Battle of Ulm

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Battle of Ulm
Part of the Ulm Campaign
Charles Thévenin - Reddition de la ville d'Ulm.jpg
The Capitulation of Ulm by Charles Thevenin. Oil on canvas.
Date 16 to 19 October 1805
Location Ulm, Württemberg, present-day Germany (at the time part of Bavaria)
Result Decisive French victory
Destruction of the Austrian Army in Bavaria
Belligerents
France First French Empire  Austrian Empire
Commanders and leaders
Napoleon I Mack von Liebereich (POW)
Strength
150,000 72,000
Casualties and losses
5,980 dead or wounded[citation needed] 12,000 dead or wounded,
30,000 captured

The Battle of Ulm on 16–19 October 1805 was a series of minor skirmishes at the end of Emperor Napoleon's Ulm Campaign. It culminated in the surrender of Karl Freiherr Mack von Leiberich and a significant part of his army near Ulm in Württemberg.

Background[edit]

In 1805, the United Kingdom, the Austrian Empire, Sweden, and the Russian Empire formed the Third Coalition to overthrow the French Empire. When Bavaria sided with Napoleon, the Austrians, 72,000 strong under Mack, prematurely invaded while the Russians were still marching through Poland. The Austrians expected the main battles of the war to take place in northern Italy, not Germany, and intended only to protect the Alps from French forces.

A popular but apocryphal legend has it that the Austrians used the Gregorian calendar, the Russians were still using the Julian calendar. This meant that their dates did not correspond, and the Austrians were brought into conflict with the French before the Russians could come into line. This simple but implausible explanation for the Russian army being far behind the Austrian is dismissed by scholar Frederick Kagan as "a bizarre myth".[1]

Napoleon had 177,000 troops of the Grande Armée at Boulogne, ready to invade England. They marched south on August 27 and by September 24 were ready to cross the Rhine from Mannheim to Strasbourg. After crossing the Rhine, the greater part of the French army made a gigantic right wheel so that its corps reached the Danube simultaneously, facing south. On October 7, Mack learned that Napoleon planned to cross the Danube and march around his right flank so as to cut him off from the Russians who were marching via Vienna. He accordingly changed front, placing his left at Ulm and his right at Rain, but the French went on and crossed the Danube at Neuburg, Donauwörth, and Ingolstadt. Unable to stop the French avalanche, Michael von Kienmayer's Austrian corps abandoned its positions along the river and fled to Munich.

On 8 October 1805, Franz Auffenberg's division was cut to pieces by Joachim Murat's Cavalry Corps and Jean Lannes' V Corps at the Battle of Wertingen. The following day, Mack attempted to cross the Danube and move north. He was defeated in the Battle of Günzburg by Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher's division of Michel Ney's VI Corps which was still operating on the north bank. During the action, the French seized a bridgehead on the south bank. After first withdrawing to Ulm, Mack tried to break out to the north. His army was blocked by Pierre Dupont de l'Etang's VI Corps division and some cavalry in the Battle of Haslach-Jungingen on 11 October.

By the 11th, Napoleon's corps were spread out in a wide net to snare Mack's army. Nicolas Soult's IV Corps reached Landsberg am Lech and turned east to cut off Mack from the Tyrol. Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte's I Corps and Louis Nicolas Davout's III Corps converged on Munich. Auguste Marmont's II Corps was at Augsburg. Murat, Ney, Lannes, and the Imperial Guard began closing in on Ulm. Mack ordered the corps of Franz von Werneck to march northeast, while Johann Sigismund Riesch covered its right flank at Elchingen. The Austrian commander sent Franz Jellacic's corps south toward the Tyrol and held the remainder of his army at Ulm.

Battle[edit]

Mack surrenders to Napoleon at Ulm by Paul-Emile Boutigny
Mack surrenders to Napoleon at Ulm by Paul-Emile Boutigny

On 14 October, Ney crushed Riesch's small corps at the Battle of Elchingen and chased its survivors back into Ulm. Murat detected Werneck's force and raced in pursuit with his cavalry. Over the next few days, Werneck's corps was overwhelmed in a series of actions at Langenau, Herbrechtingen, Nördlingen, and Neresheim. On 18 October he surrendered the remainder of his troops. Only Archduke Ferdinand Karl Joseph of Austria-Este and a few other generals escaped to Bohemia with about 1,200 cavalry. Meanwhile, Soult secured the surrender of 4,600 Austrians at Memmingen and swung north to box in Mack from the south. Jellacic slipped past Soult and escaped to the south only to be hunted down and captured in the Capitulation of Dornbirn in mid-November by Pierre Augereau's late-arriving VII Corps. By 16 October, Napoleon had surrounded Mack's entire army at Ulm, and three days later Mack surrendered with 30,000 men, 18 generals, 65 guns, and 40 standards.

Some 20,000 escaped, 10,000 were killed or wounded, and the rest made prisoner. About 6,000 French were killed or wounded.[citation needed] At the surrender (known as the Convention of Ulm), Mack offered his sword and presented himself to Napoleon as, "the unfortunate General Mack."[2][3][4] Under the treaty Bonaparte smiled and replied, "I give back to the unfortunate General his sword and his freedom, along with my regards to give to his Emperor".[citation needed] Francis II was not as kind, however. Mack was court-martialed and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.

The Ulm Campaign is considered one of the finest examples of a strategic turning movement in military history.

The Ulm Campaign September–October 1805.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://dcjack.org/kagan%20on%20ulm.html
  2. ^ Blond, G. La Grande Armée. Castle Books, 1979. pg.59.
  3. ^ Haythornwaite, Philip J. (1990). The Napoleonic Source Book. London: Guild Publishing. p. 68. ISBN 978-1854092878. 
  4. ^ Nafziger, George F. (2002). Historical Dictionary of the Napoleonic Era. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 282. 

References[edit]

Coordinates: 48°23′00″N 9°59′00″E / 48.3833°N 9.9833°E / 48.3833; 9.9833