War and Peace - Volume I Pt III Ch 11-15

Chapter 11 - On the eve of the battle at Austerlitz, November 19 by the Julian calender, December 1 by the Gregorian, final points of strategy were being argued over and hammered out between the war council's hawks and doves. While Kutuzov spoke with the Tsar and the grand marshal, Count Tolstoy, urging them not to advance on the French, Prince Andrey spoke with General Dolgorukov about plans of attack. The general brushed these plans aside indicating to Prince Andrey that he will have his time to speak when the next war council would convene later that night. As General Kutuzov and Prince Andrey rode back to camp, Bolkonsky couldn't help but ask the general what he thought about tomorrow's battle, "I think we shall lose," replied Kutuzov.

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Napoleon’s encampment at Austerlitz. Between 28 November and 6 December when he returned to Brünn, despite rain, sleet and icy cold weather the Emperor slept in or near his carriage surrounded by his Grande Armée. Working day and night and constantly on the move, he barely managed to snatch more than a few hours sleep from time to time in the days that preceded and followed the battle.

Chapter 12 - By 9PM that evening, commanders of the Russian and Austrian forces had gathered at Kutuzov's quarters in preparation for the council of war. Prince Andrey was in attendance at the behest of Kutuzov, Prince Bagration had declined to attend, and Weierother, having full responsibility for planning the proposed battle was eager to expound on his plan of attack. Ignoring the fact that neither Kutuzov nor any of the assisting generals and commanders were interested in listening to theoretics of the planned attack, Weierother spoke at length about his plan, not giving anyone a chance to offer input or questions into the matter. The disagreements and tensions that ensued after the hour long neatly assembled plan was laid out lasted to midnight. When the time had come, Kutuzov ended the meeting abruptly, discharging the officers from his quarters to service rest for the next day's battle. While Prince Andrey was disillusioned by reality he could not help but see himself the heroine of the future still.


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Sunday, 1 December 1805, the day before the battle Napoleon conducted a last reconnaissance, carefully studying the layout of the land and observing the enemy who had manoeuvred during the night and now occupied the famous height known as the Pratzen.

Chapter 13 - An exhausted Rostov patrolled the perimeter, weaving in and out of sleep and dreams, he was awakened by the sight of fire and booming voices coming from the French lines. Prince Bagration and Prince Dolgorukov rode to the front the watch the display, Rostov was ordered to to verify if the French pickets were still in position. Rostov lost sight of the Russian front and the enemy's fire but maintained his bearing by the sounds of the shouting Frenchmen. He turned around only when a volley of shots were fired in his direction indicating his closeness to the French lines. Returning to the Russian front, Rostov requested to be attached to the first squadron to be sent into battle. The fires had been set by the French forces to light the way for Napoleon as he read his proclamation to his army.


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At 10 p.m., the night before the battle, Napoleon, accompanied by a few members of his staff started walking through the French encampment among the men, talking to them, saying that the next day was the anniversary of his coronation and that it had to be celebrated by an overwhelming victory. He was hailed by thousands of cries of, “Vive l’Empereur!” from all those who caught sight of him when suddenly one of the soldiers picked up a handful of straw which he twisted and lit, holding it up as a torch. Within minutes, all the others did the same – even the men who were too far away to understand what was going on – and the dark sky was suddenly illuminated by tens of thousands of torches as the men spontaneously sacrificed the straw which was all they had to sleep on.

Chapter 14 - By 5AM, the Russian army on the left flank was on the move. The Austrian commanders guided the army into heavy fog for over an hour after which most of the troops were brought to a halt causing a sense of confusion that pervaded the masses. Small skirmishes broke out at the front where the Russian army unexpectedly stumbled across the French in the fog. By 9AM, the battle of Austerlitz had commenced, the valley in which the Russian army was marching into was still engulfed in fog, higher up though, in the village of Schlapanitz where Napoleon stood, the field of battle came into focus. When the fog had cleared up, Napolean signalled his marshals to commence the main battle.

Chapter 15 - At 8AM, Kutuzov began moving his forces toward Pratzen, Prince Andrey was close behind, locked up in his hope and expectation of victory. When Kutuzov's batallion was halted just outside of Pratzen, he sent Prince Andrey to order the forward troops on the otherside of the village to stop and wait for further instructions. As Prince Andrey returned, the two Emperors rode up to Kutuzov, Tsar Alexander questioned Kutuzov on the disposition of the troops. On the Tsar's order, Kutuzov sent in his battalion to march on the fields of Austerlitz.

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Plan of the battle of Austerlitz

Characters

Prince Andrey Bolkonsky - Married to Liza, friend to Pierre Bezukhov, enlisted in the army, son of Pince Nikolay Bolkonsky, adjutant to general Kutuzov, currently captain
Prince Dolgorukov - adjutant general, friend to Prince Andrey
Bilibin - A Russian diplomat in the service of Austria, friend to Prince Andrey
Weierother - Austrian general responsible for planning the battle at Austerlitz
Prince Bagration - Russian advanced guard commander
Nikolay Rostov - Count Rostov's eldest son, a student who follows Boris into the army, cousin and taken to Sonya
Nesvitsky - Staff officer, comrade to Prince Andrey Bolkonsky

Analysis (VII)


Volume II - Chapter 12: The Road to Austerlitz

Volume II - Chapter 13: The Battle of Austerlitz


It's interesting to note that the Emperor of Austria is also the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire became Francis I of Austria in 1804 when he founded the Austrian Empire. This might explain why the german commanders had the upper hand over the Russian forces. Though forcing Russia into the allied front by declaring war on France, and showing no success at the front, one would think that the Austrian Emperor and his army would show some humility. The bulk of the allied forces is Russian, and while the battles have been fought in Austria, Tsar Alexander and his army should have been given commanding authority, but it wasn't to be.

Excerpt - Chapter 14
A soldier on the march is enclosed, boxed in and carried along by his regiment as tightly as any sailor in a ship. However far he goes, however alien, mysterious and perilous the latitudes into which he advances, he always has around him, like the sailor with his deck, masts and rigging, the same comrades, the same marching ranks, the same officers. A soldier rarely wants to know what latitude his ship has ended up in, but come the day of battle - God knows how or where it comes from - the moral consciousness of warriors one and all rings with a new harsh note announcing the approach of something solemn and serious, and raising them to unknown heights of curiosity. Come the days of battle, soldiers strive to look beyond the interests of their regiment; they are all eyes and ears, anxious to know what is going on around them.

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