met with no better reception. Austria was evidently solicitous to save Vienna, and to gain time: there would have been nothing but danger for us to grant what she demanded.

The troops set out from St. Pölten for Vienna . Marshals Lannes and Murat had entered that capital. They effected a surprise, which had so powerful an influence on the rest of the campaign, that it cannot he passed in silence.

General Giulay had not yet returned to the advanced posts of the Austrians, when our troops entered Vienna. The report of an armistice was circulated there by our enemies themselves : it was known that General Giulay was still with the Emperor. For a fortnight past he had been seen continually going and coming. As he had not returned, the rumour of the armistice acquired plausibility. The Austrians, placed on the left bank of the Danube, had made the necessary dispositions for burning the bridge of the Tabor, and had merely covered it by a post of hussars.

Marshals Lannes and Murat, wishing to save this medium of crossing so essential to the army, went themselves, accompanied by a few officers to the Austrian post, where they repeated all the rumours that were afloat respecting the armistice. The commandant of the post took them for mere officers; they walked about with him, and led him upon the bridge itself, which is of very great length. Some Austrian officers belonging to the troops on the other side, that is, on the left bank, came and joined in the conversation. Marshal Lannes' column of grenadiers, headed by an intelligent officer, took advantage of the moment when they had their faces turned toward the left bank. It had advanced through the streets of the suburbs of Vienna, which are in the island of the Prater; it prevented the vedettes of the hussars from turning about to give the alarm : the French officer told them that it was a post which he was going to place on the bank of the river ; they believed him, gave no warning to their post, which all at once saw soldiers debouching in its rear, and the head of the column at the entrance of the main bridge. The Austrian hussars of this main-guard not seeing their officer, who was on the bridge with Marshals Lannes and Murat, and besides having their heads full of the ideas of an armistice, stirred not a step. The column of grenadiers moving in double quick time entered upon the bridge, and hastily gained the other bank, after throwing into the water all the fireworks prepared for destroying the bridge.

The Austrian officers perceived the fault which they had committed; but it was too late: and their gunners, who were at their pieces on the other bank, not aware of what was passing before their faces, durst not fire, because they saw their own officers on the bridge in conversation with ours'. They suffered the column to come up to them; and soon saw their cannon, themselves, and all that was there taken.

Never was surprise better executed, and never had it a more important result. The junction of the Russian army with that which the Archduke was bringing from Italy was thenceforward impracticable.

The army advanced from all points upon Vienna: it crossed the Danube, and marched on by the road to Znaim, to come up with the Russians, who had repassed the Danube at Stein.

This surprise of the bridge of the Tabor gave the Emperor great pleasure. He moved his head-quarters to the palace of Schönbrunn, and made preparations to manoeuvre with all his forces, either upon the Russians or upon the Archduke Charles, according as either the one or the other should be within reach.

The army of General Kutusow, which had recrossed the Danube at Stein, was marching by Znaim to rejoin the main Russian army at Olmütz, where the Emperor Alexander was. If that general, instead of repassing the Danube, had come and occupied Vienna, he would have given quite a different aspect to affairs. His reason for not doing so was at least it is believed to have been-because he was afraid that the corps of Marshal Davout, which marched on our right, would descend from the mountains of Tyrol, after having beaten and dispersed the Austrian corps of General Meerfeld, and contrive to enter Vienna before him, which might have been the case ; but had he adopted this resolution at the time of his departure from Lintz, and marched, nothing would have stopped him.

In the magazines and arsenals of Vienna were found artillery and ammunition enough for two campaigns: we had no further occasion to draw upon our stores at Strasburg or Metz, but could, on the contrary, dispatch a considerable materiel to those two great establishments.

Vienna was now the Emperor's capital, and the source of all his means. The march of all the convoys became more rapid on this account.

The occupation of Vienna, and the surprise of the great bridge of the Tabor, changed the situation of affairs. The Archduke Charles was obliged to throw himself on the right, and to gain Hungary - to lengthen the way for him, troops were immediately marched upon Presburg, which removed to a much greater distance the point at which he could have placed himself in contact with the Russians.

The Emperor stationed in Vienna the corps of Marshal Mortier, and outside, to watch the roads to Italy and Hungary, the corps of General Marmont; which made together four divisions.

Marshal Ney had remained in the country of Salzburg before Kuffstein, which had a strong garrison.

All these troops would have been the first employed, had it been more advantageous or more urgent to act against the Archduke Charles. The Emperor expressed some dissatisfaction that Marshal Massena did not march in such a manner as to be able to join him, at the same time that the Archduke should have it in his power to join the Russians, which he thought he might have done. The Emperor never would imagine that, where he was not, zeal though the same frequently had obstacles to encounter in the hierarchy of subordinates. The fact is, that the arrival of Marshal Massena would have given him extreme pleasure; but he was obliged to manoeuvre in such a manner as to be able to dispense with him.

After making his dispositions on the right bank, he set out for Znaim, taking with him the rest of the army. On the very day of his departure, our advanced-guard, under the command of Marshals Lannes and Murat, overtook the rear-guard of the Russian corps of General Kutusow: it was at Hollabrunn that the action took place. From the time which had elapsed since the Russians recrossed the Danube, they ought to have been at a great distance; but, in short, there they were found. The affair was warm : they behaved like brave soldiers, and we like men who had long been seeking them. General Oudinot was wounded on this occasion. We afterwards learned that the enemy's force consisted of the division of Prince Bagration alone ; it had a great number killed : we, on our part, had three brigades employed.

The Russians continued to retreat upon Znaim, and we to pursue them with all our means.

The Emperor had ordered the corps of Marshal Davout to march upon Vienna by the road of Nicolsburg.

Ever since we had been in the line of retreat of the Russians, we might have tracked them by their stragglers and their sick. Their soldiers, who entered the lists for the first time, had a look of stupidity, which rendered them anything but formidable to ours. It was easy to see how many things were deficient in the mechanism of that army, which has since learned a great deal.

At Znaim the Emperor was informed that the Russian army had marched by the road to Brunn, and he made his army take the same road.

In that city he was joined by Marshal Bernadotte's four regiments of light cavalry, which were commanded by General Kellermann; they arrived by the Budweis road, and had left Bernadotte¹ and his corps at Iglau in Bohemia. The Bavarian infantry had gone with him; and the cavalry of the same nation was sent to him to replace that of Kellermann.

This Bavarian cavalry, commanded by General Wrede, was worn out with fatigue: it had been marched about in all directions but, as it approached the theatre of more important operations, the Archduke Ferdinand, whom it was pursuing from Ulm in that direction of Bohemia, was no longer the object which engaged the most attention.

The Emperor set out from Znaim for Brunn. He had given the command of the united grenadiers to Marshal Duroc, being desirous that he should distinguish himself during the campaign. General Oudinot had been conveyed wounded to Vienna.

On his arrival at Brunn, the Emperor found the citadel evacuated, the magazines full of stores, and, from a negligence which is beyond conception, ammunition ready prepared so that we might make immediate use of it. The Austrian functionaries delivered all this to us with such fidelity, that one would have supposed that they had received orders to do so.

The same evening the Emperor pushed all the cavalry on the road to Olmütz, and followed himself. At the first post on that road we fell in with the enemy's rear-guard. The Russian cavalry bravely charged all that pursued it, and would have kept up a running fight, had not the horse-grenadiers of the guard, who were there, cut this Russian line in two. The cuirassiers completed the dispersion of the other part, which was closely followed by our light troops.

It was dark before this warm affair was over. The Emperor returned to Brunn, and came next day upon the ground where it had occurred to place his army, which was coming up in different directions. He moved on his cavalry of the advanced-guard to, Vichau; he went thither himself, and on his return he walked his horse over all the sinuosities and undulations of the ground situated in front of the position which he had ordered to be taken. He paused at every height, had the distances measured, and frequently said to us, " Gentlemen, examine the ground well; you will have a part to act upon it." It was the same on which the battle of Austerlitz was fought, and which was occupied by the Russians, that is, the position which they had before the battle. He passed the whole day on horseback, inspected the position of each of the corps of his army, and remarked, on the left of General Suchet's division, a single hillock, overlooking the whole front of that division. The Centon was there, as if for the express purpose ; here he caused to be placed the same night fourteen Austrian pieces of cannon, part of those found at Brunn. As caissons could not be placed there, two hundred charges of powder were piled up behind each of them: the foot of the Centon was then cut away en escarpement, so as to secure it from assault. The Emperor returned to sleep at Brunn.

¹ It has been stated above that he had been sent from the environs of Ingolstadt against the Archduke Ferdinand, to prevent his junction with the main army by Bohemia.

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