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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.